Urban Tribe - Ride with your kids in front.

Three City Club ideas that aren’t about bike taxes

Posted by on May 31st, 2013 at 8:56 am

Cully Boulevard cycle track

A City Club committee found that separated cycle tracks connecting neighborhoods,
like this one on NE Cully Boulevard, should be the city’s priority for bike
infrastructure even if it means eliminating painted bike lanes on other streets.
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

At its regular Friday Forum today at noon, the Portland City Club will hear from a panel of bike experts and vote on the big report about biking in Portland released Wednesday.

If you’ve only heard one thing about the report, it’s probably that it was the latest venue for a group of bike supporters to endorse a dedicated tax on retail bike sales.

But that was far from the only idea in the 83-page report. For example, here are three more interesting conclusions about how to improve biking in Portland from the report, which was a year in the making:

  • Separate routes (such as cycletracks or paths) and low-speed routes (such as bicycle boulevards) should be prioritized over alternatives, even if it means eliminating bicycle lanes on high-speed or high-capacity streetsPBOT should perform a city-wide audit of traffic corridors and intersections that are difficult and/or unsafe for bicycle riders and pedestrians.
  • PBOT should prioritize bicycle routes between neighborhoods over routes to downtown and the central city.  Broadly, bicycle infrastructure investments should move from opportunistic to strategic and emphasize connectivity and safety. 
  • PBOT should revise the Bicycle Advisory Committee selection criteria to reflect a greater diversity of economic and social backgrounds, professions and transportation preferences.

Whatever you think of these recommendations, wouldn’t it be cool if they were remembered as important parts of this landmark report — and maybe discussed today in addition to the also-important tax question?

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

  • 9watts May 31, 2013 at 7:15 am

    “separated cycle tracks connecting neighborhoods should be the city’s priority for bike infrastructure even if it means eliminating painted bike lanes on other streets.”

    “curb cuts should be the city’s priority for pedestrian infrastructure even if it means eliminating crosswalks on other streets.”

    Why zero sum?!
    I want to like this report, appreciate the positive things it manages to say about biking, but can’t get over the perplexing way they qualify, hedge, muddle, just about every topic.

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    • Jeff May 31, 2013 at 9:01 am

      Why zero sum? Because they’re afraid of pissing off modern liberals who have joined the anti-tax crowd, which is currently popular. I say more taxes for more common infrastructure and more good. Old school, I know.

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      • A.K. May 31, 2013 at 10:56 am

        Nothing wrong with being anti-tax when you don’t think the currently allocated money is being well spent.

        I would never, ever go so far as the tea-party people, because I actually think that government spending is generally a “good thing” for the economy.

        But I’ll be damned if I just vote for every tax increase that comes across my ballot here in Portland. That would be stupid.

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    • Chainwhipped June 1, 2013 at 11:57 am

      Don’t you understand, Watts? Separate, But Equal! Safe, ut as inconvenient as possible! Give the Bikkers farther to go to all the same destinations. Put the Bikkers on the streets we already avoid (as long as drivers can still use them while passing illegally and speeding). Make sure it’s undesirable for the Bikkers to go to the places we like because if we don’t see them we don’t have to consider them or acknowledge their humanity. And if one of them dies on our turf, it’s their fault for going where they don’t belong.

      F@#& these people. If I’m starting on 28th, and my destination is 8 blocks up 28th, I’m going to ride up F@#&ing 28th. If you want me out of the way, put a bike lane on 28th.

      Ditto for Burnside, Powell, Sandy, MLK, Stark, Ceasar Chavez . . . Our boner for prioritizing on-street parking over bike lanes in this city is appalling.

      If these short-sighted folks really wanted to make transportation safe and accessible they’d lobby for road diets, protected bike lanes, and more auto-free streets citywide.

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      • spare_wheel June 1, 2013 at 5:06 pm

        I suspect that most of the people who were involved in this “city club” report (either on the committee or as interested parties) also own motor vehicles and use them frequently. Its very easy to propose that cyclists use “alternative routes” when you can hop in your cage and use the direct route.

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      • are June 1, 2013 at 5:34 pm

        please don’t put a bike lane on 28th unless you are removing onstreet parking

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  • Nick Falbo May 31, 2013 at 7:30 am

    I’m having a hard time understanding how a cycle track on one street could lead to the elimination of a bike lane on another. Those two facilities are functionally compatible, and generally a street with a bike lane is a candidate for a cycle track.

    The concept that Paths or Neighborhood Greenways can serve as a viable alternative to busy streets is a currently accepted practice, although I think the *elimination* of existing bike lanes would be very unlikely.

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    • Reza May 31, 2013 at 9:34 am

      It’d be as if we got a world class neighborhood greenway on N Rodney and then PBOT felt compelled to remove the Williams and Vancouver bike lanes and instruct all bicycle riders to use the greenway instead.

      Implausible at best. The two corridors would serve two separate purposes.

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    • spare_wheel May 31, 2013 at 10:48 am

      While those who advocate for fully separated cycle tracks as the preferred bike facility often claim that they want “world class” copenhagen-style infrastructure, few of them even know what is considered best practice in Denmark:


      According to Danish best practice in road bike lanes are a preferred option on roads of speeds up to 30 mph with curb and physically separated cycle tracks being preferred only at higher speeds.

