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.”
Bravo to the Clinton riders.
I love this. I take it from the tone of Sysfail’s description that families on bikes would be welcome on his ride. I’d like to know about the others. If you’re out there, could you explicitly say if family bikes and families with kids on their own bikes are welcomed, tolerated, or not recommended for these rides? Personally I think we make a clearer case to drivers, but maybe you don’t agree. I’d love to know – and join your rides!
For the BikeLoudPDX ride, families are welcomed!
yes, yes, yes, yes, yayah es! i’ll be working, but then taking the lane at 630pm each and every work night this year
I was at the ride on Tuesday and we had multiple people who live in the neighborhood complain to us about the cut-through car traffic. It’s not just people riding bikes that want change.
PBOT needs not to cave to specific interests. The only thing that matters is increasing safety for all.
Nice work everyone
I don’t like the Fox coverage that said protesters are trying to say, “Stay off my greenway.” I don’t think there’s anyone with the notion of it being theirs involved in the process. I’m pretty sure the message is, “this is a greenway and that means 20mph. Go slow if you use it. If you need a thoroughfare, go elsewhere.”
I found the story to be surprisingly fair and balanced. The message to drivers that are using a neighborhood greenway as a high-speed cut-through is exactly that: stay off of our street. I think we are making progress as a city. This story could have easily been turned into comment bait.
What about the bicyclists that attack drivers that are on Clinton? Several of my coworkers and I go to establishments over that way and are constantly berated by bicyclists that yell obscenities stating that cars don’t belong on the road. When is THAT going to stop?
Please explain to me how a person on a bicycle can “attack” a person inside of a car.
Really? My turn.
That will stop a few seconds after EVERY ANGRY DRIVER ON THE FACE OF THE PLANET stops yelling at, honking at, and attacking people on bikes. Ludicrous to think that will happen, isn’t it? Or maybe when we aren’t pushed off the main thoroughfares by aggressive driving and forced one or two blocks over. I’m a fairly even-tempered mom, but when I have to bike my family over a block or two to get to a safe street and then we still have to deal with aggressive drivers (it’s illegal to pass in an intersection for a flipping reason!) it’s just too much. Would you enjoy being told you *have* to use the water fountain around the back because the front one is only for the VIP customers, and then find that the VIP customers push you out of the way to drink from that fountain too? I dare you to say, “No, I wouldn’t like that. I can see how families biking with their children would feel threatened by drivers on Clinton. Now that I can see that, I guess I understand how other people on bikes could be fed up too.”
Perhaps the individual humans who are aggressive behave that way regardless of mode, and the rest of us are calm and sane until we are attacked (verbally or otherwise). Perhaps you shouldn’t worry so much about your car being verbally attacked.
the modern moloch murders children by the thousands every year in this country. but, yeah, get upset about some people on bicycles that dare to be angry about having them diverted onto a street that the city has prioritized for bicycles. you go right ahead and back that horse.
I mostly stopped riding on Clinton a couple years ago in favor of a more efficient commute, but have started again in the last week to be one more rider taking the whole lane.
I would like to see PPB address unsafe passing and harassment on SE 26th between Division and Powell during the evening rush hour. I’ve had some pretty harrowing close calls recently, especially for a street with many speed humps and lots of pedestrian traffic.
if you’re riding over the sharrows as you’re supposed to then there’s no way for a car to safely pass a bicycle…
you should report it to firstname.lastname@example.org and ask for enforcement…
many motorists are quite willing pass unsafely.
Someone did that to me recently, and complained that I was ‘taking up the whole road’. I love irony.
To learn about other BikeLoudPDX happenings, add yourself to our Google Group! https://groups.google.com/d/forum/bikeloudpdx
Facebook group/page/whatever coming as soon as we decide on a permanent name and somebody makes the Facebook group! Not everything will be cross-posted to all social media though so I suspect the Google Group will remain the authoritative source on All Things BikeLoudPDX/(enter permanent name here).
