Urban Tribe - Ride with your kids in front.

Riders react to new bike lanes on 52nd

Posted by on July 10th, 2014 at 11:41 am

Over 17 years (17!) after it was first identified as a priority project in the 1996 Bike Master Plan, construction of the 50s Bikeway Project is finally becoming a reality.

Put another way, at long last, new bike lanes are being striped as we type this.

We haven’t gotten out there ourselves to take a look but in the past few days we’ve heard from many readers who are excited to see the progress. So far, we’ve heard almost nothing but praise for the new bike lanes.

Until we can get out there for a more complete look and photo session ourselves, check out what commenters and our friends from Twitter and Facebook are saying so far…


“Yes the 52nd bike lanes feel especially roomy with plenty of space to avoid the door zone on the west side!”

Spencer B.:

“I just rode SE 52 w/ narrow road lanes AND bikes lanes and ITS AWESOME. Willamette ane EVERY other street with bike routes needs this ASAP. SE STEELE would be a great place to follow the Willamette redesign.”

Oregonian Mamacita:

“… the northbound lane of the new bike lanes on SE 52nd and SE Steele seems like a disaster! Cars can park in the bike lane. I just don’t understand the design. South bound is nice.

Northbound, I see drivers hitting the white stripe, while things are so much better going south- drivers are driving further from the bike lane.

I have observed this as a cyclist and a driver.”

Chris T.:

“There’s been a restriping project on 52nd over the last week which resulted in the installation of bike lanes south of foster. very nice of pbot to do this!”

Cory S.:

“… I ride this stretch everyday on my way to work as it’s the fastest way to connect me to the Springwater Corridor. I can’t wait for them to finish striping. I’m thinking they might be done by the end of this week [June 23rd] on this stretch.”

John McSideburns:

“Just saw the new bike lanes on SE 52nd yesterday evening as I passed on Holgate… pretty sweet!”

We’re looking forward to the completion of this project by the end of this summer. When it’s done, the project will create a bikeway for 4.3 miles between the Alameda Ridge area in northeast Portland down to SE Woodstock Blvd. The treatment will be a mix of six-foot wide bike lanes (south of Division) and neighborhood greenway (speed bumps, 20 mph speed limit, and so on).

Learn more about the project via PBOT or by perusing our story archives.

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.

  • David July 10, 2014 at 11:49 am

    I road both ways in the new lanes on the 4th and also found that in the Northbound lane cars were parking in the bike lane. It was right by the cafe Toast. I was curious to know if it was just because people didn’t realize it was a bike lane yet or if they city allows it for some reason. I did notice the parking signs saying 1hr or something like that were still up. Anyone have info on that?

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    • ktmhz July 10, 2014 at 12:37 pm

      Just moved to a location such that 52nd is what I ride every day (instead of Barbur!), and I too have been noticing the parked cars. There’s also a weird spot near Holgate where the northbound stripe ends for about 50 feet, as if there had been something parked there when they were striping it.
      Additionally I have noticed that drivers like to use the bike lane to pass stopped left-turning traffic.
      Altogether not too bad, though, especially after living along the sw Barbur corridor.

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      • davemess July 10, 2014 at 3:40 pm

        That’s exactly what happened: a van was parked there (they only had the “no parking signs” up for a week and then did the striping the next Monday. Hope they come back and get that section.

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    • Cory July 10, 2014 at 12:38 pm

      I’ve been wondering the same thing myself. Also, northbound striping isn’t complete as when they were striping and several days after completion, there was an Astro Van that was sitting on the North Bound and they couldn’t strip where it was sitting. This week I’ve not noticed cars parking in the north bound side, but there were a few last week on my commute home. I’m wondering if it was because they were protesting the lanes being put in, or if they simply didn’t know it was a bike lane.

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    • davemess July 10, 2014 at 1:03 pm

      Yes, I’ve seen this also happen a few mornings. The parking signs do need to come down (not there is not auto parking there). I think PBOT should have added a few more bike lane indications (there are only a couple after a major intersection) on this stretch.
      Some Temporary signs would help as well. Something like “New configuration. No Parking. Bike Lane” would probably go a long way to the big changes that have occurred.

      All and all I think it is just a matter of growing pains as people become aware of the new configuration.

      Interested in Mamacita’s comment. As I’ve actually felt a little more car conscience on the Southbound lane than when I’m going to work in the Northbound one.

      It’s amazing to me it took this long to get this improvement put in. Anecdotally, I’ve seen a good uptick in cyclists using this section already in just a couple of weeks.

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    • was carless July 10, 2014 at 3:16 pm

      I think the people are “peacefully protesting.” Don’t worry, they will soon have an opportunity to protest in front of a judge!