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      • Chainwhipped June 1, 2013 at 12:11 pm

        Brilliant chart, spare_wheel, thanks for that.

        According to the chart:
        No parking on shared streets in 30km/hr ranges.
        Parking-protected bike lanes on streets of 40-65km/hr.
        Fully separated bike lanes on roads of 70km/hr and up.

        The concept would solve a lot of problems.

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        • spare_wheel June 2, 2013 at 3:49 pm

          That chart made me realize that the problem in Portland is not copenhagen-style infrastructure but the kind of ridiculous infrastructure that PBOT and the “bikes belong” mafia build in the name of copenhagen.

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          • Alex Reed August 14, 2015 at 11:24 am

            Yup – painted bike lanes on the CURB side of parking. Like SW Broadway near PSU, which I know is not your favorite facility. But, if dedicated bike signals were added and enforcement and better marking of parking in the right place, I think it would be pretty good.

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    • El Biciclero May 31, 2013 at 12:14 pm

      “I’m having a hard time understanding how a cycle track on one street could lead to the elimination of a bike lane on another.”

      Me, too. This kind of statement sounds vaguely sinister in a “we know you have a right to cycle here, but we’re going to make it as hostile as possible so people think you’re crazy if you do–then when you get run over, it’ll be your own fault since there was a nice, lazy-daisy greenway only five blocks over” kind of way. Route equity is important in any transportation improvement plan. Statistics that point to how far out of direction cyclists are willing to travel for “safety” merely illuminate the extent to which they feel bullied/threatened by drivers along direct routes. If routes are to be selected for improvement based on threat assessment, then the most threatening routes should be mitigated first–and not by removing what little safety accommodations have already been made. Further, the mitigation should not consist of “don’t ride there”.

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      • longgone May 31, 2013 at 2:02 pm

        …what he said.

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    • Edward Hershey May 31, 2013 at 4:58 pm

      As I understand this recommendation, it would apply to those bicycle lanes deemed unsafe (presumably after a well-vetted study) because they put cyclists in harm’s way, unnecessarily exposing them to danger. This is in keeping with the broader theme of replacing opportunism with strategy.

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      • spare_wheel June 1, 2013 at 10:52 am

        i think this is wishful thinking on your part. current pbot staff and mia birk (ex pbot) have voiced oppoistion to new “in road” infrastructure because it dilutes funding for cycle tracks. moreover, pbot and mia birk have criticized cyclists who cycle in the vehicle lane instead of designated facilities. these prevailing bias should be considered when interpreting the meaning of eliminate.

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        • spare_wheel June 1, 2013 at 10:53 am


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    • are May 31, 2013 at 10:53 pm

      it may be that the either/or formula is a clumsy attempt at saying more of “this” over here even if it means less _additional_ “that” over there. not tearing something out, which would of course cost yet more.

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      • 9watts May 31, 2013 at 10:58 pm

        Except they did use the word ‘eliminate.’

        Here’s the text:
        “Separate routes (such as cycletracks or paths) and low-speed routes (such as bicycle boulevards) should be prioritized over alternatives, even if it means eliminating bicycle lanes on high-speed or high-capacity streets. PBOT should perform a city-wide audit of traffic corridors and intersections that are difficult and/or unsafe for bicycle riders and pedestrians.”

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  • eli May 31, 2013 at 7:31 am

    Yes! Separate me from cars. They’d simply do not care for the rules and they are extremely dangerous. Not to mention the emotions that transpire when my lowly bike prevents them from speeding or running lights… Not to mention right turns in the bike lane…

    Just remove us from their world as I don’t want to breathe their fumes anyway. How hard can it be to put some concrete pillars here and there to create bike entry only streets?

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    • longgone May 31, 2013 at 8:11 am

      Melodic pedaling mantra of the day No.1…hummed to the hit tone of ” All I have to do is Dream”..
      Dreeeeaaammm,dream, dream, dream,.. Oh. Dreeeaaammm, Whenever I want a bike lane all I have to do is DRRRREEEEEEEAAAAAM.

      Until that dream is completed, I will continue to cycle in my reality based “Vehicular Cyclist” fashion.

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  • Spiffy May 31, 2013 at 8:31 am

    I don’t consider NE Cully to be a separated cycle track because a painted line and easy sloping curb doesn’t keep cars out of it…

    do we even have one in Portland? the new one in Lloyd is almost separated, but the planters have huge gaps between them… the one near PSU is also just paint…

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    • Nick Falbo May 31, 2013 at 8:40 am

      Many of the Copenhagen cycle tracks have a low mountable curb, and wouldn’t do much to keep a car out – but as Jonathan’s photos illustrate, they definitely work.

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      • ScottB May 31, 2013 at 9:50 am

        Don’t forget cultural issues. When up to half the commuters on a street are cyclists, those behind the wheel behave differently. Imagine being raised in such a society. Your view of cycling would be a common habit, not a cause.

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      • El Biciclero May 31, 2013 at 11:18 am

        I think things like this work best in places where drivers actually know how to drive.

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    • Jack May 31, 2013 at 10:43 am

      The cycle track on SW Moody in the SW Waterfront would qualify.

