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First look: New bike facilities open along MAX Orange Line

Posted by on October 23rd, 2014 at 12:48 pm

Update on PMLR bikeway progress-46

New multi-use path goes east-west just south of MAX line/UPRR tracks between SE 7th and 17th.
(Photos by J. Maus/BikePortland)

It’s less than one year to go until TriMet takes the wraps off the Orange Line, a 7.3 mile extension of the MAX light rail system that will connect downtown Portland to Milwaukie in northern Clackamas County. While the marquee component of the $1.5 billion project, the Tillikum Crossing Bridge, won’t open until next fall, many parts of the new project are already open for business.

Among the $40 million the project will spend on infrastructure for bicycling and walking, is a series of new multi-use paths and bike lanes that will connect the eastern end of the Tilikum Bridge to SE McLoughlin Blvd via new connections on SE Caruthers and SE 17th. While some final details remain, enough of this section is open that I figured it warranted a closer look.

Our (north to south) tour starts at SE 7th and Division Place where the beginning of the new multi-use path isn’t open yet, but you can see it behind some barriers. You can also see the nice new sidewalk being build on SE Caruthers as it goes under the MLK/Grand viaduct.

Looking west at SE Caruthers

Looking west toward downtown at SE Caruthers.
SE 8th - Division Pl looking NW

Start of multi-use path.

The new multi-use path is open right now starting at SE 8th and Division Pl. There’s a wide curb ramp that is a combo path/sidewalk at first that then splits into path-only and follows the new rail line to the multi-pronged intersection of SE Clinton, Milwaukie, 11th and 12th. At 11th and 12th, bicycle riders will wait for a signal and cross in the crosswalk…

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Headed east at SE 8th/Division Place.
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At SE 11th and Clinton.
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Crossing onto path island between 11th and 12th.

Then, at the new MAX station at SE 12th and Clinton, the bike route goes onto SE Gideon where they’ve installed sharrows for two long blocks until the dedicated path starts up again. This path connects right to the new bridge over SE Powell. (Note the temporary bike route directional signage. I assume this will be made permanent eventually.)

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View of sidewalk looking east from SE 12th/Clinton MAX station. Gideon (bike route) is to the right.

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I want a t-shirt that reads: “I spent $1.5 billion on a new transportation corridor and all I got was this sharrow.” Kidding!
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Transition from shared-lane environment on Gideon back onto path.
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Going up and over the path on the new SE Powell flyover bridge (which has been open since last year) shifts your direction to the south. If you want to continue south, there’s a new bike/walk crossing facility just before SE Pershing Street. The crossing is push-button activated and comes with ample signage, flashing lights, and a voice that blares “Cross street with caution, vehicles may not stop!”. You’ll note that this crossing is meant specifically for bicycles because of the color treatment — yellow for walkers, green for bikers…

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These folks are headed north up onto the flyover of SE Powell.
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New crosswalk/bike looking south.
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New crosswalk/bike looking north toward Powell.
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Bikers on the left, walkers on the right.

Continuing south you are now on SE 17th, which has been striped with new buffered bike lanes from SE Powell all the way down to Holgate. The bike lane feels like a standard 5-6 foot width plus a 1-2 foot buffer…

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Buffer goes away when things get too narrow.
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Out in the great, wide open.
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Coming back north from Holgate, it’s pretty much the same. It’s a buffered bike lane from Holgate to Pershing, then the bike lane lead directly up onto the sidewalk/path that will get you back to the Powell Blvd bridge…

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Route goes by TriMet Central yard, which means 17th has lots of bus traffic. Use caution around these driveways.
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Moving cars on one side, door-zone on the other.
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Bike lane transitions back to path/sidewalk just south of Powell.

Now that you have a sense of what’s out there, here are a few thoughts I scribbled in my notebook:

— In the northern section there are pretty good crossings over the tracks to access SE 8th, 9th, 11th, and 12th. However, once you cross the tracks, you’re left with pretty much nothing in terms of dedicated bike infrastructure — so brace yourself!

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Good luck!

— It’s great to see all the bike parking at the new Clinton/12th MAX station, but it seems — especially if we have $1.5 billion to spend — we should at least add some sort of roof over it.

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A little roof to stay out of the rain would be nice.

— The public art poems, scrawled anonymously in the sidewalks and paths, are a fun diversion. Two of them in particular stood out: “Some have evolved to commute upright smiling,” and “Pass carefully by Ladd’s spiderweb of streets.”

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— This sign placement on the ramp up to the new Powell bridge is unfortunate. One insignificant sign causes a jog in an otherwise direct path. I hope they add some reflectors to it before someone rides into it in the dark… UPDATE, 9:50 pm – According to our friend @Howrad on Twitter, PBOT has already added safety signage on the pole to prevent folks from running into it.

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— The buffered bike lanes on SE 17th are better than nothing; but I can’t help but think it was a huge missed opportunity to not get a protected bike lane here. There’s a nice planter strip in some sections that should have been the outside edge of a protected bike lane. I just don’t understand how we spend $1.5 billion on a transportation project that started with a clean slate and we build what amounts to 1990s bike infrastructure. When I ride 17th with my kids, I’ll probably use the sidewalk.

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Every mode here is protected — except cycling.
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Technically a sidewalk, but safer than the bike lane.

Reader Carrie Leonard said the changes have “had a significantly positive impact” on her family. The Leonards live on SE 19th in Westmoreland (north of Bybee). Carrie’s daughter goes to Cleveland High School and uses the new bike lanes on 17th and the new paths along Powell. “She has done this the past two mornings at 6:30 am,” Carrie shared with us via email, “and it’s So Much Better with the buffered bike lane and one lane on 17th (and the dedicated bridge over Powell) than crossing at 26th.”

