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Why would anyone ride on that scary stretch of Lombard?

Posted by on December 17th, 2015 at 8:50 am

martin-fullmap-lead

Martin Greenough’s commute on the City of Portland bike map.
(Note: The dotted red line (which denotes a high-caution area) near the crash site is for 42nd Avenue, which is on an overpass above Lombard.)

I don’t ride on Lombard. You probably don’t ride on Lombard. Heck, why would anyone ride on Lombard?

It’s a state highway, a freight route, and people drive about 50 mph on average! In many sections — especially around NE 42nd where 38-year-old Martin Greenough was killed on Saturday — Lombard is essentially an urban freeway. Biking is legally allowed, but practically prohibited by design.

“He was just getting to know the city. He might have just wanted to give it a shot and see.”
— Monica Maggio, Martin Greenough’s housemate

But you wouldn’t know that by looking at a city bike map.

In the past few days I’ve noticed a familiar thread of conversation around this tragic crash: Why was Martin even riding on that section of Lombard when everyone knows to avoid it like the plague? Some people, on a website that shall not be named, even go so far as blaming Martin for being in a place not meant for bike riders.

But what if Martin had no idea just how dangerous Lombard was until it was too late?

For the past few days I’ve been trying to track down people who knew Martin. I want to share more about who he is so we can all remember him as something more than just “that bicyclist.” One thing I’ve learned is that he moved to Portland only two weeks ago.

I’ve spoken with one of Martin’s housemates, Monica Maggio, who shared some touching memories of him. I’ll share more of our conversation in a separate post (I’m still waiting/hoping to hear from his family); but one thing she told me was that Martin had just gotten a new job and was riding home from work when he was hit.

“He had just bought his bike… Saturday night might have been the first time he commuted to that location and back,” Monica said.

He very likely had no idea there was a dangerous gap in the bikeway on his way home.

Martin worked around NE 11th and Columbia and he lived near NE Alberta and Cully — a nice bike commute distance of about 3.6 miles with a direct east-west connection via Lombard.

If not for the admonitions from Monica and the other two housemates Martin was living with, he might have tried to get home via Columbia. “But we told him,” Monica said, “Please don’t ride on Columbia. Find another route. Columbia is too fast, too crazy.”

As many of us know, as dangerous as the biking conditions are on Lombard, Columbia is even worse.

So Martin chose Lombard, which was actually the lesser of two evils.

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Monica said Martin was using one of the city bike maps of Portland to orient himself and find his route. It’s very likely that he simply opened up the map, saw that Lombard was listed as a bikeway and figured he’d take it to Cully, then up to Alberta. Straight and direct. Easy-peasy.

Unfortunately the bike map doesn’t point out that Lombard is a state highway where people drive 50+ mph. Or that the bike lane is often full of debris and gravel or that people often park their cars in the bike lane, forcing bike riders to contend with fast-moving auto traffic. (Stay tuned for our next post which takes a closer look at the riding conditions in this area.)

And inexplicably, the City of Portland bike map doesn’t list the notorious bike lane gap at 42nd as a caution area (it’s a wonderful map and the city staff who work on it are top-notch quality folks, so I’m sure they’ll address this in the next printing).

On the city bike map, the hostile and dangerous bikeway on Lombard is depicted in the exact same way as the relatively serene and safe bikeway on N Vancouver, or the civilized and respectable, grade-separated cycle tracks on Cully.

In other words, to someone new to town there’d be no reason to avoid Lombard. He wasn’t familiar with the neighborhood sidestreets and his map said Lombard would take him directly to Cully with a bike lane the whole way. And of course, Martin probably realized how bad it was once he got on it. But we’ve all done that. We ride on a street and think, ‘Dang, that was scary, I won’t ride here again.’ But we do. Because we might be in a hurry, or we might not have any other choice. Or, like in Martin’s case, we might simply not know of a safer place to ride.

“He was just getting to know the city,” said Monica. “He might have just wanted to give it a shot and see.”

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

NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. BikePortland is an inclusive company with no tolerance for discrimination or harassment including expressions of racism, sexism, homophobia, or xenophobia. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Also, if you comment frequently, please consider holding your thoughts so that others can step forward. Thank you — Jonathan

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Alex Reed
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Alex Reed

I’d say that any substandard bike lanes should either be omitted from the map or marked in a different (and light or cautionary) color.