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  • FauxPorteur May 31, 2013 at 8:33 am

    How would these cyclepaths work on the intersection-dense roads we have here in short-block grid-city Portland? The cyclepath design I’m familiar with would make it hard/hazardous for cyclists to turn left, cars to turn right (think right hook on steroids and 5hr Energy(tm)) . Its basically installing a cycling only sidewalk. It is currently very dangerous to cycle on a sidewalk, not because of the sidewalk itself, but because of intersections.

    These things look great in photos and artist renderings, and give something for advocates to rally behind, but they are not smart for intersection rich roadways.

    They can be great as ways for people to get between the suburbs and an urban core, and offset from high speed/high volume roads with few intersections, but if they plan on putting them on roads such as Alberta, Hawthorne, Cesar Chavez, Lombard, etc, it would be an expensive nightmare.

    An article that breaks it down well:


    Jan is very scientific, he’s not against separated bike paths, he just shows that its better to put them where it makes scientific sense rather than where it looks good.

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    • Nick Falbo May 31, 2013 at 8:49 am

      There are some very real concerns about Portland intersection density and the implementation of cycle tracks, but I think it is a disservice to assume that bicyclists on cycle tracks are exposed to the same level of risk as bicylists on sidewalks. They are different facilities and a real cycle track should be designed to mitigate many of the concerns.

      It is entirely possible that wide bike lanes are a better then cycle tracks for a Portland/American context given frequent intersections and frequent driveways. Honestly, the planners are still trying to figure this out.

      But one thing we do know: bad cycle tracks are bad.

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      • spare_wheel May 31, 2013 at 8:52 am

        Show me one “good” cycle track in PDX.

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        • A.K. May 31, 2013 at 9:07 am


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        • Terry D June 2, 2013 at 8:58 am

          The only really “good ones” here are the short cycle tracks dealing with off-set intersections like the one built at 85th and and the south side of Division…..which SHOULD have been replicated on the north side of Division connecting SE 16th with the traffic light on SE 17th…but alas, they are building a water retention facility instead so there will be more sidewalk riding for southbound cyclists once the MAX stop opens in 2015.

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      • Nick Falbo May 31, 2013 at 9:14 am

        Good cycle track in Portland?: SW Multnomah Blvd (once it is built)

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      • spare_wheel May 31, 2013 at 9:44 am

        Jan’s point about sidewalks was related to cycle tracks that are built on low-traffic residential streets. (Looking at you Cully).
        Jan advocates physical separation when there is high-speed differential.

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        • Joseph E May 31, 2013 at 12:27 pm

          Cully isn’t a low-traffic residential street, it’s a moderate-traffic collector. 60th is an alternative for cars, north of Prescott (where the cycle tracks are), but south of there it is the main north-south route for the 2 mile stretch between 42nd and 82nd; it’s the only yellow line on the map thru there. PBOT could turn it into a low-traffic residential street by prohibiting cars to continue straight at Prescott/60th and at Killingsworth (on both ends), but currently it is a through-route for cars.

          The infrastructure should have been designed better – the cycle track should continue thru intersections with minor side streets at the same level and with the same pavement, and it should not curve left and right at intersections. But it is an appropriate treatment for the street at current traffic levels, and would be even more necessary south of Prescott all the way down to Halsey (along 57th), if that section is every rebuilt.

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          • spare_wheel May 31, 2013 at 2:31 pm

            ok…so its a “moderate-traffic” route. do you really believe that this is route that *needed* a physically-separated cycle track?

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            • are May 31, 2013 at 10:56 pm

              these experimental roll outs are intentionally placed where they are not “needed,” but where they might be seen to “work”

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            • Terry D June 1, 2013 at 7:10 am

              Cully is an experiment. The “main street” needed to be rebuilt from scratch, so the city used the opportunity to try a “European style model cycle-track.” Then city is hoping over time that development will follow in a pedestrian/ bicycle friendly fashion but the place was not chosen because it NEEDED a cycle track. It was chosen because Cully needed a properly built main street, so they decided to try this model and see how it worked…more a question of opportunity in this case.

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    • CPAC May 31, 2013 at 9:25 am

      Thanks for linking to Jan’s updated article. I think it’s worthy of its own front page story here on BikePortland.

      I think Jan’s absolutely right about the appropriateness of different types of infrastructure. Applying his logic to Portland: In our intersection-dense environment, we should focus on improving the neighborhood greenways into true “bicycle boulevards” — open to local auto motor traffic only, with intersection controls designed to allow bikes to flow through without stops, (but barriers to prevent cars from doing so) and signalled intersections when crossing arterials.

      This is much cheaper and more efficient than installing separate cycle tracks, and it resolves the intersection issue with known (and easy) infrastructure – stop signs and lights.

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      • Chris Anderson May 31, 2013 at 9:15 pm

        Would love to see trees in the road or something to prevent cars from travelling more than one block on Going / Lincoln / etc.

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        • Terry D June 2, 2013 at 9:05 am

          Clinton and some of the other older style greenways could be done REALLY cheaply because of those traffic circles we will be riding past today. Think of SE 16th and Salmon, a greenway crossing, all you would need is four large planters and you have a four-way residential auto dead end. Nice bioswale water retention facilitates can be built later….and the planters could be moved somewhere else….a downtown road somewhere where we would need to force vehicles off every block….

