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Police send message with 80 citations to drivers near major road closure

Posted by on July 3rd, 2013 at 11:56 am

The Portland Police Bureau Traffic Division has sent a clear message to people how are driving fast and dangerously around the closure of SE Cesar Chavez Blvd: slow down and follow the laws. A statement issued by the transportation bureau this morning says they’ve written 80 citations so far in a “stepped-up” enforcement effort aimed at preventing people from cutting through residential streets — some of which are important arteries in the bike route network.

After we posted a story about this closure last week we immediately heard feedback from readers both via Twitter and in the comments about people who were driving too fast on neighborhood streets. SE 41st in particular, which is a popular street for biking, had become a thoroughfare for high-speed, inconsiderate drivers. Reader Pat Franz, who lives in the area, shared via a comment that, “we’re definitely getting more traffic- probably 3X normal. And more fast traffic.”

Here’s more from Franz:

“When I was on 41st the other day, they had “No Through Traffic Local Traffic Only” signs staged at 41st and Hawthorne, apparently people blow right by them… Here’s hoping the three weeks goes by quickly!”

Well, judging from the response by PBOT and the PPB, it looks like they weren’t comfortable waiting. “Police crack down on speeding, other violations near SE Portland construction zone… to ensure motorists follow detour and construction signs” reads a PBOT press statement I just read. PBOT, the Bureau of Environmental Services (BES) and the PPB all appear to be taking this issue very seriously. This is a great sign, given that there are several of major road closures coming to southeast Portland this summer.

PBOT also released a short snippet of Transportation Commissioner Steve Novick at a press conference to drive their point home. “Don’t drive fast through the neighborhood streets,” Novick warns, “and know that the police are going to be doing some targeted enforcement… to catch people if they are speeding.”

Traffic Division Lt. Chris Davis said they’ve heard loud and clear from citizens that there are rampant speeding and stop sign violations in the area around Cesar Chavez. Lt. Davis is urging drivers to stay on major streets like 30th and 50th instead of creating safety problems for other road users and residents on side streets.

This reaction by the City to this important traffic safety issue is very encouraging to see. Especially on a day when our friends in New York City are lamenting their police bureau’s continued crackdown on people riding bikes.

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  • LoveDoctor July 3, 2013 at 12:59 pm

    Good! I use the Lincoln/Harrison greenway everyday, and traffic is definitely higher and less considerate now. Many of the drivers that used to frequent the greenway are generally considerate of people on bikes, but the “newcomers” are already frustrated and in a hurry, and aren’t accustomed to non-motorized users in their commute path.

    And as an aside, us folk on bikes might also consider using those stop signs as intended as well to reduce the overall frustration level of everyone involved.

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  • Spiffy July 3, 2013 at 1:12 pm

    Friday evening right after the closure I was on 41st holding up about 3-4 automobiles while another couple were coming towards me… this is a single lane road so cars can’t pass each other without one pulling over… nobody honked or got angry…

    Sunday afternoon I was coming the other way and witnessed many people hauling ass on many streets around the area… apparently some had figured out their route… particularly scary to me was an SUV doing about 40 mph down Harrison towards 50th… gunning it as fast as they could between stop signs and turns…

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    • Chris I July 3, 2013 at 1:16 pm

      Call 911 and report them as a suspected drunk driver. That sounds like erratic behavior…

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  • GlowBoy July 3, 2013 at 1:22 pm

    Glad to see an increase in enforcement. Which would be true even if there weren’t a detour, but even more so now.

    On another note … looking at the link Jonathan provided to other closures coming up this summer, I just learned that the RR crossings for 11th, 12th AND 8th Avenues are going to be closed starting in a couple of weeks. 8th has already been functioning as a safety valve for 11th and 12th during construction, and closing all 3 crossings is going to leave huge backups on the few alternate routes. Which means dicey conditions for cyclists, since it was already frustrating to get in and out of my neighborhood (Brooklyn), the current construction detours have made it downright dangerous, and now our two main connections to the core of SE Portland will be severed.

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    • BURR July 3, 2013 at 1:29 pm

      If this is true, someone better be working on a usable bike detour route before the ‘Road Closed’ sign go up, and not after.

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    • A.K. July 5, 2013 at 8:54 am

      I just noticed the electronic signs with that info on them as well. Traffic is going to be so messed up.

      As far as bike detours into Brooklyn, cyclists may need to go through Ladd’s Addition, up SE Clay to Water Ave, follow that through to SE Division Place, then 6th Ave to Woodward, and that down to Milwaulkie Ave.

      What a pain in the ass, ha.

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  • BURR July 3, 2013 at 1:27 pm

    I’ve seen an uptick in the volume and speed of traffic on SE 30th as well, which is one of the designated detour routes, but no police enforcement there yet as far as I can tell.

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  • Donna July 3, 2013 at 5:25 pm

    Good. I just got home taking my cat from the vet (by bike) and my cat and I just got to witness an SUV throttling his/her way south on SE 37th slam on his brakes and still hit the cyclist (that I am sure magically appeared before his eyes) that was trying to make a left onto SE Lincoln. Cyclist was ok – at least he was well enough to get up and ride away. My cat was pretty flipped out, so I couldn’t get the plate number. What a mess. Just want the inconsiderate jerks back on 39th…

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  • Ted Buehler July 3, 2013 at 7:25 pm

    I rode up 39th on Sunday. It was sweet. Rode the west sidewalk through the actual work area, and rode around in circles a few times elsewhere. It’s a nice little street when there’s no cars. Sidewalks still looked really small, though, just like they do when you have buses brushing past your elbows when the street is open to motor vehicles.

    I’m glad they’re citing irresponsible drivers on 41st and other streets. Thanks to anyone who phoned or emailed in complaints to PBOT/PPB. And I’m liking the new PBOT & new commissioner.

    Ted Buehler

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    • Ted Buehler July 3, 2013 at 7:27 pm

      BTW, the “Old PBOT” sure didn’t issue citations in the summer of 2010 when streetcar construction diverted motorists onto NE Tillamook, shut down the Salmon/Taylor bikeway at MLK, and committed a few other crimes against good detour management.

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  • Kevin Wagoner July 3, 2013 at 8:15 pm

    There should be a story like this everyday. There are so many areas in our city that need this kind of attention.

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  • Adam July 3, 2013 at 10:37 pm

    If there was a diverter on the 41st Ave bike blvd, this problem would not be existing right now on this street. It’s that simple.

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  • Scott Batchelar July 5, 2013 at 2:00 am

    I went down 41st on Wednesday Evening from Hawthorne to Lincoln and across 39th – every single barricade had at least one flagger and the turn onto Lincoln at 41st & 37th had a barricade with a huge light so if anyone tried it would be easy for the Flagger to get their license plate/model.

    I gave both the flaggers on 41st & 37th big thumbs up to thank them.

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