Tour de Lab September 1st

Bike traffic on Williams Avenue is bonkers right now

Posted by on May 4th, 2016 at 11:42 am

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Peak-hour traffic on Williams Avenue.
(Photos: J. Maus/BikePortland)

It’s been a few years since the last time we shared a look at Portland bike traffic. With the sunny weather we’ve been having and the first year of the Bike More Challenge in May instead of September, I figured it was time to take another look.

I think we can learn by looking at bike traffic. We can see how people use the street and get a wider context for our design discussions. I often find the people themselves most interesting. Do riders prefer backpacks or racks? How many people ride drop-bar road bikes versus upright bikes? Do their faces look stressed out and angry or calm and serene?

I started out near the Hawthorne Bridge but wasn’t all that impressed with the volume of bikes so I rolled north to Williams Avenue.

I’ve said for years that Williams is the best bike street in Portland and after seeing it yesterday I’m glad to know that remains true. Glad not just because it leads to my neighborhood and I ride it a few times a week (I usually opt for the Mississippi/Albina hill via Interstate), but also because it’s the only dense commercial and residential street that has quality cycling access. Our other popular, dense, and destination-rich commercial streets like Hawthorne, Mississippi, Belmont, 28th have no dedicated bicycle access and East Burnside only has a standard (and uncomfortable in my opinion) bike lane.

For the uninitiated, Williams is also perhaps the most hotly debated bikeway in the city. When I last photographed bike traffic there in 2011 it was already the busiest bike street in Portland but it still had nothing more than a loathsome bike lane. It was bursting at the seams with traffic and it was frequently driven over by bus operators picking up passengers. This bus/bike “leapfrog” action was a major reason the Bureau of Transportation decided to redesign the street in January 2011. Then the project sparked a debate when members of the advisory committee said perspectives of longtime black residents were not being respected. The conversation turned from engineering to an important dialogue about the intersections of systemic racism, urban planning and gentrification in a neighborhood that was once an epicenter of black culture.

After a 17-month public process, the new plans for Williams Avenue shifted the bike lane to the left side (to avoid bus conflicts) and dramatically reconfigured road space to devote much more room to cycling.

The new design has its detractors and it’s far from perfect; but overall it’s vastly improved over what we had before. And after watching peak-hour traffic yesterday it seems to be doing its job of facilitating a high volume of bicycle riders.

But before we get to Williams, here are a few others shots and thoughts from my observations yesterday.

I’ll return to Hawthorne to photograph bike traffic some other time, but this one image from yesterday really stood out. The bridge path is very crowded during peak hours. Look at the expression on the face of the man behind the person with the yellow jacket. He’s worried that if those people walking and running swerve at all there could be a bad crash. (Hint: If you are in this situation, don’t stress! Just sit up and slow down.)

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Another busy spot is the Esplanade near the Steel Bridge, especially the ramps leading up to Peace Park and the Rose Quarter area…

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At the top of the Esplanade path where it re-joins the street (NE Lloyd and Oregon) there’s a bike signal that always has a large queue. Yesterday it was even more hectic due to a BTA Commuter Station set up near the top (and the free coffee and snacks were totally worth it!)…

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Then I observed the Rose Quarter Transit Center. Remember when riding through here was illegal? Thanks to the BTA and TriMet these bike lanes through the transit center have been serving thousands of bike riders every day since 2008. Here’s how it looked yesterday…

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Now let’s talk about Williams. It was actually hard for me to contain my excitement a few times when I stood aside the huge platoons of bike riders that went by. There were some groups that were 30-40 riders strong and at times you could see 2-3 separate groups all the way up the road. I’d love to know how current bike traffic volumes compare to auto volumes.

One reason Williams gets so much bike traffic is the feeder routes are strong. Most of that traffic from the Esplanade and the Rose Quarter heads right for it. So too does a ton of bike traffic from Weidler off the Broadway Bridge.

This is Weidler looking west from Williams…

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And this is the start of Williams as it leaves Wheeler Ave near the Moda Center…

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And here’s Williams:

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One thing I noticed is that about half the bike traffic on Williams are people who I assume are women present as women:

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In the photo below, notice how far people ride to the left. This tells you how important physical separation is — and how little people trust other road users to not suddenly swerve into the bike lane…

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Bikenomics in action. These full bike racks at New Seasons Market always make me happy…

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Photographing people on bikes is sort of an obsession of mine. I hope you find these images interesting and useful so I can justify continuing to do it. Is there anything in these images that stands out to you?

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

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NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Also, if you comment frequently, please consider holding your thoughts so that others can step forward. Thank you — Jonathan

198 Comments
  • Adam H.
    Adam H. May 4, 2016 at 11:51 am

    Too bad we got a substandard design that can’t handle the bike traffic and creates more conflicts instead of a world-class cycleway Portland could be proud of.

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      Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) May 4, 2016 at 12:03 pm

      I agree the design isn’t ideal… We need to spend a lot more money for a project of this scope to do something truly great. But I disagree that the current design “can’t handle the bike traffic.” And I don’t think it “creates more conflicts” than the previous design. Did you bike in the old lane? It was really bad and narrow and always being driven over by TriMet buses. I think we need to be honest that Williams isn’t amazing for bikes yet… But at the same time acknowledge it’s a vast improvement over the old design.

      And I also think it’s OK for us to disagree about this. Thanks for your comment.

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      • Adam H.
        Adam H. May 4, 2016 at 12:10 pm

        The city is now working on a greenway one block over for people who can’t handle the stress of Williams. If that’s not a failure of design, I don’t know what is.

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          Kate May 4, 2016 at 12:18 pm

          Yes, this is just what I think every single day when i’m riding in very large pelatons of bicycles to and from home- what a total failure!

          Sarcasm aside- I don’t think redundancy in our bicycle network is an indication of failure at all. We built some good infrastructure and we’ve induced demand. I think letting perfect be the enemy of good isn’t going to move this city’s bicycle network forward- and if you’re going to claim Williams a failure (seemingly not to the thousands photographed by Jonathan above)- then I suspect nothing will deliver on such expectations.

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          • Adam H.
            Adam H. May 4, 2016 at 12:23 pm

            How can a city design a cycleway so poorly? There was plenty of room for a protected cycleway with floating bus islands but PBOT chose to build more painted lanes.

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              Steve B. May 4, 2016 at 12:54 pm

              Adam, as has been explained previously, there are many valid reasons why the project ended up with paint instead of a cycletrack. The current design is WAY better than the previous configuration. I find your constant disparaging of the design and PBOT to be tiresome.

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                bdlandoe May 4, 2016 at 1:35 pm

                Agreed. I ride Williams far more often now than I did before, and feel safer doing it. If anything, these pictures show the fruits of a successful project.

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                John Lascurettes May 4, 2016 at 1:43 pm

                I avoid it now because it’s higher stress — but that’s on me, mainly because I’m not on it that far north to begin with. I used to ride it only to Knott. Problem for me is now, not only am I on the left side, but just before Knott (before Russel) the auto lanes expand to two and I have the choice of either cutting across two lanes of Williams in short order (not what I ever opt for) or I take the auto lane before Russel and before it splits to two lanes so I can be in a proper spot for my right turn a block and half later. Drivers don’t like that and I was getting aggressively harassed. So now I go over to Rodney before Russel and take that to get to Knott. Lame because it slower and more complicated, but it’s lower stress and safer without the aggression.

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                Buzz May 4, 2016 at 2:22 pm

                @ John – when I lived on Knott and worked downtown I’d use the Broadway Bridge to Flint to Russell to Rodney to Knott, no need to ride on Williams at all.