          All we need to do is organize and prioritize, it is not money in this case it is willpower.

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    • ScottB May 31, 2013 at 9:55 am

      Many parts of portland have short blocks one way and longer ones the other directions. Many of these shorter blocks have one or two driveways to rear garages and maybe an ally. Cutting off these short blocks, even every other one, with cul-de-sacs (or even bollards) at the greenway would create superblocks on the greenway and cut in half the intersection conflicts.
      Make the two-block segments alternating one-way streets for autos with contra-flow bike lanes, and you have a low-cost, nearly car-free, neighborhood greenway that still provides access to local residences.

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      • John Lascurettes June 1, 2013 at 10:34 am

        Creating cul-de-sacs also generates the need for arterial and collector streets – both things that encourage speeding among drivers. Having grown up in the burbs with this kind of ridiculousness, no thanks. I like the grid-like patchwork of streets that connect, no matter the mode of transport I’m using.

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        • ScottB June 3, 2013 at 9:10 am

          I often encounter such reactions so simple solutions. We could leave out the diconnect for auto users, if you want, but the intersection conflicts will continue, and without the occasional block for autos, the 20 mph greenways are likely to become favorite alternate routes for auto users.
          Most of the solutions in the report are extremely expensive, not to mention corrosive to the ‘multi-modal’ vision (separated facilities on any road posted over 20 mph???).
          The result of always expecting the best facitlity every time, all or nothing, is easy to predict.

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  • 9watts May 31, 2013 at 8:47 am

    It would seem so easy to put out a report that superficially is very much like this one from the City Club, but that omits all the weird qualifiers, the kicks to the gut, the abrupt reversals, the statements that make you scratch your head in puzzlement; that suggest that, deep down, the authors were concerned that the topic they found themselves working on needed to somehow be ‘balanced,’ that all the good news they kept encountering needed to be reined in with some cautionary language lest the report come across as too celebratory.

    Bicycling is wonderful, makes you feel good, is cheap, healthy, fun, & is on the rise. There is basically nothing about bicycling, about the prospect of a small or large increase in people’s reliance on bicycles, that is not to like. Just look at those people in Jonathan’s wonderful photo essays about Copenhagen! Now let’s figure out how to get out of the way of that trend.

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    • longgone May 31, 2013 at 3:22 pm

      …9w. ..
      ” that all the good news they kept encountering needed to be reined in with some cautionary language lest the report come across as too celebratory.”

      Do you think this rhetorical duality will truly cease? I see it as the a political stand off not too dissimilar from any other social issue pertaining to real change…. The peeps with power to influence, never wish to expose themselves for fear of push back and gridlock from those with more power and the unthinking status quo .
      The second half of your comment is so very true, cycling is a social win-win. This is the reason I hate self deprecating cyclists, and the cycling “supremacists” who scream for change to happen at a pace that is not (IMO)possible.

      BTW 9w, I do not believe you to be either of those types, for what it is worth.

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    • ScottB June 3, 2013 at 9:12 am

      I too find the report appears to have been rushed to completion. There are some odd, or lacking, thought progressions and clear errors. I also would have liked examples of where PBOT is violating the national road marking and signing standards.

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  • Garlynn Woodsong May 31, 2013 at 9:04 am

    Uh… how about, separated cycle tracks should be the city’s priority, even if it means the elimination of some on-street parking..!!!

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    • ScottB May 31, 2013 at 9:58 am

      Find me $360/foot for one-way or $870/foot for a two-way version, and long, uninterupted curb on a neighborhood collector with sufficient space (parking, road diet, etc.) and PBOT can build it, if the adjacent property owners can agree.

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  • spare_wheel May 31, 2013 at 9:25 am

    Jonathan helped advise this committee so its not surprise that they came out in favor of cycletracks versus bike lanes. I’ve always believed that some proponents of cycletracks are strongly opposed to bike lanes all together. No single form of infrastructure should be preferred always. IMO, the “copenhagenista” anti-bike lane position is incredibly polarizing.

    The really ironic thing is that there is no physical separation between cyclists or motorists on most cycletracks in CPH. A tiny curb or ramp does nothing to “protect” cyclists. The right hooks and drunk drivers that slaughter cyclists in in PDX would continue to do the same on copenhagen-style infrastructure in the USA. What completely bizarre about the cycle track debate in PDX is that proponents want to build facilities that were long ago rejected as inferior in Denmark and Holland. The use of cars to separate cyclists from traffic was long ago discarded as inferior in Holland and has been widely criticized in Germany and Denmark.

    Moreover, the incredible growth of cycling in Germany argues that “buffered” door zone free bike lanes can be just as effective a tool for increasing mode share as cycle tracks. Which would you rather have? A km of poorly connected cycle track or dozens of miles of well-connected buffered bike lanes?

    Cycling mode share in Munich during a period of time in which separated infrastructure was removed and replaced with bike lanes:

    Munich 1996: 6% mode share
    Munich 2011: 17.4% mode share

    As FauxPorter noted above, Jan Heine does a terrific job of arguing for an infrastructure vision that allows for a context-specific spectrum of separation:


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    • Nick Falbo May 31, 2013 at 10:42 am

      Yes! Even the Cycle Track Mafia should support wide bike lanes in the short term at least. The most important thing we can do today is reserve 8′ of space for bikes in the form of cheap and easy buffered bike lanes. The conversation about whether the buffered bike lane could be a cycle track in the future could then come with more discussion, research and debate.

