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Group proposes bicycling barrier on Willamette Greenway Trail through Riverplace

Posted by on October 14th, 2015 at 4:06 pm

Willamette Greenway Trail through Riverplace-5.jpg

Riverplace has shops, restaurants, and lots of tourists.
It also has a popular path running right through it.
(Photos © J. Maus/BikePortland)

The Friends of Riverplace formed earlier this year to help reclaim South Waterfront Park and the Riverplace Marina from “loitering, drug dealing, and off-leash dogs.” The group, made up of property owners, condominium residents and business owners in the area, does regular foot patrols has had success in improving safety for the many tourists, restaurant-goers and others who frequent the area.

Now they’re focused on a different problem: people who ride bikes on the path with no regard for the safety of others.

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Susan West at the BAC meeting last night
with Helmut Gieben and Laurie Ogan looking on.

Friends of Riverplace volunteer Susan West, Riverplace Condominium Association Board Director Helmut Gieben and Mia’s Boutique owner Laurie Ogan came to the City of Portland’s Bicycle Advisory Committee meeting in City Hall last night to share a proposal.

Their idea is to erect barriers at each end of the Greenway Trail (between SW Montgomery and Harbor Way) in order to force people riding bikes to get off and walk.

“This is a critical and alarming issue,” West shared at the BAC meeting, “Almost everyone has been hit and we’re afraid of a lawsuit.”

“This is not your typical multi-use path,” Gieben added, “Imagine having bicycles in a mall.” “Even though there are signs that say bicycles have to yield to pedestrians, it actually works the other way around.”

According to Ogan some of her customers won’t return because “They’re afraid to walk on the Esplanade down there.”

West, Gieben and Ogan each shared stories of people zooming through the area on bikes and striking fear into the hearts of other path users.

“The large number of people that are coming through are racing and are commuters. The signs don’t work, we need a barrier to protect the blind people, the babies, and so on.”


Instead of the path along the waterfront, they want people to ride on SW Montgomery and Harbor Way. They referred to those streets as having a “new bike path” that should be a viable alternative. And besides, they said, “It’s just two blocks that we’re asking people to walk.”

The groups says they’ve asked the Portland Parks Bureau to change the use-status of the path. “We want people on bikes to come, but we don’t want them riding through the area,” West said. “We’re interested in seeing if we can get the bike committee to support this idea of a change in use. The Parks Bureau has been reluctant to make this change because it’s designated as an MUP [multi-use path], but we’re hoping that would change.”


If this sounds familiar to you, that’s because very similar concerns arose in August 2007. Back then condo residents got so upset over bicycle riders that they erected an illegal sign that said “Bicycles Must Be Walked” and then had private security guards enforce it. That episode ended with a stern warning to Riverplace residents from the Parks Bureau reminding them they have no right to require people to walk on what is a federally funded and officially designated multi-use path (not to mention part of the 40-Mile Loop).

I went down to observe the area today around 2:00 pm. While not as hectic as it is during the evening rush hour/happy hour, there was a steady flow of people on foot and on bike: A mom was blowing bubbles as her baby took what looked to be some of her first steps; tourists ate ice cream; restaurant workers set out tables; people pedaled slowly as they took in the sights of a gorgeous fall day.

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It’s very rare for a multi-use path to have adjacent commercial and residential use.
Willamette Greenway Trail through Riverplace-4.jpg

There’s seating for cafes on boths sides of the path.
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All the people I saw on bikes rode slowly and with courtesy. One guy on a bike even stepped off his pedals momentarily when he came up to people walking 5-6 abreast.

Then Gary Sansom and Shawn Harper rolled up. They live in northeast Portland and were on their way to the Portland Sports Bar. It’s a ride they’ve been doing for 15 years. “This is just part of my loop,” Sansom said. He goes from the Rose Quarter to the Sellwood Bridge. “It’s gotta’ be one of the largest non-traffic loops in the country.”

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Gary Sansom (L) and Shawn Harper cruising en route to a nearby bar.

What would you do if someone put up a barrier and required you to walk? I asked. “I’d ride anyways,” Sanson replied, smiling.

“It is supposed to be used by everyone, including, like it or not, people who are rude or obnoxious but who have every right to be there.”
— David Hampstem, PBOT Bicycle Advisory Committee member

At the BAC last night, several members concurred that rude riding on paths like this is a problem. But the barrier request didn’t get much support. “I disagree there’s a ‘bike path’ close by,” said the BTA’s Carl Larson, speaking to the assertion that since there’s a safe bikeway one block west there’s no need to ride on the Greenway path. “It’s not a ‘bike path’ [on Harbor Way], it’s a street with a little bit of paint [sharrows] and a hotel with a lot of out-of-state rental cars on it.”

David Hampsten, a BAC member who represents east Portland interests said the core question is whether or not the city still considers the Riverplace section of the Greenway Trail to be a multi-use path. If it is an MUP, than it needs to maintain a 15-foot width at all times. “If this is a MUP the tables and other stuff should maybe be moved so that there is more width and cyclists can go thru,” Hampsten said. “It is supposed to be used by everyone, including, like it or not, people who are rude or obnoxious but who have every right to be there.”

At the end of the meeting, BAC Chair Ian Stude acknowledged that dangerous riding on this congested path is a serious issue. But, he said, “It’s more complicated than it seems.” Stude said the committee will come back to the issue at a later date and that they will not recommend any course of action at this time.

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  • Hello, Kitty
    Hello, Kitty October 14, 2015 at 4:14 pm

    I’m curious — do the seating and signs require a permit in a multi-use path as they do on a sidewalk? And if so, do any have them?

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    • Gary October 14, 2015 at 4:34 pm

      I’m curious too. M&S takes up a substantial portion of the path in front of their restaurant, and between the crowd and servers bustling back and forth it can be a crazy situation during peak times. In it’s current status, riding anything more than walking speed probably is dangerous–I just question whether the current status is appropriate.

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  • Paul Atkinson October 14, 2015 at 4:14 pm

    Did they produce any evidence of damage by these dangerous cyclists, or are the cyclists all so reckless that they’ve avoided hitting anyone or anything since the 2007 proposal?

    If it’s dangerous, the danger will out. If it’s not then the problem is one of perception, not safety.

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    • Alan Kessler October 14, 2015 at 4:41 pm

      I don’t like it when this same logic is used to support higher speeds and volumes of motor vehicles on Greenways. Comfort is highly important to the success of walkable and bikeable neighborhoods.

      I don’t know the area well enough to have an opinion on whether a few people are picking a fight or if fast bikes make the area subjectively unpleasant to a significant fraction pedestrians, but I don’t think comfort concerns should be dismissed out of hand.

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      • Adam Herstein
        Adam Herstein October 14, 2015 at 5:50 pm

        It only takes one jerk on a bike to make an impression.

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        • Dan A October 14, 2015 at 10:03 pm

          Indeed. I watched as a guy in the crosswalk in front of me in the Lloyd district was spooked by a cyclist who didn’t stop for him, and swerved into the main lane to avoid hitting him. Never mind the fact that drivers don’t always stop for pedestrians here either — I could tell by the way the pedestrian reacted that he was pretty upset by this. I’m sure he’ll be sharing that ‘near death experience’ with other people for YEARS.

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      • Paul Atkinson October 15, 2015 at 10:20 am

        Agreed; I didn’t mean to imply that there was no problem. Simply that the businesses are framing the problem as a safety issue when there is no evidence of any actual danger. What we have are problems with perception and courtesy. Reframing the debate into those terms can get people off the “safety problem! Think of the children!” ledge.

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    • zholz October 14, 2015 at 5:39 pm

      Perception of safety matters! If we accept that pedestrians are, and should always be, considered the most vulnerable road user, we must take their concerns seriously.

      I really hope people experience some sense of cognitive dissonance here if they try to dismiss these pedestrians’ concerns. Their arguments are the exact same ones we’re using against cars to try to make our greenways safer.

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      • soren October 15, 2015 at 9:49 am

        There is plenty of space to separate pedestrians and cyclists on this public right of way. Ban restaurant tables and remove obstructions on the left side of the multi-use path and we could allocate 7-8 feet for bikes.

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        • zholz October 15, 2015 at 10:10 am

          Okay, maybe I should be asking a different question — when is it okay, in your mind, to block ROW (or make it difficult) for a dominant mode? Is all of this (subconsciously, or not) frustrating to people b/c it’s mostly rich people complaining about it, or businesses you don’t like using cafe seating? I can understand it if this is a class-related concern, but if it’s a “cyclists must have access even when the space is being better used” type of concern, I have a sinking feeling that the discourse has become alarmingly ableist, and that we have become immune to the needs of others more vulnerable than us.

          Safe spaces for everyone, not just bikes.

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          • nuovorecord October 15, 2015 at 11:35 am

            I agree with your thinking. While yes, this is a ROW designated for bikes and peds, it is also a unique stretch fronted by businesses. I think it’s in the best interest of everyone concerned to figure out a way to meet everyone’s interests here. “Bikes are guests” would seem to be a good operational principle.

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            • Kate October 15, 2015 at 12:10 pm

              I think that’s a good way to look at it. I bike this stretch and run it with some frequency. It can be very congested, I often have to slow my run to a walk on some stretches in the lunch hour. Even if there aren’t tons of collisions, I think there are probably near misses all the time.
              That said, it’s because it’s a vibrant and heavily used commercial space built at a human scale. That’s a good thing for walkers and bikers. It would be real pain to ban bikes entirely, but in this space with so much mixing, bikes should be moving very slowly and respectful and deferential to the peds.

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        • wsbob October 15, 2015 at 12:10 pm

          “…Ban restaurant tables and remove obstructions on the left side of the multi-use path and we could allocate 7-8 feet for bikes.” soren

          Were that done, and the 7-8 feet of travel lane for bikes created, I wonder what mph people riding fast on this stretch of the esplanade would feel entitled to travel while people walking, dining and shopping were present. What are your thoughts on that?

          I’m going to guess that the type of bad experience on the esplanade with fast traveling bike commuters the neighborhood group is reporting on, are people traveling around 15-20 mph. To me, a speed differential that great in close proximity to people on the two blocks of the esplanade in question, is too much. On an MUP like the Springwater trail, where there’s no condo, shops, restaurants or much of anything to either side of the trail, speeds that high may be common,and ok, but here, they’re excessive.

