Splendid Cycles Big Sale

Comment of the Week: The hidden political cost of neighborhood greenways

Posted by on March 6th, 2015 at 12:14 pm

Eleni rides home alone-7

Michigan Avenue in North Portland.
(Photo: J.Maus/BikePortland)

In the parts of Portland where neighborhood greenways exist, they’re the most pleasant way to get around. Installing them is cheap, fast and politically popular because (other than the occasional traffic diverter) they basically bother nobody.

After its biking advocates spent much of the 2000s trying and failing to build meaningful networks of protected bike lanes on commercial streets, Portland rolled out 40 miles of comfortable connected neighborhood greenways and (as we shared in Monday’s roundup) rightly earned them a spot among Streetfilms’ 10 global best practices for street design.

But, as reader CarsAreFunToo showed in a comment on Thursday’s post about speed enforcement on high-crash corridors, they also seem to come with a big indirect political cost.

Here’s what CarsAreFunToo wrote, starting with an excerpt from our article (in italics). I’ve boldfaced the start of the section about neighborhood greenways.

“They all pointed out that the biggest liability they can see in the program is that when drivers become accustomed to the location of these photo radar illustrations, they will speed anywhere the camera is not,” Kransky said.

Which was, Kransky realized, actually just a way of saying that the cameras are extremely effective.

WTF, mate? So, you reduce speeding in one place but gain it in others (the more residential surrounding streets) and call that a win? That don’t make a lick of sense. That’s just shifting the use conflict.

And let’s hear a little more insightful analysis of the causes of these accidents. If cars are just plowing into bikes in the bike lanes and people on the sidewalk because they can’t handle the speed by all means put in GATSOs. If it’s poor lines of sight or just bad design by all means do a redesign.

But the idea that bikes should be on every street no matter how high traffic it is (I’m thinking of major car thoroughfares here, where they want these cameras) is bogus. Why not direct bike traffic away from these areas and allow cars to travel at the speeds the roads are capable of handling? That seems like a commonsense way to limit use conflicts. And one which many people do naturally without much thought, just like people walk on the sidewalks instead of in the middle of the street. ‘There are a lot of cars on Sandy and they go kinda fast ’cause it’s a major road and riding next to fast moving cars sucks ass. Oh sweet, one street over goes the same way and it’s nice and quiet. I’ll ride there.’ More effective for cars, more effective and safer for bikes.

Oh snap, we already do that! But for some reason that’s not good enough. Now y’all just have to have one of Broadway’s lanes where it’s busiest because Tillamook doesn’t have any trendy, cute shops. It’s never enough. Tillamook is a great street to commute on. Barely any cars, nice houses, and more interesting and shaded than Going which I use now that I live further north.

The me-me-me attitude of so much of the bike community here is utterly maddening and makes me not want to be associated with it in anyway. “We don’t like cars so let’s ruin car travel for everyone else.”

Bikes are fun and useful, but guess what, cars are fun too and way, WAY more useful which is why they’re the dominant form of transportation. Cars aren’t going away folks. A more inclusive advocacy approach would do you a lot of good.

Advertisement

Obviously there are lots of things here that many readers will find errors and disagreements with, including the fact that the post and the bill it discusses were about speed limits, not the presence or absence of bikes or bike lanes.

But CarsAreFunToo (who I hope you’ll agree deserves to be treated respectfully) makes some points that Portlanders have gotten used to hearing over and over and over again.

If neighborhood greenways had been proven to be associated with increases in bicycling, this might not be a problem. But in the cities where they’ve been built the most — Vancouver BC, and Portland — they haven’t, at least not yet. Are neighborhood greenways less intuitive than bike lanes? Less visible? Less direct? Something else? It’s not clear. I’m among many bikeway wonks around the country eagerly awaiting the city’s release, at the Oregon Active Transportation Summit later this month, of its in-depth analysis of neighborhood greenway data by some of the country’s smartest and most thoughtful experts.

Meanwhile, I’m watching nervously as cities that are successfully building comfortable bike lanes on commercial streets — Seattle, Chicago, Indianapolis — work to follow the neighborhood greenway innovations of Vancouver and Portland. Neighborhood greenways work for me, and I want very much for them to keep expanding. But (unlike CarsAreFunToo, to whom I’m grateful for engaging with these ideas) I don’t personally think they’re enough to work for everyone.

If neighborhood greenways inadvertently stop us from being able to make biking work for more people, that’d be very sad news.

Yes, we pay for good comments. We’ll be mailing a $5 bill to CarsAreFunToo in thanks for this great one. Watch your email!

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

210
Leave a Reply

avatar
39 Comment threads
171 Thread replies
0 Followers
 
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
74 Comment authors
Chris Andersonsoren9wattsEl BicicleroOregon Mamacita Recent comment authors
  Subscribe  
newest oldest most voted
Notify of
Dweendaddy
Guest
Dweendaddy

This line: “But for some reason that’s not good enough.” gets at what is “good enough?”
Portland is leading America (give or take a city) in bike-friendliness and mode share. But Portland is miles/decades behind the leading European cities. If you want to be the best in America, you are there. If you want to have most people biking and walking most places they go, you have a way to go.

Dween

matt picio
Guest
matt picio

Portland isn’t leading America anymore. We were leading America in 2008, but somewhere around 2010/2011 while we were busy patting ourselves on our collective back, other cities have taken the lead in innovation: Minneapolis, Chicago, Washington D.C. and NYC. Portland is stalled, and I for one look forward to the point where we once again surge forward – but that’s not going to happen until we realize we’re no longer in front.

davemess
Guest
davemess

Still leading in mode share though, right?

Opus the Poet
Guest

Nope, Minn/St.P passed y’all last year in mode share. They have been steadily improving at about 1% a year for several years as they built out their infrastructure, while y’all have been stalled at 8% since what, 2011?

paikiala
Guest
paikiala

Matt, define your metrics.

John McBurney
Guest

A 40+ year cyclist and former bike racer, I moved to Portland in October from another acknowledged cycling hotbed, Greenville. SC. I could not safely ride for transportation in Greenville but commute from my home in NE to my job in the NW daily. I find the Greenways to be amazing and don’t mind the stops and lower speeds although I sometimes get caught up in the Williams St. Crit. One thing I notice is the pride of ownership of houses on Greenways and virtual absence of any inventory of available houses on them. I think they are and amazing contribution to a great quality of life

Kai McMurtry (Events Manager)
Guest
Kai

Great post Michael.

Ben
Guest
Ben

I’ve encountered this sentiment a lot lately. It usually comes from people who don’t realize that the neighborhood greenway are a lie: they often don’t run as far as the busier streets “ONE BLOCK OVER”, have more stops, and don’t connect well to the rest of the grid. My counter is that I want to ride on the busy streets for the same reason people want to drive on them: they go where I need to.

All this would be moot, though, if we imposed a 20 mph speed limit citywide. Then we wouldn’t need any bicycle infrastructure at all.

shuppatsu
Guest
shuppatsu

I’m sure there are plenty of examples to demonstrate your point, but I think there is an effort to make the greenway system coherent and by my standards it succeeds, at least in NE.

There’s plenty of room for improvement, of courae. I wish there was more effort to disincentivize through traffic on greenways such as 53rd and Tillamook. The dividers at 15th and MLK on Going, and 20-something on Ankeny are fantastic. 53rd is so narrow when cars are parked on both sides I end up playing chicken with cars. I’ve taken to riding the (intermittent) bike lane on 47th instead.

jonno
Guest
jonno

Interesting point to be made here is that cars are using 52nd and 54th due to the bicycle traffic on 53rd. Neither alternative street can support the volumes and speeds at peak times.

I feel the design of the 53rd bikeway should have removed parking on 53rd north of I-84 since it really isn’t wide enough to handle bi-directional car traffic, even without considering people on bikes.

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

The traffic on 52nd is primarily due to Rose City Futsal. As far as 53rd goes, narrow is good. It slows people down.

Jonno
Guest
Jonno

There’s some cut-through traffic, but you’re mostly right. Futsal generates vastly more traffic than is appropriate for the neighborhood.

paikiala
Guest
paikiala

S,
I doubt you have many examples, a few, maybe. You’ll probably start naming older boulevards that have not yet been constructed to N G standards.

q`Tzal
Guest
q`Tzal

We barely enforce our current speed limits.
Good ideas, no public support for the draconian enforcement needed to make it reality.

charlie
Guest
charlie

You could install a 20 MPH limit citywide, and rip out all stop signs and some stop lights, and there wouldn’t even be a speed drop off because people could drive “slowly but steadily” instead of stomping on the accelerator then screeching to a halt every block.

davemess
Guest
davemess

rip out all stop signs? Good luck with that!

Nick Skaggs
Guest
Nick Skaggs

I like greenways. I use them frequently. I also don’t think it’s fair to classify them as “seperate, but equal.” I feel like that’s an implication of CarsAreFunToo’s comment.

The greenway on SE 41st Ave is a great example. Is that hilly, meandering route an appropriate alternative to SE 39th Ave?

SE 39th isn’t a good street to cycle on, but I’ve definitely been known to ride it for a mile or two if it means I can avoid taking a meandering, hilly greenway to the grocery store, or whatever.

The reason major thoroughfares are major is because they provide a direct, simple route somewhere.

“Yeah, just head North on 39th and you’ll see Fred Meyer” is a lot simpler than,
“Yeah, take Gladstone until it dead-ends, then go left on 41st, and then when that dead-ends on Powell, go right and make an immediate left, go down the hill, then that dead ends, go left and make an immediate right, and follow the sharrows through the roundabouts and when you hit Hawthorne, go four more blocks, then left to the bike signal and you’ can get to the Freddy’s parking lot pretty easily from there.”

shuppatsu
Guest
shuppatsu

I agree. The advent of turn-by-turn cycling directions was a godsend to urban cyclists, because safe bike routes are so frequently labrynthine.

Pete
Guest
Pete

And “safe” bike routes are often planned around low-car (not necessarily no-car) streets withe frequent stops. In my opinion, making a cyclist stop frequently and then cross intersections shared with autos from a standstill is not entirely “safe.” (It’s a higher collision probability than a mid-block incursion of a ‘speeding’ car into a shoulder or bike lane, despite what CarsAreFunToo thinks we all think about riding on major, high-traffic roadways with cars).

Motorists want to see bicyclists stop at all stop signs, yet they want us all to ride only on streets with lots of stop signs… those whiners just want to have their cake and eat it too! 😉

paikiala
Guest
paikiala

Portland neighborhood greenways are designed to eliminate stops for cyclists.

hat
Guest
hat

Perhaps insert the word “ideally.” Tillamook would ideally have several more diverters as well as a modicum of stop signs. Yet, as the stop signs are eliminated, and no diverters are installed, it begs for misuse as we see on Going, Ankeny, Clinton etc.