My few quibbles aside, this project will have a huge and positive impact on biking in this area. The presence of SW Powell and other large and fast streets, as well as the impenetrable Union Pacific Railroad tracks made bikeway connectivity in this area abysmal before these changes came. (The Springwater is great, but it’s not convenient for running errands, meeting friends, or getting things done on Division or other points north of Powell.)

“The link between Westmoreland, SE 17th, and then SE Clinton just makes it easy and safe to get North,” Carrie said, “We are dedicated bike people, but even for us there were barriers to getting north of Powell from our location. This bridge and the improvements on 17th have removed that barrier.”

— Get full details on both of these sections of the project via PDFs available here (Caruthers to Gideon) and here (SE 17th). Have you used this new infrastructure yet? We’d love to hear from you.

Please support BikePortland.

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. Also, if you comment frequently, please consider holding your thoughts so that others can step forward. Thank you — Jonathan

101 Comments
  • Avatar
    Ben October 23, 2014 at 1:10 pm

    I got turned around twice trying to navigate the maze of crossings between SE 8th and SE 12th to get to Clinton. Unless the transition is clearer when the barriers come down, I see no reason not to keep making that crossing on Division.

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      Timo ActiveTransportationista October 23, 2014 at 6:14 pm

      For those who would like a guided tour of the new paths, join me Saturday on the Bike Shop Tour. The route includes most of these new bikeways.
      Sat, 9:45 am at New Seasons Hawthorne (at SE 41st Ave)
      http://www.portlandoregon.gov/transportation/article/505022

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        Spiffy October 24, 2014 at 10:11 am

        “ride is free, but helmets are required”

        or don’t wear a helmet and just follow along unofficially…

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    • Michael Andersen (News Editor)
      Michael Andersen (News Editor) October 23, 2014 at 11:28 pm

      I still haven’t figured out how to get to Clinton.

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        El Biciclero October 27, 2014 at 11:34 am

        Again, if it requires “practice” or a “tour” to figure out A -> B, where d(A, B) = 4 blocks, it’s the next best thing to nothing.

        Regarding Ben’s comment, why indeed would I want to traverse two sets of railroad tracks twice, while going what looks like five or six blocks out of my way, when I could make a neat jog onto Division at 8th, then from Division onto 12th to get to Clinton. Direct, no RR crossings, why would I do anything else? Oh, right. ‘Cuz safety. And cars. Also lines on the map.

        As someone who almost never rides in this area, I attempted to find my way through a couple months ago. Granted, it was even less finished then, but following the recommended “bike route” got me all turned around. I ended up crossing one street, then finding out I was supposed to go the other way, so I crossed back, then couldn’t see how to connect to where I was going (Clinton), and I think I ended up just (*gasp*) navigating the whole thing vehicularly, since the lines for cars were more direct and clearer. When your bike infrastructure invites you to ignore it because it’s too complicated (well, not too complicated; I’m sure we’re all smart enough to figure it out—with enough practice!), it isn’t really having the desired effect. IMO.

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          Paul in The 'Couve October 27, 2014 at 6:06 pm

          Absolutely!!

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          El Biciclero October 30, 2014 at 11:17 am

          To be fair, I must revise my criticism here. It looks from some of the aerial photography linked to by a helpful commenter below, that there is no longer a major detour when traveling to Clinton from SB 8th. It looks as though there is a MUP that runs along the tracks from 8th to 12th, where one may cross 12th and jog up to Clinton. At the time I rode this route, cyclists were required to go down 9th to Woodward, then back on 10th to Clinton; this no longer appears to be the case. Although I maintain that using Division to avoid a trackside MUP would still appear to be preferable in theory.

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      Nicholas Skaggs October 27, 2014 at 11:14 am

      Oh yeah, last time I rode it I delcared it the “bicycle pentagram.”

      So much zig-zagging… Hopefully it’s improved, but your comments don’t give me hope.

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    GlowBoy October 23, 2014 at 1:18 pm

    As a Brooklyn resident I’ve ridden most of these facilities, and just did the next-to-the-tracks path from 8th to 12th last night. It’s not everything I wanted, but it is a huge improvement over what we had before. Brooklyn is still fairly cut-off from its surroundings for bikes and pedestrians, but not quite as badly as before.

    My biggest concern is the crossing of 17th just south of the Powell flyover ramp. I think the signage and striping is misleading as to the legal status of bikes here.

    The presence of a high-intensity flasher, color-coded striping for pedestrians and cyclists, and the depiction of both a cyclist and a pedestrian on the yellow diamond crossing sign, might lead some people to believe that bikes and pedestrians have the equal legal protection at this crossing.

    But based on what I know of Oregon law I don’t believe that’s the case: cyclists will still forfeit our legal right of way if we enter the crossing at more than a walking pace, regardless of whether the high-intensity beacons are flashing. And it won’t matter whether we did enter at a walking pace, because as usual defense lawyers will make sure cyclists don’t get the benefit of the doubt on that point.

    Caveat cyclor.

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    Chris October 23, 2014 at 1:25 pm

    I commute from SE to Milwaukie in the morning and love the new infrastructure. The new fly over, the bike lanes on 17th – I find them great. Especially the path along Gideon.

    But I really don’t know where to go once I get to the end of the bike lanes on 17th. I don’t like riding on 17th past McLoughlin because of the parked cars and commuters who hate to wait more than five seconds behind you – does anyone have tips about what street to take? Is McLoughlin okay to ride on? Or should I just stick to taking the Springwater along the Willamette?

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      maccoinnich October 23, 2014 at 1:36 pm

      I used to regularly cycle along that section of 17th on my way to work. My attitude was always that it’s the only reasonable north-south bike route in that area, and if cars wan’t to drive faster they have the option Milwaukie or McLoughlin.

