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SE Clinton gets Portland’s first “Bikes May Use Full Lane” sign

Posted by on November 5th, 2015 at 4:11 pm

bmuflsign

New sign at SE 27th and Clinton.
(Photo by Betsy Reese)

Slowly but surely the Portland Bureau of Transportation is re-claiming Southeast Clinton street as a place where bicycle riding is prioritized.

As promised the agency has just added new signage marking the street as a “neighborhood greenway.” PBOT has also taking an unprecedented step to make sure all road users are aware that people on bicycles do not always have to pull over to the right by adding “Bicycles May Use Full Lane” signs — a first for Portland.

The sign is meant to clarify existing Oregon law (ORS 814.430) that gives people riding bicycles the right to “take the lane” under certain circumstances. Riding in the middle of the lane allows people to avoid the door-zone and prevents them from weaving between the curb and parked cars.

As we’ve been reporting, the amount of people driving on SE Clinton has inched steadily upward in recent years as nearby Division Street has undergone major construction and growth. That added motor vehicle traffic has made Clinton a much more stressful and dangerous place to ride a bike and people have not been shy about letting City Hall know about it.

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PBOT has promised traffic diverters on the street, but those plans have been delayed as the city deals with objections from some residents.

Even so, some progress is nice to see. Kari Schlosshauer, who has organized a grassroots effort to make Clinton safer to ride on, had this to say in Twitter this evening:

— Jonathan Maus, (503) 706-8804 – jonathan@bikeportland.org

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Alex ReedpaikialaHello, Kittysorenwsbob Recent comment authors
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Champs
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Champs

…but where’s the 20MPH neighborhood greenway speed limit?

Alan Love
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Alan Love

Great start! I haven’t ridden Clinton in the last couple of days. Are these signs installed under every speed limit sign or just a few?

Also, taking the lane on a residential street, especially a Greenway, is (IMHO) far safer than hugging the gutter and hoping that drivers pass safely when there is oncoming traffic. Tis much safer to take the lane and have the driver wait until it’s clear to pass. You can’t get squeezed/hit if they don’t pass. BUT this only works if most people riding do this. Don’t encourage drivers to make dangerous passes when there is 2 way traffic of any kind present. Please, for everyone’s safety, TAKE THE LANE.

Hello, Kitty
Guest
Hello, Kitty

Could we get similar signs on other high-bike volume (but non-greenway) streets?

Spiffy
Subscriber

I thought we had moved past these conflict-causing ambiguous signs…

PBOT has also taking an unprecedented step to make sure all road users are aware that people on bicycles do not always have to pull over to the right by adding “Bicycles May Use Full Lane” signs/

nope, they haven’t… they’ve only made sure of that on this one road near those signs… unless the words “STATE-WIDE LAW” are at the top of the sign then drivers will continue to assume that anywhere that the sign isn’t posted cyclists are required to hug the debris-ridden gutter…

as with the anti-diverter crowd they’re trying to solve a local problem and creating spillover problems everywhere else…

the city should start consulting with advocates before they do anything bicycle related…

christopher
Guest

always take the full lane on Clinton

Todd Hudson
Guest
Todd Hudson

All problems in SE Clinton solved!

realworld
Guest
realworld

I think it’s hilarious and Sad that anyone thinks PDC’s (people driving cars) actually read either of those 3 signs.

All 3 of those signs not only get ignored but PDC’s drive spiteful because of them.

1) speed limit 25; rarely do PDC’s do the speed limit and it is publicly and in (via the media) encouraged by our LEO’s to drive within 10 mph over!

2) Neighborhood greenway; few if any “neighborhood” PDC’s act very neighborly or show respect for this neighborhood.

3) bike may use full lane; Please sir.. may I use the full lane?? please, please with a cherry on top?!
this sign just proves to PDC’s that they Are the Superior Vehicle on the road and therefor can flex their steel muscles anytime they want.
It’s no secrete to the driving public that they can literally get away with murder while behind the wheel of a car as long as their sober!

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

The signs should function as a helpful reminder to the many people most likely not having read Oregon’s laws 814.420 and 814.430. Essentially though, the signs are redundant in that people biking have a right to full use of the lanes whether or not there are signs on the street advising their right to use the full lane.

Note that 814.430 does specifically say that this law doesn’t excuse road users from having to yield to overtaking vehicles (it says “drivers”…but I would not want to assume that this does not include people riding bikes. In other words, someone poking along at 5 mph or so on their bike, if they’ve got reasonable opportunity to move to the far right side of the road to let faster traffic pass, is obliged to do so.).

Adam
Subscriber

Nice to see these signs go up. Now we just need diverters and a crossing treatment at 50th. Let’s get this “trial” project on the ground already.