Chris Anderson
Guest

The best Neighborhood Greenway design would remove all stop signs and speed bumps from the bike route, but add diversion every 2 or 3 blocks making it impractical for motor vehicle use but smooth sailing for bikes. This could approach a European “green highway” in terms of commutability but still leave room for people to bike with their kids and/or dog.

Something more reassuring than stop signs on cross streets to keep cars from blowing across the path of (short, hard to see) kids on their way to school would be a nice touch, but I’m told putting speed bumps before the stop signs in the cross streets would be too expensive.

paikiala
Guest
paikiala

Hat,
Only one of the pathways you identified has been constructed to NG standards. Do you know which one?

Pete
Guest
Pete

Now this is what a “Comment Of The Week” looks like.

maccoinnich
Guest

That greenway really is terrible. I used to have a journey that took me from Eastmoreland to Hollywood about once a week. It probably took me 5 or 6 trips before I had the route memorized and stopped making the wrong turn.

Sadly it looks like the 20s bikeway is going to make all the same mistakes.

Reza
Guest
Reza

But Laurelhurst Theater and Holman’s get to keep their precious on-street parking!

paikiala
Guest
paikiala

Neighborhood greenways do not remove parking. NG’s are on local service streets and share the road with low volume auto traffic. If it is on a street that should have bike lanes, it is not a ‘neighborhood greenway’ but some other designation.

Jim Chasse
Guest
Jim Chasse

Great discussion of the use of different tools to make cycling safer in Portland. It’s obvious most responders don’t get out to East Portland very often. With a lack of neighborhood greenways, but more miles of bike lanes than any other part of the city, it’s challenging to persuade woman and children to use, say, Division St. to get from point A to point b even though it’s the most direct route. To make biking more conducive the part of the population who aren’t strong and fearless riders we’ll have to consider all of the options available to make even the busiest streets safer to ride.
I use Division as an example because not only is it my route to get to the inner city, but will soon be a High Capacity Transit (HCT) corridor and be ripe for some sort of protected bikeway along the line.
I agree the use of GATSOs have a place on some of the busiest streets in our city, but they will not be the end all answer simply another tool to make walking, biking and even driving a little safer.

bjorn
Guest
bjorn

Please show me on the map the bike friendly street one block over from and running parallel to Sandy. Oh wait there isn’t one…

jonno
Guest
jonno

Cheers to that! There is no alternative to Sandy and never will be, and it’s by far the most direct route from NE to downtown.

Or you could say, why do cars drive on Sandy when there’s a purpose-built freeway just a couple blocks away?!?!1!?

Reza
Guest
Reza

Exact same issue with Foster, and they’re getting a road diet with bike lanes. When will the City finally show some backbone against Hollywood business interests and put one on Sandy where it rightfully belongs?

Beeblebrox
Guest
Beeblebrox

I think once Foster gets implemented and the sky doesn’t fall, it will be much easier politically to do the same with Sandy. At least I hope so, because a Sandy Bikeway would be transformative.

davemess
Guest
davemess

Yes this was consistently brought up at the Foster meetings. For the few major diagonal streets we have, there really is no alternative.

Although for some streets (like East Burnside from the river to 39th, I kind of agree with the comment of the week. Ankeny isn’t really that much slower, and has pretty easy access to all the businesses on Burnside (and some businesses are now opening on Ankeny.

are
Guest

i lived in the northeast for five years and could easily have used tillamook rather than broadway to get to the bridge. tillamook is a vastly inferior route, most notably where it crosses 21st and 15th, but also because of the frequent stops and the fact, hey, it is a neighborhood greenway, not designed for people who are trying to get somewhere.

if it were all about the “trendy, cute shops,” i could easily take tillamook to the relevant cross street and drop down. which if i were not trying to make a meeting across town i often did. similar pushback on alberta versus going.

also of course the writer chooses a poor example in sandy. there is no such thing as an alternate route that is “one street over” from a long diagonal.

one could quarrel whether cars are “way more useful” than bikes. they have particular uses, but they are grotesquely overused for purposes for which biking or walking would be “better.” and i think it is too early to say whether cars are “going away.” they very well might.

apart from all that, there is the odd suggestion “why not allow cars to travel at the speeds the roads are capable of handling.” this is classic chicken and egg. what exactly makes northeast broadway “capable of handling” speeds of thirty-five, forty-five, whatever. or not. the presence of onstreet parking. the crosswalks. the bus stops. the people on bikes, squeezed into that absurdly narrow line by force of a mandatory sidepath law. if the idea is to redesign broadway so motorists can go faster — without knocking anybody down — i guess we should tear all that out and put up some kind of embankments.

just “one street over” is eye eighty four.

shuppatsu
Guest
shuppatsu

I love Tillamook and consider it vastly superior to Broadway. Different strokes, I guess. It’s fast, safe, and gorgeous to boot.

I don’t think the

Alex Reed
Guest
Alex Reed

It is NOT fast if one makes a complete stop at every stop sign as legally required. There’s one every two blocks between 7th and 15th (inclusive), then one at 16th, then at 21st, then at 24th, then two or three more before 33rd. The time difference between taking Tillamook and taking Broadway is fairly substantial due to all those stops.

Then Tillamook becomes a narrow door-zone bike lane through Hollywood, which is both uncomfortable and dangerous. Additionally, the crossings of 15th, 21st, and 24th at rush hour are not very comfortable – and 7th is moving into that category.

Overall, I’d say Tillamook is both slow due to the stop signs AND not welcoming to timid riders due to the crossings – the “double crown” of bad greenways.

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

They really need to fix that section in Hollywood before someone gets seriously hurt.

Adam H
Guest
Adam H

I used to ride on Tillamook through Hollywood frequently for my commute but I completely avoid it now after almost getting doored a couple of times. It’s frightening.

Kyle
Guest
Kyle

Agreed. I completely take the lane through Hollywood… the bike lane is always peppered with cars parked halfway into it anyway and is horrifically dangerous, and if I ride right next to the line to avoid the door zone I find that hurried drivers (why are they using Tillamook anyway?) frequently like to dangerously squeeze by me. So I take the lane.

Also, Tillamook in general is not fast, safe, or low-traffic. I’ve noticed a huge uptick in the past 4-6 months in cut-through traffic both on the greenway itself and on side streets. This phenomenon is no longer limited to Clinton and Ankeny; it’s spreading to other greenways rapidly and it’s getting ridiculously worse as each week marches on. I rode down Lincoln yesterday evening during rush hour and there were almost more cars than bicycles, and some of them were trying to position their vehicles at traffic lights such that bikes could not slip by to the right.

Meanwhile the City of Portland twiddles their thumbs while thinking about how they can plan meetings to “fix” these problems while making absolutely everyone happy…

Mindful Cyclist
Guest
Mindful Cyclist

PBOT just needs to remove those bike lanes. There is not enough traffic to justify them. Just continue with the sharrows like the rest of it.

shuppatsu
Guest
shuppatsu

I admit I Idaho stop all those stop signs. Doesn’t everybody? I almost never see a complete stop by a cyclist unless there’s oncoming traffic. And a goodly portion of cars also fail to make a complete stop.

I ride the crossings you mentioned during rush hour frequently, and never had any stress about them. I also bike to Dishman with my six year old son on his own bike on (admittedly less car-busy) weekends, and it’s been fine. Those kinds of intersections are easy for me. Just wait until there’s no cars, then go. There’s no way that I’d take my kid on Broadway or Knott.

I agree that Tillamook isn’t as great through Hollywood, but it’s not too bad. There’s a thin strip between cars and the door zone, but on the other hand cars go slow and cautiously there. It’s definitely a different feel than Broadway.

Alex Reed
Guest
Alex Reed

I generally take Tillamook rather than Broadway myself , but I’m just saying that it’s neither truly convenient nor truly low-stress. I actually *do* make a complete stop at every stop sign, but that’s neither here nor there. The problem is that if our “convenient” alternative route that’s intended to be time-competitive with biking on arterials per PBOT is only even close to as fast as an arterial if we break the law repeatedly (by blowing or rolling stop signs), that route should be improved.

You never mentioned riding with your six-year-old to Dishman at rush hour on a weekday; I suspect you would feel that crossing those streets at that time was stressful. Many people *do* take trips at rush hour – that’s why it’s rush hour – and a good minority of those trips involve kids. Personally, I find it hard to reliably see the cars coming (many of which are speeding, and sightlines are often obstructed by parked vans etc.). Sure, I do it fine most of the time, but sometimes I miss a car and it stresses me out. The parallel route when I drive (Broadway) has traffic lights and I don’t have to dart across streams of traffic. I’ve actually taken to walking my bike across those intersections when crossing at rush hour so that cars have to stop for me rather than me judging what is a good gap.

There are reasons why less than 10% of Portlanders bike regularly for transportation. A road with the downsides of Tillamook being the best option for many people to bike on for quite a ways in either direction is one such reason.

shuppatsu
Guest
shuppatsu

First, Alex, I appreciate this dialogue which is civil and thought-provoking. My son’s name is Alex as well.

Not only did I not mention that I didn’t take my son on Tillamook during rush hour, I specifically caveated that the times that I did take him were during less busy periods. But it’s not because I’m avoiding it because it’s stressful. When there’s enough light and there’s no rain, he and I bike to his school in SE. That involves taking the Hollywood part of Tillamook (not really much a problem, and better than potential of playing chicken with cars on narrow Thompson and Brazee), then crossing Sandy on 42nd, doing the jog on Broadway, then crossing I-84 at the Hollywood Transit Center. Now THAT’S stressful! I still do it though. It’s a short stretch, I bark at him like a drill sergeant, and he’s a good soldier.

I said it elsewhere in the thread, but signals actually stress me out, because they presume a predictability stemming from the rules that can be dangerous. At a stop sign where the cars have the right of way, I *know* I need to wait for an opening, and can wait until one opens up enough that I feel safe (this window is different depending on conditions, and whether I have one or both of my kids with me). With a light, I can’t stop, because people don’t expect me to, but I can still get hit by a car turning right who doesn’t see me. Or I can get lazy and assume that I have the right of way without looking at oncoming traffic, and then get hit by someone running a red.

Also, traffic signals are particularly difficult with kids, because they can slow down unpredictably and be a few seconds behind. You could be crossing the street just as the light is turning yellow, and then you realize that your kid’s going to try to follow you just as the opposite light turns green. Super dangerous. In that case I just stop in the middle of the road and trust to my 6’5″ frame that people will see me.