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      Reza October 23, 2014 at 2:02 pm

      17th Avenue south of OR 99E should have had its parking removed years ago. It’s ridiculous that there is still no reliable north-south on-street bike route through the area. It makes Sellwood seem so isolated from the rest of the city.

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        paikiala October 23, 2014 at 2:22 pm

        The SE 19th Greenway projects are in the process of being implemented. That will go from Mitchell to Tacoma. There is a future project that goes south to the Springwater at Ochoco.

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          Terry D-M October 23, 2014 at 3:09 pm

          Is there ACTUAL funding? Last I heard that project as put on hold when the greenway way was brought down to zero. Just like NE Sacramento, it is very difficult to tell what the status is.

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            paikiala October 24, 2014 at 9:39 am

            Work orders for both have been authorized. Minor tweaks are also in the works.

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          maccoinnich October 23, 2014 at 4:26 pm

          Ugh, so in the best tradition of PBOT, a continuous route all the way from Gladstone to downtown Portland will suddenly jog over by two blocks?

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        Carrie October 23, 2014 at 3:15 pm

        I take the lane on SE 17th south of 99E. I figure the cars shouldn’t be going fast on that street anyway. But then I do turn onto Reedway and then head down 18th or 19th because it’s more comfortable.

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          Chris October 23, 2014 at 3:34 pm

          They really shouldn’t. I thought it would be a great route looking at the map, especially with the new lanes – but the daily traffic on 17th is too fast and pass too closely for me.

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        was carless October 24, 2014 at 5:05 pm

        I live just off 17th in Westmoreland, and I agree, 17th is really shitty. And Milwaukie has way more bike traffic, as its a main commuter route to Brooklyn and Powell/Clinton, as well as access to Oaks Bottom and the Springwater Trail.

        However, most drivers are extremely courteous/cautious around cyclists, although they won’t let you turn left. Anywhere. They will totally cut you off or pass you on the left if you try to make a left turn!

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      William Henderson October 23, 2014 at 2:47 pm

      Yep, this transition is really unclear. I’ve emailed Trimet’s Jennifer Koozer about it and also passed along feedback at my neighborhood association’s transportation committee.

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      William Henderson October 23, 2014 at 2:54 pm

      What I do is go up 17th and turn off as soon as I can on Insley. That said, it’s out of the way and isn’t a great solution (especially during commuting hours it can be an uncomfortable couple of blocks on 17th).

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        Chris October 23, 2014 at 3:42 pm

        That, and the traffic that lines up behind the signal at McLoughlin and 17th makes it tough to turn left onto Insley. But it is the best route, it seems.

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      feralcow October 23, 2014 at 3:07 pm

      Totally agree. We need something better south of Holgate.

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      GlowBoy October 23, 2014 at 6:33 pm

      I don’t ride either Milwaukie, or 17th south of McLoughlin. On both of these, I usually take the sidewalk – nice and slow, with a sharp eye to driveways and side street crossings – rather than take the lane. And as soon as I can I get off onto a side street. Pity there aren’t any other north-south alternatives.

      Actually, in the southbound direction I’d sooner ride a block along the McLoughlin shoulder to 18th, rather than take 17th.

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    Todd Boulanger October 23, 2014 at 1:46 pm

    Thanks Jonathan for the reporting on this facility.

    What this project [through these sample photos] and many others shows is that there still is a lot more work needed on the last 1% of the facility design engineering at the 60% or 90% stages…how best to design regional bikeways in constrained MUP environments and integrate signage and striping best left for traditional roadways.

    1) the placement of bikeways next to vertical walls and curbs should add a “shy” distance into the width calculation…vs. VE removing it or reallocating to to other modes, if possible, as this facility seems a bit tight against fencing and walls;

    2) there needs to be a new platinum level streetscaping standard plan detail for how to locate signage and poles along higher speed bikeways (the curved dashed section around a pole was classic: would the same engineers install a utility pole in a motor vehicle lane of a new street and then dash the center line around it, doubtful),
    – should the signs be placed along the right of way edge vs. the “furnishing zone” for a MUP without a landscaped area?, or
    – will there be a retrofit fix of adding reflectivity to the poles or lane edge striping only?;

    3) design practices for our region’s facility striping plans need to improve the outcome of “conspicuously” for bikeways, especially given our region’s rainy grey conditions (or are these only fair weather facilities?, not), cyclists low lux lighting, and the habitual use of white paint / thermo on most concrete MUP facilities (less a problem on this project);

    4) And the need to add reflectorized RPMs for lane shifts of more than 2 feet, like the photo of the lane shift near “Haig” street, as drivers are going to drive through this buffer frequently over time;

    5) where the bike racks installed incorrectly, should they be sticking out that far into the bikeway thru zone?;

    6) why does this project use a catch basin inlet design that is not very bike friendly when a bike lane was a part of this facility design?, I would have expected the inlets to be inset into the curb face; and

    7) I would suggest reconsidering the emerging practice of the use of green bars for bikeway crossings when co-located in a marked crosswalk pedestrian crossing, and instead just use the “elephant footprints” that this project has,
    – a post project review may find that the addition of green here may not improve “conspicuously” enough over time enough vs. maintenance costs, and
    – this practice may actually reduce for the approaching drivers the “conspicuously” of just the white on black crosswalk marking by adding the third colour; and

    8) etc…what ever is needed to reach Vision Zero, our region’s 2030 modal goals (25% bike for Portland?) and the First & Last Mile objectives.

    [Note: I have not printed out the plan sheet details and as such my initial comments are relying on the photos provided on Flickr.}

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    Jason McHuff October 23, 2014 at 2:53 pm

    The graphic in your previous story says some of the racks at Clinton St will be covered: http://bikeportland.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/bike-parking-spaces.png

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    spencer October 23, 2014 at 2:58 pm

    better than most, but still a huge fail

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      spencer October 23, 2014 at 3:01 pm

      and what is with that sign post in the middle of the path?