Substandard defined as:
*Anything less than six feet, on any street
*Anything less than 9 feet (six feet + 3 feet door zone shy) in the door zone
*Any bike lane with sunken storm grates & bad pavement (e.g. the newly striped SE 52nd northbound bike lane between Woodstock and Foster)
*Any bike lane with no separation or buffer on a street with an 85th percentile speed of 35 mph or more

Yes, this would mean the City admitting that part of their vaunted X hundred miles is not really good infrastructure. But it’s what necessary in order to serve their citizens well and therefore should be done.

dwk
Guest
dwk

“(it’s a wonderful map and the city staff who work on it are top-notch quality folks, so I’m sure they’ll address this in the next printing).”

What are you talking about?

James
Guest
James

In the 8 or so years since I ditched my car, I’ve lost count of the number of times that city- or state-provided bike route maps have lead me to terrifying road conditions. I absolutely do not trust them anymore. And I don’t blame anyone who has tried to follow such maps and decided that driving was probably in their best interest.

It’s absolutely heartbreaking, the possibility that Martin died because he thought he had moved to “America’s Bike Capitol”, only to be betrayed by sub-standard, car-centric road design.

El Biciclero
Guest
El Biciclero

“‘He had just bought his bike… Saturday night might have been the first time he commuted to that location and back,’ Monica said.

He very likely had no idea there was a dangerous gap in the bikeway on his way home.”

This is what rankles me. Martin didn’t study hard enough before attempting to get from A to B on a bike. As a bicyclist, I can’t trust maps, Google, GPS—anything—to point me to a “safe” route. And really, why aren’t all routes “safe”? Why can I expect to drive my car anywhere, traveling any route I want, but if I want to travel by bike, I must study carefully, make trial runs, review video, check maps and street views, cross-referencing multiple sources to see whether the bike lane drops or there is a left turn signal, or a way around that doesn’t involve left turns or two-way stops, find out what the de facto speed is on a street that is signed for 30 mph, hope the shoulder or bike lane is as wide as it looks online and there aren’t huge drainage pits in it and the stripes haven’t worn off since the last time the Google photo car drove by (I have started looking at the “image capture” dates on Google street view to get some notion of whether the picture is still accurate for places I haven’t been). If I don’t do all of the above I could DIE.

If I hop in my car and follow my nose, the worst I can expect is getting lost.

We should never, ever have to ask “why would anyone ride their bike on that route?”

Duncan Watson
Guest
Duncan Watson

I am in Seattle nowadays but I know that I rode a lot of roads that others would say “Why would you ride that?” when I encountered them in the wild. There is no reliable pathfinding method to avoid these kind of issues and there are often no alternatives. It needs to be a priority to make sure that this kind of gap doesn’t exist. You covered the underpass/highway merge issue previously. This needs to be our standard.

Bb
Guest
Bb

Cyclist Second class citizen.

One who must plan out a feasible route and if not approved by motorists. They will be subject to ridicule, harresment, and blame.

Peejay
Guest
Peejay

While the fault for this specific tragedy rests with the criminally negligent ODOT, Portland must own up to its responsibilities here. The city has been using “America’s Bike City” in its boosterism and promotions without doing the work necessary to make it so. For every Tilicum Crossing, there is a SE 52nd (or for that matter, the eastside approaches to Tilicum itself) in the network. We put up with it because we are motivated and want to ride. So we ride on substandard junk routes, and cheer the city on for trying really hard, but are they?

What if the bike riders of this city went on strike? If every trip made with a bike were suddenly made with an SOV? Or not made at all, and businesses had to close down during the strike? Then what, Portland? Would the mayor and city council take us seriously then?

rick
Guest
rick

Why ride ODOT’s Lombard or TV Highway or SW BH Highway? Because many side streets are dead-ends or because the thru-streets are littered with trailers without license plates.

JF
Guest
JF

Very helpful perspective. Answers the questions we’ve all been asking. And, yes, we have all found ourselves on a road we regretted. But unlike Martin, we were lucky enough to survive it.

Tony H
Guest
Tony H

There have been a few times I have found myself on a road and promised myself that I would never do that again. Perhaps (and we will never know) Martin was thinking that exact same thing before he was killed. This is so tragic. And reading that he was new to Portland, and was just beginning to get out and about by bike makes it even worse, if that’s possible. If the driver gets life in prison, or gets released on a technicality next Tuesday, that doesn’t change the underlying problems here. As Chuck Marohn (the Strong Towns Blog) says repeatedly, if you have to constantly tell people to slow down, you’ve designed your street wrong.