Betsy Reese
Guest
Betsy Reese

§ 814.430 Improper use of lanes
http://www.oregonlaws.org/ors/814.430

§ 811.425¹ Failure of slower driver to yield to overtaking vehicle http://www.oregonlaws.org/ors/811.425

§ 811.065¹ Unsafe passing of person operating bicycle http://www.oregonlaws.org/ors/811.065

These are the links to Oregon law regarding bike positioning in the traffic lane, requirement to yield, and safe passing.

These laws apply to all roadways that allow both bikes and cars, including Division, Chavéz and Powell, for example. Of course car drivers would prefer that bikes avoid those streets except for a block or two when traveling to or from a specific location on those streets, just as bicyclists would prefer car drivers do the same on non-arterials, especially designated bike routes and Neighborhood Greenways like Clinton. Read these statutes yourselves and let me know if you come away with a different interpretation than mine. As I understand the law, the key information related specifically to the Clinton Greenway is as follows.

The law states “Bicycles must ride as close as practicable to the right curb or edge of the roadway, EXCEPT”:

1. “When reasonably necessary to avoid hazardous conditions including, but not limited to, fixed or moving objects, parked or moving vehicles, bicycles, pedestrians, animals, surface hazards or other conditions that make continued operation along the right curb or edge unsafe” (On Clinton curbside car parking runs the entire length and bicycles must avoid the “door zone” of car doors opening suddenly in their path. At intersections, cross-traffic, whether car, bike, or ped, can’t see bikes if they are hugging the door zone.)
OR
2. ” to avoid unsafe operation in a lane on the roadway that is too narrow for a bicycle and vehicle to travel safely side by side.” (Clinton is one lane in each direction. These lanes are too narrow for a motor vehicle and a bicycle to travel safely side-by-side. Cars may only pass by using the oncoming lane, and only if there are no oncoming vehicles, including bicycles. When bicyclists ride too close to the parked cars, it encourages cars to pass them illegally and unsafely.)

HOWEVER:

“A slower driver/bike rider (traveling under the speed limit/basic rule speed) must yield to overtaking vehicle (traveling obeying the speed limit/basic rule) by moving their vehicle off the main traveled portion of the highway into an area sufficient for safe turnout.”

So, on Clinton Street –

As a driver, I must wait patiently behind a slower bicyclist until either
1. I have the opportunity to pass safely in the oncoming lane,
2. either I or the bicyclist turns off Clinton, or
3. until the bicyclist has the opportunity to safely move off the traveled portion of the roadway into a safe turnout (for example, comes to an extended portion of roadway with no parked cars and can move into the parking area of the roadway to allow faster vehicles to pass).

I need to accept without rancor that if I find myself traveling for more than a block or two behind a slower cyclist on the Clinton Street Greenway, that it is I who should turn off and use a different street.

As a bicyclist, I must maintain my position in the center of the lane because, if I don’t,
1. cars will think they have room to pass me, trying to squeeze through by creating a ‘third, non-existent, middle lane’ even when there is an oncoming car or bicycle,
2. cross-traffic (cars, bikes, and peds) can’t see me traveling next to parked cars when approaching an intersection and may pull out in front of me even though I have the right of way, and
3. I could get car-doored riding too close to parked cars.

However,
When faster cars are following me and oncoming traffic prevents them from passing, if and when I come upon an area of roadway sufficient for a safe turnout, I must move over and let them pass.

Given Oregon law, it makes sense for motor vehicles to avoid using Greenways and neighborhood streets except for a very short distance to get to or from their destinations, and for bicyclists to do the same with arterial streets, unless they can travel at a speed that does not disrupt the flow of motorized traffic, or a bike lane is provided. When we do need to use a street that is prioritized for another mode, we need to behave as courteous and respectful guests, disrupting the flow of the prioritized mode on that street as little as possible.

Buzz
Guest
Buzz

So they are going to waste these signs on the greenways instead of using them on arterial streets without any bicycle infrastructure, just like they did with sharrows?

Typical of PBOT.

🙁

Gerald Fittipaldi
Guest
Gerald Fittipaldi

Food for thought: NE 28th St is the same width as Clinton. Don’t believe me? … https://twitter.com/BikePortland/status/662422272766963713

Anderson
Guest
Anderson

How about a couple of these signs on the steep section of SW Harrison St. going up to PSU from the Tilikum Crossing? The Harrison bike lane ends at Naito, and drivers trying to avoid a swing into the adjacent streetcar lane will practically run over you if you don’t take the full lane.