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                John Lascurettes May 4, 2016 at 2:46 pm

                Buzz, that’s exactly what I’m doing now. I used to go Fint > Page > Williams > Knott. Now it’s Flint > Tillamook > Rodney > Knott

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                Spiffy May 4, 2016 at 2:03 pm

                I find your constant disparaging of the design and PBOT to be tiresome.

                to the point that somebody will do something so that the complaints will stop?

                there’s plenty to complain about even if the design is better…

                the complaint isn’t so much that it’s not better, but that they could have done great and they didn’t…

                cycling facilities are constantly getting the shaft in favor of people that don’t use them… and that’s contrary to the goals of getting people out of single occupancy vehicles…

                I welcome the complainers and hope that their feedback is taken into future consideration…

                if we become so enamored with the better then we’ll never get the best…

                we’re entitled to complain when it’s not done 95% right…

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              soren May 4, 2016 at 1:17 pm

              That is not correct. The design came about via a very long-drawn process that involved a highly political compromise by “stakeholders”. If you want to assign blame then blame voters who elected the politicians who partially funded and encouraged the socioeconomic “cleansing” of NE portland.

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              jeff May 4, 2016 at 2:14 pm

              you should considering saying something, I don’t know, positive for a change? I mean, anything at all really.

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                Buzz May 4, 2016 at 2:24 pm

                You won’t get anything positive from Adam until the city builds exactly what he wants, and nothing else; but it’s funny how he seems to get around town just fine on his bike with what we’ve got now.

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              • Adam H.
                Adam H. May 4, 2016 at 2:41 pm

                I like SW Moody. And “just fine” is not true. Nearly every day is stressful. Drivers are getting more aggressive by the day and pushing their boundaries of what they can get away with. We need more diversion and more separated cycleways.

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              • Adam H.
                Adam H. May 4, 2016 at 2:49 pm

                Not to mention, about a month ago, I fell off my bike at the 8th Avenue crossing of the Orange Line MUP. Took the turn onto the sidewalk too fast, slipped on the truncated dome plate, and fell on my face; needing a few stitches in my chin and spraining my wrist. Partially my fault, but I can’t help thinking that TriMet’s poor design of building sharp 90º turns and utility poles in a “cycle path” contributed to my fall.

                Best practices exist for a reason – we should follow the guidance of other countries that have already figured this stuff out.

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              Robert Burchett May 5, 2016 at 9:03 am

              Floating bus islands: A way for transit riders, now pedestrians, to experience a guaranteed vehicle conflict before they even reach the sidewalk? There are a few of these things in Portland, and I have trouble seeing it as a clear winning design.

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              • Adam H.
                Adam H. May 5, 2016 at 9:28 am

                No, people exiting the bus step into a dedicated space for transit users before having to cross the cycle path. It’s much safer than either the bus stopping in the bike lane or bus riders stepping directly into the bike lane from the bus. See the streetcar stop on SW Moody.

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                Robert Burchett May 5, 2016 at 9:46 am

                Yes, they have to “cross the cycle path” –that is a vehicle conflict–to reach a sidewalk that leads to any other place they might want to go. You see SW Moody as the best local example of an ideal. I see it as a bunch of pavement with its own particular problems. Tastes differ.

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              • Adam H.
                Adam H. May 5, 2016 at 9:56 am

                Yes, there is still a conflict and there always will be when buses, people cycling, and people walking are sharing the same street. Floating bus islands offer the least amount of conflict by keeping the bus away from the cycle path and giving people exiting the bus a safe space where they can clearly see oncoming bike traffic. They also keep the most dangerous road users (large buses) fully separated from vulnerable road users and moves the conflict to the vehicles least capable of causing harm.

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                Robert Burchett May 5, 2016 at 10:25 am

                I will continue to think of that little slot behind the bus island as ‘the bowling alley’. I actually kind of resent a design that funnels my rig (200 kg max weight) into a narrow pathway amongst pedestrians who think they are in a safe zone. That’s a good design?

                I recently saw a man weighing perhaps 80 kg try to stop a cyclist weighing half that from rolling through a red light. Knocked him on his ass.

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              • Adam H.
                Adam H. May 5, 2016 at 12:49 pm

                Oh yes, sorry I should have been more specific. I am referring to the streetcar stop just north of Tilikum along the two-way cycle path that was recently repainted with green paint and a zebra crossing. It sounds like you’re referring to the one south of the Aerial Tram where the painted lane dives behind the streetcar stop; which in that case I agree with you that it’s too narrow.

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                lop May 5, 2016 at 1:02 pm

                It helps that lot of people getting off the streetcar cross moody right away, so they never conflict with cyclists.

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                Mark smith May 6, 2016 at 8:37 am

                Robert, I would happily deal with a bike “conflict”. Cities that adopt it have next to zero problems.

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          Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) May 4, 2016 at 12:28 pm

          I don’t think that’s a failure of design as much as a success of giving people choices. Some people don’t like williams because it’s too crowded… with bikes and cars!

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            Patrick May 4, 2016 at 2:22 pm

            I only avoid Williams because I’m a mellow and relaxed rider and prefer quiet. Williams is successful especially considering what we had.

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            i guess i'm technically a "developer?" May 5, 2016 at 2:01 pm

            I’d like to see them more clearly mark the door zone. It makes me worry for their safety every time I see people riding in the door zone. I wonder if they think they’re safer being further from the moving cars, or if they just think it’s where they belong.

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      • Adam H.
        Adam H. May 4, 2016 at 12:15 pm

        Not to mention, along the business corridor, PBOT actually removed the admittedly bad bike lane in favor of a not-much-better shared bike, car turn lane.

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          Steve B. May 4, 2016 at 12:57 pm

          Yes, because the community wanted something better than the door zone bike lane, and we wanted to reduce through vehicle lanes to one to help pedestrians cross.

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          • Adam H.
            Adam H. May 4, 2016 at 1:13 pm

            A protected cycleway would seem to meet all those qualifications.

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            Spiffy May 4, 2016 at 2:07 pm

            I don’t think the community wanted to share a lane with cars instead of having a dedicated door-zone lane… not at all… they caved to auto interests and forced modes into the same lane when they previously weren’t in the old design…

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              Steve B. May 4, 2016 at 3:30 pm

              Sure, there were trade offs and like any transportation project there were many constraints. Perhaps someday good folks like yourself will push the city to make the segment with shared use lanes bike-only. In fact that will be much easier to do now that they are left-turn only lanes. It used to be two through lanes and a door zone bike lane and it sucked for people on bike and foot.

              In that segment now we have medians in the middle of the road every block, only one vehicular through lane to contend with as a pedestrian and has led to more compliance of crosswalk laws, we have a lane with plenty of room to cycle next to your pals or to pass people, there’s no more bus-bike conflict, average vehicle speeds are slower and the speed limit has been reduced. Believe it or not we had to fight to make those things to happen.

              Progress.

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                are May 5, 2016 at 5:13 pm

                and thanks for your efforts on this, steve

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          Beeblebrox May 4, 2016 at 5:38 pm

          Actually I find that to be the best part of whole route! Even though it is technically “shared,” the islands keep all traffic out of the lane unless they are turning left, and since they are all local streets, that’s very few cars.

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            Angel May 5, 2016 at 2:03 pm

            Sometimes people in cars use those as a shortcut… they speed up as they zoom right through them.

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      rh May 4, 2016 at 1:02 pm

      A nice article is written that gives a sense of excitement and enjoyment…and then the first comment everyone sees in negative.

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        kittens May 4, 2016 at 2:17 pm

        I think it is great to have a point-counterpoint setup. And where would we be if people didn’t dare to dream?

        After having ridden some amazing bike infrastructure in Scandinavia, I can’t help but see the shortcomings and feel frustrated in our lack of progress on this front. My feeling is, if Portland can’t do it on Williams, where and how long do we have to wait for real change?

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          gutterbunnybikes May 4, 2016 at 5:15 pm

          Can’t speak to the numbers in Scandinavia, but I just recently found complete injury and fatality data for Copenhagen (took me a very long time to find it – they hide it well), and am currently working on the numbers but as a sneak peak, lets just say in raw data, Copenhagen has on average more than twice the bicycle fatalities than Portland and almost 10 times the annual injury rate of Portland as well.