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  • LoveDoctor May 31, 2013 at 9:33 am

    I think part of Jonathan’s post was also meant to highlight how the general media latched on to one or two paragraphs of the 83 pages. Every single headline from every outlet (aside from bikeportland) read something akin to “City Club endorses bike tax”, with just a peripheral mention of the other 82.5 pages. Interesting how the media would prefer to stir controversy and glue eyes to screens/generate page views by bring up, yet again, how people on bikes don’t pay into infrastructure funding.

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    • LoveDoctor May 31, 2013 at 9:38 am

      Oh, and to be clear, I am well aware that at least a slice of my federal, state, and PDX self-employment taxes pay for not only the bike lane I use, but also help subsidize auto infrastructure. But never is there one mention of how transportation funding/expeditures really work in the media. That might risk damping the fire.

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  • Terry D May 31, 2013 at 9:51 am

    As far as cycle-tracks versus buffered bike lanes goes, it really depends on the corridor and whether there are frequent driveways and how much retail access is needed. Cycle-tracks are expensive and can be limited in capacity once built, bikelanes can always be widened cheaply over time with further parking elimination or lane reductions if bike capacity needs increase. We do need an INTEGRATED network of commuter corridors that are either wide buffered lanes, or protected cycle-tracks.

    As far as focusing on residential greenways and inter-neighborhood conductivity, that is exactly what our growing group is trying to do. Our 20 MPH Half-mile neighborhood greenway grid network is significantly more connected and aggressive than the Masterplan including school and park access.


    Our conceptual maps are here including cost estimates for the worst crossings:


    COPINGwithBikes.org is in production and we are having our third group ride on Sunday at 2pm..go to FB for details.

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    • CPAC May 31, 2013 at 10:22 am

      I’m puzzled by the lack of any plans for the West side.

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      • Terry D May 31, 2013 at 11:53 am

        It means “Center of Portland Integrating Neighborhood Greenways” with Bikes. We have defined “Center” as the area between the Willamette River the Springwater and I 205 multi-use paths and Columbia river/ the Tracks to the north.

        This is not meant to be city wide, it is meant to be manageable and create a plan to integrate this predominately residential area of the city. There is “East Portland in Motion” for east of I 205, there is a plan being developed for Downtown and there is a grant written by PBOT to create an active transportation plan for SW. Our group is designed to be narrowly focused, but bring greenway safety equity for everyone and not just the more well off neighborhoods. Plus, we live at almost the exact center of the center, so we know the routes. This is a bottom up group…not a “I know what is best for your area” group….and we are only tourists when we cross the river, so to speak.

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    • spare_wheel May 31, 2013 at 10:31 am

      “it really depends on the corridor and whether there are frequent driveways and how much retail access is needed. Cycle-tracks are expensive and can be limited in capacity once built, bikelanes can always be widened cheaply over time with further parking elimination or lane reductions if bike capacity needs increase. We do need an INTEGRATED network of commuter corridors that are either wide buffered lanes, or protected cycle-tracks.”

      i agree with this. the question is how should we prioritize limited funding now. i strongly favor using the bulk of our funding to build a well connected network of bike lanes with cycle tracks used only in specific choke points (e.g. bridges and unavoidable high speed areas). not only is this a proved route to high mode share (germany) but its a vision we can afford to implement before the next 20 year bike plan rolls around.

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  • AndyC of Linnton May 31, 2013 at 9:54 am

    Well, yes, I hope these recommendations are discussed, in addition to the tax part. I am really hopeful (but not delusional) that if City Club is discussing bicycling for transportation in a serious way, and the previous revelation that ODOT is becoming less “highway-centric”, we MAY be moving in to a new era, or at least have some better biking facilities in the city.
    I would take a cycle track on highway 30 over my crappy detritus-ridden shoulder. Maybe the West side of Willamette Ave it would work as well? I think they would be a little more dangerous than a bike lane in most intersection heavy areas, but you know what? I’ve never ridden one so I have no idea.

    Actually, thinking of a cycle track on Highway 30…Yes! please!

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    • Terry D May 31, 2013 at 9:57 am

      30 is a perfect place for a cycle-track, particularly since the tracks prevent needing an access to the east except in certain circumstances….all the way to Longview.

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    • spare_wheel May 31, 2013 at 10:34 am

      30 is definitely a perfect place for a cycle track. i would support it as long as it does not take away too much money from building a well-connected network of bike lanes and bike boulevards elsewhere.

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  • ScottB May 31, 2013 at 10:06 am

    I’ve not finished the report yet, but was curious how many of the committee members (‘your committee’, City Club) are also members of the BTA, or other local bike advocacy groups? Since BAC member diversity was a highlight of needed changes, I’ve not seen full disclosure yet on committee member affiliation. Why is it important, do you ask? Seems to me that a proposed tax to go toward education being a significant recommendation, and the BTA being the primary, if not sole, PBOT contractor providing ped/bike safety education to K-8 schools in Portland, that the BTA (or other such service providers) becomes a secondary benefactor of such a tax (after PBOT, of course). Not that there’s any significant profit involved, but, for the sake of full disclosure….