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          • Zimmerman October 17, 2015 at 5:40 pm

            Why yes, narrowing a path does decrease speed. That’s why it’d be safer for everyone if cyclists were allowed to ride the narrow singletrack trails in Forest Park rather than easily achieving high speeds on the very wide Leif Erickson road.

            I fully agree with the principle of your argument here.

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      • ynn October 15, 2015 at 10:17 am

        Thanks for writing this — something I’ve mentioned before. Pedestrians are always the vulnerable user just as bikes are the vulnerable user in car/bike encounters. People who use bikes seem to gravitate to the “it’s not as big a deal as the pedestrians make it out to be” side of things when its the bike that is the aggressor, not a car.

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    • ac October 15, 2015 at 8:14 am

      i’ve ridden it
      this space is basically a wide sidewalk
      it’s not great for bikes
      i’m not surprised at the shop owner/resident reaction
      there should be a bypass for cyclists

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      • davemess October 15, 2015 at 10:54 am

        There is a bypass for cyclists.

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      • Wells October 15, 2015 at 11:07 am

        I’ve biked through many times – always slowly and walking my bike with the presence of pedestrians and seated diners. I figure this restaurant and retail setting is more like downtown where riding on the sidewalk is pro-hi-bit-ted. It is NOT a multi-use trail. When speed is my intent, I’ll bike over on the side street, one block west. I suggest designating with prominent signage and paint strips (sharrow signage is insufficient), that side street as the main bike corridor through.

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      • Carl October 15, 2015 at 6:01 pm

        Absolutely. Contrary to what the quote from me might lead you to believe, I’m in support of dropping the MUP designation on this stretch of sidewalk and installing something that would channel bikes onto Harbor Way instead.

        I got the sense that most committee members supported redirecting traffic to Harbor Way as well. It’s a pedestrian environment and bikes make it stressful and dangerous.

        My comment was expressing concern over trading a car-free space for a shared-use street. The city needs to figure out a way to build a continuous carfree waterfront route (either along Harbor Way or, ideally, the promenade).

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  • canuck October 14, 2015 at 4:18 pm

    “It’s more complicated than it seems.”

    No it’s not. Pedestrians are the vulnerable users. Much like there a drivers that ignore that fact with bicycles on the road, there are cyclists that do the same with pedestrians.

    The golden rule applies, treat pedestrians on the MUP the same way you want drivers to treat cyclists on the road.

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    • are October 15, 2015 at 8:45 am

      i think ian’s point is the question whether and what formal intervention should be made is complicated.

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      • canuck October 15, 2015 at 8:50 am

        The comments as a whole sounded very defensive. Very much in the vein of it’s not our problem, why should we modify our behavior. he was faced with people who are honestly upset and he didn’t, in my view, consider the other sides viewpoint at all. He just perpetuated the divisiveness of the situation.

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        • soren October 15, 2015 at 9:42 am

          “Almost everyone has been hit and we’re afraid of a lawsuit.”

          The histrionics from this anti-loitering and anti-dog group suggest that the problem is being exaggerated.

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          • Dave Thomson October 15, 2015 at 10:10 pm

            Yep, reminds me of posts here from cyclists who are almost killed by cars daily.

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  • axoplasm October 14, 2015 at 4:21 pm

    “Almost everyone has been hit.”

    Weird, I’m down here daily, sometimes 2x/day, for the past 6 years. About half the time on foot. Never once hit or been hit, not even had a close call.

    But then I am not everyone.

    How DO the hospitals cope with all these injuries? Must be a dozen a day. I mean: EVERYONE!

    I like the marina vibe down here. I like that it’s occasionally congested. When it gets really busy (summer evenings) it’s obvious you need to slow to walking speed or even get off the bike. Much more obvious than on the esplanade for example.

    And I seriously doubt much “racing” happens here.

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    • axoplasm October 14, 2015 at 4:22 pm

      and “bicycles in a mall” sounds AWESOME aktch.

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    • Buzz October 14, 2015 at 4:31 pm

      When I worked downtown I walked there more than I cycled and I never had any significant problems or conflicts with other users, and I certainly never got hit by any cyclists.

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    • Clark in Vancouver October 14, 2015 at 6:05 pm

      “Almost everyone has been hit.”Weird, I’m down here daily, sometimes 2x/day, for the past 6 years. About half the time on foot. Never once hit or been hit, not even had a close call.But then I am not everyone.How DO the hospitals cope with all these injuries? Must be a dozen a day. I mean: EVERYONE!

      Ha ha! My take on this as well is that this is exaggerating. What tends to happen is people are not used to bikes going by them and are startled. Complaining about being startled doesn’t bring much sympathy so they have to embellish. It’s pretty universal on badly designed shared use paths. You hear a story about almost being hit and then when you cross examined them you find out that they were just surprised.
      Now, having said that, I do think that people should be able to walk without being startled by faster moving things near them even if there is no real danger. That’s a valid point all by itself.
      This “solution” isn’t one though. It will last a little while but then get ignored for the simple reason is that it’s unreasonable and there is no alternative.
      And experience from the older areas and the newer areas of Vancouver’s Seawall, I suggest a two parallel cycle routes be made. One right next to this one on the other side of the trees I see in the picture. Another inland but not too far away. Good signage and connections to both.
      These people don’t seem to be the crazy cranks one often gets at bike facilities. There’s an easy solution to this.

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      • Spiffy October 15, 2015 at 8:33 am

        ” I do think that people should be able to walk without being startled by faster moving things near them even if there is no real danger.”

        no… if you’re startled by fast-moving things in an urban environment then you have some growing to do… these people must hate downtown…

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        • are October 15, 2015 at 8:49 am

          is this not the logic of separated bike facilities? why should pedestrians not receive the same consideration. i think the comments at the top of this thread, asking whether the cafe seating is maybe occupying too much space, is where the focus might be placed.

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        • davemess October 15, 2015 at 10:55 am

          Yet we have a no riding on the sidewalk ordinance in downtown……

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    • Chris I October 14, 2015 at 7:42 pm

      Hyperbole overload. I am concerned for the sanity of the person that made that statement.

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  • Jessica Roberts
    Jessica Roberts October 14, 2015 at 4:23 pm

    I have a hard time believing that “almost everyone has been hit.” As Seth and Amy say, REALLY?!

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    • wsbob October 15, 2015 at 9:52 am

      “I have a hard time believing that “almost everyone has been hit.” jessica roberts

      Knocking on how these people happened to describe a problem they say neighbors have had with fast bike commuters on this stretch of the esplanade, doesn’t help to understand or resolve the problem. So they don’t have some other people’s golden voice of accuracy in articulation. It’s possible what they’re describing isn’t just hyperbole or their imagination.

      They said the problem was with bike commuters riding too fast. Before and after the 9-5 shift may be the better time to get a sense of how many may be attempting fast bike commutes on this stretch of the esplanade. People live here, so businesses and restaurants open and the path isn’t accordingly busy, some of them may be out with hopes of a relaxing walk by themselves, with their kids, or their dogs. Having someone closely race by on a bike doesn’t sound like a wonderful experience.

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  • mw October 14, 2015 at 4:24 pm

    This is gold:
    West shared at the BAC meeting, “Almost everyone has been hit…”
    “…we need a barrier to protect the blind people, the babies, and so on.”

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    • mw October 14, 2015 at 4:26 pm

      BTW, seems like Susan West’s day job is being an astrologer… just sayin’

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      • are October 15, 2015 at 8:51 am

        your point being?

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    • Scott H October 14, 2015 at 4:31 pm

      Just wow.

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    • zholz October 14, 2015 at 5:49 pm

      Class concerns aside here (it seems some people are having a hard time taking her seriously b/c she is likely well-off ), I think she has a sound point. I again want to point out that, rhetorically, this is almost the exact same thing that we are doing for Clinton St (justifiably, I might add), and we owe it to them to take their concerns seriously.

      This area is a glorified sidewalk — and it should be a pedestrian plaza. For years I’ve felt kinda guilty whenever I have taken my bike on it.

      I don’t think this should continue to be considered part of the MUP in this area, and I’d love to see either mode separation or an alternate route.

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      • Buzz October 14, 2015 at 6:16 pm

        I disagree. The alternate route on the street is about twice as long with more topography, some areas of real crappy pavement and no dedicated bicycling infrastructure.

        Plus, banning bicycles from a MUP based on perceptions alone is a slippery slope – how many other MUPs are non-cyclists going to want cyclists banned from next?

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        • DaveB October 14, 2015 at 7:24 pm

          Twice as long? No way.

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          • are October 15, 2015 at 8:52 am

            pythagoras has an equation for that.

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          • El Biciclero October 16, 2015 at 10:00 am

            It’s guaranteed less than 1.5 times as long (really, less than or equal to 1.414 times as long).

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        • zholz October 14, 2015 at 8:20 pm

          Google Maps says MUP is .2 miles, Harbor Way/Montgomery is .3. The topography is really minimal. And if you’re headed for the Tilikum MUP, you don’t even have to deal with the tiny hill on Montgomery.

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          • lop October 14, 2015 at 8:52 pm

            Going by riverplace is longer than taking harbor way if you’re heading to the moody path. Harbor way has fewer turns and crosses the streetcar tracks at a better angle too. On Harbor way crossing Montgomery can be annoying though. Heading north you put off taking a hill if you stay by the water, and the one you do take is a little more mild. But I’ve seen just as many riding through riverplace at an inappropriate speed heading south as heading north.

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            • Buzz October 15, 2015 at 11:02 am

              and if you’re not headed for the Moody path?

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              • lop October 17, 2015 at 6:15 pm

                There isn’t much to go to over there. A car driver doesn’t need a highway for the last few blocks of his trip, and a diverter might make accessing their destination a bit more inconvenient but doesn’t hurt them too bad. Seems like a similar situation. Might change somewhat if the rest of the waterfront path ever gets built.

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        • canuck October 15, 2015 at 8:56 am

          So the complaints about the Clinton diverters requiring motor vehicles to driver further are completely legitimate, since you don’t want to ride any further yourself to improve safety?

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          • Buzz October 15, 2015 at 11:01 am

            I’ve never either advocated for or complained about the Clinton diverters; I’m completely neutral on that one.

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      • davemess October 15, 2015 at 7:20 am

        I’m with you on this. Regardless of what it originally was this route is no longer suitable for a shared path. There are almost no other river front commercial areas in the city. Let’s just enjoy one as pedestrian only.