          These are base rates unadjusted for ridership numbers or miles traveled and doesn’t take into account the fact that socialized medicine, better reporting, and data gathering have on the numbers. But by in large I suspect that riding a bicycle in Portland – right now as is, is likely statistically about the same as Copenhagen.

          Depending on what our ridership numbers do this year (and most indicators look like a huge bump up for us even before Biketown hits) we might very well be safer. Especially considering most Copenhagen citizens rides average just less than a mile and for over a decade their ridership numbers have been dwindling.

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          • John Liu
            John Liu May 4, 2016 at 6:07 pm

            Interesting. I’d love to see a reader’s post on this.

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            soren May 5, 2016 at 9:09 am

            i agree that by north american standards portland is a very safe city to cycle in. however, cycling mode share of municipal copenhagen is ~12x higher than metro portland’s (~8x higher for the city to city comparison). it’s also interesting to note that many of cph’s recent fatalities occurred due to right hooks on conventional bike lanes. maybe cycletracks with intersection treatments are not such a bad idea after all.

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            soren May 5, 2016 at 11:49 am

            and for over a decade their ridership numbers have been dwindling

            that is not correct — bicycle mode share in copenhagen is now 45%.

            http://www.cycling-embassy.dk/2015/05/06/new-bicycle-account-from-copenhagen/

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      • Adam H.
        Adam H. May 4, 2016 at 3:03 pm

        The comment section exists for people to contribute their thoughts and concerns about the subject of the article. Whether that view agrees with the article’s premise or not is irrelevant, as the goal here is for open discussion.

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      wsbob May 4, 2016 at 6:59 pm

      “Too bad we got a substandard design that can’t handle the bike traffic …” adam h

      Williams Ave’s design doesn’t seem to be handling the motor vehicle traffic either,, if that’s any consolation. Pictures show that the bike lane is at capacity, and main lanes are at capacity; seems unlikely that protected bike lanes could have handled bike traffic more safely and efficiently under these circumstances as shown in the pictures in this story.

      For years, there have been people expressing on this weblog, often, how they dreamed and wished the streets of Portland to be filled with people riding bikes. Now, on Williams and on the Hawthorne Bridge, examples of bike traffic congestion are presenting themselves. Riding in that congestion doesn’t look like fun, though cold, wet weather may help ease the congestion.

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        was carless May 5, 2016 at 10:26 pm

        Looks like fun to me! I’d rather bike with a bunch of other people rather than be a solo cyclist in a sea of cars, like biking in much of the city is like.

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      AEG May 4, 2016 at 7:31 pm

      you’re bummin’ my high!

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    Kate May 4, 2016 at 12:04 pm

    I will admit I was skeptical of the redesign when the bike lane was moved to the left-side. But since there are so many bikes at all times of day, most drivers seem to have adjusted and it works pretty well on my daily commute. I’ve only ever had one really close call with a driver cutting me off to park on the left while going north on williams.

    As a sidenote- I often ride pretty far left but that’s not due to being nervous about vehicles which are mostly moving pretty slowly on this corridor due to congestion. Instead, I ride far left because there are so many bikes here, I try to give faster folks plenty of room to pass.

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      daisy May 4, 2016 at 1:58 pm

      Yes, exactly, Kate! My observation is that more experienced folks keep left, rather than cruising in the middle of the bike lane, to make it easier for faster riders to pass on the right without needing to use the wider car lane. I remember this being a big part of why we wanted more capacity on Williams — that we needed room for cyclists to pass each other safely.

      (I do hate the jockeying for position in that short stretch from Weidler to Broadway though. There’s plenty of room to pass up ahead; I don’t understand why folks gun for it there, only to have to stop and wait at the Broadway light.)

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    MaxD May 4, 2016 at 12:05 pm

    Nice write-up and great photos! I love the Williams re-design. Although I most frequently use Interstate to get to work in the Central Eastside, Williams is a great option, especially to grab groceries on my way home. The left lane works great and has eliminated the terribly sketch y bus conflicts. The southern end of Williams, where it T’s into Interstate remains a conflict: cars heading south can be surprised by bikes, bikes are heading downhill and tend to run the stop sign (I almost had a bike-bike collision with 3 people on bikes running that stop sign and jamming right into the bike lane as I was traveling through!) I think this intersection may warrant a traffic signal.

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      daisy May 4, 2016 at 2:00 pm

      What intersection do you mean?

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        Ted Timmons (Contributor) May 4, 2016 at 2:17 pm

        I’m guessing this is actually where Flint meets Broadway?

        Lots of scofflaw drivers there, and some cyclists too.

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        MaxD May 4, 2016 at 2:33 pm

        People on bikes heading south on Wheeler frequently run the stop sign at Interstate. Many, even more dangerously, turn left and ride in the oncoming lane as they try to cross Interstate. The “real” fix involves a proper transit center that grade-separates rail and buses from cars, trucks and bikes, but that is a pipe dream for now. In the mean time, a signal may be in order. This is one location where I would support traffic enforcement for bike behavior (but after they enforce for people distracted driving, speeding, and blocking bike lanes and intersections in the Rose Quarter!)

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          daisy May 4, 2016 at 3:27 pm

          Oh! Where Wheeler meets Interstate in the Rose Quarter!

          Yeah, it’s not Williams there. And, yeah, it’s very tempting to zip through that intersection.

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    Jonathan Gordon May 4, 2016 at 12:05 pm

    Wow, so many more people on bikes than in cars. Can’t those folks in autos find another street that’s safer for them?

    I keed, I keed. I’m just so darned tired of that refrain turned on those of us who bike who want to visit streets like Hawthorne, Belmont, etc. It’s nice to finally be a majority on a major commercial street.

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    Paul Wilkins May 4, 2016 at 12:12 pm

    It used to be so lonely going up Williams, now where will we CAT 6 race?

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      Lester Burnham May 4, 2016 at 12:20 pm

      Hopefully the spandex mafia and the e-bike hot-rodders will use the new greenway and stay off Williams.

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        Ted Timmons (Contributor) May 4, 2016 at 1:00 pm

        those damn scorchers.

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        Spiffy May 4, 2016 at 2:09 pm

        why would faster riders take a slower route? no, they’re going to take the largest most direct route…

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    Aaron May 4, 2016 at 12:15 pm

    Jonathan, please don’t assume pronouns.

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      Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) May 4, 2016 at 12:18 pm

      Thanks for the feedback. Do you have some advice on how I can express myself in that context?

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        Random May 4, 2016 at 12:46 pm

        “Thanks for the feedback. Do you have some advice on how I can express myself in that context?”

        Before captioning photographs, you need to interview every person in the photograph to determine what their preferred personal pronoun is, obviously.

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        ethan May 4, 2016 at 2:11 pm

        If there’s one thing I’ve learned when working with people all over the world, it’s that you should always use non-gendered pronouns like “they” and “them.”

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          Buzz May 4, 2016 at 2:27 pm

          or y’all…

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        Jonathan May 4, 2016 at 4:51 pm

        If you’re referring to the caption that now reads “about half the bike traffic on Williams are people who I assume are women,” I find that absurd. People, come on. Choose your battles.

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          37Dennis May 4, 2016 at 6:36 pm

          “They” did. And the battle is everything.

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    charlietso May 4, 2016 at 12:24 pm

    Thank you for sharing these really interesting pictures! It makes me really happy to see so many more people biking on the street. I have noticed that since Bike More Challenge started, there are more people on the road who look more like they are casually biking and going at a slower speed. My interactions with really fast bicyclists who’d past you at a 3-inch distance have gone way down. What we have been seeing this week is the kind of bike culture we need to cultivate and make permanent so that anyone, any age, men, women, people in all kinds of physical shape can feel comfortable with biking in the city.