Only tangentially related, but I never noticed how often drivers broke the law when I was a driver myself. Now that I’m more appreciably endangered by drivers breaking the law, I notice it *constantly.*

Alex Reed
Guest
Alex Reed

Thanks for the dialogue to you as well!

Interesting. I never thought of the interaction of signals with biking with kids on their own bikes. I suppose I will be thinking of that and other such aspects a lot more in the coming years, as we are adopting!

Do you think signals would no longer be a negative for you while biking with your son if you two could bike side-by-side? That’s how I recall seeing people often ride with kids in videos of the Netherlands for example. I think our infrastructure (e.g. narrow bike lanes on 42nd going to the Hollywood TC) is an impediment to that kind of riding.

shuppatsu
Guest
shuppatsu

Biking side-by-side would definitely help, and sometimes the infrastructure permits it. But usually not, stateside. And it’s not just width. Depending on circumstances, sometimes its better to be behind, so you can see exactly what he’s doing. Often, it’s better to be in front, so you can model the appropriate behavior as you approach an intersection.

paikiala
Guest
paikiala

Tillamook has not been retrofitted to NG standards yet.

Alex Reed
Guest
Alex Reed

Let’s hope that it is soon. I have heard a relevant PBOT staff person use Tillamook/Hancock as an example of a NG that is performing well, which worries me. I hope that the forthcoming PBOT Neighborhood Greenways report includes measures of convenience and stressful crossings, as well as the easier-to-measure daily/hourly VMT and 85% speed. The latter measures will get most of the problems on for example Clinton/Woodward and Ankeny, but few of the problems on Tillamook/Hancock and 40th/41st/42nd/43rd.

Here’s a proposed measure of convenience: delay as compared to biking on a parallel arterial. Delay would be some formula adding up seconds of delay due to miles of out-of-direction travel, number of stop signs at n’hood streets, stop signs at major streets (and having to wait for cross traffic for a while), feet of elevation gain from extra hills, twirling around at circuitous ramps like at the Hollywood TC, etc. The objective would be zero relative delay, as n’hood greenways are supposed to be time-competitive with arterials.

Stressful crossings are more complicated to measure, but I’m sure a smart PBOT staffer could come up with a matrix of what is appropriate and inappropriate based on hourly max VMT of cross street, average and 85% motor vehicle speeds of cross street, number of lanes of cross street, and the crossing treatment (or lack thereof).

KYouell
Guest

Don’t forget the terrain. The hill variable needs to figure in there somehow.

Alex Reed
Guest
Alex Reed

I put in “feet of elevation gain” as a component of the delay category, but I think that “Excess linear feet at greater than X% grade compared to the parallel arterial” would be another measure to add that would be especially relevant to you, Kath. Especially steep sections can be a real obstacle for those with heavier loads/bikes, weaker legs, or who are just tired.

KYouell
Guest

Shoot, I missed that. Thanks.

paikiala
Guest
paikiala

It won’t fair well in the upcoming greenways evaluation.

ac
Guest
ac

Ben
All this would be moot, though, if we imposed a 20 mph speed limit citywide. Then we wouldn’t need any bicycle infrastructure at all.
Recommended 0

that might work in a local district, but that would be maddening to many portlanders who need to move beyond local districts by vehicles other than bikes

paikiala
Guest
paikiala

This…might come true.

Esther
Guest
Esther

It always amuses me when people trot out Sandy as an example of a high volume arterial that bikes should avoid when there is no comparable diagonal street that shortens the length of one commute (unlike, say, Burnside/Ankeny Broadway/Tillamook etc.). Trot out that old isosceles triangle math: Sandy is 25% shorter than any comparable streets between Point A and Point B. That’s why I spend 25 minutes taking it to my job downtown with a few very short red lights, rather than 40 minutes taking Sacramento to 57th to Hancock to Tillamook (with a looong wait at a light to cross Sandy) with a million stops on Tillamook while I wait for rush hour cross traffic on 42nd, 33rd, 24th, 15th, 7th, and across the Broadway bridge with conditions on NE and NW Broadway that are frankly NOT MUCH BETTER than Sandy.

Also, I took a few months off my bike due to an injury. Being back on, I am reminded of how different Portland is now than it was 4 years ago or 10 or 15 years ago. I’ve been car free and full time employed and/or student for the most part of 18 years and riding used to seem like such a breeze compared to all other modes. It’s still faster, cheaper and slightly easier, but it’s not much more pleasant anymore, dealing with dark tree-lined intersections on Greenways where I’m not confident I’m visible despite generator lights, tons of cross traffic at uncontrolled intersections, always feeling like I’m going to get right hooked somewhere (watched my husband almost get right hooked by Blazers game traffic coming off the Broadway bridge last night as someone suddenly swerved into the turn lane to Interstate). Greenways are A tool, but they are not THE tool.

shuppatsu
Guest
shuppatsu

I completely agree about Sandy. It’s the one high volume arterial where the case for cycling can be pretty compelling. Bad example.

As far as your subjective experience, I’m not saying you’re wrong, because all I have is my own competing subjective experience which is no more valid than yours. But I biked a lot from 1998-2002, then hardly biked at all for 10 years, then started riding obsessively the past three years. For me, the improved greenway/bike lane infrastructure, plus Google Maps showing safe streets and providing turn-by-turn where needed, has made my cycling experience so much less stressful than it used to be 10-15 years ago.

And drivers are drivers, not nearly as attentive as they should be piloting 3,000-5,000 lb implements of steel destruction (same goes for me when I’m driving). That being said, Portland drivers are much more aware and considerate than drivers in other places.

bjorn
Guest
bjorn

On street parking should be removed from Sandy and replaced with a grade separated bikeway. Most of the congestion on Sandy is due to people stopping in the right lane to prepare to parallel park and there is plenty of additional parking on side streets to meet the parking needs that are currently on sandy.

Esther
Guest
Esther

Yeah, I was more comparing biking now to a year or two ago. We dont have significantly more I frastructure than a few years ago but we do have a ton of increases car traffic because of the economic recovery. I just feel like I have a more more harried and defensive interactions than I used to just 2 years ago. And car traffic is way up-thats a fact. (How are we gonna reduce it? Better bus service and better bike infrastructure and programs…which is why I’m a monthly donor to CCC and OPAL.)

Gerald Fittipaldi
Guest
Gerald Fittipaldi

Keep sharing your story about Sandy cutting 15 minutes off of your commute. People who don’t bike assume that Tillamook is somehow parallel when it’s anything but.

Just out of curiosity, do you take Sandy uphill when heading eastbound?

Jess
Guest
Jess

My biggest issue with neighborhood greenways is that people driving their cars don’t always drive like they are driving on a neighborhood greenway (ahem, Clinton). I don’t know if they just don’t understand the meaning behind the bike sharrows or if they just don’t care. I have experienced horn honking, aggressive driving behavior, and people passing too closely all while riding exactly where I am supposed to be riding on these greenways. I think the “me-me-me attitude” that the commenter alludes to goes the other way as well. Many people driving their cars don’t want to slow down on the busy throughfares but also don’t want to slow down on the side streets either, greenway or no greenway. I do tend to go out of my to stay on low traffic streets when biking, but there is a trade off on how far out of my way I am willing to go if I still have to deal with aggressive driving behavior.

Matt
Guest
Matt

It’s funny to hear a motorist complain “me me me.” Does s/he not sense the irony? And I treat greenways much like a motorist probably treats a highway. If I want to cover a lot of ground in a timely manner I might GO OUT OF MY WAY to a greenway. But if I want to go someplace on Broadway, I’m going to go down Broadway. If I want to go someplace on Sandy, I’m going down Sandy.

Dan
Guest
Dan

Kind of like when a driver accuses you of “taking up the whole road”?

Opus the Poet
Guest

Exactly, when I take my bike to shop I ride on the streets where the shops are because that is where I need to go, and that is as true in TX as it is in PDX.

Buzz
Guest
Buzz

First of all, there is no neighborhood greenway that parallels Sandy Blvd; second of all, neighborhoods and hence neighborhood greenways are not continuous, they are interrupted by all sorts of pesky obstacles like rivers, highways, canyons and hills.

Clark in Vancouver
Guest
Clark in Vancouver

The same false argument happens in Vancouver, BC too. Kingsway which runs diagonally across the grid, is six lanes wide and even without any cycling infrastructure is good to bike on because of the width. It can take you far and has many destinations on it It’s popular to cycle and drive on because of these reasons. There’s criticism that people should not bike on it because there’s a crappy narrow recreational path eight blocks away, approximately parallel under the Skytrain track. It’s a bogus assumption but one that you hear.
Meanwhile the mode of motoring get a complete grid of highly subsidized roads with only a few minor diversions here and there yet that’s still not enough to satisfy some motorists and their me-me-me attitudes.

Cheif
Guest
Cheif

Ticket anyone who drives a car anywhere other than the interstate highway system.

Scott H
Guest
Scott H

So many dozens of good comments this week and this is the comment of the week? Someone who in all likelihood contributes to urban sprawl and has never ridden a bike outside of a park, stumbles upon this site and takes it upon themselves to regurgitate the same tired old unfounded hatred-of-bikes-on-public-roads?

shuppatsu
Guest
shuppatsu

I’m sure someone who compares the relative merits of the Tillamook and Going greenways has ridden his bicycle outside of a park. And he probably lives close-in as well. So let’s not push dismissive assumptions on people with whom we disagree, hmm?

Scott H
Guest
Scott H

The familiarity with side street is apparent, you’re right about that, but then she/he ends the comment with something like “cars are way WAY more useful” and that makes it seem safe to say that it’s never occurred to them to take a bike to the grocery store, or to work, or to the bank, etc, even though the numbers show that doing so is faster and more enjoyable: http://bikeportland.org/2014/01/24/surprise-typical-portland-bike-commute-is-shorter-than-driving-100350

shuppatsu
Guest
shuppatsu

I definitely agree more enjoyable. “Faster” is a complicated one, as the linked to article indicates. I take some pride in racing my (driving) wife home from dinner, often beating her if there’s traffic on the roads, never far behind.

But again, the person demonstrates familiarity with inner-NE riding routes. He’s commenting on a cycling blog. And his opinions aren’t unusual, only for this crowd. I come off as a reactionary right-winger at BP, but amongst my friends and coworkers I’m viewed as a little loony for my pro-bike stances. There’s no reason to assume he’s some random person from Lake Oswego who meant to comment at Oregonlive and somehow ended up at BP instead.