        I also agree there are some odd stances here considering all that is going down on Clinton. People often complain about car entitlement, this reeks of bike entitlement.

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        • Chris I October 15, 2015 at 8:44 am

          Given that there are no documented cases of injury crashes, at least that we have seen cited here, I don’t think this is entitlement. I personally have not used this route in years (I was probably 9 years old the last time I rode through here) because I don’t like the conflicts, and I want to ride fast. Some people want to ride slow and maybe stop at some shops or just enjoy the views.

          The main problem here, as many have pointed out, is that these private businesses have taken over the public ROW, narrowing what used to be a large shared space. Are they compensating the city for this?

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          • davemess October 15, 2015 at 11:00 am

            It still is used as a public ROW though. Just one that is better suited for pedestrians than bikes.

            I think people pointed out that there have been very few documented cases of injuries on Clinton, but some people on here are just as histrionic about the dangers on that road.

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            • gutterbunnybikes October 15, 2015 at 5:18 pm

              I see so many parallels to this to Clinton it isn’t even funny – it’s the exact same scenario – it just bicycle riders are now the guys in black hats. And just like Clinton – it’s a very few isolated incidents/individuals wrecking it for all of us.

              And I’m likely the one that yells the most about Clinton being safe. And I do that anytime anyone exaggerates the risk of riding a bicycle in this town, because such exaggerated claims in a public forum are detrimental to increasing ridership. Just like the businesses here are likely hurting themselves here too, because they are now telling the public that it’s not safe to visit because of the bicycles flying by and also discouraging bicycles to the waterfront to eat and shop (despite the fact there are multiple bicycle racks in the middle of the MUP).

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      • Spiffy October 15, 2015 at 8:40 am

        “this is almost the exact same thing that we are doing for Clinton St”

        the actions of drivers on Clinton are illegal and life-threatening… we have multiple reports…

        if cyclists are running into peds at riverplace then that’s also illegal and could cause some injury, but I know of nowhere that people have logged dozens of reports to document it…

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        • zholz October 15, 2015 at 8:48 am

          Maybe they don’t think they should have to log complaints? (I don’t think they should for the he record — they should feel safe, full stop.) And bikes absolutely can hurt peds, not on the same scale as cars of course, but that shouldn’t even be our comparison here. There are tons of retired people in that area of town — getting hit by a cyclist could really set them back. Vision zero should include no pedestrian injuries from cyclists, too.

          Again, residents are citing valid safety concerns here. Pedestrian safety trumps cyclist right of way.

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          • gutterbunnybikes October 15, 2015 at 4:14 pm

            Vision Zero has nothing to do with injuries – it’s about fatalities. In more than one city (though not this one —-yet), planners have said they are willing to increase the injury rates of road users in exchange for less fatalities.

            And honestly, I can think of situations where my prefered outcome would be my demise over surviving in certain situations. Like if I were to get hit by an uninsured motorist. If the option was living the rest of my life as a paraplegic (I’m too old to really recover and contribute significantly at this point) or die, I’d take death every time. At least then my life insurance would kick in and my wife and kids could pay off the house and have some money left for college, as opposed to being a physical, financial and emotional burden to them for the next couple decades.

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            • zholz October 15, 2015 at 4:20 pm


              Well that got dark! (But absolutely — uninsured motorists are really scary.)

              Whatever the official VZ stance is on injuries, I’ll go on the record saying we should do our best to prevent avoidable injuries too!

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            • 9watts October 15, 2015 at 4:21 pm

              That is not quite right, gutterbunnybikes. I’ve understood that the focus of VZ is reducing/eliminating both fatalities and serious injuries. I’ve never read anywhere that they were focused solely on fatalities.

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              • lop October 15, 2015 at 4:26 pm


                PBOT aims to make our transportation system the safest possible and to move toward zero traffic-related fatalities and serious injuries in the next 10 years.

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              • gutterbunnybikes October 15, 2015 at 5:52 pm

                We don’t know what VZ means in Portland yet (it changes from jurisdiction to jurisdiction), it’s still a year before the committee will tell us. But the focus is fatalities not injuries – the zero is in reference to zero deaths – not zero incidents – which anyone with half a brain know isn’t possible (and quite frankly neither is zero deaths).

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              • gutterbunnybikes October 15, 2015 at 6:58 pm

                By the way bicycles average 2 auto related fatalities a year in Portland, pedestrians around 10, and cars 20ish (bicycles also have a much lower injury rate too) Who do you think they’re going to focus their efforts on making transportation a “safer” experience?. After the speed limit drops the (which benefits all and is the most effective step to make) the focus will be on automobile and pedestrian safety and bicycle stuff will be a side venture to those projects. You can likely kiss the 2030 bicycle plan good bye with it’s implementation since we aren’t near on course and this is an opportunity to wipe the DOT planning slate clean.

                Could equate to more enforcement of bicycle infractions, mandatory helmet /hi-viz laws, extending sidewalk no ride zones, perhaps even banishing bicycles from some high traffic commercial districts. We don’t know.

                Think about it, we don’t know what VZ is for Portland but nearly all the bicycle and pedestrian activities are blindly supporting it.

                The only constant for VZ is the term. It’s not a cohesive or standardized plan, it’s a marketing gimmick. Mabey (I hope I’m just being cynical) but the trifecta of politicians, lots of money, and vague definitions always makes me weary.

                And kind of like this issue here which I suspect is largely inspired by the success of the Clinton diverters, one must be careful for what you wish for.

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              • lop October 17, 2015 at 6:12 pm


                >Since approved by the Swedish parliament in October 1997, Vision Zero has permeated the nation’s approach to transportation, dictating that the government manage the nation’s streets and roads with the ultimate goal of preventing fatalities and serious injuries.

                Serious injuries seems to have always been a component of vision zero, not just fatalities.

                > the focus will be on automobile and pedestrian safety and bicycle stuff will be a side venture to those projects.

                If the only goal is vision zero, then that sounds about right.

                A focus on safety is important, but a focus only on safety leads to a city that is survivable, but not necessarily livable.

                What’s needed is a complimentary vision that seeks to make spending time outside in public spaces less stressful, more relaxing, and more fun, or whatever the city decides its goals are. That might be a vision that improves a high use bike route without a record of dangerous crashes by making it less stressful. Or make a place for people to bike downtown even if it means slowing down drivers and most of the people who use it don’t bike today. It’s not necessary to lock in existing mode share. High speed interstates have a pretty good safety record. Lower speed roads like Powell or 122nd that have more conflict with bikes on the road, pedestrians crossing at grade, cars turning on and off from way to many junctions (curb cuts count) are made dangerous by those conflicts. To make the road safer you can lower speeds (more than just changing the number on a sign) or better manage access to the road for motor vehicles, eliminating it in many places for pedestrians and cyclists. This second vision to compliment the renewed focus on safety informs non safety priorities, and how you go about making transportation safer.

                You’re right though, be careful what you wish for. Because once you expand beyond safety issues then someone who wants a relaxing place to walk on a sidewalk with reduced conflict (no biking), or sit in a riverfront cafe can’t be ignored just because there is no record of KSI crashes.

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        • paikiala October 15, 2015 at 10:21 am

          Which actions by people driving on Clinton are ‘illegal’?

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          • Otis October 15, 2015 at 10:59 am

            To start with, these at the very least:

            -Exceeding posted speed limit
            -Illegal passing (violation of vulnerable roadway law)
            -Reckless driving

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            • El Biciclero October 16, 2015 at 9:38 am

              I would bet the law would only agree with you on speeding. The threshold for “reckless” is very, very high. The safe passing distance (i.e., cyclist-falls-into-your-path) law only counts if a driver is going above 35 (so if someone was speeding over 35 and passed within fall-over distance, that would be a safe passing violation).

              Unfortunately, as long as the (very generous for drivers) “safe” passing law is followed, there is apparently nothing illegal about harassing or intimidating cyclists with a motor vehicle, and no law against forcing cyclists off the road (as long as it is done without actually making contact). Unless there is a bike lane painted (and the paint hasn’t worn away), bicyclists have near-zero legal protection from angry, aggressive motorists.

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      • Chris I October 15, 2015 at 8:45 am

        This is why I have a hard time taking her seriously:

        “As a Virgo, Susan found that her natural gift and service to the world was to be an astrologer and lecturer. In addition to her traditional college education, she has studied astrology and the I Ching extensively. She maintains memberships in several Professional Astrological organizations: OAA, ISAR, and AFAN.”

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        • zholz October 15, 2015 at 9:47 am

          Uhhh, who why does this matter? Her personal calling is completely beside the point here.

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          • Chris I October 15, 2015 at 4:53 pm

            Astrology is a joke, and thus I question the judgement and mental capacity of people who believe in it. We definitely shouldn’t be letting them shape public policy.

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      • Gary B October 15, 2015 at 10:34 am

        “This area is a glorified sidewalk — and it should be a pedestrian plaza. For years I’ve felt kinda guilty whenever I have taken my bike on it.”

        Riding that area often (now I always use the roads, the sidewalk is too much trouble), that is what I WAS thinking. But I actually didn’t realize it was built and funded as a MUP. That entirely changes my thinking. It would fully function as a MUP but for the ancillary uses that now dominate the space (sidewalk seating).

        In my view, they’ve essentially appropriated the MUP to become a ped plaza to benefit their businesses. And that’s ok–I think it’s a great ped plaza, I’ve enjoyed drinking some Full Sail on the waterfront on many occasions. But they don’t get it for free. How about the businesses step up and fund an alternative bike path–a proper Cycle Track on Harbor Way, for example.

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        • davemess October 15, 2015 at 11:01 am

          “they’ve essentially appropriated the MUP to become a ped plaza to benefit their businesses”

          Isn’t that pretty much exactly what people have been cheering to happen in some downtown areas (the plaza by VooDoo comes to mind)?

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        • Buzz October 15, 2015 at 11:04 am

          If it’s a sidewalk it’s outside the sidewalk riding exclusion zone and thus bikes are allowed.

          But of course that totally ignores the fact that this is part of both the 40-mile loop and the Willamette Greenway, the latter of which is both State and City mandated.

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  • dan October 14, 2015 at 4:24 pm

    Install strips of cobblestone across the path every 20 feet or so. Done.

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    • Sovebike October 15, 2015 at 6:48 am

      I love this idea, but would it cause difficulty for people in wheelchairs? If the speed bumps were big enough to be effective in slowing down the cyclists, I mean.