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  • BURR May 31, 2013 at 11:38 am

    The great fallacy in the City Club report is the same fallacy PBOT makes when selecting and designing bicycle infrastructure: catering to the lowest common denominator, newbie cyclists, otherwise known as the ‘interested but concerned’.

    There is already a large and growing population of experienced cyclists in Portland and the numbers of experienced cyclists will continue to rise as more newcomers take up cycling and over time gain the necessary experience to feel more comfortable in a wider variety of cycling environments.

    The proper response is not to expound the virtues of one type of facility over all others – the ‘zero sum game’ referred to above; but rather, to develop multiple types of infrastructure for cyclists that respond to the needs of cyclists of all skill levels. In other words, this is Portland, not Copenhagen or Amsterdam. American cities are designed differently than European cities and American attitudes are different than European attitudes. There may be some take-aways from Europe’s ‘great cycling cities’ that we can use, but the system most likely to work and be implemented in the U.S. is not a direct copy of Copenhagen or Amsterdam’s system, but rather, some sort of hybrid system.

    This means you don’t necessarily want to chose separated cycle tracks over striped bike lanes or even sharrows; it means you provide some of everything for everyone. And it certainly doesn’t mean making our arterial streets even less cyclist-friendly than they already are by removing the few existing striped bike lanes (at least from areas where they do not introduce additional hazards for cyclists, like right hooks or doorings), in favor of cycle tracks on ‘alternate routes’. Rather, it should mean improving the existing infrastructure to reduce the hazards, AND adding additional infrastructure to the network.

    Also, one very important thing this report seems to overlook, at least based on the reviews I’ve read, is that many Portland streets, particularly in the inner parts of the city, are width-constrained and separated cycle tracks can only be added at the expense of existing vehicle travel or parking lanes.

    Finally, Portland will only truly be a cyclist-friendly, Platinum-worthy city when ALL local streets, residential and arterial alike, are safe for and accessible to cyclists of all skill levels.

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    • ScottB June 3, 2013 at 4:42 pm

      Any examples to illustrate such a fallacy on the part of PBOT?

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  • mikeybikey May 31, 2013 at 12:01 pm

    IMO one thing that is clearly missing from the recommendations of the report is planning and building bicycle routes that in addition to being connected are _direct_ and _convenient_. For example, under these recommendations the bicycle lane on SW Broadway between the future buffered lane and PSU could be decommissioned in favor of funneling bicycles over to a cycle track along the park blocks. While this would certainly be a pleasant ride and probably safer, it would be unnecessarily circuitous. Makes me think of this post from copenhagenize:


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    • BURR May 31, 2013 at 1:04 pm

      Not only direct and convenient, but that also consider the effects of topography along the route(s), something that PBOT seems to routinely ignore.

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  • Thomas May 31, 2013 at 12:29 pm

    I posted this yesterday in Jonathans article about Cycletracks… seems like from reading the above comments that many are in agreement about the hazards of parallel paths… we need a public design charet with many designs proposed and discussed around the city.

    With the City Club proposing more Cycletracks here in Portland, I think there needs to be a good deal of discussion about design. Jonathan linked to an article recently where the author was steadfastly against cycle tracks and I have to agree with most of his points. Removing bikes from the sightlines of normal traffic, where driveway and right turns have to cross the track – is more of a safety hazard than it solves. Plus the right of way costs within the city to add space for cycle tracks is extremely expensive. I like the idea mentioned above for center way tracks – that might work better in many situations in Portland than bike lanes or side tracks. What we need are a portfolio of design standards that work for the many modes that designers can apply on a site by site basis. Frankly – I hate making copenhagen lefts – I want to make a left like any other vehicle… but I’ve been biking for over 20years and am comfortable in traffic.

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    • tonyt
      tonyt June 3, 2013 at 9:06 am

      “Removing bikes from the sightlines of normal traffic, where driveway and right turns have to cross the track – is more of a safety hazard than it solves. Plus the right of way costs within the city to add space for cycle tracks is extremely expensive.”


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    • ScottB June 3, 2013 at 4:45 pm

      The cycle tracks depicted in Europe are usually along controlled access, or So Cal (Irvine), type roadways with few driveways. They are transportation corridors, or springwater trails, not neighborhood streets.

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  • FauxPorteur May 31, 2013 at 12:44 pm

    It seems like too much discussion is about separated cyclepath vs buffered bike lanes. The third (and most valuable to me, IMHO) approach of bicycle infrastructure is the bike boulevard/neighborhood greenway. If properly implemented, they actually allow you get someone safely and quickly. Today I rode from NE 9th and Ainsworth to 8th and East Burnside on NE 9th Avenue. 9th avenue is an extremely low-auto traffic road and with very minimal changes (flip some stop signs, add some bike crossings over a couple busier streets, perhaps a buffered bike lane through Lloyd, and a bike/per bridge over 84 and it would be “world class”. If the cyclepath mafia had their way we would fight to have a cyclepath running the length of MLK or 15th that would never happen due to costs and politics, and would be dangerous anyways.