I agree with much of what the original comment stated, but I don’t agree that cars are WAY more useful. For me, they are not. But it’s pretty close, even though I almost never drive during the week. That’s because my wife drives, and I depend on her to haul our kids around when it’s rainy or dark. I know people can do this stuff without a car, and I do when I can, but it’s challenging.

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

“I agree with much of what the original comment stated, but I don’t agree that cars are WAY more useful. For me, they are not. …” shuppatsu

For many people, in many different situations, cars are way more useful than bikes. In fact, for many people, cars are essential, while bikes are expendable. They’re among who pays in no small part, for improvements to walking and biking infrastructure.

It’s not necessarily readily understandable to everyone, why, if there’s a quiet street nearby, someone is riding instead on a busy thoroughfare. Same with bike lanes, where some people nevertheless, ride sidewalks. Patient explanation is important to be able to offer.

9watts
Guest
9watts

“For many people, in many different situations, cars are way more useful than bikes.”
Hm. Really? And you know this – because you see them sitting in cars? Perhaps they have no familiarity with riding a bike, have no idea whether it might be more useful to them. I think it is risky to argue ex post facto about people’s mode when we know that our society for several generations has tilted heavily toward motor vehicles and away from everything else. To get back to a more sane distribution we are going to have to stop telling ourselves that people’s reliance on cars is purely a reflection of their preferences.

davemess
Guest
davemess

because we have a lot of people on this very site who use both bikes and cars interchangeably for their commute, and many of them have not fully switched to bikes.
Different strokes for different folks, I don’t even understand how that is debatable?

9watts
Guest
9watts

“because we have a lot of people on this very site who use both bikes and cars interchangeably for their commute, and many of them have not fully switched to bikes.”

That is certainly a valid point. But I think it is quite a bit more complicated than that. Weaning oneself from a car is often a protracted thing, and economics is not the least of the reasons. Typically the fixed costs of owning a car are larger than the variable costs, and more importantly, they lie in the past. So the marginal mile driven may cost very little, and helps to amortize the sunk costs further. I stand by my point, though. Concluding from these observable behaviors that people simply prefer the car (or prefer using both the car and the bike in parallel) overlooks lots of other factors that complicate any simple assessment we might wish to make.

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

““For many people, in many different situations, cars are way more useful than bikes.”
Hm. Really? And you know this – because …” watts

Geez watts, does somebody really have to spell this out for you? To offer a couple examples towards answering your question, I know this, because I know that people get sick, or are otherwise unable to walk or bike. Or that obligations made of some people are so are so many, that they wouldn’t be able to meet them, pedaling around on a bike or taking mass transit.

9watts
Guest
9watts

wsbob,
we’re disagreeing (again) about whether the fact that people are more often observed to sit in or drive around in a car than on a bike is because of the overwhelmingly tilted field that our transportation infrastructure and spending priorities represent, or because cars are just ‘way more useful,’ quite apart from any societal biases we’ve layered in here. Obviously to some extent it is going to be both; my point was simply to note that there is more to it than what I felt you were suggesting.

Bill Walters
Guest
Bill Walters

“Geez watts, does somebody really have to spell this out for you?” –wsbob

Bob, if you’re going to call people out as you’ve done recently for what you’ve characterized as an impolite or insolent tone, then you need to damned well live up to your own standards yourself.

El Biciclero
Guest
El Biciclero

I think you have to make a distinction among a few nuanced perspectives here. First, there is useful, and then there is convenient. I think for most people, cars are way more convenient, and they conflate that with “useful”, even though they could likely do all of the things they normally do with a car using some kind of bike instead. Especially if one has the notion that bike add-ons, like trailers, or a specialty bike for carrying cargo is “BS”.

Also, we should not assume that because something seems to have a wider range of uses, that it is more useful. A car sitting in a driveway with no fuel in it because the owner can’t afford to fill it up is useless to that person. I own a car, but not a pick-up. Many people might claim that a pick-up is “way more useful” than a car. Well, for me, on about 364 days out of the year, a pickup (unless it were a crew cab) would be less useful than my car because I couldn’t put any kid seats in the back of it, and it would likely get even worse mileage than my super-old car. For that one day when I might wish I had a pick-up, I can usually order some kind of delivery or hauling service to handle my specialty need.

Also, if I understand 9watts correctly, just because you see more people using cars doesn’t mean they are more useful, just that they are overused. Sure, there are those folks for whom a car, whether their own or borrowed/rented/hired, might be “necessary”, but for the vast majority of drivers out there, I think it is merely the default choice thanks to massively biased infrastructure design, evil marketing, peer pressure, and insecurity.

davemess
Guest
davemess

“I come off as a reactionary right-winger at BP, but amongst my friends and coworkers I’m viewed as a little loony for my pro-bike stances.”

I feel the EXACT same way. Maybe it’s just me misremembering, but it seems like commenters on this site have skewed a little more extremist lately, and that if you don’t agree with EVERY point people make (re: bike lanes, housing density, the street fee, etc.) you’re almost accused of being a “Republican” (like there aren’t any Republicans who ride bikes!?!?!).
Just feels like this site has become a little too much of a bubble sometimes.

CarsAreFunToo
Guest
CarsAreFunToo

And deep breath in . . .

I grew up in NE Portland in a middle class household that split up when I was four or five, lived on food stamps and heating my hands with the oven for a time while my dad was going back to school to be a teacher, went to public school were I didn’t apply myself from 6th grade to junior year, didn’t get into college after barely graduating, spent some time in FL with my grandparents, came back and went to CC then the UofO, started working in bike shops while going to school full time, wrote a paper on the subculture of fixed gears (there were maybe 10 people that rode fixed in Eugene then and they did a Wednesday night bar ride), did well in college and graduated in 2009 when there were no jobs, worked some more at the bike shop, took out crazy loans to go to grad school in Illinois where I studied economics (Milton is a douche, for the record) and urban planning, graduated, came back here and was either unemployed or working at a bike shop for the next three years, raced cross a lot one year and reached my goal of a top 20 in the singlespeeds and didn’t go back, put a riser bar and a 43c Dugast tubular on same cross bike and rode 50 miles out and back on MRT, bought a real mountain bike which I ride a lot becasue going fast in the woods is fun, and commute from NE either by bike or car to my job in renewable energy, depending on weather and how lazy I feel.

Who knows dog, depending on what shop you went to I might have even fixed your bike. Wouldn’t that be crazy?!

And to your original comment: TRACK DAY, BRO! Way ahead of you turkey.

Anne Hawley
Guest
Anne Hawley

I don’t want to pit greenways against PBLs on arterials because I’m sure that some people need better, more direct, faster ways to get where they’re going. But implying, as some have done, that the greenways go nowhere useful, or are universally inconvenient, or serve nobody very well is dismissing a whole category of bike riders like me. I use Tillamook and Going routinely, and they do take me to useful places–most of the places I need to go, in fact. I wouldn’t have become a carfree bike rider without them. I will always prefer them to riding next to fast car traffic–and to being the slow rider on a high-volume protected bikeway.

There’s obviously a lot to quibble with in this comment of the week, but I – and I suspect quite a few other bike riders – would agree with CarsAreFunToo that leveraging Portland’s grid system to separate bicycling from driving is a good idea for a lot of people.

Jeff
Guest
Jeff

The bigger question is why do people choose to drive cars on Clinton over Division, Ankeny/Couch over Burnside, Going over Prescott, Salmon/Taylor over Hawthorne, Vancouver/Williams over Grand/MLK, SE 16th over 20th, or Virginia (and its parallels) over Macadam when there’s a perfectly good street to drive on (with far fewer people riding bikes) just one street over?

Especially w/re to riding in Johns Landing: every single day this week, I’ve been passed by someone driving too close and/or at high speed just to have them stop at a stop sign, park, or turn within a few feet of passing me.

Kyle
Guest
Kyle

I live on a neighbourhood greenway, so I have to use it for a couple of blocks in either direction to drive anywhere (and that’s usually if I’m heading out of the city or to the suburbs). I treat it as though bikes have priority, however. If someone’s cycling uphill slowly in front of me and I have to turn a block or two away I keep plenty of distance behind them and take it at their speed. It adds maybe 10-20 seconds to my trip and makes everyone happier!

Dan
Guest
Dan

Absolutely agree. COURTESY is the cheapest thing you can give, from all modes of transportation. Do something nice for a complete stranger. What does it cost, a few seconds?! If everyone could just be COURTEOUS I think we could get away with much fewer traffic laws and separate facilities.

Jeff
Guest
Jeff

And come Friday afternoon, I had a lovely ride home. Everyone gave me plenty of space, recognized that shooting past me before making the left would save them seconds at best and decided against it, and waited patiently for me to pass a line of cars parked on the curb, then get over towards the curb before passing me on my uphill stretch. I smiled and waved at all of them.

Matt Pie
Guest
Matt Pie

cars arent going away eh? I forgot about the infinite ammount of oil on our planet.

Matt Pie
Guest
Matt Pie

amount*

Brad
Guest
Brad

Electric motors, hydrogen fuel cells, some biofuel derived from garbage, etc. – never underestimate the motor vehicle industry and the comfort factor enjoyed by billions of people that prefer cars to self-propelled transport. If there is money to be made…

Mark
Guest

I use NE Tillamook because it is one block away and goes across to exactly where I want to be. In other words, it’s convenient. But that’s not true for many on bikes from other areas where NE Broadway, for example, offers a far more convenient path. And, for those who say a 20mph (30kph) limit is even part of a solution, think again. Speed limits are hardly enforced as it is. I’d prefer to see traffic laws on the books currently, even the too-fast 30mph limit, enforced rigorously.

Chris Anderson
Guest

What I like about a 20 mph speed limit is that I can take the lane and act as a rolling diverter, since I’ve got a speedometer on my bike and have no problem holding steady at 20mph. Lately I’ve been taking the lane at more like 15 mph on Greenways and mostly drivers are chill. If they get too close behind me I can always speed up.

Paul in the 'Couve
Guest
Paul in the 'Couve

As a non-Portlander, who knows the general layout of Portland, but is not a dweller of any particular neighborhood, I have one observation.

One major hurdle of neighborhood greenways to increase ridership is knowledge and route finding. It is not insurmountable, but there is a barrier of knowledge and experience to actually learn exactly where to access and greenway and use it to link your way to a destination. Knowing it exists is not the same as knowing how to use it, or how efficient and effective it is as a route.

shuppatsu
Guest
shuppatsu

Google Maps. It’s by no means perfect, but it’s an order of magnitude better than the old fold-out bike map. The routes it selects are not always the best, and occasionally a little sketchy, but by and large you can plot a reasonably safe and expedient course wherever you are going.