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    Katherine Rose May 4, 2016 at 12:44 pm

    Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)
    Thanks for the feedback. Do you have some advice on how I can express myself in that context?
    Recommended 1

    when you don’t specifically know a person’s pronouns, “person” in place of “man” or “woman” and use of they/them/their will do!

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      Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) May 4, 2016 at 12:51 pm

      I understand that.. But in this context how do I point out the gender mix of those persons riding bikes? Or should I/we not even continue thinking about stats like that? (I’m asking also because counting male/female ridership is a big thing in planning circles…how can they count without assuming gender?). thanks.

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        Alex Reedin May 4, 2016 at 1:09 pm

        Here are some options… (Disclaimer, I am not anywhere near an expert, just a gay guy so maybe exposed to trans*/genderqueer issues a little more than your average straight person)
        “…about half of the people on bikes on Williams present as women.”
        “…I perceived as female about half of the people on bikes on Williams.”

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          Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) May 4, 2016 at 5:02 pm

          Thanks for those suggestions Alex! I changed it to “present as women.”

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            dan May 5, 2016 at 2:42 am

            How about “it appears that about half of riders on Williams are women.”

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      • Hello, Kitty
        Hello, Kitty May 4, 2016 at 1:25 pm

        I don’t know if you changed the caption, but showing a photo of someone who pretty obviously presents herself as female, and writing “people who I assume are women” sounds a bit insulting (though I KNOW you didn’t intend it to be).

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          Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) May 4, 2016 at 1:40 pm

          fair point. What’s interesting is that I only added the “I assume are” in order to be sensitive around the topic of how people identify themselves.

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          • Hello, Kitty
            Hello, Kitty May 4, 2016 at 1:53 pm

            I totally agree that you should show people the respect of using their preferred pronouns, but I would ask if your original formulation was actually insulting or insensitive when taken in context. Maybe growing up with foreign-born neighbors who never quite mastered English pronouns desensitized me to the issue, but I think trying too hard sometimes just makes things worse.

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            • John Liu
              John Liu May 4, 2016 at 2:23 pm

              I think that if a person chooses to present the external appearance of a woman (or man), it is fine to refer to that person as a woman (man), without adding tiresome qualifiers. Otherwise we end up with tiresome and convoluted language such as “a person with particular external features that may match certain social stereotypes of females (males), but about whose biological and self identified gender assignment, if any, one dare make no assumptions”.

              When I say “that woman on the bike”, I’m not making some deeply personal pronouncement on the person’s inner identity. I’m simply trying to efficiently specify the person to whom I’m referring, from among a crowd of cyclists. It is not my responsibility to determine how that person prefers to be identified as far as gender, whether he or she wishes to have any gender identification at all, and the precise terminology that he or she or it deems acceptable to use in reference to itself. I’m sorry, but that’s a burden that I don’t agree to undertake. I’ve got stuff to do.

              If the the person actually asks me to refer to her as him or vice versa, then of course I would do as asked. But absent such an instruction, I’m going to assume that if you choose to dress and look like a woman (or man), then you’re okay with being referred to as such.

              Exceptions in unusual circumstances, naturally. I wouldn’t go up to a drag queen and call him a woman.

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                9watts May 4, 2016 at 8:31 pm

                That all sounds eminently reasonable. I’m enjoying this side discussion and learning quite a lot. Compliments to Jonathan for trying to get this right, and thanks to John Liu for cutting to the chase.

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                Angel May 5, 2016 at 3:09 pm

                I think “present as female” is a great way to go. Nice fix, Jonathan!

                As far as I can tell, the folks I have met in planning circles are generally aware that perceived gender is an imperfect metric, but it’s still what they make you use at, say, bike counts because it still tells you something about perceived the perceived safety of the road for biking. I would love to see an essay/article/study/thesis/etc on this topic because I don’t see easy answers here.

                As far as I can tell, best practice generally speaking is that it is inappropriate to assume a person’s gender. This just hasn’t caught up as a widespread cultural practice yet. A good search term is “gender nonbinary erasure.”

                For anyone reading this conversation who wants Gender 101, here’s a decent overview I came across recently: https://www.dropbox.com/s/ql2hjpoviuv3nnt/How%20to%20Gender%20v2-1.pdf?dl=0

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                9watts May 5, 2016 at 3:27 pm

                “it is inappropriate to assume a person’s gender.”

                Really?

                I’m trying to imagine what harm this could possibly do, and to whom? Those who–in this case–look like women are presumably all or very nearly all not only women but I would guess that they also identify as such. There may certainly be a few people in a large crowd about whom it is hard to tell (whether they are a man or a woman, girl or boy), and perhaps those few people include those who we are here learning would prefer we not guess their gender, but if I am not mistaken the ambiguously presenting ones aren’t even at issue here.
                I’m probably missing something and perhaps you can let me know what it is.

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              • Hello, Kitty
                Hello, Kitty May 5, 2016 at 3:30 pm

                Boy, I just love bikes! Don’t you?

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                Angel May 5, 2016 at 4:24 pm

                “I’m probably missing something and perhaps you can let me know what it is.”

                Respectfully, there’s a lot of information already on the internet on this topic. I do hope you will take the time to find some answers to your question.

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                9watts May 5, 2016 at 4:57 pm

                Um. The internet is a big place. I could (obviously) go fishing for that information, but I guess what I was asking/hoping was that you could set me straight. Is it really that complicated that we can’t just have it out right here?

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                Darin Wick May 5, 2016 at 8:45 pm

                9watts – Gender and gender identity are, in fact, really complicated topics! I’m no expert, but I’ve attended a few workshops on the subject and done some research of my own.

                There are people who are agender. There are genderfluid people and intersex folks. Also, there are people who may present in a way that could lead you or I to misgender them – that might be intentional, or it might be because they can’t afford to present a certain way. (“Afford to” could be literally financial, as in “can’t afford to surgically/hormonally transition” or practical, as in “presenting the way I want will get me fired/ridiculed/evicted.”)

                Making assumptions about someone’s gender can come off as really dismissive. Perhaps the analogous thing for a cyclist is “You? Nah, you don’t ride a bike. I can tell because you’re not wearing lycra!” But gender is such a central component of our language that some people get misgendered all day, every day. And since gender is such a fundamental part of personality/identity in our culture, that can be pretty hurtful to the folks who experience it.

                If you haven’t already, check out the document Angel linked to – it’s a nice intro (it is targeted at churches, but almost all the content is generally applicable).

                [Erm, that was a much longer comment than I intended. Hope it helps! Jonathan, “present as” is the best language I can think of. The confluence of gender, demographics, and language is a challenging place to balance sometimes!]

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                9watts May 5, 2016 at 8:53 pm

                Thank you, Darin!
                I appreciate you taking the time to elaborate a bit, and to point me to the link Angel included. I tend to read these comments in email form and at least in my email program links don’t always show up so I hadn’t realized there was a document. So thanks to you both for helping those of us who are not up on these matters.

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                Darin Wick May 5, 2016 at 9:31 pm

                Also, if you’ll forgive me for getting kind of meta…

                I research this stuff (trans* issues, feminism, race, etc.) because I figure as a straight-cis-white-man I’m probably clueless in about the same way as my relatives who never bike, drive everywhere, and think that, “Well… biking is great, and I want to support cyclists and drive safely around them! Even if it’s not for me.”

                Thing is, those uninterested-but-concerned drivers usually meet me and say, “Oh, you ride a bike! So what should I be doing to drive safe around cyclists?”

                And I tell them, because they should know that (for example) honking is not a good way to say “Hi! I like your bike!” And yes, there is a good reason for someone on a bike to ride in the center of the lane, and it’s legal for them to do so.

                I don’t mind much, but sometimes I think, “It would be really nice if I didn’t have to be your teacher just because Driver’s Ed didn’t cover how to operate your vehicle in [bike] traffic. People have written entire books on the subject. So maybe when you’re enjoying a bit of spare time because a 60-mile trip only takes you an hour, read up on this stuff!”

