Traffic conditions on SE Clinton have created a perfect storm for concerned members of the community who are pushing to maintain the street’s status as a low-stress bicycle boulevard.
Three years ago, the Portland Bureau of Transportation was so eager to show that Clinton was a bicycle route that it became the first street in the city to receive special, bike-inspired signage. It was a marketing push PBOT called the Clinton Street Bike Boulevard Enhancement Project.
But those signs don’t seem to be doing much. Since then, Clinton has become a popular cut-through for drivers looking to avoid SE Division. Even before the City threatened to detour auto users onto Clinton during the recent paving project on Division, we had already reported about concerns and calls for more diverters to keep them away.
Thankfully, after community outcry the City reversed its detour plans. But the problem remains and now volunteer activists have taken to the street in hopes of strengthening their calls for change.
The group leading the charge is Bike Loud PDX, a new cadre of volunteer activists that has decided to focus on Clinton. Their first ride on Tuesday was a big success.
During the ride, several dozens participants rode slowly in the street to demonstrate their presence.
The protest also attracted local TV news. A headline from KPTV read, Summer construction creates problems for SE cyclists. Below is an excerpt from the online story and the video segment that aired Tuesday night:
“Summer construction on SE Division is creating problems for cyclists who say their bike routes are being bombarded with drivers looking to cheat the detour…
To raise awareness about the issue, Reed and his fellow members of Bike Loud PDX organized a peaceful protest during rush hour traffic.
The group slowly peddled [sic] in front of drivers along SE Clinton, reminding them to stay off their greenway and stick to the suggested detour.”
Bike Loud PDX founder Alex Reed says the protest rides will continue until the City of Portland installs temporary diverters to keep drivers away. Reed included a link to the media coverage in an email to a staffer in charge of the Division project and asked for fixes to the problems. Here’s the text of that email:
“BikeLoudPDX’s short-term request is that PBOT / BES put temporary diverters on Clinton near 26th during the construction. Our long-term request is that PBOT change construction protocols to limit motor vehicle diversion to bikeways during construction sufficiently so that those bikeways stay within PBOT motor vehicle volume standards for bikeways during the construction. We would like the protocols made public, with the changes highlighted or documented in some manner.
We will be protesting again on Friday if no changes are made before then.”
Reed tells BikePortland that he has not yet heard back from the City and tomorrow’s ride is going forward as planned.
Also tomorrow, another community activist has taken up the cause and planned a “Super Legal Ride.” Eric Iverson said his “blood started to boil” when he read about the City’s plans to detour drivers onto Clinton. “Because the city did this, and then say that they can’t put in diverters and make people follow detours,” he wrote to us via email this morning, “I wanted to make a ride that was a sort of slow-moving diverter.”
The purpose of Ivy’s Super Legal Ride is to “make drivers and the city aware that Clinton is a greenway not to be thought of as a thoroughfare or detour.” As for the “super legal” aspect, riders will be coming to a complete stop at each and every stop sign. Why? Here’s how Ivy explains it:
“I don’t think that drivers realize that “Idaho stopping” and multiple cyclists heading in the same direction stopping together and starting together, saves them time. Hence the part of the ride where every cyclist stops, foot down, one at a time, in a figure-8 around the neighboring blocks to Clinton and 26th.”
Ivy acknowledges that Bike Loud PDX’s ride (which was created after his) is probably more effective and he’s encouraging people to join that one instead of his.
Another response to this issue are the Clinton Street Social Rides led by Brian Sysfail. The next one is set for Friday, September 12th (details are on Facebook). Sysfail’s rides are decidedly laid-back; but they still have the same goal of reminding everyone that Clinton is a bike boulevard.
“We really have no leader/start of the ride, it’s more of game to ride from 12th to 39th and amass riders as we go,” he wrote on Facebook, “no agro bike jocks provoking people in cars. Please be positive and non-confrontational.”