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      Carrie October 23, 2014 at 3:18 pm

      I disagree Spencer. Yes, it could have been better. And maybe if we’re shooting for the best, then this is a failure. But coming from a city with laughable bike infrastructure, and from riding this route the year before work starting, these changes are amazing. There are problems, and some of the design is stupid, but someone DID think about how can bikes get from A to B as part of the process, instead of not having any infrastructure at all.

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        spencer October 23, 2014 at 8:54 pm

        is it better than the previous 17th? yes, obviously it is. I’m dumbfounded by PBOT’s continuation of NOT building cycletracks when they have the chance. They had clean slate on 17th south of Powell, and built a wonderful sidewalk and NEW bioswales. Why oh why did they leave cyclists at the oblivious whims of texting and drunk drivers when they could have easily built a grade separated cyclepath AND pedestrian sidewalk within the same road footprint on 17th?

        i’ve ridden the zigzag mayhem from OMSI to Clinton. The direct path makes three or four at grade crosses of the max/ RR/ max/ RR lines, as well has forces the MUP to wait at grade again crossing 11th and 12th when going east to Clinton.

        My biggest gripe, is @ 17th and Holgate. For some strange reason PBOT allows HWY speed car traffic to race East at > 20 mph over the posted 30 mph speed limit. This new cycle ‘infra’ leaves Reed/ Woodstock/ Eastomoreland high and dry, forcing any sane cyclist to ride sidewalks east on Holgate.

        So yes, this is better than previous for Sellwood and parts south, but it still does not provide connectivity to outer SE Portland.

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        was carless October 24, 2014 at 5:10 pm

        They actually completely 100% removed the existing road and built a new one, from dirt, gravel, adding curbs, etc to the current pavement. 100% new.

        No cycle path. Why, why?!

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      spencer October 23, 2014 at 3:26 pm

      how does this connect to HOLGATE/REED/WOODSTOCK. . . it doesnt

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        paikiala October 24, 2014 at 9:42 am

        Sounds like you’re in the ‘all or nothing’ camp. Connections, missing links if you will, are actively being discussed at PBOT.

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          9watts November 1, 2014 at 8:06 am

          “Connections, missing links if you will, are actively being discussed at PBOT.”
          In this case shouldn’t those discussions have occurred years ago? Now this infrastrucure is already built. What is the point of discussing the mistakes now?

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        was carless October 24, 2014 at 5:11 pm

        What? 17th crosses Holgate. However, Holgate sucks! Take the sidewalk, then switch over to Glastone when you get over the bridge to the east.

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        Moleskin October 29, 2014 at 9:54 pm

        Agreed. Being able to cross the railway just south of Powell at Pershing would make a world of difference as there are some ok cycling roads there (I ride 20th to work when in too much of a hurry for the Springwater, and with a bridge there could hop over to the new paths rather than go north up through Ladds). Lafayette St. bridge improvements sound ok, but a nice rideable ramp would be great!

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    Carrie October 23, 2014 at 3:14 pm

    Even though I am super happy with the majority of this project, I HATE the crossing over 17th at Pershing. When you are going south, it is REALLY hard to see cars coming from the North on 17th and makes me nervous. Not a great design there.

    I feel like I have a professional obligation to point out that those aren’t “just” planter strips on SE 17th, but they are green bioswales for stormwater. Much better to have the bioswales, in my opinion, than the stormwater grates that are on the other side of the street. I’d even go on a limb and say that the bioswales may be doing more for clean water than my riding a bike everyday (though I don’t think it’s an either-or choice :)). I don’t know how you could have a sidewalk/bikelane/bioswale configuration without having water/debris in the bikelane as a result. I’ve noticed that much of the landscaping around this whole project is actually stormwater run-off mitigation, which makes me happy.

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    Terry D-M October 23, 2014 at 3:15 pm

    We will have nice new north-south facilities, even if not perfect….but yet, there is NO east-west crossing for TWO MILES between SE Tibbits just north of Powell to Bybee two miles to the south.

    Why was a connection eastward on the Holgate Viaduct not part of this project? There is a MAX station at 17th and Holgate….so it would make since to be able to safely bike there from the east where MOST of Portland lives. Can you say ROAD DIET. That overpass could easily be re-striped to three lanes, one in each direction and a center turn lane for trucks with curb tight bike lanes east to the 20’s bikeway and the residential street-grid.

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      William Henderson October 23, 2014 at 3:57 pm

      Yep! Bike facilities on Holgate are the comp plan – add a comment to the map app:
      http://www.portlandmaps.com/bps/cpmapp2/

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        Terry D-M October 23, 2014 at 7:51 pm

        Already done…im all over that thing.

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        spencer October 24, 2014 at 2:14 pm

        done

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      was carless October 24, 2014 at 5:14 pm

      I know. My favorite part of Holgate is that people drive 45+ mph on the bridge, sometimes as fast as 60+ mph.

      Please, use the sidewalks, at least they are super-wide.

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      Lauren D. October 27, 2014 at 10:07 am

      Whether or not it is a bike route does not change the fact that I am a vehicle and have the right to be on any road unless a sign is posted.

      On Friday, I got honked at while crossing over the railroad tracks on Holgate for no other reason than I was there. The car passed me closely and there were no other cars on the road.

      We all need to work to show that we are part of transportation, even in the absence of sharrows and bike lanes.

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        William Henderson October 27, 2014 at 11:13 am

        You are absolutely in the right in these situations and I appreciate that you are willing to advocate using your own safety.

        However, I don’t think its fair to expect everyone to ride in dangerous conditions. There are many other valid ways to actively engage the problem without placing yourself in harm’s way, and there are arguments to be made that confrontation in the road is often counterproductive. How you chose to confront should be a personal choice and an open conversation among advocates.