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  • Oregon Mamacita July 10, 2014 at 11:50 am

    Please, enlighten me as to how parts of that project work. For instance,
    cars can legally park in the bike lane on some stretches, for instance near Toast (SE Steele & 52nd). On other parts, a biker would have to pass a bus because the bus stop and the bike lane conflict. I was looking forward to the improvement- but I am back to riding side streets because I don’t feel that safe on 52nd.

    Someone explain the design- I am truly confounded.

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    • Craig Beebe July 10, 2014 at 9:28 pm

      I don’t think cars can legally park in the bike lane near Toast. I have been seeing some of that on the weekends. At least as of a few days ago, though, there were still a couple of 15-minute parking signs in front of the convenience store on that corner. I hope PBOT removes them soon; I can see why people might be confused.

      Ironically, the precise spot where I’m seeing people park right in front of Toast used to have a bike corral!

      As for the bus–that is an annoyance that I fortunately haven’t encountered yet. Too common on a lot of bikeways in the city but I’m not really sure what can be done about it.

      Overall I’m a huge fan of the lanes–and I ride them almost every weekday afternoon. No more dodging in and out of parked cars, constantly looking over my shoulder for a break. The bike lanes are really nice and wide, too. I think traffic has slowed down a little, too, as the auto lanes are significantly narrower than they once were. I’ll be interested to see if PBOT does research into whether that’s true.

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    • paikiala July 11, 2014 at 11:05 am

      Autos are not allowed to park in bike lanes. The same issue came up when Holgate east of Chavez was changed. Portland does not sign bike lanes for no parking unless a problem occurs. Citations will follow once the existing signs are removed if they keep parking there. You could also request enforcement and get the existing signs bagged by calling 823-SAFE.

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  • davemess July 10, 2014 at 12:57 pm

    Now if they could only repave the section of 52nd between Division and Powell that has been torn up for almost 3 MONTHS!!!!
    Come on PBOT!

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    • Reza July 10, 2014 at 1:09 pm

      “Now if they could only repave…”

      How ironic! If only there was some funding mechanism available to accelerate useful paving projects all over the city. Projects that would help people in cars and bikes alike!

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      • Craig Harlow July 10, 2014 at 1:21 pm


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      • davemess July 10, 2014 at 1:29 pm

        I don’t see this as a funding issue at all. More of a “If you’re going to tear it up, repave it in a timely manner” issue. It’s pretty obvious that if they had no intention of repaving within a week they shouldn’t have ripped up the street (which was in decent condition already). I did notice that the section at SE 49th and Stark (Not to mention a wealthy section of east Burnside) was ripped up and repaved within a couple of days, so apparently it can be done.

        I think you’re misrepresenting some of my posts regarding the street fee (which I noticed you didn’t respond to then). I have never said that paving streets or trying to raise more funding wasn’t necessary. I’ve just said that the proposed street fee didn’t appear to be well thought out enough or the the best potential way to raise that funding. (and leaving 52nd unpaved for 3 months does not instill more confidence in PBOT’s money management in my eye)

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        • Art fuldodger July 10, 2014 at 11:24 pm

          The delay that often occurs between the grinding down of the old asphalt (tearing up) and the repaving is fairly annoying. But there is a reason for it. The grinding is relatively slow compared to the paving, and the paving can only be done in dry weather, so once the dry season hits they really want to be spreading asphalt without delay. Thus, the grinding crew needs to get a head start every spring on the paving crew. Or so it’s been explained to me by the city maintenance folks.

          But it does seem like 52nd has been waiting to be paved for a long time….

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          • paikiala July 11, 2014 at 4:16 pm

            Added to that are the different kinds of resufacing. A thin removal could be done quickly, but if you’re taking out 3-6 inches of AC that’s built up over 20 years you never know what you’ll find beneath it. Base repair can further delay final paves.

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            • davemess July 13, 2014 at 8:24 am

              For 3 months? Again, a little notice would be great. At least a sign saying “We’re working on it, please be patient”. This combined with the 52nd/Lincoln intersection sidewalks also sitting unfinished for the last 2-3 weeks just has me worried.

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        • 9watts July 11, 2014 at 7:41 am

          Perhaps my tires are very different from yours, but I thought the grippy texture on that part of 52nd was excellent for biking. We’re not talking about potholes, just some rough texture. Gravel is much rougher and can have washboardy stuff going on, and even that isn’t exactly a problem for the bikes I ride.

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          • davemess July 11, 2014 at 8:27 am

            It might be grippier but it’s a lot slower going up the hill, and the large amount of potholes, cracks, and random sewer bumps (really bad one at the bottom of the hill that they have a cone on because its’ lid keeps flipping off) have made for a less than fun riding experience. Many of the cracks and holes are also right where you want to ride.

            Good point Art, I just think 3 months is too long (esp. watching other roads be torn up and repaved in under a week). At minimum, a sign telling users what’s going on would be great.