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  • soren October 14, 2015 at 4:28 pm

    Large sections of this mup have been converted into seating areas for restaurants and shops. These areas crowd pedestrians and people cycling into narrow choke points. They also encourage the perception by pedestrians that this is some sort of “plaza” instead of a multi-use path. The obvious solution is to remove restaurant seating and paint some bikes ride here symbols that separate pedestrians from cyclists.

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    • Alan Love October 14, 2015 at 4:47 pm

      Both sides have their point on this. It IS dangerous for people strolling on foot because of people on bikes that want to commute through, and people on bikes (just like everyone else) can be rude about being forced to slow down, BUT it is a MUP, so efficient travel should have it’s place here. The problem is one of design intentions. It’s as if ODOT designated a small residential street as a major auto arterial route. It just doesn’t work. Mixing commuting traffic (in this case, people on bikes) with people casually strolling amongst the shops and restaurants is a recipe for conflict.

      The idea of changing the designation of this stretch from a MUP to a pedestrian plaza is not absurd (though the language of those advocating it certainly is: “Think of the children! Everyone has been hit!”). But as part of that plan, Harbor/Montgomery needs some updates to make it less car friendly (though not inaccessible).

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      • eli bishop October 14, 2015 at 6:22 pm

        THIS. I personally think the restaurants are taking advantage of space that should be more public, but I am open to re-designating the path IF (and this is a BIG IF), equally awesome facilities are provided for bicycles.

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        • eli bishop October 14, 2015 at 6:34 pm

          OH! This would be a great use of a LID just like the light on Cook! They want to predesignate the path? Great! Create a LID that builds better bike infrastructure to replace it!

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          • lop October 14, 2015 at 8:56 pm

            What upgrades would be enough on the short stretch of harbor way between the waterfront park and the mup? (I’m assuming it’s already good enough once you get there)

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            • Daniel Costantino October 15, 2015 at 9:32 am

              Given that there’s extremely limited vehicle traffic on Harbor Way and that the adjacent space to the west is a vacant grassy area, seems to me there could, without too much hearburn on anyone’s part, be a 10-foot separated MUP or 2-way cycletrack adjacent, connecting directly to the path leading down to the new bridge. Also a 4-way stop at the intersection with Montgomery.

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            • Alex Reed October 15, 2015 at 9:33 am

              It’s got to be appealing to a wide variety of riders if it’s going to replace the riverfront MUP without people biking on the ex-MUP (and without discouraging riding). So here are some ideas to make the Harbor Way / MUP route more convenient (for faster/more confident riders) AND more comfortable (for less confident riders). A

              On Harbor Way:
              1) Turn the stop sign at Harbor Way & Montgomery so traffic on Montgomery (mostly cars) has to stop instead of traffic on Harbor Way (mostly bikes).
              2) Reduce the design speed of Harbor Way for cars to ~10 mph through chicanes, seating, other design elements.

              On Montgomery:
              1) Remove center line, create “commercial greenway” with a design speed of ~10 mph for cars a la proposals for SE 28th (design elements like above on Harbor Way)
              2) Remove center line, add advisory bike lanes

              And on the MUP:
              3) Remove the slip lane turning right from Harbor Dr northbound to River Pkwy Westbound, or synchronize the lights somehow so people on bikes on the MUP don’t have to wait twice to cross the street.

              But I think Soren’s suggestions above for making the riverfront MUP a MUP again are better overall.

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              • davemess October 15, 2015 at 11:05 am

                Is there an issue though of having a stop sign to close to the intersection at Harbor Way/Montgomery? back ups into the intersection with Harbor Dr.?

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              • Alex Reed October 15, 2015 at 1:51 pm

                I would imagine so – but I trust that some creative and motivated traffic engineers could find a solution 🙂

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  • Buzz October 14, 2015 at 4:28 pm

    Despite the fact that this is a public right-of-way, Riverplace for years had this area illegally posted ‘No Bikes’. PBOT finally forced them to remove these illegal signs about four or five years ago. Closing this segment of trail again would be a huge step backwards.

    Also, FWIW, when I was down there recently it looked to me like McCormick and Schmick had just about doubled their outdoor seating capacity since last year, creating a very significant bottleneck for all users.

    I for one would boycott each and every business down there if they prohibited cycling, and these are businesses that look like they could use every customer that comes their way, as it’s sort of an out of the way spot, particularly for retail.

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    • zholz October 14, 2015 at 8:15 pm

      Ugh, these businesses turn this area into a lovely car free spot for the many retired people, tourists and other regular residents in the area, and we’re demanding that we be able to cruise through that just to get to South Waterfront faster?!

      I have ridden Harbor Way (literally one block people) countless times and never had a bad interaction — it’s a dead end street, it has sharrows, and now leads directly to the Tilikum MUP. I understand the frustration that waterfront was historically an MUP, and that we do have a “right” to it, but I really hope that people can see that times change and clearly this area is better suited for pedestrian use.

      It’s one block out of your way to Harbor Way. Heck, if you’re coming from the waterfront path, it’s not even out of your way! It’s probably the least dangerous sharrowed street in all of Portland!

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      • soren October 15, 2015 at 9:18 am

        Businesses had nothing to do with turning “this into a lovely car-free spot”. This was always a public multi-use path integrated into our parks trail system.

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        • zholz October 15, 2015 at 9:56 am

          But we allow businesses to take over parking spots (public ROW again) fairly often, and we rightly celebrate it. I think you’re correct in that businesses are taking advantage of the situation here, but I also think that we should be able to step back and evaluate — who is this space serving best NOW? (History and original intent aside.) Do we value the experience that this space is providing? Does this help in our goals of livable streets that appeal to people of ALL abilities?

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          • soren October 15, 2015 at 12:23 pm

            A parking space is not right of way — it is publicly-subsidized vehicle storage.

            “Almost everyone has been hit and we’re afraid of a lawsuit.”

            Do you really trust this group to accurately describe the situation? Moreover, businesses illegally limited access to this mup previously. Based on this past behavior, I think its fair to question whether some (perhaps even most) of the motivation is financial.

            If this group were largely interested in safety then one approach would be to reduce choke points and create some separation. The fact that this option was not discussed suggests to me that the pedestrian safety issue may be a red herring.

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            • zholz October 15, 2015 at 12:44 pm

              Well, it sounds like your dislike of this group of people might be having some sway on your thoughts. Fine to feel that way — but are their concerns valid? Self-serving motivations aside.

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              • soren October 15, 2015 at 1:53 pm

                Telling someone what they are feeling (on the internet) and then being condescending about it is an ad hominem.

                I don’t dislike Susan West. I simply don’t find her comments (“almost everyone has been hit”) to be credible.

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              • zholz October 15, 2015 at 2:09 pm

                You’re correct, I’m sorry about that; it was not my best response. I think davemess said it better.

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            • davemess October 15, 2015 at 1:33 pm

              I don’t have to trust this group. I think most people can see the area and recognize that is it not a great idea to have a bike route on it these days.

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            • lop October 15, 2015 at 1:55 pm

              > the motivation is financial.

              Because banning bikes would create a far more pleasant place for people to walk and spend time (and money)? Do those people who would benefit from the calmed atmosphere get no consideration here? Or is their use not valid because someone makes money off of it?

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  • chris October 14, 2015 at 4:37 pm

    Oh, I don’t ever ride through there. I tried once and it was indeed “like riding through a mall”.

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  • Todd Hudson October 14, 2015 at 4:49 pm

    I bike to the Riverplace Docks regularly – this groups’s request has merit. It’s an extremely congested walkway, especially when the weather is nice. The bike racks, and outdoor eating tables take up a lot of space on both sides of the sidewalk, leaving an even narrower area for people traversing it. There’s no reason cyclists can’t dismount and walk to LIttle River Cafe, or use Harbor Way/Montgomery Street if they are passing through.

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  • Dave October 14, 2015 at 4:50 pm

    The encroachment of cafe seating looks like an attempted privatizing of public space to me.

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    • John Lascurettes October 14, 2015 at 5:00 pm

      ^ This!

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    • Adam Herstein
      Adam Herstein October 14, 2015 at 5:30 pm

      Seems to me that the problem here is the cafe tables are taking up what was previously a multi-use path. They are obviously providing value and character to the area, though, so they should remain. However, the path should be widened a bit to accommodate everyone safely.

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    • lop October 14, 2015 at 9:04 pm

      Several have mentioned this. How is it any different from the many sidewalk cafes in the city that often slow down people walking by? Or the little restaurant seating sections that go in what were once car parking spots?

      Just because space is ‘public’ doesn’t mean the highest use of that public space is a facility that prioritizes through traffic. Why is allowing private vendors to use that space to create a publicly available cafe or restaurant so abhorrent? It’s done in parks all the time. It’s even done on streets every now and then (and not nearly often enough). Will it be wrong for the city to allow a private bike share operator to use public space to store the bicycles between trips?

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      • Chris I October 15, 2015 at 8:50 am

        This issue is unique, because the businesses that now was to ban bike riding are the ones contributing to the problem. And MUPs and sidewalks cannot be directly compared, as they serve different purposes. Yes, this MUP is unique, but we can’t allow business pressure to ban bike riding on a public ROW. It sets a very bad precedent.

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      • B. Carfree October 15, 2015 at 6:30 pm

        Now I just have to decide if I want to open my new outdoor-seating-only cafe on the railroad track portion of the Tillicum Bridge or on I-5. After all, it’s just a public space and why shouldn’t I be allowed to co-opt it for my public business.

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        • lop October 17, 2015 at 6:18 pm

          Put it on top of the cap that should get built on sections of I405 and I5, leave the electric trains alone.

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    • Captain Karma October 15, 2015 at 2:23 pm


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  • PNP October 14, 2015 at 5:02 pm

    Even if they have a valid concern, lacing it with hysteria (everyone has been hit!) only damages their message.

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    • meh October 14, 2015 at 5:33 pm

      If you can get cyclusts to do the same, becase theres a ton of hysteria in these comments every day. The iwasalmostkilled website a case in point.

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      • Spiffy October 15, 2015 at 8:46 am

        hit by a cyclist = bruised, maybe broken…

        hit by a car = broken, maybe killed…

        not quite the same…

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        • davemess October 15, 2015 at 11:07 am

          Why are either acceptable?

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  • Mossby Pomegranate October 14, 2015 at 5:11 pm

    Pedestrians deserve a place they can feel safe from both cars and bikes. It’s funny what hypocrites the BP community are when it’s Bikes vs Peds instead Bikes vs motor vehicles.