Kyle Banerjee
Guest

El Biciclero
As a bicyclist, I can’t trust maps, Google, GPS—anything—to point me to a “safe” route.

This.

Some routes listed as highly dangerous (and are regarded as such by the cycling community) are quite safe because the environment is such that motorists pay attention and sight lines are good. Other times, routes might be described as safe when the reality is quite the opposite. There are other times where the designated routes are plenty safe, but they’re so crazy slow that I’d rather take a busy road.

Pinch points are highly undesirable and need to be eliminated over time, but there are ways to ride them. I’ve ridden that particular stretch, and in all honesty I don’t think it’s that bad even if it’s far from optimal.

We need to keep pushing for proper facilities and encouraging motorists to do what they should. But cyclists who choose more problematic environments do need to be more prepared than most.

rachel b
Guest
rachel b

What a sad story. Thanks for looking into it, JM.

Asher Atkinson
Guest
Asher Atkinson

Thanks for providing more background to this tragedy. This make me so sad and forces me to take a new look at the cycling advocacy I generally support.

My initial reaction, like many posting on Bike Portland, was to ‘fix’ it ASAP by creative striping or routing the bike lane to the right of the bridge pillars. My reaction now is to fix it by redirecting cyclists off most of sections of Lombard, and other roads where, as you say, biking is legally allowed, but practically prohibited by design. It’s inexcusable to direct a cyclist down dangerous roads before they understand what they are dealing with.

Another reaction is to effectively burn the maps and replace with real time, crowd sourced route information. Strava heat maps are an example. Where you can ride and where you should ride are very different. I happen to know the roads well between Martin’s commute and wish there were better mechanisms to share information based on rider experience. I turn to strava all the time to learn about routes, but it is more in the context of recreationally riding. Identifying and drawing attention to similar tools specifically designed for commuters is likely more effective and expedient than fighting with ODOT over lanes and signage.

Kathleen Parker
Guest
Kathleen Parker

I have ridden near this crash site in fear several times to get to Whitaker Ponds, a Metro Natural Area on NE 47th across Columbia Blvd. while I enjoy the solitude of Whitaker Ponds, access to this public space for walkers, bikers, and transit riders is terribly dangerous. A very sad death. Many people are biking and walking around this area with no support from city infrastructure.

Branden S.
Guest
Branden S.

I personally avoid riding Lombard at all costs, but at the same time I’m comfortable riding MLK from Russell all the way down to Division on a regular basis.

TonyT
Subscriber
TonyT

While I can empathize with Jonathan’s desire to preemptively defend the makers of the map, let’s not underestimate the likely role that the map played in this.

“On the city bike map, the hostile and dangerous bikeway on Lombard is depicted in the exact same way as the relatively serene and safe bikeway on N Vancouver, or the civilized and respectable, grade-separated cycle tracks on Cully.”

THAT right there is huge. Somewhere along the line, politics played a role in this map. It HAD to. There’s no way any informed person intent on informing others could describe these two stretches of road as even remotely similar.

The city should scrap their existing map and start over. It should be made for people like Martin (obviously), not as a boosterism bauble intended to impress people with our “infrastructure” which in most instances is PAINT on the side of the road.

This isn’t the first time that Portland’s maps have failed us in politically convenient ways.

Head to this story and check out the “auto speeds” and “auto volumes” maps. http://bikeportland.org/2015/08/26/council-vote-today-allow-diverters-neighborhood-greenways-156319

As I commented then, “They combine ‘low speed’ and ‘no data’ on the speed map and ‘low volume’ and ‘no data’ on the volume map. This is terrible map making at best, and purposely misleading at worst.”

“Ask yourself why they chose to combine low speeds/volumes with no data, rather than high speeds/volume and no data. The no data areas could JUST as easily be suffering from high speed/volume.

This was a conscious choice with an obvious flaw in regards to predictable interpretation error. At a glance it makes the thin green lines seem like success, when they may very well be a gap in data obscuring speed/volume failure.”

The city wants to look good and they’re hiding and obscuring data to make it happen.

End rant.

m
Guest
m

Excellent analysis. Thanks for sharing. Such at tragedy.