Gerald Fittipaldi
Guest
Gerald Fittipaldi

I almost never follow Google Maps’ suggestions. It does a horrible job of directing bike riders to neighborhood greenways. Instead I use the City of Portland Bike Map. Not the hardcopy; I’m talking a digital version that can be downloaded onto a smartphone. The app I used to download it is called Maplets. It’s not free, but it’s my favorite and most used app (not just transportation apps). It can be accessed offline, so no need to have 4G, but if you have location services turned on it will show you exactly where you are on the map. 10X better than Google Maps.

Pete
Guest
Pete

Definitely give them feedback if you can. I can tell you that one of the higher product managers in that group (Peter, that Jonathan has interviewed here before) is passionate about cycling and has toured the world on his bike, as are lots of people involved in G maps. They definitely want it to work for us.

Pete
Guest
Pete

Also think of it this way: auto-piloted cars may want to know where bicyclists want to ride, for route planning…

shuppatsu
Guest
shuppatsu

I will check that out. That being said, Google Maps has gotten much better in the last two years. I read somewhere that cyclists report errors WAY more than drivers and pedestrians.

Pete
Guest
Pete

Open Streetmaps seems to have improved as well (from what I see in the areas I use); I think that Garmin embracing it rather than competing with it should (theoretically) result in improvements for us in the options we have.

Gerald Fittipaldi
Guest
Gerald Fittipaldi

FYI Maplets has numerous specialty maps for cities throughout the US. Among the maps I have downloaded are: NYC subway map, Seattle bike map, DC metro map, Portland Trimet map. The only downside to using maplets is that it doesn’t give you turn by turn directions. Basically if you don’t like hardcopy maps you’ll hate the Maplets app. If you like hardcopy maps you’ll love maplets. One of its biggest pluses is that it doesn’t drain battery the way google maps does.

9watts
Guest
9watts

Let’s not lose track of the slightly deeper question of why we who bike need to memorize these complicated directions, must sort through all these different online map formats just to find how to get to the store. This is—to me at least—the absurd, deplorable part. To someone in a car you just say to get to Fred Meyer you take Chavez to Hawthorne Blvd. Done.

mikeybikey
Guest
mikeybikey

Things that are not located on a neighborhood greenway: my job. my spouse’s job. my son’s school. our bank. our house. my doctor. my dentist. our children’s pediatrician. our grocery store. our bike shop. our veterinarian. the nearest library. the nearest park. my favorite “trendy shop”.

shuppatsu
Guest
shuppatsu

The original post wasn’t saying that cyclists should be confined to greenways. He was saying that some streets should be optimized for car travel when there were adequate alternatives for bicycles nearby.

mikeybikey
Guest
mikeybikey

Streets that are optimized for car travel can also be optimized for safe, convenient cycling. They are not mutually exclusive. Consider H.C. Anderson Blvd. in Copenhagen. A major north/south route through central Copenhagen that serves some of the most visited places in the city (i.e. tivoli). It carries dozens of city bus lines in addition to a quite significant amount of daily motorvehicle traffic. It also has cycle tracks. This is what adequate looks like.

shuppatsu
Guest
shuppatsu

Point taken, and I don’t necessarily disagree. But there are tradeoffs to all approaches, and lots of those tradeoffs become aggravated when there’s less space. I Google Mapped H.C. Anderson, and it’s a really wide street.

Dan
Guest
Dan

Just so long as you’re cognizant of the tradeoff in allowing cars to use a space in the first place. We’ve been conditioned to forget about all that, but keep in mind that it did happen at one time.

As a thought experiment, imagine a wide recreation area like Waterfront Park. Kids running around, people walking side by side down the middle of it.

Now, imagine that Waterfront Park is turned into a road overnight. Can you see the tradeoffs there?

And yes, I’m aware that Waterfront Park USED to be a highway, and there were tradeoffs when we converted it to a park. How did that work out?

9watts
Guest
9watts

“some streets should be optimized for car travel”

Except that according to Roger Geller, we still haven’t managed to tackle the ‘and getting around by car was supposed to be made more difficult’ part of implementing the 2030 Bike Master Plan.

My problem with the comment is that I don’t think any streets should be optimized for car travel. We did that with all streets for most of the past hundred years. Now it is time for some other priorities to take over. No need to fool ourselves into thinking we’re going to get where we need to go by (continuing to) make it easy for people in cars.

soren
Guest
soren

Word.

MaxD
Guest
MaxD

The idealized concept of a neighborhood greenway (a route parallel to a commercial corridor, a block away that facilitates bike traval put prevents motor vehicle travel) sounds effective and amazing.Although CarsAreFunToo was being sarcastic, they were correct in saying this is not good enough because this concept is not realized in Portland, ever. The reality of the neighborhood greenway is great for short neighborhood circulation, but terrible for getting places. These routes are discontinuous, counter-intuitive, circuitous and lack safe crossings. The City does a terrible job of keeping cars off of them, and does not provide the necessary infrastructure to make these useful infrastructure.

one illustration: Going. Going an effective greenway between 8th and 33rd. the crossing at 33rd illustrates how low of a priority bike/ped’s are. Heading east, the greenway falls apart at 47th. Imagine the increased utility (navigability, connectivity) if Prescott or Fremont had been chosen to prioritize bike traffic! The west side is even worse! Going has terrible, unsafe crossings at 7th, MLK, Vanovuer and Williams: all these could be solved with a siganl at 7th/Going, and switching the route to Skidmore between NE 7th and N Concord- much better connectivity, simple and intuitive navigation, signalized intersections.

soren
Guest

This idealized concept only works for people who know the exact location of a store, business, restaurant, or bar on the adjacent commercial street. For people who are less familiar with a commercial area riding on the commercial corridor for a while is a necessity (and, for some, fun).

Clark in Vancouver
Guest
Clark in Vancouver

So true. You can go along a greenway or in Vancouver, the Seawall to get to a store but there are no signs telling you where you are in relation to the parallel retail strip.

shuppatsu
Guest
shuppatsu

I love Going. It is my favorite greenway. It’s wide, but the speed bumps and raised medians at 15th and MLK keep the cars off. It provides easy access to Alberta, and feeds directly into Vancouver/Williams.

I like the crossing at 33rd. It’s an effective solution to the necessary jog. I know you’re saying the jog shouldn’t be necessary because the greenway should be on a more primary street, but it’s nice that we were accommodated.

I don’t understand why signals are considered “safe.” I’m not a traffic engineer or an urban planning guy, but I always understood signals to be dangerous, because they impart a false sense of predictability of the actions of other road users. If I know I have the right of way legally, I might get lazy and assume I have the right of way in actuality. And then I get creamed. My wife got in a car accident with my kids about a year ago under these circumstances. She had the green; a woman in a truck ran the red, and blammo. Good thing my wife was driving her car rather than on her bike with trailer.

paikiala
Guest
paikiala

Prescott and Fremont are neighborhood collectors and Major response routes.
33rd at Going is one of the more expensive methods to accommodate cyclists.

MaxD
Guest
MaxD

Thanks for response. I understand that Prescott and Fremont have these classifications, but that underscores the problem. IMO, greenways are cobbled together out of scraps or leftover streets. Once you designate all the direct, continuous routes as collectors or response routes, greenways are doomed to be circuitous, disjointed paths. This may be fine for local circulation, but it is not appealing as a bike route to be used as transportation. IMO, combining bikes and response routes could be fine (except how to keep vehicle traffic light?) because bikes can pull over as well/better than cars.

RM Hampel
Guest
RM Hampel

Really? Internal combustion engines burning fossil fuels are the ONLY way to power a vehicle? Electric cars are already here and are growing rapidly in popularity. Fuel cell tech is getting better as well. So, no, cars are not going away; nor is their large and dangerous form factor (speed, size and mass) vs bikes and pedestrians. The conflicts, I’m afraid, are here to stay.

are
Guest

the private automobile has been around only a little over a hundred years, and has dominated the landscape a great deal less than that. i don’t think anyone can say what the scene will be fifty or a hundred years from now, but there are several factors apart from peak oil that could easily lead to the demise of the private automobile.

any number of other technologies that seemed at the time of their dominance to be permanent have faded away — by which, incidentally, i do not mean in every case superseded by something larger and faster.

stick around and watch the future unfold. it will not be a linear progression from the past.

9watts
Guest
9watts

“So, no, cars are not going away”

O.K., Boss, whatever you say.

Steve B
Guest
Steve B

I ride neighborhood greenways frequently to avoid big streets. For all the peace the afford, I find them to not be very practical for practical transportation. Building on some of the issues already shared above I would add that place finding is a challenge, especially at night.

For instance, ride down Going at night looking for a certain street so you can turn up to Alberta at the right time. Often you cannot read the street signs and have no idea where you are. It’s not the end of the world, but certainly not practical to have to circle your bike at an intersection several times, take your bike light off and have to point it at the street sign to figure out if you should turn or not.

I often make the wrong turn and then need to ride on Alberta for a stretch. Shouldn’t be a problem but particularly at night I have had run-ins with drivers putting their horns on blast, running me off the road, throwing stuff, cursing. Just for riding on Alberta. While I want to believe neighborhood greenways play an important role in saving me from this experience as I traverse the city, I wonder how their presence inspires more feelings like the OP has, where people biking on major streets are considered selfish for not using the parallel greenway.

Anne Hawley
Guest
Anne Hawley

Your observation about street sign (in)visibility is so spot on! I know my neighborhood and my routes pretty well, but when it comes to finding the right numbered avenue to turn on from Going for convenient access to a business on Alberta, those stupid little dirty white-on-green signs are useless at night, and not great even in daylight. Street signing in general throughout Portland, whether for walking, biking or driving, is just dismal!

soren
Guest

“Why not direct bike traffic away from these areas and allow cars to travel at the speeds the roads are capable of handling?”
“It’s never enough. Tillamook is a great street to commute on. Barely any cars, nice houses, and more interesting and shaded than Going…”

Sorry, mate, but I don’t always bike because I enjoy gazing at interesting houses on shady residential streets. I typically cycle to get to point B and, for me, there are no point Bs on Tillamook. On the other hand, the commercial areas on Broadway, Hawthorne, Sandy, Division, Belmont, Alberta, and Mississippi have lots of point Bs. Greenways serve an important purpose by creating (relatively) safer and calmer routes but their primary purpose is not to provide efficient access to commercial zones.

This leads me to some questions:

*Why is cycling in commercial zones a problem?
*Why is a bike lane on a commercial road a problem?

“more effective and safer for bikes.”

I would hope that we could all agree that if my destination is on Broadway it’s more effective to ride on Broadway (at least for awhile).