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    • are May 31, 2013 at 11:05 pm

      well of course you did not get all the way to burnside on 9th. at best you got to fremont and detoured around irving park, and ended up on the 12th avenue overcrossing. if you took 9th from thompson to broadway, the pavement was horrible.

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      • FauxPorteur June 1, 2013 at 9:47 am

        I rode through the park on its sidewalk, the rough pavement closer to Broadway doesn’t bother me because I ride 38mm wide tires at 45psi and only ride about 12mph.

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    • Terry D June 1, 2013 at 7:42 am

      The 9th avenue Greenway is in the Master Plan and would be REALLY nice, but it would be a major expense. https://www.facebook.com/COPINGWithBikes looked at it closely, but decided to leave it off the table for our first round “Conceptual map” in favor of pushing for buffered bike lanes on 20th from the 17th street overpass to Lloyd district and improvements on 16th, even though we REALLY felt it was a good idea. The reasons?

      1) The 7th-9th street overpass would cost about $4-5 million. It is in the master plan, but the Lloyd and east-side business associations want a full bridge which would be more like $40 million, so PBOT has not pushed for designing it.
      2) South of the Banfield, it would make a PERFECT greenway all the way to the new MAX stop and MUP past Division. It also would require a “green wave” of timed traffic lights at Hawthorne, Main, Morrison, Belmont, Stark, Burnside and Couch. From a cost perspective, this would be at another million+ not counting the curb redesign and traffic calming that would be needed. We could build a LOT of residential greenway with that kind of money, but if zoned correctly 9th can be built through development charges once the eastside starts getting post MAX stop development.
      3) A road diet similar to what was done on NE Multnomah could EASILY be done on 9th north past Broadway/ Weidler cheaply, and the greenway north could be built all the way to Holman. The road is rough in parts, but could be fixed with time. It would require a new crossing of Fremont, preferably with a HAWK, since it is VERY busy there and a path circumventing Irving park. The neighborhood does NOT want fast commuters cutting thought he park, so the masterplan calls for a path circumventing the perimeter. Between the HAWK and the path, that adds another half-million to the tab.

      So due to cost, we rejected this route (even though it was in our first two versions) in favor of two auto-diverters on 7th. One preventing northbound traffic at Hancock and another preventing southbound at Fremont. 7th is fine for a greenway for now if we force the traffic onto MLK and connects up to the buffered bike lanes. Long term 9th would need to be improved to reach our <500 vehicles per day goal since i do not think we could cut the traffic on 7th down to that level easily. We need to put pressure on PBOT to decide what it wants to do with the 7th street overpass. Do we need a new local access two lane road with nice bike facilitates (like the Sellwood) or just a pedestrian/bike overpass and begin the process. It should be attached to the Sullivan's gulch MUP plan if ever built, as well as an overpass at 92nd.

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      • 9watts June 1, 2013 at 8:01 am

        Crumbs. Tasty crumbs, but still crumbs.

        was supposed to be a reply to Terry D; bp timeout un-nested it.

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        • Terry D June 2, 2013 at 9:21 am

          We decided it was more important to spend the $8 million to bring greenways through the poorer neighborhoods requiring some gravel road and MUP connections and sidewalks since they are also critical for a PROPER greenway. We felt that investing in a complete half-mile grid for everyone, including the neighborhoods that have not seen the investment like the central eastside has (ie Streetcar, MAX, Springwater, eastside esplanade) was more equitable. Most of 9th avenue greenway budget went (theoretically of course) into crossings of 82nd, greenway poor south Portland and deep north in Kenton and Sumner (since “Connected Cully” is already planned and grant written).

          The city as a whole has to receive the benefits if we are going to move forward. Investing in certain areas while ignoring others creates animosity and resentment. It is a question of equity in this case. We needed to keep the budget with-in the funded $22 million “one-half of the $45 million Helvetia/ I26 interchange project” goal. The 9th avenue Greenway is included in the $45 million plan, assuming money (and a settled on design) can be found for the 7th street overpass.

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  • John Liu
    John Liu May 31, 2013 at 1:34 pm

    Making side streets into bike boulevards is great, and helps cyclists get from point A to point B, but these are not commercial streets and there is nothing much happening there. That is intrinsically true – how do you suppose they became designated as bike boulevards to begin with? If you want to go grocery shopping, visit restaurants, buy things, and otherwise go about your daily life, you have to be able to ride on commercial streets, especially on the busy ones.

    Making separated cycletracks is also great, and helps cyclists who are unwilling or unable to ride on the regular streets, but there is nowhere near enough money and in many places not enough roadway width. Even if the City Council and PBOT committed to cycletracks, over the next decade we just might manage to build twenty miles of them for the entire city.

    For the time being, and for decades to come, if you are a Portland cyclist who wants to make riding your transportation for all your daily business, you will have to ride on the same city streets that exist today. If you believe that bikes and their riders are a transportation mode equal to cars, you should resist being forced off those streets into segregated facilities.

    Some may say they are pushing us off the streets for our own good, because riding in a painted bike lane can never be safe. That is patronizing and untrue. I ride every day on Portland’s streets, as do many cyclists, and we do so in reasonable safety. Look up the fatality statistics for cycling in Portland: you’ll see it is not a death defying act.