Hazel
Guest
Hazel

I was thinking about this same thing on my morning rode. When I complained to ODOT about this issue, part of their response was that I should just ride elsewhere. While I am connected socially through bikes by being involved in the community, living here for twenty years and owning a smart phone that can help me way find. There are many people who bike in Portland, especially those that are low income or minority that don’t have that priveldge. They become more vulnerable when an entity say “just ride somewhere else” since those people may never be aware of options or that a road with a bike lane isn’t actually safe.

John Stephens
Guest
John Stephens

I often see cyclists on Ainsworth and Killingsworth, sometimes even Prescott, and I want to let them know there are much safer streets to ride on, such as Going, but that’s not an easy conversation when I’m in a vehicle and they are navigating a tight and busy street. It’s also their right to be on those streets, so I’m not trying to tell them to do something they don’t want to do. However, the city could place more signage on busy streets that indicate where a better cycling option is located.

Mike
Guest
Mike

I rode Lombard between 27th & MLK for about 5-6 years on a daily commute from Alberta & 28th up to Vancouver, WA (this was 9 years ago).
It was crappy, traffic was mostly fast, and the road debris rivaled Dirty 30. However, the shoulder was generally wide enough that I didn’t feel any more at risk than other high volume roads with a bike lane. I’ll call myself an Adventurous Commuter so my tolerance of potentially risky conditions is probably higher than most.

It’s been mentioned above but I’ll echo the thought that the PBOT bike map utterly fails users in that area because of the pinch-point under the bypass. If that doesn’t qualify as a Difficult Connection (their definition), I don’t know what is. Taking cyclists from a fairly wide shoulder to *sharing the lane* with drivers going 55+ with no warning is grossly negligent. Why it wasn’t marked as a Difficult Connection is beyond me.

Naturally, their disclaimer “While we have made every effort to provide a high quality, accurate and useable map, the information is advisory only. Map users assume all risks as to the quality and accuracy of the map information, and agree that their use is at their own risk” absolves them of responsibility.

I’d think there should be something a little more obvious other than a dashed red line. Solid black line? A “Very Dangerous – Do Not Ride Here” call-out? But I can easily see why PBOT would avoid putting something on a bike map that hints that a portion of the city is essentially unrideable or life-threatening. Sadly, it would require some honesty by them to admit that, despite their efforts, there are a number of locations around the city that are substandard for cyclists and carry a higher risk than normal of injury or death if used.

I get that they can’t fix everything overnight. I also get that there are certain things that can never be fixed. But being upfront with us on dangerous areas is the least they can do.

fourknees
Guest
fourknees

Tony H
There have been a few times I have found myself on a road and promised myself that I would never do that again.

This. I’ve ridden on SW Barbur Blvd once and only once shortly after I moved to Portland. I promised my family I would never ride it again. Barbur is also a “blue” for bike lanes road, but it does have the red dots at the bridges and some other gaps. The “bicycles in roadway” sign with blinky lights has not changed my mindset on riding this road.

Joe
Guest
Joe

RIP 🙁 such a sad story, think everyone who rides wants to find that “safe route”.

AndyC of Linnton
Guest
AndyC of Linnton

I’ve always taken these maps with a huge grain of salt. I think I’ve said this before, but calling a thing doesn’t make it that thing. Imagine the parks department put out a parks map and included the median to I-5 as urban green space. Technically, sure. Realistically, no. I’m not trying to get down on those that put out the map too much, but who are you putting this map out for? If I hadn’t been riding in this city for about a decade before I saw one of these, I would have no way to know that much of the information is not accurate.

Scott H
Guest
Scott H

“He was just getting to know the city”

This makes me so angry. Portland deserves better than this.

Weiwen Ng
Guest
Weiwen Ng

FYI, while there was nothing quite this bad in Baltimore City and Baltimore County, Maryland (at least nothing I actually rode), the city had several designated bike lanes or bike-friendly roads that were less than bike-friendly.

Bald One
Guest
Bald One

Jonathan – nice piece of journalism. I look forward to hearing more on this story.

Chris Balduc
Guest
Chris Balduc

I would like to see an app developed that would allow us to outline bike routes through Portland. The app would contain a map of Portland and a draw function to highlight street bike routes throughout the city. Registered users could add their own layer of routes they find trustworthy or not, and the routes could be rated on a scale and compared to other rider’s routes. If an app like that saw wide use, it would be much more reliable and expansive than a printed city map with standard bike routes that must be revised regularly, or even Google maps.