KYouell
Guest

Exactly what I wanted to say. Even with kids in a bakfiets you have to be on the street where the business you’re going to sits at least for awhile.

John Lascurettes
Guest

I take particular issue with is Sandy example. Know why I ride on Sandy? Same reasons cars do – it’s a shorter route (~5/7 the length and fewer turns of taking an alternate route (for there is no parallel route as he asserts).

shuppatsu
Guest
shuppatsu

I ride on Sandy too, when I’m in a hurry. I mostly agree with the original commenter but he really opened himself up to attack when he picked that as an example. The one diagonal street where the other grid streets can’t provide an effective substitute.

It’s actually not such a bad road to ride on, so long as it’s not rush hour. The multiple lanes make it easy for cars to give lots of room and not get slowed down and road ragey.

Dmitriy Zasyatkin
Guest

The protected bike lanes on Division starting at 60th made it possible to walk on the sidewalk with kids without feeling like you’re going to get clipped by a speeding car, so from a pedestrian stand point they are a big plus. I always prefer the NGs over bike lanes but I am glad that they are there for the cyclists who like those direct routes.

Doug Klotz
Guest
Doug Klotz

I wouldn’t call those “protected’ bike lanes. They’re just bike lanes. To me, at least, “protected means a raised curb, and/or bollards or cones. Or, there are “buffered” bike lanes, like N. Williams, with a second stripe between you and the speeding cars. I still don’t call those “protected”, either. The language PBOT uses seems unclear to me.

Brian Davis
Guest
Brian Davis

The need for bike people to understand dissenting viewpoints in order to most effectively expand cycling is well-taken. But this comment is hardly a thoughtful dissent–it’s the same old trope that’s held us back for years, from the username to the ad-hominems.

It’s worth noting that both Broadway and Sandy are classified as City Bikeway’s–the highest classification for cycling–and the city’s official policy is to prioritize bicycling above motorcars, so it sounds like CarsAreFunToo’s issue is with the city’s ledership and planning process rather than with those of us asking the city to have the courage of its convictions. And the preponderance of evidence is that bike lanes do very little to “ruin” car travel, but actually appear to improve safety and really don’t increase delay to motorists significantly. So, so many points to quibble with, but why bother?

Haters will hate, I suppose. I’d rather not see them earn five bucks to do so, though.

CarsAreFunToo
Guest
CarsAreFunToo

I’m going to enjoy that five bucks, Brian. There are some growing foam dinosaurs that I’ve had my eye on.

gutterbunnybikes
Guest
gutterbunnybikes

The answer is really quite simple,

Just make all neighborhood feeder streets 15 mph and declare ALL OF THEM greenways.

It’d making riding bicycles easier, and decrease cut through auto traffic with the speed limit so low.

But unfortunately that’ll never happen…Too many engineers and designers would be out of work then.

Brad
Guest
Brad

I agree that cars are fun, too. I own a 1980 Pontiac Trans Am that is very fun for joyrides to the beach or to visit friends in Corvallis or Salem. I don’t use it to get around Portland because cars are a stupid way to get around a dense urban area.

davemess
Guest
davemess

Where do you live in Portland?
(as there is not THAT much of the city that most would consider a “dense urban area”)

Chris Anderson
Guest

I don’t know if there’s been any reliable opinion surveys or if this city is run by blog comments. But from my vantage point I see a fairly unanimous consensus among Portlanders that biking is an investment with great returns, and most would welcome European style infrastructure (when we can afford it) AND Greenways (as a fast and cheap way of connecting neighborhoods).

There is no opposition to better bike infrastructure in Portland. I don’t know what the city government is so scared of, dragging their feet on things that have real time-to-market value, like getting real bike mode share.

Any money spent on bikes is instantly multiplied in the local economy. Portland discovered this early on, but we’ve turned our backs on it while Indianapolis, London and NYC lead the worldwide rollout. If there is any silver lining it will be by dragging our feet we are able to learn from those cities’ example and won’t be afraid to spend the money to do it right.

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

“…There is no opposition to better bike infrastructure in Portland. …” Chris Anderson

Paying for better bike infrastructure is a hitch, a big one, if the infrastructure is anything much more costly than the bike lanes people have come to be familiar with. Complications arising from securing right of ways, and moving utilities to find room for infrastructure, is another hitch.These things may be the single biggest reason that Foster Rd is getting a road diet, rather than a cycle track.

matt picio
Guest
matt picio

First off, “fairly unanimous” is a contradiction in terms – like “fairly unique”. I think you mean there’s a consensus – and in that case I would disagree. There is consensus among white males in Portland, and Portland liberals (mostly inner Portland). If you were to start polling people of color, or outer East Portlanders, or other groups not predominantly white, male, liberal, and urban – you’ll find opinions to be more mixed and more diverse. As wsbob mentioned, there’s the question of “who pays”. There’s also little support in city council right now, and the current mayor is *not* a bike champion. And much of the transportation staff in the city, while receptive to bikes, are not excatly champions for better bicycling infrastructure. 2 cases in point: 1. Traffic signaling by and large is oriented towards moving a large number of cars through a given intersection – not in maintaining a balance between the right-of-way of various modes. And 2. There are several bicycling “improvements” which were deemed “experimental” which have proved less advantageous than the city hoped for – but they haven’t been removed or undone. The city consistently has failed to remove certain improvements which were deemed “temporary” when they went in.

And outside of those factors, I honestly don’t want better *biking* infrastructure. I want better infrastructure, period. Let’s build a system where signals are timed again, rather than “smart”. (cars never have to push a button to get permission to cross) Let’s build a system where an elderly person or someone in a wheelchair can cross ANY arterial before the crosswalk timer expires. Let’s talk about converting 2 lanes of the Hawthorne Bridge to bike-only use, and getting bikes off the sidewalk so we can eliminate conflicts on the busiest bridge in the city. Let’s talk about ensuring that the new James Beard public market makes crossing the Morrison Bridge into downtown BETTER for bikes and peds, rather than making a bad situation worse. Let’s talk about rider education. Let’s talk about stiffer penalties for motorists who ignore laws meant to protect vulnerable road users, or who crash into buildings. Let’s talk driver’s license retesting, and making it tougher. It’s not about bikes – it’s about improving transportation options and safety for everyone. Some of that will involve bikes, much of it won’t. Let’s stop focusing so much on one aspect and start looking at the system as a whole.

Paul in the 'Couve
Guest
Paul in the 'Couve

Comment of the week!

Chris Anderson
Guest

I agree with most of what you say here. I should have said there is no coherent opposition to biking in Portland. There is plenty of status quo foot dragging, but no one making a compelling argument as to why we should stay in the 20th century while everyone else moves on. Financial arguments are a red herring when the return on investment is so strong.

I really think the problem is execution. Portland already has great bike policy (and getting better if everyone reading this comments on the comprehensive plan), but for some reason we can’t get our act together.

9watts
Guest
9watts

“Financial arguments are a red herring when the return on investment is so strong.”
Exactly what I was going to say. The crime of the City Council, or PBOT for that matter, is that they fail to recognize or communicate what a great deal we get for a dollar spent on cycling compared to a dollar spent on just about anything else. Starting from that I don’t see how this could be such a hard sell. Except that Council and PBOT seem to have no stomach for straightforward talk like that. They’d rather pussyfoot around with a Street Fee for seven years.

davemess
Guest
davemess

“but no one making a compelling argument as to why we should stay in the 20th century while everyone else moves on”

Biking only makes up 5-7% of mode share in this city. That’s fairly compelling, regardless of which side of the issue you stand (and I”m definitely on the pro bike side). You can’t just dismiss cars and people who drive them.

9watts
Guest
9watts

“You can’t just dismiss cars and people who drive them.”

Fine, but would you agree that the foundations of our current car-drenched transportation system are anything but assured? That—while most of us would rather not go there—it is entirely possible that the circumstances that still permit and encourage cheap automobility could dry up and blow away very quickly?

davemess
Guest
davemess

ANYTHING is possible. To plan our entire infrastructure around it to the point that some of you are suggesting though is a VERY risky gamble. Things can always be fixed down the road if massive changes are needed (much like many of the streets that were originally designed for horses and walking were changed for cars, pedestrians, trains, (and in some cases) bikes.

soren
Guest

“is a VERY risky gamble”

Why the heck is a more sustainable and inclusive transportation system a risky gamble? Keynsian infrastructure spending benefits us all — rich and poor.

davemess
Guest
davemess

Inclusive for those who live within 3-4 miles of downtown maybe.

9watts
Guest
9watts

“To plan our entire infrastructure around it [the potential for our reliance on the automobile to atrophy] to the point that some of you are suggesting though is a VERY risky gamble.”

I feel like we’ve had this exchange before.

“To plan our entire infrastructure around the assumption that everything is going to be fine, that tomorrow will be much like yesterday, that heavy reliance on the automobile will continue indefinitely is, I would suggest an even riskier gamble.

El Biciclero
Guest
El Biciclero

“Biking only makes up 5-7% of mode share in this city.”

Isn’t that a bit of a chicken/egg conundrum though? Should we make things better because people already ride their bikes, and we just want to be nice to them, or because not enough people ride their bikes and we want to encourage them?

davemess
Guest
davemess

I’m not saying if it’s right or not, but just giving it as a possible compelling argument people would have for not drastically funding bike infrastructure.

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

“…And outside of those factors, I honestly don’t want better *biking* infrastructure. I want better infrastructure, period. …” picio

Infrastructure with better functionality: yes. Though I think that smart traffic smart signals are great, and better than being operated simply on a timed basis. Doesn’t bother me at all as someone walking, to push a signal to cross, but at some intersections, I think there possibly should be more than one pedestrian cross phase throughout the entire signal cycle. At some busy intersections, a full cycle makes people on foot wait too long, standing alongside dangerous, foul motor vehicle traffic. Isn’t enabling the signals to do this, basically a software thing?

Two main lanes on the Hawthorne, exclusive for bike use during commute hours, may be justifiable, but 24 hours a day, likely not.

“…Let’s talk about rider education. Let’s talk about stiffer penalties for motorists who ignore laws meant to protect vulnerable road users, or who crash into buildings. Let’s talk driver’s license retesting, and making it tougher. It’s not about bikes – it’s about improving transportation options and safety for everyone. Some of that will involve bikes, much of it won’t. Let’s stop focusing so much on one aspect and start looking at the system as a whole. …” picio

Rider education: absolutely. Readily accessible, bike in traffic education instruction for everyone intending to ride a bike in traffic. Maybe consider, at least encouraging people already having drivers license, to take all or part of whatever would be put together for that purpose, though considering many people are just not going to be able, or interested in riding, obligating them to do so may not be realistic.