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        Bald One October 27, 2014 at 11:32 am

        Rode this bridge on Saturday and a semi-trailer completely cut in front of me when he was turning into the UP yard. Not curteous, not safe, not legal.

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    WD October 23, 2014 at 4:19 pm

    The new facilities come so close to being great. The new lanes and paths connect the right dots, location-wise, but the new route is cumbersome to navigate on a bicycle.

    Instead of having a safe, direct route (as has been built for trains, busses, and motorists), people riding through the area have to navigate next to speeding motorists on 17th, zig-zag at right angles back and forth to cross train tracks, dodge around sign poles, and loop over/under/around Powell to get anywhere. The crosswalks at 11th/12th & Clinton seem horribly timed too. When I’m riding from Brooklyn to, say, OMSI or somewhere near the river, it seems I spend as much time waiting at those intersections as I do riding the rest of the trip. For much of the time when I’m waiting at those crosswalks I’m staring at an empty street, as traffic lights to the north or south are holding back motorists.

    And yes, 17th would have been a great place for cycle tracks (so would the Holgate viaduct near 17th, for that matter) but there sadly doesn’t seem to be any pressure on anyone to build those outside of Better Block PDX’s project in downtown. By raising the bicycle lane up a bit, cycle tracks might also have been particularly helpful on days like today when rain floods the streets. The way things are now, the bioswales overflow into the streets and force people on bicycles to either ride pedal-deep in murky water or merge into the standard vehicle lane.

    It’s a real shame that we (in the Portland-Metro area) so often seem to get 85% of a design right but then let a few details foul the whole experience, leaving it no more impressive or helpful than a simple bike lane or sidewalk. After all, a chain is only as strong as it’s weakest link, right?

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      paikiala October 24, 2014 at 9:44 am

      “The buffered bike lanes on SE 17th are better than nothing; but I can’t help but think it was a huge missed opportunity to not get a protected bike lane here.”

      Agreed. The cost to raise up the bike lane and put it behind the swales is negligible. Why it’s not done seems odd. Only reason I can see is to provide a breakdown space for auto traffic.

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        Bald One October 24, 2014 at 10:38 am

        Or to create another engineered co-mingled bus stop+bike area in the gutter.

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        9watts November 1, 2014 at 8:10 am

        “Only reason I can see is to provide a breakdown space for auto traffic.”

        Classic.
        The potentialities of driving are taken account of ahead of the actualities of biking in a straight line!

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    Dwaine Dibbly October 23, 2014 at 5:48 pm

    New battle cry: Take the sidewalk! 🙂

    I agree. It’s pretty bad that for all the expense, we couldn’t get some protected infrastructure.

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    Max October 23, 2014 at 9:48 pm

    Another bad spot:
    Heading West on Powell (on the Northside sidewalk), you go under the UP/TriMet/SE 17th bridges, and then you when you come out the other side you have to cross traffic that is coming from SE 17th to Westbound Powell. The problem is, the traffic is now at your back, and they’re coming out of basically a blind curve. The (brand new) vegetation further creates a visual barrier between you and oncoming traffic.

    I think this crossing is a collision waiting to happen.

    Here’s the Google street view so you can get an idea for what I’m talking about.

    http://goo.gl/AurUd3

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      paikiala October 24, 2014 at 9:47 am

      You don’t expect to have to stop when crossing the road?

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    Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) October 23, 2014 at 9:55 pm

    UPDATE: @howrad on Twitter just let us know that they’ve added some safety chevrons on that pole that’s in the middle of the path on the SE Powell bridge ramp.

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      Todd Boulanger October 24, 2014 at 4:10 pm

      …perhaps it needs to be yarn bombed too. 😉

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        CaptainKarma October 27, 2014 at 3:18 pm

        It needs rubber cushioning like foam pipe insulation or the stuff they put on the top of the outfield perimeter fence of a baseball field. Then yarn bomb that. Seriously, that is a defective product waiting for a lawsuit.

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          9watts November 1, 2014 at 8:11 am

          I think it needs to be removed.
          Like Todd Boulanger said above –
          “would the same engineers install a utility pole in a motor vehicle lane of a new street and then dash the center line around it, doubtful”

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    Salts October 24, 2014 at 12:01 am

    Your bikeway design engineers/planners are almost as bad as ours in LA– congrats! We start with clean slates too and produce what is essentially garbage, glad we’re not alone!

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    Chris Anderson October 24, 2014 at 4:30 am

    It would be great to hear a point-by-point justification from the engineers as to why they made the sub-par decisions they did. Is it because they don’t ride? Are there some non-obvious constraints that said bike facilities should be second-class even when there’s nothing else holding us back? If we are gonna have an infrastructure building boom once funding is secured, I hope whatever mental blocks that built this are resolved first.

    Sure it’s way better than nothing, but I’m also sure it could have been much better with insignificant cost increases.

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      9watts November 1, 2014 at 8:15 am

      Exactly!
      I have been asking my friends at PBOT if they couldn’t offer up someone for a regular Q&A here on bikeportland. Nothing fancy or dramatic, just an opportunity for us to ask and get some decent answers to reasonable questions like this. Without any sort of accountability, some two-way communication, we’re left feeling like we’ve gotten the short end of the crooked stick, again.

      In the absence of any defense of these gaffes I am left thinking that, as others have said, this is just second class traffic, and so no one bothered to vet these kinds of details. I think we deserve better infrastructure and more accountability.

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        Anne Hawley March 12, 2015 at 1:34 pm

        I don’t know if this is Comment of the Week material, but I love the idea of getting someone from PBOT to come and answer questions here, Reddit AMA style. I wonder what would be involved. The City is extremely cautious about letting individual employees (below a certain level) speak on the record about anything.