                So I try to go a little bit out of my way sometimes to learn about people who don’t have the same cultural privilege that I do, because I figure they mostly don’t want to be my teacher either – they just want to live their life being trans* or female or black or latino or whatever.

                Anyway, that’s just me. I realize not everyone has the spare time/energy that I do, which is why – every so often – I talk about it and try to answer questions where I can. But I also encourage other people to research and learn, because there are some great resources just a google search away – like the first search result I found for “nonbinary erasure,” which looks to me like a pretty good article: http://everydayfeminism.com/2015/08/common-non-binary-erasure/

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                9watts May 5, 2016 at 9:39 pm

                “But I also encourage other people to research and learn”

                And I appreciate the nudge. I had no idea (before this discussion here today) that there was so much to this subject—to research and learn.

                Formerly clueless, and always ready to learn something new.

                Thanks again.

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                Darin Wick May 5, 2016 at 9:39 pm

                Hah! Technical difficulties didn’t make it into my little rant there as a reason for not researching, but it’s definitely understandable. (-:

                Err… I hope you’ll forgive the rant. That subject has been on my mind a lot lately, so it’s not necessarily directed at anyone in particular. About halfway through I realized how tangential it was, but liked the central analogy so much I wanted to post it anyway.

                Anyway, I’m glad I was able to help clarify!

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              • Hello, Kitty
                Hello, Kitty May 5, 2016 at 9:49 pm

                Darin, do you think it is dismissive to say “about half the riders I saw were female”?

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                Angel May 5, 2016 at 9:47 pm

                Thanks Darin & 9watts! I enjoyed reading your conversation.

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            daisy May 4, 2016 at 2:04 pm

            I did not think it was insulting. Actually, I thought the phrasing was incredibly respectful. Much better than saying half the riders were women — because, yeah, we need to be more careful about these assumptions.

            Thanks for making this point. It’s great to see so many women cyclists!

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            • Hello, Kitty
              Hello, Kitty May 4, 2016 at 2:33 pm

              If a crowd looks to be about 50% female, it probably _is_ about 50% female, even if some of those who you assume to be female identify differently. I would expect far more error in the “50%” part than in the “female” part.

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            • John Liu
              John Liu May 4, 2016 at 3:53 pm

              You mean to say, so many cyclists who look like women? . . . you see, this is a really cumbersome sort of politically correct phrasing to be forced to use.

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            Eric Leifsdad May 4, 2016 at 2:42 pm

            When judging by appearances, it seems fair to simply state that “there appeared to be a representative share of female riders”. It’s up to all of us to not assume too much from appearances and certainly to be understanding and polite. I think you try hard and take criticism well.

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            Jonathan May 5, 2016 at 9:48 am

            OK, now it reads:

            “One thing I noticed is that about half the bike traffic on Williams are people who present as women.”

            I’m sorry, but this is insanity.

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    • John Liu
      John Liu May 4, 2016 at 4:03 pm

      How do you refer to the person in the possessive? Do you have to say “the person’s”? In some cases, that term can’t be used. Can you say “his or her” or will you have to say “its”? Or rewrite the sentence completely?

      Poetry and lyrics are going to get pretty stilted.

      E.g. Jimmy Cliff would have to sing

      “Yesterday, I got a letter from my friend fighting in Vietnam
      And this is what he had to say
      “Tell all my friends that I’ll be coming home soon
      My time’ll be up some time in June
      Don’t forget”, he said, “To tell my sweet Mary
      His or her golden lips are sweet as cherry” . . . “

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    ben May 4, 2016 at 12:45 pm

    How do you know the rider behind the rider in the yellow jacket (photo #2) was thinking that about the walkers and runners? Did you ask him?

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      Ted Timmons (Contributor) May 4, 2016 at 12:51 pm

      His expression seems pretty clear. Maybe not- maybe he’s thinking about something else, but reading facial cues is something we tend to do as humans.

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        MaxD May 4, 2016 at 1:10 pm

        Thanks for calling this out, Ted. I agree that we should not be jumping to conclusions. That guy could be mentally preparing for a meeting, maybe just received some concerning news, maybe he is a structural engineers eyeballing the railing!

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          ben May 4, 2016 at 1:22 pm

          I called it out for precisely these reasons. Who knows what he was thinking unless he was asked directly by Jonathan. And yes, humans have been reading facial expressions for eons but publishing what you think you see is different. Next time — ask the rider!

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            John Lascurettes May 4, 2016 at 1:47 pm

            Or maybe Jonathan was observing him for longer than the 1/125th of a second it took the camera shutter to fire and he has a little more context on his other body and facial language.

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          PNP May 4, 2016 at 1:22 pm

          Or he a guy on a bike keeping an alert eye on those around him.

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        CarsAreFunToo May 4, 2016 at 3:54 pm

        Ah . . . the dude is pretty clearly eyeing the gal obscured by the guy in the orange shirt and I think there’s a solid chance he’s only got one thing on his mind.

        But yes, BikePortland loves to be insanely presumptuous in it’s captioning. The second picture of this article from way back in 2014 is a good example:

        http://bikeportland.org/2014/08/25/ma-closer-look-at-broadway-110268

        The caption reads, “A man bikes on the Broadway sidewalk last week, presumably to avoid riding alongside traffic.”

        That’s just really, really, really terrible journalism. Like really terrible. BikePortland doesn’t know jack about why that guy is riding on the sidewalk but dreams up a reason that suits their purpose as if it’s the only one it could be. That’s some Fox News level crap right there.

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        Jonathan May 4, 2016 at 4:56 pm

        Why are we assuming this person is a man?

        Sorry (not sorry). Let’s please keep this kind of slippery slope in mind as we propose new restrictions on the way we use language.

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          Ted Timmons (Contributor) May 4, 2016 at 5:08 pm

          What’s wrong with showing a little respect and sensitivity?

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            Chris I May 4, 2016 at 9:38 pm

            Trigger warning, please. Some people have bad associations with the word “sensitivity”.

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              RB May 5, 2016 at 1:54 pm

              Please don’t use “trigger”. It stirs unwelcome emotions…please find another word or preferably multiple extended sentences.

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      • Hello, Kitty
        Hello, Kitty May 5, 2016 at 1:25 am

        Well, regardless of whether you perceive this person as a man or a woman, it is clear that they have seen something startling and disturbing just out of the frame. Evidence for aliens, perhaps? Jimmy Hoffa? Ted Cruise kissing Hillary? Whatever it is, I’d like to ask Jonathan to dig a little deeper. There is obviously a bigger story here that some readers (co-conspirators?) are trying to distract us from. The truth is out there!

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      Al Dimond May 4, 2016 at 1:47 pm

      Yeah, this.

      He was looking over at the other people moving around him, which is a good thing to do when you’re biking, and making some kind of face that might be interpreted as “breathing”, which is also a good thing to do when you’re biking.

      He couldn’t have been going all that fast based on his following distance.

      If we look around us and breathe we’ll all do OK. If we sit up and slow down (cool tip), making sure to wear the politically correct oblivious smile indicating, “I feel as one with my fellow cyclists today,” as we stare up at the clouds, then we’ll all just get in the stupidest looking bike pileup in history, then suffocate to death, as the cagers look on in stupefied horror.

      You don’t want us to look stupid and then die, do you, Jonathan? Then maybe leave us to our own thoughts and facial expressions.

      Seriously, though, there’s a reason I react so strongly against this kind of thing… it’s super invasive to get on a guy’s case for the appearance of worry. Care for others’ safety is a baseline social responsibility, and politeness isn’t too far behind; if you see someone violating these, absolutely call that person out. But you’re saying, “If people ride my way they’ll be free of worry!” Guess what? Some people worry about things and sitting up on their bikes won’t “cure” them. Don’t tell us to smile or whatever.