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          • paikiala July 11, 2014 at 11:07 am

            The city has a new grinder that leaves a much smoother surface than the older one. Where bumps are removed, they no longer need to patch as the removal spot is usually smoother than the surrounding older roadway.

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  • TOM July 10, 2014 at 3:50 pm

    I just rode SE 122nd North from Division … big signs warning of upcoming repaving.
    Looked at the target area and can not figure out why they are going to tear up street that seems OK, then repave. ?
    maybe they have too much money and haven’t told SN about their surplus ?

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    • paikiala July 11, 2014 at 11:08 am

      A BES project will tear up the roadway.

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  • Spencer July 10, 2014 at 6:11 pm

    I did notice a significant reduction in vehicle speeds with the narrower car travel lanes as well. Also, families and small kids are now riding on it.

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  • gutterbunnybikes July 10, 2014 at 8:17 pm

    Hopefully it works better then the one put in on SE DIvision (60th to 80th). Bike traffic seems to be up (though how much depends on how many it has stolen from Woodward), but easily at least one third of the riders are still riding on the sidewalks on that stretch of Division.

    And honestly (I’m pretty sure I’ll feel the same about this stretch of 52nd which I ride pretty often) I don’t particularly like cars going pass me at 35 mph without slowing down to pass – even within the confines my own provided shoulder to ride in. I’m much more comfortable with them slowing down to pass me when I’ve taken the lane.

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    • John Liu
      John Liu July 11, 2014 at 9:29 am

      If the bike lane is wide enough, why does it matter if the cars over on another part of the road are driving 20 mph or 35 mph?

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    • Spiffy July 11, 2014 at 10:27 am

      the speed limit on 52nd is 30mph… not that a sign keeps them within the limit…

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      • paikiala July 11, 2014 at 4:05 pm

        If road users obeyed traffic signs, we wouldn’t need traffic engineers.

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        • 9watts July 11, 2014 at 4:54 pm

          don’t tell that to Hans Monderman.

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  • 9watts July 10, 2014 at 10:33 pm

    I was delighted when I encountered them Monday. Rode both ways. Two could ride side by side in one of those, if they were paying attention. Ha!

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  • TOM July 11, 2014 at 11:11 am

    paikiala You could also request enforcement and get the existing signs bagged by calling 823-SAFE.
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    thanx for that tip … I will use it.

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  • Pete July 12, 2014 at 3:13 pm

    Huh… not a single comment (yet) saying they should have put a cycle-track in here instead… πŸ˜‰

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    • John Liu
      John Liu July 14, 2014 at 7:46 am

      Above someone says “I was looking forward to the improvement- but I am back to riding side streets because I don’t feel that safe on 52nd.”

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      • Pete July 14, 2014 at 4:42 pm

        Yeah, that’s a tame one… πŸ˜‰

        Seriously though, she points out a valid concern and big problem with many bike lane implementations – they’re so easily mistaken for legal parking spaces! If you look closely, the white stripe of a bike lane is intentionally wider than the white stripe of a shoulder. Not only do most drivers not know this, but I suspect most don’t even know parking in a bike lane is illegal anyway.

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        • davemess July 17, 2014 at 10:45 am

          This section of road (as many) never had a white line for a shoulder though.

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  • Oregon Mamacita July 14, 2014 at 9:32 am

    Oh, parking sure is legal in front of Toast. . don’t think they can remove the parking in front of Toast- the convenience store owner would probably raise heck (yes I know the current incarnation of the store is weird- but the owner is not going to give up parking, imho. ) Toast guests often come by car- not everyone is going to want to jaywalk across SE 52nd at brunch time. Then, there are a number of houses where you can’t really tell people their guests can’t park. These are along 52nd between Steele and Holgate. Those are long blocks, and taking out all parking would be problematic for the residents of those homes.

    So- I am not sure that parking will be removed.

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    • davemess July 14, 2014 at 1:35 pm

      Parking has been removed (lack of enforcement is another issue)(why the bike corral was removed) and there is a bike lane there.

      The parking survey showed pretty minimal use of this segment with two lanes of parking (If I remember it was somewhere between 0-30%).

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      • Oregon Mamacita July 14, 2014 at 1:54 pm

        Okay- if parking has been removed the city must put in “no parking” signs- because it is not as obvious as it should be. For instance, I saw a driver pull over to make a cell phone call (thus- he was trying to be responsible) but he was parked in the bike lane- I think accidentally.

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        • davemess July 14, 2014 at 3:59 pm

          I agree,and enforcement needs to actually be done (or at minimum signage (both temp. and permanent)).

          This is just going to take more time.

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        • Pete July 14, 2014 at 4:47 pm

          Yeah, that’s another thing that many drivers think is OK (shoulder, bike lane, whatever) – apparently the “lesser of two evils” is therefore legal in many peoples’ minds. I’ve witnessed officers having this conversation with cell-phone-wielding drivers more and more these days – I guess the sting operations are starting to work.

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