    Yes, the roads can and should be safer for cyclists, and there are many ways to do that. Bike lanes, bike signals, speed limitation, traffic calming, driver education, driver (and cyclist) enforcement. One of the most important is to fill those roads with bikes, because drivers are more aware of and respectful toward a mass of cyclists than toward one isolated rider. You don’t do that by banishing bikes to a few miles of cycle tracks and various minor back streets.


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    • BURR May 31, 2013 at 4:42 pm

      What John said!

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    • Chris Anderson May 31, 2013 at 9:23 pm

      I wouldn’t mind making streets like Alberta permanently carfree.

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  • Edward Hershey May 31, 2013 at 5:16 pm

    Call this a “weird qualifier” if you like, but encouraging cyclists to compete with trucks, buses and heavy auto traffic on major thoroughfares when safer alternatives are available would be the height of irresponsibility. Nowhere does the report suggest barring cyclists from any surface street but it seems to me that bicycling advocates who feel the need to stake a claim to roadway equality by eschewing separation where it is both preferable and feasible are handing the pols a ready-made copout when they refuse to invest in good, safe infrastructure.

    It is a lot easier — and much much cheaper —to paint a white line or a green box than to create the sort of improvements the City Club report endorses.

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    • 9watts May 31, 2013 at 8:05 pm

      “encouraging cyclists to compete with trucks, buses and heavy auto traffic on major thoroughfares […] height of irresponsibility”

      It depends on what you value more, I guess.
      Right now it is culturally accepted to assert that freight is moved by truck (=adults drive oil-mobiles); whereas biking could be accommodated somewhere else, ideally (= children, tourists, folks who presumably have no business to attend to on these streets).
      This is a familiar point of view, but I don’t agree with the larger premise. I think this framing of the problem takes an unnecessarily narrow (zero-sum) view. A dynamic view instead of the static bikes vs. freight trope could have produced a much more inspiring look at transitioning away from this ‘we can’t have both-here’ view to something along the lines of how rapidly could we increase the share of freight not transported by modes that apparently are incompatible with biking?

      Other reasons for being proactive rather than exclusive are
      – that oil-mobiles are on their way out;
      – that moving freight by bike or other non-fossil-fuel mode is on the rise;
      – that although much that we dignify with the term freight today may be fun but it is also discretionary–we could easily do without it, and probably will one of these days.

      Here’s the relevant passage from the City Club Report:
      “… any prioritization of non-motorized transportation, as outlined in the 2030 Bike Plan should plan to accommodate, and if possible avoid, key freight routes.”

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    • are May 31, 2013 at 11:07 pm

      it would be easy to link to dozens of stories on this site illustrating the inadequacy of stripes and green boxes

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    • spare_wheel June 1, 2013 at 11:04 am

      German transportation policy favors in road bike lanes and the rate of cyclist injury is far lower than in the USA. IMO, cyclist safety has more to do with the behavior of those who drive multi-ton machines than the presence or absence of particular flavor of bike infrastructure.

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      • BURR June 2, 2013 at 12:07 pm

        Exactly, which is why reform of the vehicle code to better protect non-motorized users, and motorist re-education, are both so desperately needed.

        Among the obvious failures here are (1) PBOT’s and ODOT’s inability and/or lack of interest in producing and providing any level of educational program to re-educate motorists regarding the rights of non-motorized users, and the responsibility of motorists to behave properly and cautiously in the presence of non-motorized users, rather than as complete a-holes; and (2) the failure of PPB, other enforcement agencies and our judicial system to properly do their job with respect to enforcing and upholding the rights of non-motorized users injured or killed by motorists.

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  • Doug Klotz May 31, 2013 at 11:47 pm

    I’m amused by the frequent reference to Portland’s narrow streets that can’t be widened. So 1000-year old European cities have wider streets, or ones that can easily be widened?? No, they have many even narrower streets. They just have different priorities. They’re not afraid to take auto lanes away.

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  • 9watts June 1, 2013 at 8:00 am

    Crumbs. Tasty crumbs, but still crumbs.

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  • tonyt
    tonyt June 3, 2013 at 9:05 am

    I just don’t get this either/or mindset in regards to cycle tracks. Separated cycle tracks make sense in certain areas. Cully is not one of them and HOW that track was done is awful. I would never use Cully as an example of success. The portion shown in the pic is fine, but so much of it has constant zig zagging at every intersection which to me feels like it was designed by someone who doesn’t actually ride. My visibility, both what I can see and how well I can be seen is compromised, and my ability to maintain a constant and predictable speed is reduced. It is a very expensive track which is best suited for bikes-as-meandering-entertainment.

    When riding on Cully, what comes to mind is, “this is a really far out section of road, let’s make an expensive showcase. If it fails it won’t really matter.”

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    • Nick Falbo June 3, 2013 at 4:37 pm

      From my understanding, building a cycle track on Cully was actually cheaper than building the same size bike lane. (something having to do with the difference in construction costs between the roadside area (like the sidewalk) and the roadway itself. So it wasn’t an ‘expensive showcase.’

      But yeah, the zig-zag has been criticized tremendously. At least on Cully it happens less frequently due to longer block lengths than are present on much of Portland.

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