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  • Hello, Kitty
    Hello, Kitty May 4, 2016 at 12:46 pm

    All I can say is wow… that’s a lot of bikes!

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    Ted Timmons (Contributor) May 4, 2016 at 12:48 pm

    I’m in the “like the new Williams” camp. I love when I get to ride across Broadway and up Williams, and occasionally I get to do Steel->Rose Quarter->Williams, which is even more fun. Lots of riders of all types on there, and that means the car drivers are generally aware of it.

    It creates some oddities- I won’t ride in the door zone, so it means I may get passed on the left, but since it’s a gentle incline the riders tend to separate by strength/desire to arrive sweaty.

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    Al Dente May 4, 2016 at 12:54 pm

    Do the Yellow Line’s bike hooks tend to get full even when it’s nice weather?

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      ethan May 4, 2016 at 2:12 pm

      In my experience, yes.

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    Jack G. May 4, 2016 at 12:56 pm

    One of the things that really strikes me about those pictures, is just how many people can can be moved by a lane like that. Comparing the regular lanes next to the bike lanes, you can see how much more capacity for moving people bike lanes add to a street. Imagine the traffic jam if all those people were in cars…

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    Steve B. May 4, 2016 at 12:58 pm

    Wow those photos! I needed a good dose of Portland bicycle enthusiasm today. Great coverage, thank you.

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    Active May 4, 2016 at 1:04 pm

    Not a lot of people of color in these photos. Maybe that says more about the City as a whole than this corridor in particular, but it’s striking to see it so clearly in the images.

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    Brian May 4, 2016 at 1:11 pm

    This is excellent! I took my high school students to Williams to do field work on how the neighborhood has changed and they were amazed by the number of bicycles in the middle of the day. I will have to show them this article and really blow their minds! Looks like things are working perfectly given how many people are using it.

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    Al Dente May 4, 2016 at 1:14 pm

    My journey from the Zoo to Delta Park last night via Everett – Broadway – Williams

    Took that cool path I never knew about until recently (thanks BikePortland some how I’d always ridden by it) Down to Burnside.

    Crossing Burnside at 4:30 was weird but managed, then left side bike lane on Everett was calm until the two cars that were in my blind spot sped up to make the left turn onto 15th, or is that an on ramp? It was nothing out of the ordinary though, and they were painted in High Viz yellow so I saw it coming.

    Broadway to Williams was really calm, and only about 8 bikes lined up at the start of the Williams to North Multi Modal 24/7 365 Race. No spandex but mine and a clear shot for glory.

    Starting out bunched up in the bike box, and without what seemed any order the group spread into single file. No hand signals were used, it stayed single file and to the left side of the bike lane while getting through the first intersections. Then the faster riders moved ahead, and everyone took the lanes that worked best for where they were headed.

    Automobile traffic was calm except for at a few places where some lanes yield to others like at New Season’s and a couple of other spots. I had another two drivers take some left turns on me, but to be fair they weren’t paying attention so it’s cool.

    When catching up to the back of a wave of auto traffic when in a bike lane take caution. The drivers at the back of the line can make sudden lane changes or turns, and the drivers at the front are trying to figure out how to turn left when there is a lane next to them full of traffic going straight.

    Killingsworth must need better signage, or whatever helps drivers figure out left or right in a safer manner.

    I spent most of my ride on Williams last night and I doubt I’ll have such an empty one again this summer. I really enjoyed looking at your photos showing what a little time difference can make.

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      Spiffy May 5, 2016 at 8:53 am

      Killingsworth must need better signage, or whatever helps drivers figure out left or right in a safer manner.

      yes!

      I rode Williams after work last night because I had to pick up something in NoPo and the run up to that intersection was the worst spot of the commute… cars blocking the bike lane and creeping at the red so you never know which gap to take…

      I felt glad that the light was red and I didn’t have to avoid fast moving cars violating my right of way…

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    fourknees May 4, 2016 at 1:20 pm

    I like seeing this coverage with lots of pictures. I mainly ride between westside and NW. I don’t think I’ve ever seen that many bike commuting. Makes me want to ride over to Williams after work to check it out.

    The volume reminds me of a Sunday Parkways.

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      Eric Leifsdad May 4, 2016 at 2:48 pm

      I’m wondering how different it will look in a decade when we’ve met our “25% of all trips” goal and the entire street network is down to 1.3 cars per bike. Perhaps Sunday Parkways volumes should be our design capacity.

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        lop May 5, 2016 at 3:03 am

        https://www.portlandoregon.gov/transportation/article/452524

        Projected decline in motor vehicle miles traveled, 2030 compared to 2011:

        9%

        That’s assuming 25% of trips are by bike, 20% on foot, 12% on transit, MV trips declining from 73% to 43%. Lots of new non auto trips are short, lots more people means you don’t actually cut car usage all that much. Since this seems to be about Portland residents, is it counting all the people who travel into the city, very often by car? Will auto use by those traveling into Portland decline? Enough to make up for the growing population? Counting that, is there actually a projected decline in MVMT? When use isn’t really declining it could make it politically harder to take space currently used for autos to make room for bikes and transit.

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          9watts May 5, 2016 at 6:40 am

          Projected decline in motor vehicle miles traveled, 2030 compared to 2011:

          9%

          Bureaucrats and their projections. so funny. That is 14 years out. We might not have a habitable planet in 14 years, and all they can come up with is a 14% net decline in automobile traffic!

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            9watts May 5, 2016 at 6:40 am

            9%. Sorry. 🙂

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            Jon May 5, 2016 at 11:32 pm

            Al Gore has invented pedal powered wave runners since we all will be pedaling through rising seas and rivers. Don’t worry – be happy!

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    Kristin May 4, 2016 at 1:21 pm

    As someone who does most bike commuting on lower bike traffic routes in Vancouver, it’s such an amazing feeling when I occasionally end up on Williams during rush hour and get to be part of the two-wheeled masses. Great photos.

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    PNP May 4, 2016 at 1:21 pm

    Great photos. I like seeing your pictures of people on bikes, and this might be the best one yet. It’s amazing seeing so many people riding.

    I can’t help but contrast this with your article on the changes coming to Foster, with complaints about the changes being made only for pedestrians and cyclists. What business person wouldn’t want this kind of traffic passing by, rather than motorists doing 45 and intent only on going faster?

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    • Adam H.
      Adam H. May 4, 2016 at 1:29 pm

      The changes on Foster are in no way meant for cyclists. The bike lanes will be too small, nearly fully within the door zone, and are really only a shortcut to allow a 4-3 road diet without moving the curb.

      The changes for people walking, however, will be monumental and I can’t wait to be able to walk down Foster without fearing my life.

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        gutterbunnybikes May 4, 2016 at 5:57 pm

        Yeah, yeah yeah…

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          gutterbunnybikes May 4, 2016 at 6:00 pm

          just a little secret….they (and likely you did too) said the same thing about Williams when it was in the planning stages as well. (accidently put this part in alligator mouths in the comment above…stupid html)

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            Eric Leifsdad May 5, 2016 at 9:54 am

            Too bad all of PBOT’s cars are 11ft wide or they could add a couple feet to the bike lanes.

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    Champs May 4, 2016 at 1:27 pm

    Speaking for myself at least, safety from rush hour automobile traffic isn’t the reason for keeping left on Williams. Parents riding with children don’t give that much ground to faster-moving *oncoming* traffic on neighborhood greenways. For that matter, this behavior is uncommon during off-peak hours on Williams. I think it’s fair to question this asserted motive.

    Sometimes I’m just not into the Cat 6 drag race on lower Williams during rush hour. There are alternatives: Jonathan pointed out Mississippi, and I’d add Graham if your destination is more NE. These punchy little climbs are a more personal, less competitive challenge. Ride where you please, of course, but that only strengthens the argument to try the roads less traveled.