As far as the Super-Legal ride, it’s definitely open to anyone. There really isn’t a start point, end point, or group leader. Just ride around at your leisure around 26th & Clinton 🙂
I am so glad to see Clinton getting the attention it deserves, finally.
Do you all remember the brew-ha-ha surrounding the Alberta Street Fair when people proposed it should be car-free?
The City laughed in people’s faces at the idea the street should be shut don to auto-traffic to accommodate the event.
Then, a local Alberta businessman PARKED A CAR across the street with a GIANT STOP SIGN painted on it, blocking traffic on the street.
A few weeks later, Alberta had its car-free street fair.
Why does it always take people breaking the law, for the City of Portland to give a c**p?
I would like to see a car parked across SE Clinton with a big stop sign on it.
Maybe a cargo bike parked across Clinton at 26th as a diverter. With a nice “do not enter – except bikes” sign on it?
But seriously, thank you to all the folks riding down Clinton these days (both on organized rides and just to get someplace) and standing up for greenways.
Didn’t the city shut down the Alberta street fair and last Thursday because there were too many people/not enough white people?
Here is the article about the community BLOCKING Alberta Street to car traffic, to allow their streetfair to happen!!!
Or, if you prefer, OPENING Alberta Street to bike/ped traffic!
The comments on the news story are pure gold, at least if you find hilarity in threats of vehicular homicide.
since the link in the story is broken: http://www.kptv.com/story/26379268/cyclists-say-construction-pushes-drivers-on-their-routes
On the plus side, you can upvote/downvote. Granted, most of the comments are so incoherent you can’t even understand what they were trying to say, even the ones that you could consider ‘pro bike’
just did-thanks for the idea. Was kind of fun. But most of you smart, bikey people didn’t get all the way to the end of the list. more hateful garbage with lots of upvotes remains down there.
I see you got sucked in. Still working through them all, like I said, it’s tough work. We’re making progress though, everyone go vote!
Yes, you can anonymously downvote all the negative comments!
“The comments on the news story are pure gold”
Hard to believe $0.34 of every property tax dollar in this town goes to secondary education. And here they could be reading bikeportland and learning some things instead of spewing ill-informed invective.
Drugs are a terrible thing. Also, discussions on the internet seem to have gone waaaay downhill over the past few years. I’m guessing a lot more people found the internet, including a lot of grumpy old people and uneducated (biased, prejudiced, etc) angry people.
Really, just taking the lane is enough, if there are sufficient numbers on each side to make passing difficult. As for stopping at every stop sign, there’s only one stop between 26th and Chavez.
My favorite thing about this mess is that Trimet actually routed their #4 Division St bus to Clinton St, at least partially, between SE 21st and 26th.
There is an existing bus line on that section of Clinton. The 4 carries people that live on Division, so it would be asinine to drop them off at Powell then make them walk back.
Yes…where the #10 bus goes every single day.
Portland routes some bus lines in really weird places (like quiet neighborhood streets and greenways. I’m hoping this is going to change in the future, with a few intersections in the city becoming more bus friendly.
Portland – the city – doesn’t choose bus routes. Tri-Met uses Clinton between 21st and 26th because the turn from Division to southbound 26th has too small a corner radius. Same thing on southbound 60th to west bound Division, so TriMet uses Lincoln between 52nd and 60th.
YES! Everyone stay safe out there!
What happened to the Bicycle Mandellas they were supposed to install years ago on Clinton at 13, 17, 34, and 41st? Those would be high-visibility items to car drivers, as they probably never notice the sign toppers. And there were two artists commissioned to make bicycle art for the traffic circles, but I haven’t seen that. It seems like PBOT abandoned the Clinton Improvement Project abruptly, as they have yet to implement the improved crossing at 50th.
How about somebody getting out there with a few bags of Quik-Crete and some paint and making some guerrilla diverters? Or would we need to hijack a cement truck?