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    • Spiffy October 15, 2015 at 8:48 am

      when a cyclist runs into you it’s like being hit by a jogger/runner…

      when a car runs into you it’s like being hit by 2 tons of bricks…

      it’s not even close to an even comparison… yes, we’re both complaining about conflicts, but some of us are complaining about conflicts that easy kill us…

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      • canuck October 15, 2015 at 8:59 am

        No it’s not. The speed is greater the kinetic energy is greater. The impact is greater.

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      • Lester Burnham October 15, 2015 at 9:29 am

        Yes because a pedestrian has never been killed by a cyclist. Uh huh.

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        • 9watts October 15, 2015 at 9:41 am

          I don’t think anyone in their right mind is going to claim that anyone’s at risk of being killed by someone on a bike at this location, so your hysteria (and Ms. West’s) seems misplaced. Nonetheless there are subtleties here that others have usefully explored in the comments.

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          • Lester Burnham October 15, 2015 at 10:10 am

            I think you and Spiffy are suffering from a bit of “bike head”. Is it really so hard to believe pedestrians could at times be intimidated by bicyclists?

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  • Adam Herstein
    Adam Herstein October 14, 2015 at 5:19 pm

    Build a viable alternative (i.e. nearby protected bike lanes) for people commuting though. A real dedicated cycling facility, not just another MUP. People should still be allowed to ride their bikes to destinations along the path, though. Why not install cobblestones or another type of bumpy paver to encourage people to ride slowly?

    This is the same issue that Better Naito aims to solve in Waterfront Park. Build a safe alternative and people will use it.

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    • Eric Leifsdad October 14, 2015 at 7:12 pm

      Yes, we don’t need segregation as much as something that actually works. The law already requires caution on sidewalks and multi-use paths. Signs for “unicycles single-file”, “jogglers limit 3 balls”, or “pogo sticks keep left” are not necessary or effective.

      In this case, several businesses are using a through route as their patio when what they should have done is built a patio. If they paved an adjacent section, there might be enough path. Or we can close those adjacent streets to motor vehicles / get some “motorists dismount” signs. The fact that they think it’s reasonable to expect people on bikes to walk says to me that none of them ride for transportation, but also that the parks department shouldn’t be in charge of our off-street bike routes.

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      • lop October 14, 2015 at 9:10 pm

        >parks department shouldn’t be in charge of our off-street bike routes.

        Isn’t that true in many cities? What’s the reason for it? I know there are some federal and state regulations that try to minimize or eliminate the taking of parkland for transportation facilities. Probably had highways in mind when they were put together. Would they make it impossible for DOTs that take federal money (all of them) to ‘alienate’ parkland for a new transportation facility for bicycles? And here’s a question. If you want bicycling to be about transportation would it be fair for a DOT to take parkland to build a bikeway without coming up with replacement parkland in the same area?

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    • davemess October 15, 2015 at 7:23 am

      They did build a safe alternative and MANY people have switched over to using it.

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  • Ben October 14, 2015 at 5:24 pm

    The over-the-top rhetoric is ridiculous, but they have a valid concern. Riding on that stretch of path is unpleasant, and walking on it is too.

    Personally, I’d like to see cyclists discouraged from using the waterfront path entirely, but first we need a sensible route along the river between the south waterfront and the Broadway Bridge.

    If the city installed a six-foot cycletrack along SW Harbor and Naito, I’d totally support putting in cyclist-inconveniencing measures like low bollards or those awful crotch-hammering ridges on the esplanade.

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    • Mark October 14, 2015 at 9:18 pm

      6 foot…for two way?/that would be lame.

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  • Fred King October 14, 2015 at 5:35 pm

    I have to agree with Dave. Over the years that I have used that route (25 years), the condo has taken over what was originally a multi-use path. I wish I could put patio furniture out in the street where I live, but taking away rights of way by occupation is wrong and people who are used to using it to complete the West side bike path will challenge the “facts on the ground”.

    This is fundamentally different from tourists who are surprised and complain when we use that bike path as a bike path. Tourists have a right not to know the legal use of the path.

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  • zholz October 14, 2015 at 5:35 pm

    All of this “fast bikes use ____” stuff is such a clear case for mode separation!

    I will admit that when I am a pedestrian (and I’d encourage everyone on this site to walk across the Hawthorne Bridge during peak times, or along this stretch of the Waterfront, to see what it feels like), I pretty frequently feel in danger of getting hit by a cyclist. I know I’m just one mis-timed step away from getting clipped by someone’s handlebars, or worse.

    It’s so strange & frustrating that we’re really willing to bring up the “I’m a vulnerable road user” line when cars are threatening us, but don’t take it as seriously when pedestrians ask cyclists to slow down or respect their right to the space.

    Vancouver seawall, anyone? I’m sure plenty on this site have been there. It is such a beautiful example of effective mode separation. Let’s stop saying “share the space” to all the people walking (cause we know from our greenway experience that it is a broken metaphor), and actually build the infrastructure all modes deserve.

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  • Jack October 14, 2015 at 6:07 pm

    What about the runners!!!???? I walk my dog through there every morning and evening and have had more “fast runners” pass us faster than most people who ride through there on bikes. Just saying.

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    • Eric Leifsdad October 14, 2015 at 6:36 pm

      They did put up those signs “WALK” / “BIKES” in the construction fenced area (to instruct joggers to walk, because there’s bikes.)

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    • ynn October 15, 2015 at 10:26 am

      Last time I checked, runners are pedestrians.What, we are going to start gauging speeds of pedestrians and enforcing a general slow down?

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      • Jack October 15, 2015 at 10:32 am

        My point was more that in my experience the “fast runners” pose more of a problem than any bikes I have seen riding through there. However, the local group does not seemed to be concerned about that.

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  • Zaphod October 14, 2015 at 6:08 pm

    I think diverters that make it hard but not impossible to roll through will encourage faster riders to go elsewhere. Here’s the thing… the dialog here has such an “us vs them” mentality. Like all the people trying to eat and chill along the waterfront are a bunch of wankers and we cyclists have a legitimate need. Our needs matter, theirs do not. We sound like angry motorists. Well damn, the nearby route is fast and efficient. It’s the choice I go for.

    The shop owner is wildly exaggerating I’m sure but intelligent and logical commuters will take the other route anyway. Why not filter out the rest so that the parent having a drink with a nearby toddler can f*&#ing relax for a moment.

    It’s straight from Portlandia’s “bicycle rights”

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    • soren October 14, 2015 at 7:27 pm

      no one is calling peds wankers. they are as much victim of restaurants turning a 15 foot mup into at 6 foot fustercluck as people biking. let’s get real here…these businesses want to turn a tax-payer funded mup into their own personal restaurant/shop annex. it’s BS.

      and for the record, i used to ride this route occasionally for the scenic riverfront view but stopped doing so years ago because businesses made it annoying to do so.

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      • caesar October 15, 2015 at 9:44 am

        The sidewalk tables and chairs are a huge part of what makes a visit to that area an attractive, relaxing experience that is not frequently available elsewhere on the waterfront. Bikes can and should use the nearby parallel route behind the hotel, which is safe and quick (I ride it frequently). More bike racks should be intalled at the ends of this commercial district so that cyclists who wish to enjoy the amenities can do so.

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  • B. Carfree October 14, 2015 at 6:20 pm

    First we had bike paths, where bikes have total right of way. Then they became, in many locations, MUPs, which, like sidewalks, give the right of way to pedestrians. The logical next step is to convert the MUPs formally to off-street sidewalks and ban bikes.

    That’s not my idea, it came from an acquaintance in Hawaii a decade ago. I guess it’s coming to pass, so it’s time for the segregationists to bone up on their VC skills.

    I’d be interested to know about the original funding for this path. Was it to provide for cycling to relieve auto congestion, which was pretty typical for many years, or was it to provide a pedestrian amenity to the motoring crowd?

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    • soren October 14, 2015 at 7:22 pm

      it was funded as a multi-use path as part of a connected network of multi-use paths maintained by parks and rec.

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      • Buzz October 15, 2015 at 11:08 am

        Actually, I think the developer probably had to build it as a requirement of their permit approval from BDS, but it is still public right-of-way.

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      • B. Carfree October 15, 2015 at 6:39 pm

        The state and feds were apparently involved in the funding. The state of Oregon has no designation of MUP, only bike paths and sidewalks. How in the world did this get funded by the state for something the state doesn’t have as an official right of way designation? Something is amiss here.

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    • Pete October 14, 2015 at 7:31 pm

      Interesting comment. We’ve spent several years trying to explain to planners that there are several ‘levels’ of people using bicycles, and that when you create “bike paths” which are actually MUPs, you don’t actually divert all bicyclists away from neighboring roadways, but rather add the challenge of mixing cyclists and pedestrians in a more confined space. I’ve never actually seen many spaces (in America) where “bikes have total right of way” (except as emphasized by sharrows, theoretically), but I get your point.

      We have a pathway here in silicon valley – the San Tomas Acquino Creek Trail – which was funded by both city funds and county “congestion mitigation” funds, but is now closed periodically by events at Levi’s Stadium – which some of us claim is illegal and a violation of CEQA (long story)… anyway, my point is, I’m glad to see someone else bring up this point. There is definitely a struggle over where, why, and how cyclists have ‘rights’ to public space in this country, and I do see this as another example, regardless of the fact that residents are correct in that some danger is posed here.

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      • B. Carfree October 15, 2015 at 6:47 pm

        Oregon has some perverse vehicle code and legal doctrine from a California viewpoint. For instance, in Oregon pedestrians have no right of way on a roadway with no sidewalks; they are banished to the shoulder. Worse still, there is no requirement for an operator with the right of way to avoid a collision, which is odd compared to other states. Add in the fact that bike paths are roads (in Oregon) and lack sidewalks and you have a situation where cyclists could, although hopefully no one would, run over pedestrians who are on a bike path without legal consequence. (Though I would hope such a person would die of asphyxiation as a result of their derriere chapeau.)

        Apparently cities have been converting bike paths to off-street sidewalks and calling them MUPs, which are simply sidewalks. What they are called may not jive with what they legally are, and if we ever get meaningful numbers of people riding and walking, this is going to get even uglier. The good news is cyclists and pedestrians are the sane people in our culture. The bad news is all over this thread as we eat our young.