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    alankessler May 4, 2016 at 1:28 pm

    If you had asked me before I looked at the photos, I would have predicted a much higher number of non-helmeted heads.

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    BarbLin May 4, 2016 at 2:04 pm

    Looks a little like Fregonese..?
    If so his thought was: “Holy crap, the planning actually worked, look at all these people living/visiting/working on an urban corridor!”

    Ted Timmons (Contributor)
    His expression seems pretty clear. Maybe not- maybe he’s thinking about something else, but reading facial cues is something we tend to do as humans.

    Recommended 1

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    kittens May 4, 2016 at 2:11 pm

    Nice piece Jonathan. Reminds me of the old days of bikeportland.org!

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    gutterbunnybikes May 4, 2016 at 2:12 pm

    “Our other popular, dense, and destination-rich commercial streets like Hawthorne, Mississippi, Belmont, 28th have no dedicated bicycle access and East Burnside only has a standard (and uncomfortable in my opinion) bike lane.”

    I believe the people that live, work, and shop in Montavilla might argue with you about Williams being the only one commercial street with bicycle access in town.

    And until recently there wasn’t much commercial on Williams either. I remember riding my roller blades (occasionally my bicycle) down the middle of it in the early 90’s as I rode from the house I rented at 7th and Alberta to Memorial Coliseum when I worked PT as an aisle vendor – would often arrive early to ride the smooth as glass concourse before work too, almost ran over Larry Parish once.

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    Buzz May 4, 2016 at 2:14 pm

    “…bursting at the seams…”, not ‘seems’

    Thanks Buzz. Fixed it – Jonathan

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    ethan May 4, 2016 at 2:15 pm

    Are there any bike counts done on Williams regularly? It seems like there should be.

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    • John Liu
      John Liu May 4, 2016 at 9:49 pm

      Absolutely!

      The city and the public need to realize how much bike infrastructure is helping control traffic congestion.

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    Mark May 4, 2016 at 2:22 pm

    Put me in the camp of “don’t like the N Williams redesign.” I use it every day home from work and often at other times for recreational riding. As much as I use it, it still seems foreign and difficult. With additional car traffic turning left from the new construction through almost Killingsworth, I often look like the “worried guy” in the photos above. Don’t even get me started on what is arguable worse, the conflicts on Vancouver especially around the Fremont Bridge. For the “Better Naito” photos that I suspect will show up (Jonathan, I rode right by you this morning), I hope you capture the truck parked in the “better” lane along with the car driving straight at those of us traveling south. All of this increasingly convinces me that being a vehicular cyclist, which I have to be at times anyway, is ultimately the safest approach until I move to Copenhagen.

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  • John Liu
    John Liu May 4, 2016 at 2:30 pm

    The photograph used to support the claim that cyclists ride far to the left in the Williams bike lane because they are afraid of cars, happens to be the only photograph showing cyclists riding far to the left. All the other photographs show cyclists using the entire bike lane and the buffer too. I suggest that claim is baseless. Hasn’t this blog itself tried to spread the word that on Williams, slower cyclists should stay left and faster cyclists should pass on the right? How do you know the cyclists shown in that single photograph aren’t simply feeling slow that day?

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      Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) May 4, 2016 at 5:01 pm

      it was just a quick thought John. As aside. “Claim” is a bit too strong. Not trying to make a grandiose case about it or anything. You make good points. Thanks.

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        Ted G May 5, 2016 at 10:00 pm

        “In the photo below, notice how far people ride to the left. This tells you how important physical separation is — and how little people trust other road users to not suddenly swerve into the bike lane…”

        You provided a picture and then told people how they should interpret it, leaving no room for another explanation for why riders might be riding to on the left. While you may think of this as a “quick thought” as a reader, it seemed a very deliberate effort to influence how people think and feel the way that you do.

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    Gabbi May 4, 2016 at 2:45 pm

    I’m not a fan of new N Williams either. I’m a pretty confident rider, and tend to be a bit of a speedster even when I don’t mean to, so navigating the shared left-turn/bike lane above Russell isn’t the worst for me, but it would have made me nervous as heck when I started riding 7 years ago. The biggest problem for me continues to be the awkwardness of turning east. Usually I’m only going as far as Tillamook but a couple times a month head up to Going, and I so rarely see anyone using the bike boxes on the left side for turning. Most people, myself included, wait for a break in traffic (or don’t–some people are bolder/stupider than me) and cross the auto lane laterally. It has always seemed so stupifyingly basic to me–before designing a road, ask how people are going to want to get off. Design for that.

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      are May 5, 2016 at 8:10 pm

      that question did come up in the planning stages, and at the time i had the same thought, since i lived east, but i heard from others that in fact a lot of people are heading farther north and/or ultimately west. even if the mix is sixty forty or whatever, a left or right orientation is going to inconvenience somebody.

      luckily we do not have a mandatory sidepath law in oregon. oh, wait.

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        are May 5, 2016 at 8:14 pm

        i should also mention that a prominent concern in the design process was how pedestrians would use the space. i am not sure the final design sufficiently accommodated that. at the time i was arguing for signalizing a couple or three more intersections in order to optimize speeds well under twenty and create pedestrian crossing opportunities at regular intervals.

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    Joanna May 4, 2016 at 2:53 pm

    I hope one day that the city will designate certain streets like Williams as pedestrian, bus and bike only. Any progress is good. Most people that I know who don’t bike say it is because they don’t feel safe from auto traffic, yet they complain that auto traffic is getting worse in Portland. We need to continue to improve streets for biking and walking to get more people out of their cars.

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    bikeninja May 4, 2016 at 2:59 pm

    I am also in the “like the New Williams” category. Perhaps because I enter from the left after Broadway and exit to the left it appeals to me because I never have to cross traffic. To me, the design gets a bad rap because most of the problems since it has been changed have been due to construction and delivery trucks parking in either the bike lane or the main travel lane forcing cars in to the Bike lane. The best thing that PBOT could do with the current design to maximize bike and car throughput and safety is to mandate delivery truck parking on the side streets and prohibit it on any part of Williams.

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    Matt May 4, 2016 at 3:26 pm

    Great photos, and I share your excitement at the quantity of riders!

    I spotted a friend of mine in one photo in the “assume are women” section, and I can confirm that she is indeed a woman 🙂

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    Todd Boulanger May 4, 2016 at 3:33 pm

    Though one thing is still missing from Williams after the redo – it is making me ride slower I think – when will the bananas and power up symbols get put back up? Do I have to call Portland Transformed to get it done? (Do they have a public request app yet?)

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    Patti May 4, 2016 at 4:28 pm

    I want to like it more but still see a lot of inconsideration by bikes and cars, particularly for pedestrians trying to cross Williams at Graham.

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    Chris Balduc May 4, 2016 at 6:42 pm

    There are not many times when I find myself disagreeing with Jonathan Maus, but now is definitely one of them.
    From the southside beginning of the N Williams and NE Broadway “Intersection from Hell” all the way to Killingsworth, I have never felt secure from the threat of zealous bus drivers, distracted soccer moms, or clueless idiots idling in the bike lane.
    So glad I don’t have to commute though there anymore.

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    Glenn May 4, 2016 at 8:40 pm

    I enjoyed reading this, Jonathan – thank you. I’m interested in seeing a follow up in a year to 18 months. By my count, using Next Portland, there are approximately 1500 units of apartments/ condos completed within the last year, under construction, or planned to begin this year along a one-mile stretch of Williams and Vancouver. I’m guessing those units will bring 2500 or so new residents, many of whom will not likely drive on a daily basis. The change from what we see today could be even more dramatic than what you documented over 4 or so years.

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    JJJJ May 4, 2016 at 9:37 pm

    Compared to Boston, NYC, and DC, the helmet use in these pictures is surprisingly astronomical.

    Almost creepy really.