Pete
Guest
Pete

I was elated to see this question on the latest driver exam:

A bicycle rider may be positioned in the center of an auto lane:
A) to avoid debris or pass another bicyclist
B) when a lane is too narrow for an automobile to safely overtake
C) when maintaining the normal speed of traffic
D) all of the above
E) never
F) only when a sign is present indicating it is legal to do so

After seeing this, I was even more stoked to find out that the DMV has subcontracted with Pearson-Vue to require reexamination every four years!

But then I woke up, and went back to riding in door-zone sharrows under the occasional faded yellow Share the Road sign, and that’s when I realize that I don’t live in Oregon anymore.

Zach H
Guest

I know those signs aren’t gonna fix everything, but I couldn’t help but smile this morning as I rode past them. At the very least, I’m thankful to have something to point to when the inevitable “don’t ride in the middle of the street” driver shouts out their window at me.

Jeff J.
Guest
Jeff J.

It is absolutely not my experience that taking the lane will prevent drivers from making dangerous passes. They *will* squeeze you and they *will not* wait for the oncoming lane to be clear.

I get a dangerous high speed pass nearly every day. I’ve been passed on the left at 40+ while signaling a left (twice). Last week, I had to come to a complete stop in the middle of the street to prevent a head-on collision between the driver passing me and an oncoming car (or a sideswiping of me…probably more likely). Just yesterday, someone had to blast around me at 30+ mph on a neighborhood street and park the car within a block or so.

I’ve had someone blow through a stop sign while I was stopping at it (okay, people on bikes tend to do this too). I’ve had people blast around me within 30 feet of a stop sign with my daughter on the back of my bike. I’ve had someone run a fully red light at 50+ mph that I had already stopped for (again, to park less than a block later).

I should also mention that all of these happened on either bike boulevards or neighborhood streets.

I’ve already given up on confronting drivers. Now, I’m working on riding a little bit slower so the passes won’t be so high speed. I’m also experimenting with skipping my turn at four way stops and waving through a driver when I have a feeling that s/he will pull this nonsense (I estimate the she/he ratio at 50:50 for whether they will pull this nonsense.)

I’ve been bike commuting daily for more than four years now and this past year has been far and away the worst for this behavior. Maybe it’s my new neighborhood.

And despite all this, I still agree that taking the lane is a lot safer than hugging the curb. I’ve always done it and will continue to.

Mark
Guest
Mark

Maybe time for someone (BikeloudPDX) to organize some full lane width rides during rush hour? I am in!

Trikeguy
Guest
Trikeguy

christopher
always take the full lane on ClintonRecommended 26

Any lane under 13′ in width I take the lane, if the lane width is diminished by debris to under 13′, I take the lane. Basically I ride my trike the way I used to drive a tractor, be aware of what’s behind you and know where the next turnout is to let them by (specifically thinking of Fairview here on the climb – descending I’m more worried about cars slowing *me* down 🙂 )

salexander
Subscriber
salexander

I was just getting on Bike Portland to mention this very thing! I will be taking the full lane on Tillamook every morning and evening with my daughter on a tandem…I can’t be very agile with a tandem, but I can go the speed limit (at 20 mph), so I prefer not to have to dodge and dart.

I would prefer if it said “Bicyclists Take The Lane” emphatically, rather than “may”. I think empowering bicyclists to do what’s really safest for them is the best course of action. And if the cars feel the need to go over 20 on a bike boulevard, that would be discouraged by the multitude of cyclists.

Ahhh, if only we lived in a perfect world…Keep up the pressure folks!

Mike Sanders
Guest
Mike Sanders

Signposting the freeways with greenway and “Bikes May Use Full Lane” is a start. I agree, though, there should be a “State Law” headline on those “Full Lane” signs. This should include crosswalks on intersecting streets along greenways.

Mike Sanders
Guest
Mike Sanders

Greenway, not freeway. Typo!

Lenny Anderson
Guest
Lenny Anderson

Has the center line removed on Clinton? That’s an important start as the lack of a line tends to direct all traffic to the middle of the road. And why 25mph on a so-called Neighborhood Greenway? What about 20 mph bumps?
Twenty years ago when the Tillamook Bikeway citizens group was working out details for that route, we spent a lot of time dreaming up signage that would not suggest, but clearly inform, motorists that they were no longer on some side street but on a new special route that was intended for cyclists, joggers, skaters, etc. Nothing meaningful was ever installed.
All we got were Bike Dots (ha ha ha!), then Sharrows, which should be on streets like NE/SE 28th not Greenways, then some street sign “Art,” and now these cute little Neighborhood Greenway signs. Why not a big sign that says “Clinton Bikeway…motorists must yield” to cyclists, pedestrians, etc.? Its called branding, and PBOT has never dared to do it.