Also, if PDOT doesn’t step in and create warning signs for riders on bike-hell streets. We could do it ourselves.

Carrie
Subscriber

Wow Jonathan. Thank you for the analysis. I don’t have anything substantive to add, except this is scary to me, as my teen is out riding around Portland armed with one of these maps to help her navigate parts of town she’s not familiar with. And I did trust them — not to be perfect, but to also not put her in direct danger like riding on Lombard would be.

Bald One
Guest
Bald One

“Bike lane full of debris and gravel”

this is a constant problem that I wish the city would fix by scheduling more frequent sweeps of bike lanes that are in gutters on busier streets. seems like they should have a priority schedule of street sweeping for major arterials with bike lanes, but I think their current schedule just fits these into an annual calendar. They should get on these more often, and they should know where the bad spots are and take care of them with more regular sweeping and special sweeping after big storms dump extra debris in them (bottom of the hill on N Greeley).

I have a couple of spots that I call the city on for sweeping whenever the bike lane is overflowing with garbage and rocks – but, it doesn’t usually seem to get them to move any faster on it than their regular schedule. The 823-safe number usually gives you a fun excercise in goverment outreach – “this might be an ODOT maintained section”; “this is handled by the night shift, can you call them?”; “it’s hard to believe there is that much debris in the road – are you talking about the bike lanes?” These are some typical responses I get at 823-SAFE on my regular call about the same section of N. Lombard street. With patience, I can usually get through to the point where they recognize it is a PBOT section of Lombard, and they will contact the night shift for me in order to schedule the sweeping. Sweeping usually takes 2-3 weeks to happen after the call. One section of N Lombard is part of the so-called “40 mile loop”.

40-mile loop has a nice gap in the bike lane at N Lombard/N Columbia intersection – the bike lane just ends for about a mile before there is a chance to get into the greenways in ST John’s. The new $1M bridge in the N-Portland Greenway over UPRR tracks to Chimney park unceremoniously dumps any cyclist right onto N Columbia, where it is a desparate 1/2 mile (of 50+mph auto/truck traffic) to get to the bike lanes (if you can see them under the dirt/debris there).

Anne Hawley
Subscriber
Anne Hawley

I can’t guess the number of hours I’ve spent (had the leisure and privilege to spend) poring over Google Maps and Streetview to find a safe-feeling route to some new destination. I’m a native, I’ve been biking here for several years now, I don’t usually have to go to super-unfamiliar places, and these days I have all the time in the world.

Even while I was still working, I had the kind of job in front of a computer every day where I could take the time to research my after-work route if I wasn’t going straight home.

I learned very early in my scaredy-cat bike commuting life that the maps (and nav systems based on them) would route me to places that were way too dangerous for me.

It shouldn’t require my level of privilege, leisure, luck, and fear to get home alive on a bike in this town. It really shouldn’t.

Brendan Treacy
Guest
Brendan Treacy

Such a sad story. I feel bad so bad about this. It’s so easy to imagine that being me. That’s not the Portland we want to be, not at all.

BLINKY
Subscriber

Good article! I’m not a map nerd but I enjoy a well designed hiking map and carry around a bunch of the neighborhood maps in my pack for handing out to new riders I encounter. I generally dig em.

Reading this got me wondering, would it be a good/bad/ or even possible to put fatality count markers on the neighborhood maps or have an overlay with this info? I was biking around SF on a vacation last summer and a few intersections I passed jogged my memory of collisions I’d read about and elevated my alert level.

todd boulanger
Guest
todd boulanger

Back to the question: ‘Why bike on NE Lombard / NE Portland Highway’…in general there is bike traffic and ODOT/ City / drivers should expect bike traffic here since:
– people live and work on this arterial highway;
– people bike to where they typically would drive to (to buy things, etc.);
– novice cyclists (or cyclists riding in a district for the first time) typically bike along routes they have driven on (until they know the ‘good-cuts’ and bike friendly connections, since our bike network is not perfect) – thinking like a driver in route selection [vs. those of use who drive like we bike – in route selection];
– bike map/ guideway signs (?) guides them there;
– the district’s poor roadway network and access control (dike and railroad over crossings) naturally funnels traffic to the routes of least resistance like Lombard;
– the green neighbourhood bikeways are sometimes best to avoid for commute trips since they often have lots of stops signs and long delays crossing unsignalized intersections with major cross town arterials; and
– ditto

todd boulanger
Guest
todd boulanger

This situation and the issue of successfully implementing (not just adopting) Vision Zero will cause more of this type of discussion and professional soul searching.