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  • I think this streetview image illustrates perfectly what the problem is.

    According to the post, the MUP should be 15 ft wide. If we assume the gentleman in the blue shirt in the streetview scene above to be 6 ft tall (and he’s probably a bit shorter), then the width of the path here is at best 12 ft, and it looks like some of the chairs are sticking out further. I’ve seen guests scoot back their chairs without looking too.


    I don’t think there’s really any argument that the current situation is unsafe. I’ve biked and walked through there many times, and there simply isn’t room to get through without slowing to walking speeds.

    So if the passable space is at best 12 ft and should be 15, what’s the deal? Do the restaurants have a permit to encroach on the right-of-way? It doesn’t seem like they should be able to take it over just because they want to and it’s profitable.

    The best solution would be to double the width of the path. There’s plenty of room, as you can see from this view. A wide concrete path with separated biking and walking lanes (like the Moody Ave cycle track) could be built directly east and adjacent to the existing path, and the current path could be fully developed as space for restaurants and stores to use as they see fit.

    Of course, since they are currently encroaching on the right-of-way for their own commercial gain, the Riverplace businesses should fund the construction of such a path. It would attract more people to pass through the area, as it would make for a nicer place for tourists to walk by and enjoy the river and bring local through on their commute, so it should improve business long-term, and it would open up space for them to use commercially to host more tables, etc. Seems like a win-win.

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    • Gary B October 15, 2015 at 10:36 am

      Wish I’d seen your post before I just said something very similar. Absolutely agree.

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    • Captain Karma October 15, 2015 at 2:34 pm


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  • John Liu
    John Liu October 14, 2015 at 7:14 pm

    I don’t usually ride that part of the MUP in front of Riverplace, strongly preferring the alternative route of one block on Montgomery then one block on Harbor. It is much faster, because you can ride at normal cycling speeds of 15-17 mph on a real street that has relative light traffic that is moving slowly, instead of weaving slowly through pedestrians and tables at 5 mph.

    I would want to try some advisory signs like “through cyclists take Montgomery/Harbor” instead of a ban on cyclists, which I think would be excessive and possibly illegal.

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  • Phil Richman October 14, 2015 at 7:29 pm

    I’d have to guess this area is getting some more traffic with the opening of Tilikum. Interesting conundrum.

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  • Scott H October 14, 2015 at 8:51 pm

    Wait a minute, we should just put her in charge of ODOT! She’d ban cars from the roads, because babies and lawsuits and stuff.

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    • Mark October 14, 2015 at 9:22 pm

      And blind people

      How about blind babies?

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      • Dan A October 14, 2015 at 10:04 pm

        And blind drivers. Will somebody think about the poor blind drivers??

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        • are October 15, 2015 at 9:40 am

          i guess if the messenger is an easy target we can ignore the message

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          • Dan A October 15, 2015 at 12:11 pm

            I don’t see why bikes & peds can’t share the same space. Somehow it works in San Diego:


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            • zholz October 15, 2015 at 12:25 pm

              Nice example. I think we can learn a lot (way more than we think) from the way southern Californians use space. (Cue the haters, “LA as autotopia”, etc., I get it.)

              It makes me cringe to find myself using some sort of “cultural” reasoning here, but in my limited experiences as a cyclist on s. californian MUPs, everything is just so much more…. relaxed. Totally cliche, but this ~vibe~ makes a huge difference. I also think the dominance of cruiser bikes (as opposed to bikes with drop bars which force people into more aggressive riding) has a calming effect on everyone. People seem to be willing to take it slow.

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              • lop October 15, 2015 at 2:05 pm

                It’s the attitude you ride with, not the bike. Drop bars don’t force you to do anything. I have drop bars on my road bike and can comfortably ride along the waterfront at a relaxed jogging speed. It’s a lot of fun. When you set out to ride at a relaxed pace like that all of the stress from the ‘clueless’ pedestrians on the MUP goes away.

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              • Dan A October 16, 2015 at 7:54 am

                They also have an 8mph speed limit painted on the path.

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  • J_R October 14, 2015 at 8:54 pm

    Like a few others, I think the extent of the problem has been greatly exaggerated. I’ve seen a few people riding faster than appropriate, but most operated with great courtesy.

    I used to work in that area and rode my bike through at modest speeds early in the morning because I enjoyed seeing the boaters going to and from their boats or enjoying their coffee after their time on the river. When it was busier, I opted for Harbor Way and Montgomery Street. I also liked to visit the ice cream shop with my kids when we’d been on a long bike ride. We always rode slowly and carefully to get there and never experienced a problem.

    Some improvements to sight distance and, perhaps, a change in the traffic control at Harbor Way and Montgomery Street intersection would help. When heading southbound on Harbor Way, sight distance to the east along Montgomery Street could be restricted by parked cars near the intersection. Besides that, you couldn’t be certain whether autos would yield to you or whether they were yielding to pedestrians. Just a little confusing.

    Another issue is the transition from the MUP to Harbor Way at the north end near the turnaround in front of the Riverplace Hotel and Three Degrees. The ramp from the path to the road was sometimes blocked by vehicles.

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    • Tee October 14, 2015 at 9:28 pm

      Agreed. While I usually find a different route for riding, I have run through that area frequently over the years. Usually at peak commute hours or weekend mornings. I have had fewer close calls with bikes riding faster than optimal or passing closer than is safe than on other stretches of the Willamette Greenway Trail or Eastbank Esplanade.

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  • Andy K October 14, 2015 at 8:58 pm

    Another option to consider is simply giving prioritization to pedestrians through inexpensive visual cues. The Netherlands does this using a “guest” scheme. Basically one user “owns” the space and the other is the “guest”. What this looks like; a user encounters a sign or pavement marking []
    [] indicating who is the guest on the street. The system works quite well, even though it is entirely self governed. There is a pedestrian example too, where an easy to read sign defines it as a ped space where bikes are allowed but with (implied) diminished “rights”

    Instead of trying to control the situation through difficult to enforce rules or physical barriers (remembering that some cyclists may use the facility at night when ped volumes are low as a safe alternative), allow common social pressure to enforce the situation. The idea of clearly stated user priority is not to create a route for punishment like a ban would be, but instead it is to let everybody in that space define the appropriate behavior within that space at that time.

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    • lop October 14, 2015 at 9:23 pm

      How is what you’re proposing so different from the already posted yield to slower traffic signs and pavement markings, like the one at the top of this post? Or the pedestrian priority zone signs posted all over the waterfront park?

      It’s a scheme that doesn’t work when through traffic levels are high. When they’re low? Maybe. That’s why the city is putting in a diverter on Clinton, right? Cut down auto traffic levels to make the shared space scheme work better. What would be a comparable treatment here to lower through bike traffic levels enough to make the pedestrian priority zone work?

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  • Mark October 14, 2015 at 9:21 pm

    This is retirees with nothing tondo and bikes to hate on. In their mind, the world outside of a car should operate at walikg speed but inside a car should be completely free of any kind of restrictions. Bikes are just an obstacle in life to be dealt with.

    I am glad parks has shut down their anarchist behavior a few times. Bikes should never ever be banned from anywhere. Let me repeat.

    Bikes should never be banned. People need to learn to cooexist biking or not. Period.

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    • caesar October 15, 2015 at 9:53 am

      So…what is your point?

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  • axoplasm October 14, 2015 at 9:41 pm

    So on my third trip through riverfront today (srsly) it hit me what I find so risible about this entire thread. The design of the space as it is, is largely self-correcting. When it’s crowded (5pm on a warm October evening), you’d have to be really bloody minded to even TRY to go fast. If you insist on riding, you do it at walking speed, and use your human voice to say “excuse me” to the other humans who are there. But at 6am this morning — why NOT go fast? There’s no one to hit.

    It is a human scale space that encourages interaction with other humans, using human communication, at human speeds, with human ambiguities, with human consequences. If a cyclist and walker tangle the cyclist is almost as likely to break a bone as the other person — and broken bones are the usual worst case scenario in such occasions. Compare to a car crash where a broken collar bone is a GOOD outcome. But walking/riding here requires negotiating & interacting with other people, absent the legal and mechanical frameworks we’re used to elsewhere (ie. in a car)

    This is what I like about it. That and the pretty boats.

    Signs and mode separations and barriers and rumble strips and MUPs and ROWs are the idiom of machines, of carving up the landscape such that two ton metal boxes won’t crush 200 pound sacks of meat into…er…hamburger. (Sorry the metaphor is getting a little gruesome.)

    Maybe what bugs Ms. West and the rest of us about the interactions at Riverfront Place, is a collective inability to reckon with ambiguous and small-scale interactions, when we prefer the crisp and legalistic delineations of the (often fatal) machine interactions we’ve unfortunately become accustomed to.

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    • zholz October 14, 2015 at 10:01 pm

      Good metaphor, but the bike is still a machine. 😉

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    • resopmok October 15, 2015 at 8:03 am

      Thank you for the nice metaphor. Ultimately I believe you are right, the problem here is a human one of courtesy and mindfulness. Unfortunately, these are traits our society seems to place a low value on, and they are thusly quite lacking among its members. Our solution is not more physical barriers, paint, signs and so on, but a reeducation of people as to what it means to be human. Maybe a single sign could be helpful – “Don’t be a dick, slow down and be careful when it’s crowded here.”

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      • are October 15, 2015 at 9:02 am

        the argument could be made the near absence of courtesy is an artifact of the prevalence of the private automobile. but it does seem to have infected bicyclists as well.

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  • Buzz October 14, 2015 at 10:10 pm

    I guess what bothers me most about this is that the Willamette Greenway is more or less mandated by both State law and City ordinance, yet it’s taken years longer than reasonable to complete, and this would be a huge step backwards.

    These people are trying to privatize a public asset, filling the public space to the point of choking it with their tables, signs, merchandise, etc., and that’s just wrong in so many ways.

    And it’s not cyclists’ fault that the facility was under-designed to begin with; that seems more like the rule than the exception in Portland. If the facility is over capacity, the city shouldn’t be issuing so many permits for private use of the public space.

    IMO, the better analogy to this proposal is SK Northwest and not Clinton Street.

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  • q`Tzal October 15, 2015 at 12:39 am

    Seems like a wonderful place to have bicycle mounted PPD traffic teams doing enforcement issuing real tickets and fines for “wreckless driving” (this would be a down side of legally being a vehicle by ORS code) or just broad spectrum “public endangerment”.