        Still, I would love to see a non-confrontational, non-defensive conversation between BP readers and PBOT engineers about all the many points of concern in this (and other) bike infrastructure projects.

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    q`Tzal October 24, 2014 at 7:28 am

    They obviously when for bioswale/drainage technique for the planter strip adjacent the buffered bike lanes on 17th, probably because of that funding hocus-pocus that allows PBOT to slide that to a different funding source.

    If it were approved they could have instead used porous concrete for a physically protected bike lane covering the width of the current bike lane and planter strip. Porous concrete allows drainage as required but is usually less durable under heavy traffic (not a problem with bicycles) and obviously not as pretty as plants (but not requiring as much maintenance).

    If porous concrete was deployed as a protected bike lane surface (behind a physical barrier that eliminates all but the most rare heavy traffic) for ALL bike ways it would likely reduce sewer system runoff issues in heavy rain & flooding situations.

    Someone could even get silly and mix in something like activated charcoal with the concrete to neutralize and/or absorb toxins before it hits the groundwater.

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      paikiala October 24, 2014 at 9:52 am

      Planter boxes and swales are the first choice for storm water infiltration or pre-treatment required by BES for all impervious run-off areas, not a budget dodge. Storm drains and pipes are cheaper short-term solutions, but long-term problems. The swales and bike lane locations could have been swapped for little cost difference.
      Have you ridden on pervious concrete? It’s a bit rough for narrow bike tires.

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        q`Tzal October 24, 2014 at 10:51 am

        Planters and swales are easy, obvious and single use items that are exclusive: they can ONLY be used for their singular purpose.

        “Budget dodge”: I didn’t say that, I said “hocus-pocus” which means magic. Magic may be good, bad or neither. One person’s “budget dodge” is another’s “innovative and synergistic use of limited individual budgets to achieve a higher goal”.. s’all how ya spin it.

        ” previous(*) concrete ” I have indeed ridden on porous concrete and its surface roughness was somewhere between average sidewalk concrete and average asphalt after average wear. Right now I’m parked in a truck dock staring at asphalt that makes cobblestone look good. A single sample is not representative of the whole… but I’ve only seen porous concrete once in real life too so… i dunno.

        (*) are wr becoming worse spellers or are auto-correct typing programs trying to drive us crazy?

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      was carless October 24, 2014 at 5:17 pm

      They also have porous asphalt!

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    SilkySlim October 24, 2014 at 8:51 am

    Rode a big chunk of the new infrastructure last night, in both directions. I think what is most needed to bring up the usefulness quotient are more/improved connections into SE. I was riding southbound, and after passing the Division Clinton area, there are 0 ways to cut east until Holgate, which is a nightmare (and sadly, exactly where I need to go!). A big ask would be for an overpass that jumps over the tracks midway, like at Gladstone. Simpler: some better infrastructure and signage and bike lanes at Holgate. That area right now couldn’t be any less friendly, even to somebody squarely in the strong and fearless demo.

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      Bald One October 24, 2014 at 10:49 am

      LaFayette St ped bridge over tracks is getting replaced, currently. Will have to take two elevators or many stairs to get over the tracks. I hope they improve the east side run up from 22nd Ave as part of this so my kids can ride this to school. Currently not super safe down in this area. It could be a key link.

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        GlowBoy October 24, 2014 at 11:04 am

        I’ll be taking the Lafayette bridge once it’s done, instead of riding the Holgate sidewalks as I do today. It’s not the sidewalk over the bridge that’s bad, but the connections between there and 26th/28th. The sidewalks to the east of the bridge are extremely dangerous (on both sides of Holgate), with lots of blind corners and cross traffic.

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        SilkySlim October 24, 2014 at 11:57 am

        What was wrong w/ the old lafeyette bridge? 🙂

        Thanks for the info, curious to see how it comes out.

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          was carless October 24, 2014 at 5:20 pm

          It kind of looked like one of those Gallows platforms from the wild west. Like it was built in the mid-1800s and then abandoned.

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            GlowBoy October 31, 2014 at 12:47 pm

            The old bridge was definitely nasty looking. I think it was made of treated lumber, and was pretty heavily weathered and deteriorated. The railings were a good way to end up with arsenic-laden splinters in your hands.

            Also, stairs were the only way up to (and down from) the bridge deck. No ramps and certainly no elevator. It was quite a few steps, too, because trains can be as tall as 2-story houses. I sometimes used the bridge and carried my normal bike up and down the steps, but had to pick a different route if I was on a cargo bike or riding with my kids. I’m presuming the new bridge will have some provision for getting bikes up and down without using the stairs.

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    David October 24, 2014 at 9:16 am

    Just rode this coming from Sellwood this morning and going into downtown. I usually come up on Milwaukie because it’s the most direct route but I think I’m going to stick with 17th and then going onto this trail. The bike lane on 17th was great although not all the way finished between 99 and Holgate (going N). There was also a buffer for a good portion of the way. I’ll stick to the trail if I’m going with my family into downtown or to OMSI though.

    I agree that this isn’t perfect but for a daily bike commuter like myself it’s probably 80% of the right way to do it. The perfect solution would be a cycle track or bike highway that would go from SE and into downtown but since I don’t see that happening any time soon I’ll be okay with what we’ve got.

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    spare_wheel October 24, 2014 at 9:18 am

    “we build what amounts to 1990s bike infrastructure”

    the buffered bike lane is too narrow but bike lanes are most definitely not 1990s infrastructure:

    http://www.radlhauptstadt.muenchen.de/radlnetz/#c1070

    In 2012, these streets were painted with bike lanes or protective (buffers):

    Maximilian Street
    Von-der-Tann-Straße
    Leonrodstraße
    Briennerstraße
    Orleans Street
    Balanstraße
    Einsteinstraße
    Baldeplatz
    Baumkirchnerstraße
    Rosenheimerstraße
    Riemer road
    Tierparkstraße

    ~6% cycling mode share to ~18% is nothing to scoff at, jonathan.