Driver’s testing could be made tougher, but how far to go with that? Won’t pay to exceed a point of diminishing returns.

davemess
Guest
davemess

“But from my vantage point I see a fairly unanimous consensus among Portlanders that biking is an investment with great returns, and most would welcome European style infrastructure”

Chris I love your optimism, but I think you need to get out in the city more and go to some transportation meetings. You’ll quickly learn that it is most certainly not fairly unanimous and that there certainly is plenty of opposition to better bike infrastructure. And even neighborhood and transportation meetings are skewed with more bike proponents on average than the general population.
And as pointed out below, it’s one thing to have a generic survey about the cities desires and values, and it’s a completely different thing to have a real conversation about funding bike projects and the cities priorities with its money.

I would highly recommend more people on this site get involved with the public process and just see what it is like in our city. You quickly realize that not everyone agrees with all of your perspectives. It will definitely encourage you to be a little more of a moderate and a pragmatist and a little more sympathetic to all.

Chris Anderson
Guest

My comment comes after doing a couple of years of on-the-ground research. There is no coherent opposition to biking in Portland. There are a bunch of reasons bike infrastructure gets shafted, but they aren’t coherent and there is no one who’s putting them together as a coalition.

Low mode share is not an argument. It may be a premise to an argument, but one could argue that funding split should equal (desired) mode share split as they have in San Luis Obispo. Even matching funding to existing mode share would be a step forward in Portland.

Some bike activists (myself included) are guilty of thinking and acting like there is an organized opposition, but the status quo is a much trickier foe than an organized opponent.

What I’m getting at by my comment that there is no anti-biking coalition in Portland, is that I think our failure to roll out infrastructure has to be looked at as a process failure. In a city where two-thirds of people surveyed support safer bike routes [pdf] https://www.portlandoregon.gov/transportation/article/480189 we aren’t falling behind because of opposition, we are falling behind due to a failure to execute.

To make progress we need to keep the conversation on the big picture wins for Portland if we can successfully transition to a world-class bike system. To me there is nothing more economically valuable than quality of life: it’s how Portland will attract the best people (from around the world) to create the arts, culture and businesses, that mean winning in the 21st century.

When everyday Portlanders can easily picture all the ways they are missing out because we are stuck with 20th century infrastructure, those survey responses will become even more favorable. We can’t send everyone on study tours to Europe, so communicating and inspiring people about this vision falls to those of us who can see it. When folks finally realize that bike improvements cost a negative amount of money and benefit everyone (not just riders) we might be able to find a process that doesn’t focus on details like parking.

Chris Anderson
Guest

TLDR, the missed opportunity to me is the saddest. If we spent what we routinely spend on a single suburban highway exchange http://americandreamcoalition.org/highways/HighwayCosts.pdf let’s call it $100 million on citywide awesome bikeness, it would lay the foundation for a golden age in Portland. Not just a biking golden age, a real generations-long worldwide leadership role for the city in arts, culture, technology, etc.

And we aren’t doing that bc local retail can’t see past “their” parking spots? Can we elect someone with spine, please?

Jim Labbe
Guest
Jim Labbe

Greenways are not the vibrant destinations many of our main streets and commercial thoroughfares. There have been some worthy efforts to transform these rights-of-way in to truly complete streets that serve cars, bikes, and pedestrians in a way that could dramatically improve, safety, livability and economic development (N. Williams, SE 28th) that have been less than successful. Instead we have ended up with some descent but half-measures and compromises that has tended to push more bike traffic off onto neighborhood greenways.

I wonder if we should focus more on making neighborhood greenways the vibrant corridors that we want them to be. The Portland Plan still could provide a vehicle for that.

Why not start allowing some more housing and commercial uses along neighborhood greenways to begin to inch them towards the vibrant commercial and civic destinations they someday could be?

There will be some resistance to new uses in residential zones but as Eli Speak suggested in his post on liberalizing housing choices in existing neighborhoods last week, a greater focus on “existing noise, nuisance and building code regulations” could be used “to address life safety and community impact concerns.”

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

“…I wonder if we should focus more on making neighborhood greenways the vibrant corridors that we want them to be. The Portland Plan still could provide a vehicle for that.

Why not start allowing some more housing and commercial uses along neighborhood greenways …” Jim Labbe

What you’re reflecting upon, seems like something that would draw more motor vehicle traffic to streets its hoped can be sustained as neighborhood greenways. Some of the people wanting to patronize business along such streets would want or need to drive. More driving, or additional other motor vehicle activity would likely arise from increases to housing along neighborhood greenways. Neighborhood greenways can offer the benefits they do as alternative routes to thoroughfare for people biking, because the greenways are quiet, low motor vehicle traffic residential streets.

Jim Labbe
Guest
Jim Labbe

If this idea is worth pursuing, it absolutely should be done in a way that continues to discourage auto traffic on Neighborhood Greenways (as they are already designed). This seems like an idea that could be tried out in a few locations and evaluated for its impact. Perhaps segments where Neighborhood Greenways intersect with existing commercial corridors, thereby providing an interesting, pedestrian-oriented extensions to the corridors.

Terry D-M
Guest
Terry D-M

As I keep saying…these are two SEPARATE types of infrastructure that have two different results.

Yes, they are both used for bike movement and travel, and if both are designed and engendered correctly, both are safe. We can debate forever what safe design looks like, but there are examples of safe and high quality construction of both kinds. I also support BOTH kinds.

Bike lanes on commercial corridors serve to get from point a to point b directly and fast if the lights are timed right. They do not however create community…they are travel lanes. You might be able to add park-lets, street seats or the bike lane may GO to a place that creates community….but they are in their core just a place to move bikes.

Greenways Create Community. You ride down them and see your neighbors, look them in the eye and say hello. I see cyclists chatting at the side of the Davis Greenway all the time and it is obviously that they just “ran into each other.”

North Tabor, east of 47th, does not have any bike lanes. All we have is an sub-standard east west greenway…and now the new and still growing 53rd greenway through our narrowest stretch north south. When I moved in early 2004 there were some bike riders, it was signed and on the maps, but the number of riders were low. Then the Sharrows went down…..

The number of bikes ticked up…a LOT…..by 2010 our census track had a close to 11% commute share by bike. Whereas if I would have suggested bikelanes on Burnside when I was going to the NA meetings in 2004 with the small numbers of riders we had, people would have looked at me as a loon.

Now, most of the community REALLY wants Burnside to be remodeled. You be the judge whether the greenway had a result, whether it created the POLITICAL ROOM and the CRITICAL MASS to make the future bike lanes on growing commercial corridors possible.

I am CONVINCED that it was that meandering bumpy greenway, even with the terrible crossings…that has changed the entire MIND-SET of my community.

Maybe this is just 25 years of social movement study, history and activism coloring my worldview, but regardless….EVERY neighborhood in Portland should have north-south and east -west greenways to get to school the parks and…near…the commercial districts. It is a question of equity…..when this happens, I am CERTAIN, that the bike mode shares will tick up even more. Then we can vote in bike riding members of city council and move forward.

CarsAreFunToo
Guest
CarsAreFunToo

Comment of the Week. That was . . . unexpected.

Yes, Sandy Boulevard is admittedly a bad example. And actually, from what, 37th all the way to 12th would be a good place to axe parking as someone suggested and make a big ass bike lane, as well as 57th to the Safeway. It’s wide as hell and barely anyone parks on the street anyway. Between 37th and 57th, not so much. But it’s just an example and if that’s your main beef with what I said, you’re missing the bigger picture.

On that note, I would suggest to many readers that after their initial eye-popping fury, take a moment and reread my comment a little more carefully.

“The assumption in CarsAreFunToo’s comment is that by reducing speeding on a thoroughfare you encourage it on a side street.” No.

“I like greenways. I use them frequently. I also don’t think it’s fair to classify them as “seperate, but equal.” [sic] I feel like that’s an implication of CarsAreFunToo’s comment.” No.

“Motorists want to see bicyclists stop at all stop signs, yet they want us all to ride only on streets with lots of stop signs… those whiners just want to have their cake and eat it too!” No.

‘Cars ARE going away.’ ……… I mean, really?

That last one was a paraphrase ’cause I’m getting tired of scrolling up and down.

And try getting two dogs with a combined weight of 125lbs across town on a bike. You can’t do it without an accessory or some BS contraption-cycle. Cars are more useful. That’s just fact.

The point I suggest is that both systems should be optimized, for both efficiency and safety. I’ll say it again, both. Yes, Greenways can be dumb. (Side note: To the people that complained because some of them have hills, cry me a river and then move to Midwest. Hills are healthy.) But they could be made better as a lot have suggested. That’d be rad. And I have not idea why people drive on Greenways other than to get to their house. I’ll never understand that but it brings up a point I’ll get to later.

It won’t come as much of a surprise that I don’t think lowering the speed limit in many cases (Careful Reading Tip: note the ‘in many cases’ bit which doesn’t exclude some cases where it does make sense), or strictly enforcing the ones we have really does a whole lot of good. What does do a lot of good is limiting the use conflict as some rightly understood. Wherever cars and bikes meets, there are going to be problems. A car going 25 can still kill you dead just the same as a car going 35. Crap happens. I watched an experienced cyclist hit a car that wasn’t moving and hadn’t been moving and car won big. But if you limit the instance of car-bike interactions you reduce the probability of bad things happening. Now, people are dumb and they’ll find novel ways to put themselves in harm’s way, we can’t help that and accidents will happen, but we can do better.

Speed cameras don’t make things safer and folks in the UK found that out more than 10 years ago: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/1448704/Speed-cameras-dont-save-lives.html

Someone replied to my comment originally asking how I would prevent the 30,000 or something motor vehicle deaths each year that don’t involve drunk driving. Simple: better education. 20 year old CarsAreFunToo would have vehemently disagreed, but it should be harder to get a license here. And others suggested this in comments to the speed camera article. Work to make people better drivers because a lot of them are totally and astoundingly godawful (same goes for cyclists). SImple good education example: someone told me that drivers in the Netherlands or some Euro country that car occupants are taught to open the door with the hand furthest away from said door which forces their body to turn and gives them a better, direct view of possible oncoming cycle people (who probably aren’t wearing helmets because Copenhagen Cycle Chic!). Will it reduce doorings to zero, no, because that’s impossible.

Speed cameras and dropping limits are western medicine which is why in the original comment I suggested better analysis into the causes of accidents at those specific locations. No one can seriously claim that reducing the speed of cars 5mph really makes things all that much safer when the real killers, drunk driving aside, are lack of attention and lack of knowledge. 2 tons vs Copenhagen Cycle Chic. You do the math.