    Unlike the nuisance that ignoring stop signs in Ladds Circle is THIS is an actual hazard. Dedicate half of that enforcement power here and actually perform a public good.

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    • Spiffy October 15, 2015 at 9:21 am

      life is a hazard… when I step out my door I expect the world to fly around me at whatever speed it’s moving… but I trust in everybody to do it in a way that we take care and don’t hurt each other…

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      • q`Tzal October 15, 2015 at 5:07 pm

        This line of reasoning is equally valid for use in justifying not spending any money for bicycle infrastructure and just letting automobiles mow people down in the most blasé, apathetic, libertarian/anarchist way possible.

        “Pffft. Sure there’s danger out there. If you get injured through no fault of your own it doesn’t bother me.” is what your statement comes across like.

        Bicycle riders have been habituated to using this MUP corridor as a high speed through way. Any MUP suffers from its own popularity and eventually turns into a pedestrian mobs scene.

        Some users (sociopaths, brimming with entitlement, suffers of testosterone poisoning)
        of public ROWs need to learn that their “right to swing their fist ends at my nose”. This includes riding too fast through crowds and driving too fast on roads.

        If these people don’t like the consequences of breaking the law then I guess that they just can’t handle the “danger” of using public roads.

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    • Hello, Kitty
      Hello, Kitty October 15, 2015 at 11:49 am

      I would think wreckless driving is something we should all strive for! 🙂

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      • q`Tzal October 15, 2015 at 4:43 pm

        Ya ever know that the spelling is wrong, SwiftKey is being obstinately clueless and you’re just too busy/lazy to dig up the correct spelling?

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  • kittens October 15, 2015 at 5:45 am

    Legislation and signage are no substitute for courtesy and the consideration of others. It is too bad people are not more cooperative but Im not sure manners will be hastened through these measures.

    I also think this neighborhood group is being a little silly. We should all be so lucky to have such problems as these!

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    • wsbob October 15, 2015 at 9:34 am

      “…We should all be so lucky to have such problems as these!” kittens

      You didn’t say what ‘problems’ it is that you think the neighborhood is lucky to have. What are they?

      The three people, West, Gieben and Ogan, from the neighborhood, named in this story and that spoke before the bike advisory committee…or one of them apparently said:

      “The large number of people that are coming through are racing and are commuters. The signs don’t work, we need a barrier to protect the blind people, the babies, and so on.”

      In other words, not people lollygagging and slowly passing through on their cruiser bikes on their way to a sports bar for beer.

      Not tourists and families out for a relaxing ride, or people shopping and dining at the businesses on this short two block stretch of the esplanade…but instead, commuters, the objectionable of them with one purpose in mind only: to get from A to B without slowing down.

      How many people commute at 2pm? Go down there during commute hours before and after the 9-5 shift to possibly get a better sense of the problem they’re concerned with.

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  • gutterbunnybikes October 15, 2015 at 6:29 am

    I like this little stretch a lot, ride it often – even more often now that is now part of my new Tilikum Loop for my impromptu uninspired rides.

    I don’t really think the problem is as much that there are tables, bikes and walkers on it, I think the problem is more placement of the tables. Keep the tables and move them and the benches to the storefront sections and open the path up where the tables currently reside. This would cut down pedestrian and bicycle interference dramatically.

    I typically don’t have issues with the visitors in this area when I ride slowly through, it’s the staff of establishments who typically are the ones that I have close calls with (if you really call them that) as they dart in and out of their restaurants.

    Honestly I think they are shooting themselves in the foot. A big part of the charm of this small stretch isn’t just the view and the restaurants it is it’s carlessness and somewhat European or beach town vibe to it.

    The With the new bridge they should be embracing the bicycle traffic and building a few more racks nearby and work on finishing the path from Poets beach around the back side of the Marriott Riverplace for a connection to Moody and or the Tilikum.

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    • caesar October 15, 2015 at 10:18 am

      Serious question: what would be the legal repercussions if I and a few biking buddies stopped and physically moved unoccupied tables back inside the restaurant. We could politely announce “this table was blocking the pathway outside. Don’t want anyone to get hurt. Thanks, have a nice day! Is that illegal? Rude? Helpful?

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  • Lester Burnham October 15, 2015 at 7:45 am

    David Hampstem’s comment…wow. Yeah I guess that’s pretty much society as a whole now. Just “tolerate” rude and obnoxious behavior from self-centered cyclists.

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    • are October 15, 2015 at 9:07 am

      unless you are going to get into enforcement actions, which tend to overreach, what is your alternative proposal? if it is true we have changed the cultural norms over time — however inadvertently — through this or that measure (the private automobile, suburban sprawl, television, etc.), then in theory it ought to be possible to change norms more purposefully, and gradually make “rude and obnoxious behavior” as unacceptable as overt racism or homophobia, or smoking in confined spaces, etc.

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  • bikeslobpdx October 15, 2015 at 8:34 am

    Sounds like a pretty reasonable request to me.

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  • AIC October 15, 2015 at 9:19 am

    I dont like riding slow. So I just take Harbor when I commute through that area. It is faster and very light on traffic. Back in the 90’s when I used to ride recreationally down there all the time, I would walk my bike through that area. Allows a person to window shop and/or stop for a refreshment.

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  • Carl October 15, 2015 at 9:26 am

    Has anyone proposed an intermediate solution, like pavement treatments, offset bollards or chicanes that allow bikes through but at reduced speed?

    At the end of the day, it’s just a MUP that gets a lot of pedestrian traffic, which is not a unique issue — plenty of cities in Latin America and Europe have lots of these, and deal with them by making it hard to ride fast, usually with cobbled or brick surfaces.

    Not saying that’s the solution here, but seems there are more options than a)ban them and b)free-for-all.

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    • Carl October 15, 2015 at 9:37 am

      Here’s a fairly similar situation in Lille, in northern France:

      Looks about 15 feet wide, cafe seating on BOTH sides, and plenty of pedestrian traffic. Also the occasional bike (in the background in that pic there’s one), and zero conflict. Chalk it up to a textured surface, and no tables or chairs encroaching on the travel zone.

      It is possible.

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      • Angel October 15, 2015 at 1:14 pm

        Europe isn’t exactly famous (from what I’ve seen) for being wheelchair-friendly.

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  • pat lowell October 15, 2015 at 9:37 am

    I don’t understand why we’re bickering over something so undesirable. Runners, walkers, dogs, strollers, waiters – this area SUCKS to ride. Harbor Way might be a “detour” but it’s a lot faster and safer than trying to navigate that Riverplace mess. Why can’t we just use the damn detour and save our outrage for something truly important, like Barbur?

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  • Spiffy October 15, 2015 at 9:49 am

    David Hampsten states that a MUP must maintain a 15′ width for its multi-use purpose…

    looking up sidewalk cafe regulations it seems that those can only be set up along a sidewalk and not a MUP…

    so are these actual City of Portland sidewalk cafes or are they simply the businesses deciding to create a MUP cafe due to lack of Portland Parks and Recreation rules prohibiting them?

    if they’re a permitted sidewalk cafe then they only need to maintain 8′ of clearance for through travel…

    in either case I don’t see how clothes racks are permitted by the city… they’re not a cafe nor are they a sidewalk vendor… must be a different permit…

    I can’t find the rules for MUPs on PP&R’s web site…

    should I report these tables and clothes racks to PP&R or to City of Portland?

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  • Granpa October 15, 2015 at 9:50 am

    I walk this stretch of MUP at least once a week and ride on it occasionally, throughout the year. During mid summer and during the many festivals the MUP is packed. Jonathans photos do not reflect the conditions when the path is crowded. Most cyclists ride slowly with caution and respect, but it is common that a fast rider will go through. I have never been hit, but I have been buzzed by inches. These guys (always guys) aren’t “Lances” but random riders who aren’t safe or respectful. It just takes a few jerks to spoil things for everyone and this section of the MUP has its share of jerks.

    I doubt barriers will be installed, but the concerns are quite valid.

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  • Jeff October 15, 2015 at 9:55 am

    I used to bike commute through this area every day. I maybe used the MUP once and decided it wasn’t worth the potential conflicts with dodging pedestrians. The Harbor/Montgomery alternative was very easy, almost as quick, and relatively little hassle. Now with the Tilikum, there’s a great little cut-off from Moody to the Waterfront path that works perfectly and keeps you off Harbor/Montgomery entirely.

    I think the real problem here is that many commuters can be aggressive jerks, whether they’re on bikes or in cars. Commuters are laser-focused on getting to their destination as quickly as possible with little concern for more vulnerable road users. Most of us see that on a regular basis, and that’s likely the primary source of conflict in Riverplace. I think something needs to be done to keep aggressive commuters from riding through a pedestrian-centric area, or at least expand the path for a dedicated cycling route. I think the better choice is for bike commuters to choose a different route. That certainly worked well for me back in the day and added only a slight amount of time and hassle to my commute.

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  • oliver October 15, 2015 at 10:09 am

    Wow, commentpalooza.

    I only read about 2/3 or the comments from the story, apologies if someone has already said this.

    Concerns from pedestrians/pedestrian advocates should absolutely be taken seriously. Complaints along the lines of “won’t someone please think of the children” as merely rabble rousing from people who would like bikes banned on “their” street as a matter of course should not.

    I think we should be wary of the Riverplace HOA attempting to control infrastructure that may not be theirs to annex.

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  • Fozman October 15, 2015 at 10:15 am

    I ride this route all the time. It can get very crowded, and many racer wanna-be’s treat it like it’s part of their time-trial route and rush through there. It’s especially bad on the weekend. I would prefer a dedicated bike lane, but don’t blame the residents or wanting riders to walk on this section. If you want to ride you can go around the back.

    And people saying they should get rid of outside seating and merchandise racks? Ridiculous! That’s part of the charm of this area and why people like being there.

    Progress in biking infrastructure comes with some compromise. People hear scream bloody murder whenever their right to bike anywhere they want is challenged. Just like the goatee ‘d guy on Portlandia.

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    • soren October 15, 2015 at 11:07 am

      “And people saying they should get rid of outside seating and merchandise racks? Ridiculous! That’s part of the charm of this area and why people like being there.”

      I use this facility primarily as a pedestrian and I don’t appreciate businesses blocking a scenic public mup with all their crap. The restaurant on the south side is particularly bad — two rows of tables, bussing stations, and planters.