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    Spiffy October 24, 2014 at 10:02 am

    wow what a cluster… beg-buttons, bike-lane crosswalk into a curb, multiple transitions, poles in the paths…

    can I legally take the lane through here or am I required to use this horrible facility because of the mandatory side-path laws?

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      El Biciclero October 31, 2014 at 1:56 pm

      I think the bike crossing ends at a curb because you’re supposed to turn left into the bike lane rather than continue up onto the sidewalk. I sure hope they paint that curb or add reflectors to it for night time riding.

      Regarding your question about ORS 814.420, mandatory sidepath use, that is a good question. I would likely have reason to use either this path or the street depending on the occasion; would I have the legal freedom to choose? Are these new facilities covered by the “public hearing” decision for bike lanes, or does that only cover bike lanes, not sidewalk MUPs?

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    Bald One October 24, 2014 at 10:57 am

    Getting from the rest of SE into the MUP and Tilikum bridge needs to be a priority. It appears that Clinton is the connection, but many improvements are still needed. As a bike facility, this 17th Ave project is not serving too many othrr portland cyclists who don’t already have great access to the springwater from sellwood. Need to bring people over the island of railroad tracks to access these new facilities, including Max. Holgate seems best workable option – road diet and changes to 26/28 at Holgate are key. Gladstone to Center st flyover would be best.

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    Curt Ailes October 24, 2014 at 11:19 am

    It is nice to see so many new bike lanes, signals and increased wayfinding. However, when I ride these new routes, I get the impression that whomever made the design decisions clearly wasn’t a rider themselves or the group did not seek that much input.

    For instance, the split green & yellow crossings seem like over-designing a problem that doesn’t exist. In the same context, a few places around the new Orange Line, an on street bike lane diverts onto a sidewalk and then there is yellow dashed striping on the sidewalk to alert the rider where he/she needs to go to negotiate the next turn or diversion.

    If I am walking, then I can see these lines really well but in my experience on a bike, they are not easy to read at even casual cycling speeds and the design is not intuitive enough to figure out when a split decision is required.

    That said, with experience comes familiarity so they will become well oiled diversions. It just seems like a bit more though could have went into the designs.

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      William Henderson October 24, 2014 at 11:27 am

      100% agree with this. The thing feels like it was either designed by committee/constraint or by someone who had no idea how people on bikes behave. This should be a case and point for how we need to improve our public feedback process. The devil here is in the details, and too often the details are either not available at all or change at the last minute without public comment. This is happening as we speak with the SE 19th Ave Greenway – the plan on the website is years old, has changed and no one has idea how or why.

      This is such a missed opportunity. It doesn’t have to be this way!

      Imagine if every single piece of bike infrastructure being built in Portland could be ‘ridden’ before it was built. Would-be riders could go to one place, see exactly what the experience of riding it would be like, and add comments on problem or opportunity areas. Sure seems something like this would have prevented several bad decisions on the 17th ave bikelanes, and might have even led to some breakthrough ideas being implemented.

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        Paul in The 'Couve October 24, 2014 at 2:12 pm

        I am speculating here. I think someone above mentioned the 60% and 90% design phases? I’ve worked a little in other engineering areas. At that point the detailed designs and specifics for the construction bid and site survey and contractors are very complicated “blue prints” and diagrams that aren’t easy to read and make it difficult to envision what the build is going to look like, even with some training and familiarity.

        Is some additional design process needed of doing another round of pictures and 3d simulation with the more finalized design specifications so that non-technical people can evaluate for cycling and multi-mode design issues?

        Anyone in college now, there might be a new engineering / ergonomics specialty in there somewhere. Get yourself a job with Alta.

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          Todd Boulanger October 24, 2014 at 4:02 pm

          Or the future “alta’…

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            Paul in The 'Couve October 28, 2014 at 4:00 pm

            Ah ha! Mr. Ted B. has the insider scoop …. I get it now

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        Terry D-M October 26, 2014 at 11:19 pm

        When I first got the alignment for “the 20’s” bikeway north of Wasco, I rode it at least six times, at multiple times of day to get as much informatuon as I could. THEN I e-mailed the project manager with my opinions. I rarely feel comfortible commenting unless I have riden the project….Portland it not that big, so nothing is ever very far…IF more people did this, then these projects might come out a little better. That and real budgets….it always seems that the bike portion of big projects always has “constraints.”

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      Bald One October 24, 2014 at 1:53 pm

      If you imagine 100s of MAX riders milling about on the bike path and in all the cross walks and MUPs waiting for trains and walking to their stops, I think you’ll get an idea of what this area will be like next year. At this point this area still mostly unused for its designed purposes.

      The cluster-maze of train track crossings at 11/12/Milwaukee/Clinton is going to be really interesting when you add lots of pedestrians and bikes to the mix of cars, buses, max trains, and freight trains all at one spot. Seems like most cities put some of this traffic underground in tunnels or overhead on raised platforms. Portland solution is about 30 red lights at every angle – just stop everyone from moving except trains.

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    JJJJ October 24, 2014 at 11:26 am

    The push button isnt on the right side of the path?

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    groovin101 October 24, 2014 at 12:19 pm

    “I can’t help but think it was a huge missed opportunity to not get a protected bike lane [on 17th]. There’s a nice planter strip in some sections that should have been the outside edge of a protected bike lane. When I ride 17th with my kids, I’ll probably use the sidewalk.”

    This seems to point to a process issue, because you’re right, how exactly does that happen when designing for use?

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      q`Tzal October 24, 2014 at 3:56 pm

      I suspect that unprotected bike lanes are a concession to freight lobbying due to the fact that when bike facilities are put in to an existing road space/width (without eminent domain claiming more room) the existing automotive lanes are narrowed (usually).