Now, to my comment about bicycling advocacy here. First, an edit. That should read:

“The me-me-me attitude of so much of the bike ADVOCACY here is utterly maddening and makes me not want to be associated with it in anyway.”

And in the last sentence I suggested that a more inclusive advocacy approach would be a much better strategy. Contrary to what a particular poster whom I’ll respond to directly implied, I read BikePortland pretty frequently and so much of what I read from commenters is BS anti-car extremism. The only good use of extremism is getting rid of extremism. (Yes I see the irony/paradox in that so no you don’t need to comment on it.) Extremism leads to ISIS. Seriously, that’s what ISIS is. It’s a manifestation of a particular form of extremism. Sane people instinctively react against extremism and that’s why using it to advocate for anything is counterproductive. Nobody likes PETA. If you approach bicycle advocacy with a more reasoned and inclusive approach that looks to optimize the city’s transportation system as a whole then you get far less opposition and more good gets done.

I took a class with a former director of Portland’s urban planning and he said that while he was there the goal was not to punish people for using cars to get downtown with crazy expensive on street parking. The goal was to try to make other forms of transportation so easy that people would choose those. That. That’s the kind of thinking you need.

John Lascurettes
Guest

A car going 25 can still kill you dead just the same as a car going 35.

That is a statistically and scientifically false statement. http://humantransport.org/sidewalks/SpeedKills.htm

Is there a potential to die in a 25mph collision? Sure, but it is at a much lower likelihood – and I like those odds better than on a 35mph limit road.

paikiala
Guest
paikiala

Or search for the Wramborg Graph (2005).

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

I suppose if the only objective for lowering a speed limit from 35 to 25, is to try reduce the death rate for a given type of street, (which given the 35 cited, sounds like a thoroughfare.), the objective may not be a very strong one.

If there are other objectives sought, such as seeking to have a given thoroughfare become more functional for a wider range of types of road users, a speed reduction can make a lot of sense. At 25 mph, many people biking, can manage riding with motor vehicle traffic, far more easily than they can when motor vehicle traffic is moving along at 35 and higher.

People driving can deal much easier with bike traffic, when not compelled by a posted speed limit, to travel 35 mph. Such a reduction works much better, on the part of all road users, with respect to people on foot, too.

A speed reduction of motor vehicle mph speed from 35 to 25, results in far less noise produced by motor vehicles, which in turn directly equates to an improvement to livability along the street.

A fundamental consideration that transportation engineers, and people in general, as road users, have to make, is to what extent it’s justified to reduce the posted mph speed of major thoroughfares used to bring motor vehicle traffic in and out of the city. How close to to Downtown, or neighborhoods, should motor vehicle traffic be allowed to zoom in before slowing down to a mph speed that respects functionality, safety and livability?

Maybe one of the unfortunate consequences of improving bike and pedestrian infrastructure, is that incentive to tame the thoroughfares of cities, is reduced. People have perhaps unwittingly allowed major thoroughfares to unnecessarily become asphalt desert tracks through the city.

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

How do you propose we pay for the increased driver training and testing? Raise license and registration fees?

Also, I think I’m going to start calling my cargo bike (which I do use to move 125lbs of dog around the city) a “BS Contraption ” now. Thanks for that gem.

davemess
Guest
davemess

Well we already pay for the testing (when you go to test), so wouldn’t we just pay for it multiple times?

paikiala
Guest
paikiala

Chris,
Of course we require those that want the privilege of driving pay for the right to use the public rights of way with 3,000 pound steel cages that can go faster than 20 mph (placing all other users at risk).

Mossby Pomegranate
Guest
Mossby Pomegranate

Nor do any of the BP extremists seem have any idea what it’s like to have family members who simply cannot ride a bike at all.

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

I have a few family members like that, but they are definitely the exception. Most that say they “can’t ride a bike” are able to and choose not to, or their “disability” is one that they gave themselves through years of poor diet and inactivity (driving vs. riding a bike, for example).

Oregon Mamacita
Guest
Oregon Mamacita

Chris I- yes, many people “choose” to drive. And why should I or anyone else let you (Chris I) choose how we get around. To put it bluntly: you’re not the boss of me. We live in a democracy- and in a region (the West) that has a particular culture of choice and minding one’s own business.

Bike evangelism and bike supremacy are big jokes.

El Biciclero
Guest
El Biciclero

Well, this goes both ways. By creating or continuing to allow an environment that is hostile to walking or biking, we are saying to those who might “choose” to ride bike, “sure, go ahead weirdo—if you’ve got a death wish then it’s fine with me if you choose to ride a bike places. Just don’t be surprised if you get run over; after all, you’re asking for it.”

That kind of environment and societal attitude takes away choices every bit as much as you are imagining Chris I is contemplating.

9watts
Guest
9watts

“Bike evangelism and bike supremacy are big jokes.”

I’m not sure how helpful those terms are. Some of us are focusing on the segments of our society who (a) have no experience biking but could if the right circumstances came about, (b) have a bike but are uncomfortable biking in traffic, (c) bike now, but resent the second class treatment when it comes to rights to the road. I would guess that those three groups are much larger combined than the segment you have in mind. But even if they weren’t don’t you think our time would be better spent working toward changes that would benefit them, offer them the option of bicycling?

KYouell
Guest

Hi! I’m sure you’d consider me an extremist, and I damn well do have family members (my son and extended family) who simply cannot ride a bike. Frankly, the same is true for most of the parents riding with small children on their bikes. It’s time you expanded your concept of what a person on a bike is, and what a bike looks like. There are lots of us toting around little kids and bigger kids that may never ride on their own. My extremism has been hard won by those drivers who act stupidly and aggressively around us. Just because my son can’t ride his own bike doesn’t mean he should be subjected to the dangers of being buckled into a car and hurtling around town at outrageous speeds.

davemess
Guest
davemess

Very well said about the extremism.

Carl (BTA)
Guest

As someone employed as an advocate in this town, I’m really glad to have this view represented — and represented by someone who clearly prioritizes safety and enjoys riding a bike. Thanks, CarsAreFunToo and Michael, for refusing to let BikePortland become an echo chamber.

SD
Guest
SD

I would title this COTW “Expectations and disapointments of automobile drivers in a changing urban environment that result in misplaced blame toward cyclists.”

warrior4130
Guest
warrior4130

I know this is far-fetched…and will be heavily criticized…but from my experience strict enforcement of speed limits tends to slow traffic…a lot. i.e. in TX I had reason to drive thru 2 sections of highway that were known “speed traps”…and by-golly…cars slowed, and slowed right down to the speed limit. It worked there…but I cannot say it would work everywhere. But, may be worth a try to make things safer for cyclists? Because, at the end of the day, isn’t that what it is all about…making things safer?

paikiala
Guest
paikiala

Unfortunately, City Council does not fund traffic enforcement to the level required to support achieving a Safe Systems/Vision Zero reality.

El Biciclero
Guest
El Biciclero

Certainty of consequences has a greater behavioral modification effect then severity of consequences, i.e., a guaranteed $50 ticket would slow traffic more than a mere 5% chance of a $500 ticket.

Dan
Guest
Dan

Walnut BLVD in Corvallis is way overbuilt for about a 1/2 mile. It’s set up like streets that would be 45mph in Beaverton, but is posted at 25mph because there is a school crossing nearby and a bunch of houses up and down this stretch of road. I remember constantly being warned by my mom growing up about the regular speed traps on this road, and the local knowledge that they ticket ANYTHING over 25 there. Granted, this road should totally be single lane, but the targeted enforcement (and the knowledge of that enforcement) was effective.

https://www.google.com/maps/@44.594026,-123.256694,3a,75y,91.43h,74.92t/data=!3m4!1e1!3m2!1sfksRTfPeoo6mIOD3L8WQhA!2e0

Pete
Guest
Pete

Ah, memories. Lived in Timberhill area years ago and got a ticket driving 29 in a 25 at the bottom of a steep hill feeding into Walnut. (I wanna say I rented in a cul-de-sac called Larkspur, played r-ball mornings at TAC; grew my love of hills while bike commuting there, and MTB’ing Saddleback). Oh yeah, got pulled over mooning my boss (from backseat) while we passed him on 99 driving back from lunch. Good times.

Dan
Guest
Dan

Corvallis has WAY better mountain biking than Portland. On trails that are shared by hikers and bikers (yes it’s possible). I grew up in Timberhill, and could ride my bike 1 mile right into the dirt trails there. It was a great alternative to the Spring sports I had no interest in.

Pete
Guest
Pete

Hell, Silicon Valley has better mountain biking than Portland… 😉

Greg
Guest
Greg

I don’t live in Portland but I love your town and sometimes
follow the bike scene on this site. I’m jealous of the infrastructure
Portland has been able to attain over the years. I live in a suburb of
Chicago and we have no bike infrastructure of any sort. None. I can’t
count the number of times I’ve had close calls on my bike with drivers
not paying attention, texting or any number of crazy activities they are
doing. Getting doored and right hooks are the worst by far but the one
thing that happens often is making eye contact with a driver and a moment
later they run you off the road! I know this well from when I rode a motorcycle.
Even though we are supposed to share the road and it is the law, I don’t think
in this country the four wheel community and the two wheel community are ever
going to see eye to eye. My hat’s off to Portland and many other cities for
trying though. I hear the comments that Portland is falling behind, but believe me,
it’s way better than where I live. Keep up the good work.

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

“…I live in a suburb of Chicago and we have no bike infrastructure of any sort. None. …” Greg

I wonder why your suburb of Chicago doesn’t have bike infrastructure, but Chicago does. Have any info about that?

There are plenty of places in Portland, its suburbs and the countryside, where there are no bike lanes or bike infrastructure. Planning, funding and building that kind of thing takes time, money and interest.

Greg
Guest
Greg

Chicago has made great strides to address safer cycling and I think it
has meet with mixed views. The bike community has embraced the changes while the driving community hates the lane space they had to give up and the slower commute.
In my community I would be happy if they just
widened the road slightly the next time they re-paved the road surface. Most of the time I ride on the white line to keep from the gravel shoulder. Surely there could be some funding and interest for an addition 8-10 inches of pavement. The feeling is bicycles should use a multi purpose path that leads to nowhere and that’s good enough. I’d like to use my bike for more than just recreation a couple of times a week. That’s why I applaud all cities for their efforts, maybe it will have a trickle down effect.

9watts
Guest
9watts

Opus the Poet
I was reading a MSP newspaper, and I believed it. 😛
Recommended 0

Perhaps the MSP paper is also ideologically opposed to the truth, like the Oregonian?