The critical discussion should be is re-looking at legacy bikeways design upgrades – routes designs that may not always be ideal now (‘make it fit the best you can’ for a few ‘Strong But Fearless’ riders attending meetings) and have aged poorly as they are used more (bike traffic volume) and used by more novice commuters (was Martin a ‘Enthused and Confident’ rider). Portland and ODOT has changed a lot since 1998/1999…but some of its facilities have not.

Gerald Fittipaldi
Guest
Gerald Fittipaldi

When I was new to Portland I did the same thing as Martin, only on Killingsworth. I needed to get from Alberta Park to somewhere in East Portland. I looked at the Portland Bike Map and thought, “Sweet. I can take back roads until I get to 42nd where the bike lane on Killingsworth starts. Then I’ll head straight to the I-205 path.” … Never. Again. Now if I have time I go through the hassle of looking on Google’s Street View before getting on my bike to see what I’m getting myself into.

I’ve learned to avoid streets with the blue bike lane lines in general, as most of them are door-zone-bike-lanes on high-volume, often high-speed streets (NE 47th, NE 57th, Lombard, Killingsworth, NE 42nd, NE 7th/Sandy, NE Weidler, SE 26th, NW & SW Broadway, etc.). ALL. DEATH. TRAPS. To be avoided whenever possible.

todd boulanger
Guest
todd boulanger

Dusting off my 1993* Sign Up For the Bike, Design Manual for a Cycle-Friendly Infrastructure, #10, CROW, Netherlands…the question to ODoT & PBoT would be do the bikeway facilities in this district adhere to the Programme of Requirements set forth (below) by one of the world’s top cycle infrastructure groups:

1) COHERENCE:
The cycling-infrastructure forms a coherent unit and links with all departure points and destinations of cyclists.

2) DIRECTNESS:
The cycling-infrastructure continually offers the cyclist as direct a route as possible (so detours are kept to a minimum).

3) ATTRACTIVENESS:
The cycling-infrastructure is designed and fitted in the surroundings in such a way that cycling is attractive.

4) SAFETY: and
The cycling-infrastructure guarantees the road safety of cyclists and other road-users.

5) COMFORT:
The cycling-infrastructure enables a quick and comfortable flow of bicycle-traffic.

*I remember picking up this guide when new. It still rings true today after almost a quarter of a century.

http://trid.trb.org/view.aspx?id=385473
http://www.crow.nl/english-summary

kittens
Guest
kittens

I’ve ridden Lombard on this stretch before and will in the future because it is by far the shortest and fastest route if you are starting in Cully and going to Delta.

Todd Boulanger
Guest
Todd Boulanger

Oh…and PBoT, please remember to rush in a map update for your electronic versions too. This may be the quickest what to address not having a big red “X” on this bike lane drop zone.

eddie
Guest
eddie

I’m going to use this as a textbook case when people insist that the existence of a bike lane means a safer – for – biking street. I hope they change the damn map. That’s just dumb. Lombard should be red, just based on how fast the cars go there.

Scott Kocher
Guest

Another needed map fix: Hwy 30 west of town.

Eric Leifsdad
Guest
Eric Leifsdad

Can we bring back the law about stopping at the bar / sign / crosswalk instead of 8ft later? And maybe that thing with driving the posted speed or under if conditions aren’t perfect? I know asking for turn signals is too much, so I’ll stop there.

David Lewis
Guest

I came to Portland to go to United Bicycle Institute, and I now I own a bicycle business here. When I first got here and opened a cycling map, I thought it was some kind of sick joke map I had accidentally opened. It was painfully obvious that Portland bike routes are a combination of the following:

1) Activists’ routes to work
2) Routes to nowhere
3) Full of side streets and turns

It doesn’t help that street signs here are often only painted on one side, so it’s often impossible to know what street you’re on if you didn’t already know. It makes exploration less enjoyable.

We live in one of the most progressive cities in our country, the richest most powerful in the world. It does not have to be this way.

NikBike
Guest
NikBike

I remember when we moved to Portland 10 years we biked on all the streets because we came from the east coast where there were no bike lanes, maps or bike routes. I remembering biking up 39th completely unfazed because that’s exactly what biking everywhere was like where we came from. When we found the bike maps it was awesome. I’d probably never bike on 39th now.