A rough guesstimate is about 30 bags (carry it in a half ton pickup) and a cement mixer. Unless you want to spend all day with a wheelbarrow and a mortar hoe that is. Your shoulders will get a nice workout, though
PBOT used concrete trash bins and repurposed them at N Central/Tyler, if you’re looking for a legally correct version. NYC uses tree planters that can sustain an impact from an auto. Some inexpensive large planters, terra cotta or plastic from HD, might work well, or use wood to build some 3 ft tall planter boxes with a sack or two of gravel in the bottom.
Put the semi diverters at least a block from major cross streets, west of 21st or east of 26th. Not east of 21st or west of 26th, since the bus travels there. I say 1 block because the local businesses at those busier intersections would like some motorists to be able to get to them.
Speaking of local businesses, promoters of Clinton need to get out ahead on those issues before it becomes a 20’s problem. Showing them that as many or more cyclists use Clinton as motorists would help, and throw in the data about how cyclists spend more at local retail.
The ‘cut through’ is often among the more obnoxious and unsafe misuses people with their motor vehicles, inflict on neighborhood streets. I’m not surprised that people living in this area would support objectives that seek to thwart this misuse.
As for the diverter cones that have been suggested, big, 4′ orange diversion cones sometimes equipped with signs saying ‘Local Traffic Only’, set wide enough to allow only one car at a time to pass through the gap provided, may be a reasonable, effective aid towards discouraging people that would otherwise cut through. As long as the measure doesn’t excessively constrict and inconvenience people that make up local traffic.
This type of action is important. Living in a city with good (not great) bicycle infrastructure and decent active transportation policy often makes us complacent. Thank you Alex for pushing.
I had to go down 26th yesterday and I would say 8 out of 10 cars were turning onto Clinton. Some you could tell didn’t know where the detour was taking them but Clinton looked like a shortcut to them so they waffled briefly and took it. Diverters are definitely called for. I understand concrete ones are probably out because of emergency vehicle access, but even cones would be a big help. Signage and making Clinton look like a construction zone would be even better. Roving masses of cyclists works for me too, but really, something official needs to be done.
“I understand concrete ones are probably out because of emergency vehicle access”
Not necessarily. When I lived in Berkeley there were concrete ones that let emergency vehicles through a block from my apartment. Let’s see if I can find a photo. Here’s one:
section on diverters:
There are several types of diverters in place today – semi-diverters (closing half the street) and full diverters, which either create a cul de sac or are placed diagonally across an intersection and force vehicles to turn the corner. Most full diverters have a gap between the bollards and a low steel under-carriage device, which is supposed to allow only passage of fire trucks and other high-clearance vehicles. Nearly all diverters allow bicycles to pass through on the street, while a few require bicycle passage on the sidewalk.
Diverters that only block one direction of traffic and leave about 12 in the opposing lane permit ER vehicles to enter in the opposing lane. ER vehicles are permitted to use the whole roadway to complete a response run and that is how PBOT usually designs diverters.
You don’t put diverters across both lanes, just the lane that enters the street. Emergency vehicles can still go around.
A simpler and quicker guerrilla action than mixing your own concrete would be finding someone with access to a forklift, a long flatbed truck with ramps, and a few jersey barriers.
We put up a line of small sport cones across the lane that enters our cul-de-sac when the kids are out playing. It discourages people from using it as a turnaround, and slows them down when they do enter. Makes me think all cul-de-sac entrances should only be one lane wide.
Two large planters might be enough. One just south of the centerline and another about 6 ft from the curb for and eastbound diverter that doesn’t restrict westbound flow. rotate 180 degrees for the opposite direction. A planter that is 2 ft wide would take 2 ft from a 10 ft lane at the centerline and 1 ft from the lane next to the parking lane, leaving 7 ft between. At N Central/Tyler PBOT left about 5 ft between the planter that are about 2.5 ft wide.
There are “Road Closed” signs all along Clinton. They just happen to be on the north-south streets headed toward Division.
You keep referring to Eric Iverson as Ivy after the initial introduction. Might want to correct his name.