      Unfortunately for bicycle and pedestrian safety preexisting businesses have valid and common law protected access for deliveries as has always occurred in the past.

      If I, as a driver of a truck pulling a 53′ trailer, HAVE TO (because there is no other way to the destination) make that wide turn it may only be possible to do so using space that was historically unutilized but is now a bike lane. This CAN be done safely but is impossible if that space is physically blocked. I don’t want to have to use the bike lane (bike riders are harder to see & generally less predictable) but I may have no choice.

      If I had to guess this is the reason bike lanes remain mostly unprotected in the United States.

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        groovin101 October 26, 2014 at 10:06 pm

        That’s good insight. I hadn’t considered that, but I wonder if there are other ways to address by accounting for turn radius at intersections while still preserving protected lanes along most of the length of a corridor.

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    Paul October 24, 2014 at 3:19 pm

    Shouldn’t the storm drains in the bike lanes be turned 90º? It seems crazy enough that there are drains in a new bikeway. If someone had skinny enough tires it looks like they could swallow a wheel.

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      Todd Boulanger October 24, 2014 at 3:44 pm

      To clarify the terminology in your question: you are asking about the storm grate and not the entire storm drain.

      Also – There may be cross bracing on the grate grid that would reduce the tire suck you mention…the low res of the photos makes this a guess. I cannot imagine a US company still selling storm grates with long gaps parallel to the curb…that is sooo 1970s.

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    Joe October 24, 2014 at 3:26 pm

    Those storm drains… ahhhhhhh lol

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    Todd Boulanger October 24, 2014 at 4:08 pm

    auto correct and typing with our thumbs on small screens too…

    as for the concrete…the spelling was correct: pervious as in the opposite of impervious.

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    Matt October 27, 2014 at 7:48 pm

    It is really too bad that Metro/Tri-Met didn’t build a multi-use path/cycle track along this entire alignment. That would have been a game changer for SE Portland and Milwaukie.

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    Adron @ Transit Sleuth October 27, 2014 at 11:39 pm

    So far I’m a huge fan of the project. However I totally agree with your sentiment here, “The buffered bike lanes on SE 17th are better than nothing; but I can’t help but think it was a huge missed opportunity to not get a protected bike lane here. There’s a nice planter strip in some sections that should have been the outside edge of a protected bike lane. I just don’t understand how we spend $1.5 billion on a transportation project that started with a clean slate and we build what amounts to 1990s bike infrastructure. When I ride 17th with my kids, I’ll probably use the sidewalk.”

    I honestly think that a bike highway the entire length (albeit it’s kind of there iwth a little imagination) between PSU and Milwaukie would have been more useful over time than the actual light rail. All in all, an exceptional project, but there are the quirks.

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    Jacob October 28, 2014 at 11:39 am

    When you rebuild an entire street and there is plenty of space, there is no excuse for not creating protected bike lanes. Also, share-use paths are not the best practice, as people on bicycles and people walking traavel at significantly different speeds. Good designs separate bicyclists and pedestrians whenever possible. The only place where shared-use paths make sense is in rural areas where pedestrian volumes are extremely low.

    Despite being Portland, the planning for this project looks old-school and conservative. Where’s the bike planning leadership that the city was once known for??

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    maccoinnich October 29, 2014 at 12:59 pm

    For anyone who isn’t in this area often, there was a new set of aerial construction photos uploaded to flickr today:

    https://www.flickr.com/photos/portlandmilwaukie/sets/72157646600528954/

    The bike facilities are pretty clearly visible.

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    Tim Davis October 30, 2014 at 9:15 pm

    Totally agreed that the clean slate (despite q`Tzal’s good point that I also hadn’t considered) on 17th created the PERFECT situation to create a separated cycle track. These days (and forevermore!), car/truck drivers are NOT paying attention, and no amount (width) of *paint* will protect anyone on a bike from a swerving car or truck. This is NO way to encourage cycling to the masses. And like I’ve said before, I’m fine (and confidently aggressive, etc) while cycling in crowded situations in which everyone has to pay close attention, but once you’re on the open road and car speeds greatly increase, I don’t feel safe in any bike lane, no matter how wide it is. It was just inexcusable not to have a raised bike path, with the bioswale separating it from cars (or at the very least a curb).

    As usual, the leftover remnants of infrastructure that are solely for bikes amount to crumbs in this $1.5 billion project. Yes, it’s an enormous improvement over what we had, but it’s incredibly far from platinum-level, especially (again) given the clean slate that parts of this project granted us.

    I really hope that one day we can create a safe, physically separated cycling corridor that goes from Government Camp to Sellwood and then continues all the way to Tillikum Crossing–and connects with the north-south cycle track downtown that’s already been funded!!

    Minnesota (and DC and Quebec and hundreds of places overseas), if given identical opportunities, would have easily accomplished all of this and much, much more YEARS ago–just sayin’. 🙂 Let’s keep the pressure on our City Council, PBOT and all the powers that be; we’ve GOT to get them to care about (and finally understand the value, in every conceivable way, of) creating *people*-friendly infrastructure!! It will actually benefit *all* people–including even those who travel from A to B solely by car (even though they always incorrectly state otherwise).

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    doug B December 2, 2014 at 1:49 pm

    I tried not to make an opinion until I got to ride it all myself a couple times. But now that I have it really seems like a missed opportunity. Decent in sections, but it could have been a lot better. It seems like the bike routing was an afterthought and added in after they had everything else set.

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    Carrie May 25, 2015 at 11:15 am

    I figured I”d post an update here that PBOT actually REMOVED the pole that was in the middle of the path at the Powell Street crossover. Pretty amazing to see a piece of infrastructure taken out, in a way that makes so much sense! https://twitter.com/CLeonard46/status/602529866693509120

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