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      • Granpa October 15, 2015 at 1:11 pm

        Yea, planters, they are the worst. plants and green and they are so slow. And what is with those flowers? Have they no shame? Among the crap that really ticks me off planters are at the top of my list. When I am in pedestrian mode the last thing I need to deal with is a slow, green flowering planter!!!

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        • soren October 15, 2015 at 1:59 pm

          You’ve convinced me, Granpa. I take back my hateful and demeaning comments towards flowery green planters.

          In fact, I now propose that we install a row of flowery green planters that separate people cycling from people walking!

          Are you with me?

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          • Granpa October 15, 2015 at 2:07 pm

            I’ll agree that P&S take up a lot of room, perhaps too much. There are times when sitting on a chair with a pint on a table, overlooking the water and BS’ing with friends I think that the space is well used.

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      • wsbob October 16, 2015 at 9:10 am

        “…I use this facility primarily as a pedestrian and I don’t appreciate businesses blocking a scenic public mup with all their crap. …” soren

        All their “…crap…”, actually, nice clean tables, plants in pots and so forth, is located on at worst, about two blocks along the side of this path. McCormick and Schmicks takes up maybe 50′. Some of the smaller businesses have a few tables each.

        No big deal really, considering anyone wanting a clear view across the river need only walk to either end of the two blocks for a completely unimpeded view across the river. Although, there certainly is a view out across the river within these two blocks as well.

        I’ve never dined at M and S, but do tend to enjoy seeing other people enjoying themselves at the tables, and the sharp, efficient staff serving them. It’s worth the slight slow-down in travel speed.

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    • Kate October 15, 2015 at 12:12 pm

      Yup! I love this little area but when I know I’m in a hurry I always take the Harbor Drive/ hotel side street because I know racing through that area is incredibly dangerous to the peds and downright rude.

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  • SD October 15, 2015 at 10:23 am

    The problem with this discussion (that many have pointed out) is that the group wanting to prohibit riding in this area appears to have decided what solution they desire and embellished their narrative to justify it.

    The trope “we love bikes, but only when they are two or three blocks away” is getting old.

    There are clearly solutions to this issue that would preserve bicycle transit and the seasonal outdoor seating and pedestrian traffic. It is unfortunate that this group has chosen a factious self-serving remedy.

    This conflict underlies the widely held position that bicycle traffic is problematic and needs to be tightly controlled and corraled into limited areas. Instead of investing in infrastructure that cyclists would chose over areas where there is conflict, more obstacles for cyclists are put in place.

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  • Paul Wilkins October 15, 2015 at 10:32 am

    Jonathan – try observing on a Saturday morning when the spandex mafia hits the road.

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    • Dan A October 16, 2015 at 7:55 am

      We try to ride early so we don’t have clashes with the jorts cartel.

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  • Alva October 15, 2015 at 10:48 am

    These resturaunts aren’t going anywhere and the same goes for the foot traffic. Take the short detour and aviod the hassle of having to weave through crowds of people. Everyone will be happier for it.

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  • nuovorecord October 15, 2015 at 11:49 am

    We’ve learned that our river is too valuable an asset for it to be used simply as a mobility corridor. Tearing out Harbor Drive to build the park was one of the best things this city has ever done. I can’t wait for the day when we do the same thing with I-5 on the east bank.

    But if the point of reclaiming our riverfront is to simply replace fast-moving cars with fast-moving bicycles, we’ve lost the opportunity to make places for people. This stretch of river is a wonderful place, where visitors and residents alike come to relax, have a nice meal, and enjoy the fun of being alongside a river. They shouldn’t have to worry about being buzzed by someone on a bicycle, particularly when there’s another route the cyclist could be taking. And yet, I see that happening everytime I’m down there. I think the concerns raised are legitimate, and cyclists should be more sophisticated in how they respond to those concerns. Because this is the exact argument everyone raised with regards to auto traffic on Clinton.

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    • SD October 15, 2015 at 2:37 pm

      “But if the point of reclaiming our riverfront is to simply replace fast-moving cars with fast-moving bicycles, we’ve lost the opportunity to make places for people.”

      That would be a dumb thing to do, I am glad that I have not heard anyone seriously proposing this. However, I have heard proposals for separated cycling space to minimize conflict, which is worth consideration.

      Bikes are highly versatile and are great for both recreation and transportation. The same qualities that allow for a space that is nice to eat, hang out, relax are the qualities that often allow for a leisurely, enjoyable ride that can easily be done without disturbing anyone else. This is one of the main reasons that blocking off a riverfront MUP to cyclists 24/7 to accommodate conditions that exist for several hours of the day for a portion of the year seems like a bad idea. Not to mention that the MUP is part of a larger project that is ideal for recreational cycling.

      The issue of access to recreational cycling in a low stress scenic area like the waterfront is also why this heavy handed move is not the same as putting diverters on Clinton.

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      • nuovorecord October 15, 2015 at 3:40 pm

        Agreed. And note that I’m not advocating for eliminating bicycles from the path. But I think that there needs to be recognition from those riding bikes that this small section of pathway is unique, and needs to be treated as cars should be treated on Clinton. They are allowed, but they need to integrate and yield to other users, not the other way around.

        I think stating that as a goal would go a long way towards building common ground with those who are wanting to ban bikes altogether. Because that’s not a viable outcome, either.

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        • Eric Leifsdad October 15, 2015 at 4:05 pm

          The analogies between streets, bikes, and cars here break down in that the bikes are generally not travelling faster than 20mph or making enough noise to disrupt a conversation — and that it would be so cheap and easy to pave a 8-10ft wide bikes-only bypass next to the patio area separated with a few feet of plantings and a railing. Just stop trying to carry food service across a bike path or expect people following a mapped route for the first and last time to not get grumpy when they arrive at a big pile of tables and chairs in the way (which is never the first or worst obstacle in a SW Portland Platinum Bike Route.) Maybe the “rude or obnoxious” people on bikes are actually just “fed up with being treated like this for trying to get somewhere without a car in Portland”.

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          • lop October 15, 2015 at 4:08 pm

            Treated like what?

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          • lop October 15, 2015 at 7:31 pm

            >The analogies between streets, bikes, and cars here break down in that the bikes are generally not travelling faster than 20mph or making enough noise to disrupt a conversation

            So it can remain pleasant if they’re six feet away from tables, chairs, and walkers behind a row of foliage. Not so much with cars. But bikes aren’t so wonderful that people don’t find it objectionable to have them speeding by right next to you.

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        • SD October 15, 2015 at 5:33 pm

          I agree that the goal of improving cyclist/ pedestrian interactions is important. In fact, I would be surprised if anyone who bikes through this area truly believes that cyclists have the right of way over pedestrians anywhere on the waterfront. I have not heard anyone put forward this idea. I am not saying that there are not occasionally selfish or naive cyclists who have bad interactions with pedestrians, but the image of the reckless, speeding cyclist is constantly exaggerated and paraded around as an excuse to limit or remove cycling access.

          I doubt the riverfront group has any interest in common ground based on their previous and ongoing attempts to eliminate cycling from this public space so that they and their patrons may fully occupy it.

          Most cyclists wish that every cyclist would skillfully ride at the right speed everywhere in Portland, all of the time and never have conflict with pedestrians. However, I imagine that the riverfront people would chose no cyclists over polite cyclists. Because of this, they really have no interest in improving pedestrian/ cyclist interactions.

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          • 9watts October 15, 2015 at 5:34 pm

            intriguing test of their veracity.

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  • Tom October 15, 2015 at 12:24 pm

    (1) This stretch is similar to ones that can be seen in the Netherlands. Walking similar areas when off the bike, I experienced no real stress from the cyclists. Everyone has a bell and they use them, which makes a big difference to pedestrian stress I think. Rather than banning bikes, a better solution may for the city to create bell zones, where bells are required when there are situation where bikes and pedestrians are mixed. I don’t usually like requiring equipment, because it can lower ridership, but in this case I doubt someone would switch back to their car because now they need to get a bell for their route. Its much less of a deterrent than a bike ban anyway.

    (2) If the problem really is just weekend mornings, then why did they not propose the ban just for weekend mornings, instead of 24/7. It sounds more like they want to get rid of bikes altogether, as they did in the past.

    (3) The distance looks like ~1000 ft, so wouldn’t that be closer to 4 blocks, using Portland’s standard 260 ft block length? I don’t see how they could call that 2 blocks.

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  • Angel October 15, 2015 at 1:11 pm

    The designers should probably have accounted for this scenario when they built the path.

    The solution is to post a 6mph speed limit. Then people on bikes can ride through the area (it is, after all, a MUP), but they would only be going about twice as fast as people who are on foot.

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  • Angel October 15, 2015 at 1:12 pm

    I like the bell zone idea, too.

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  • peter haas October 15, 2015 at 1:41 pm

    I like this multi-use path. I like biking along and seeing little kids, families, strollers, runners, tourists, neighbors, fellow bike riders…all out and about and enjoying the waterfront. With all the different people using the path, I’m know there’s been times when some have been inconsiderate. But my experience is that’s the rare exception not the norm. The idea of a barrier across this section seems so uninviting, unwelcoming and unnecessary.

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  • lop October 15, 2015 at 7:37 pm

    >The restaurants on the riverwalk path are blocking the way with multiple rows of tables, planters, and bussing stations. This causes a significant safety issue as customers and waiters barge out into the path of pedestrian using this public park space

    which one you was so clever?

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  • B. Carfree October 16, 2015 at 4:44 pm

    Maybe this whole thing can be turned to cycling’s advantage. The cycling community should agree that this area could be closed to cycling if and only if any road that has an injury-collision is immediately closed to the mode of transportation that caused the collision. I would personally love to know that every road I’m riding on has no history of any cars running into cyclists.

    Of course I would have mixed emotions when I encountered the (many) streets that would be closed to motor vehicles. On the one hand, hurrah, a nice car-free road. On the other, I would know that I’m enjoying the fruits of someone’s suffering at the hands of a scofflaw motorist.

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  • Clark in Vancouver October 18, 2015 at 9:49 pm

    Vancouver seawall, anyone? I’m sure plenty on this site have been there. It is such a beautiful example of effective mode separation. Let’s stop saying “share the space” to all the people walking (cause we know from our greenway experience that it is a broken metaphor), and actually build the infrastructure all modes deserve.

    I had a look with Google maps and it looks like there’s a ton of room closer to the water to put in a nice wide bike-only path there.
    Easy solution. How can it be made to happen?

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