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      Spiffy May 5, 2016 at 8:48 am

      I mostly wear my helmet because then my camera points wherever I look…

      when not commuting to work I put it on my handlebars for quick neighborhood trips to the store and restaurants since I’m not keen on carrying my helmet around…

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      soren May 5, 2016 at 9:31 am

      The BTA and PBOT heavily promote helmet use despite it’s negative impact on cycling mode share.

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  • John Liu
    John Liu May 4, 2016 at 9:53 pm

    So I’m curious. Williams got a big redesign. Does Vancouver now need one? Or is the traffic northbound on the former greater than the traffic southbound on the latter?

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      Spiffy May 5, 2016 at 8:49 am

      I’d think it wasn’t needed because you’re passing fewer people going downhill…

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    Mark smith May 5, 2016 at 1:39 am

    Too bad jersey barriers are in short supply.

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    Paul Frewt May 5, 2016 at 8:05 am

    I like looking at photos of cyclists almost as much as you enjoy taking them.
    Look at all the people! This is a great post. I love seeing examples of how vibrant new Portland is.
    For a while BikePortland.org featured photographs of people riding bikes, a simple but beautiful series of single rider shots. I loved those posts! They are very telling of new Portland and I enjoyed looking at them. It is the Portland I want to see, the Portland I want to grow.
    Please keep up the people on bikes (groups like this or solo shots like before)!

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    Beth H May 5, 2016 at 8:13 am

    All the growth doesn’t diminish the fact that, for many riders — especially those of us who are slower — separate bicycle tracks are still the most desirable addition to bicycle infrastructure, and the one least likely to be implemented in US cities.
    I ride Williams, but only when I have to. Otherwise, I go north on residential streets like Rodney, Mallory or Garfield. Once I cross Fremont, I sometimes take 6th up the hill to Alberta for a change of pace. All of these streets are quieter; some feature speed bumps to make them less attractive to motorists looking for a “short cut” and none of them are so far out of my way as to be truly inconvenient.
    What I don’t like about Williams and similar designs is that they force me to share a busy road with automobiles and as a result, I find myself having to ride more aggressively than I like our of a heightened sense of fear.
    That’s not a positive sign of growth as far as I’m concerned.
    Give me the slower, quieter, longer route home anytime.

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    • Adam H.
      Adam H. May 5, 2016 at 9:34 am

      Yep! I also am a slow rider and that gives us a vastly different experience of the road than many people here seem to understand. Motorists are more aggressive to slow riders, making turns across traffic is harder, and taking the lane is a harrowing experience. I’ve even gotten yelled at by other bike riders for being too slow!

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    Robert Burchett May 5, 2016 at 9:22 am

    A modest proposal: before each bus stop on Williams, give all private m.v. a penalty loop, forcing a right, left, left, right turn (with stops at each corner) to continue travelling North on Williams. Dedicate the block to a bus zone, a loading zone, and table space if anything is left.

    Result: Williams becomes a Destination for the Motoring Public, not a thouroughfare. Transit operations become much simpler. Bike traffic increases on Williams (build-it-they-will-come). Bikes have a safe way to make a right off Williams. Car commuters will go off to some other hell of their own making.

    Everyone has a fantasy. That’s mine.

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      daisy May 5, 2016 at 11:35 am

      And my neighborhood streets are flooded with traffic. No thank you!

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        Robert Burchett May 6, 2016 at 6:24 am

        Until the end of last month I lived two blocks off Williams. The traffic is already there! I saw lots of whack driving in the neighborhood. My point is to use design to send the message that through traffic belongs on MLK, or the freeway. Or let them ride the bus.

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    Tim May 5, 2016 at 10:27 am

    Looks a little like Amsterdam where a hundreds bikes are crowded onto a narrow bike lane so 10 cars can wait in traffic. However, on streets with no bike infrastructure, there is one car waiting behind a dozen bikes.

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    Maxadders May 5, 2016 at 11:11 am

    Williams was terrible even before I got priced out of the area (2013), and it wasn’t the bike lane’s fault, nor was it bus leapfrogging. The problem was my fellow bicyclists, specifically the hoardes of aggressively oblivious fairweather riders who’d show up every spring. Running stop signs, running lights, tailgating, shoaling, etc.

    I’m a reasonably fast, experienced year-round rider (bike commuting since ’99) and I completely gave up on Williams / Vancouver a long time ago and began taking alternate routes.

    I’ve used the new half-baked lane config a few times since and it’s been an even greater mess (now people are confused too! Yay!). Won’t go near it during rush hour.

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      Robert Burchett May 8, 2016 at 1:13 pm

      I’d like to give my fellow bike riders some credit here. After avoiding Williams for some time because people were riding like newly fledged Uber charioteers, or chimpanzees perhaps? –I fell back into it because I lived for 3 months on Rodney and it was just too convenient. There was an amazing improvement! Less of the aggressive passing, people sorting themselves into pace lines almost, actual civility breaking out. I am refreshed. Thanks!

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    Audrey May 5, 2016 at 2:57 pm

    I bike Williams every day, and I’m significantly more comfortable riding after the new design than I was with the old. Dodging buses was terrible.

    With all the traffic I do think that a plea for tolerance and kindness is warranted, regardless the mode of transportation. Yesterday a car was inching out, trying to turn left onto Williams. A fast Cat 6 rider whipped around him and gave the driver a middle finger. This is the type of behavior that would make that driver dislike cyclists, and was totally unwarranted for the situation. We plead with car drivers to slow down, that it isn’t a race and its ok if they get there 75 seconds slower… I think many cyclists need to take that advice.

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    Bicylist Mama Carie May 5, 2016 at 7:53 pm

    We’ve/I’ve been having fun Mon/Wed mornings all school year long, offering folks to pass me (cargobikew/heavy 5 yo)at red lights/thanks for bell warnings when passing- glad I signed L up for swim lessons to share the bike love all morning long. Williams is as good as we make it, the City will make it as good as we demand. Thanks for helping amplify our voice on this!

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    was carless May 5, 2016 at 10:25 pm

    I can’t believe virtually everyone rides using dropped handlebars.

    I can’t be the only one who prefers a city bike and upright posture?

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      JJJJ May 6, 2016 at 7:31 am

      Good point. It goes with my observation about helmets. Almost seems like a conformity uniform rather than individual decisions.

      Got to fit in I guess.

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        dwk May 6, 2016 at 11:06 am

        Most people do not want to be organ donors, apparently you do.
        I have cracked (2) helmets. They work….

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          Ted Timmons (Contributor) May 6, 2016 at 11:15 am

          see, there you go, conforming with others.

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          • Hello, Kitty
            Hello, Kitty May 6, 2016 at 11:29 am

            Dammit… I was going to say that.

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          JJJJ May 6, 2016 at 12:04 pm

          If you have balance issues then you absolutely should use a helmet

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            dwk May 6, 2016 at 12:09 pm

            Nice try…..

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        pengo May 7, 2016 at 10:24 am

        I have noticed that many people do not prefer the thing that I prefer. I do not see how this can be. Please explain.

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    • Adam H.
      Adam H. May 6, 2016 at 8:48 am

      You’re not the only one! I love my slow upright bike with a rack and front basket!

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      jeff May 6, 2016 at 9:38 am

      Upright posture is nice if your commute is short, which not everyone’s is…

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        are May 9, 2016 at 12:31 pm

        or if there are hills. on a properly fitted bike you get much better mechanical efficiency if you are leaning forward.

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    Jon May 5, 2016 at 11:26 pm

    Where are the images from January?

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    Mao May 7, 2016 at 10:39 pm

    Just tossing this out here, because I know I’m in a massive minority here, but I’ve been missgendered just about my whole life.

    I’m cis, I’m a biological woman.
    But I dress juuuuust androgynous enough that I’ve had people say ‘Uhh, sir, err, ma’am’ every so often.
    It’s been that say since elementary school.
    Long hair, short hair. Hoodie or tshirt.

    As long as people aren’t being malicious, it’s never bothered me.

    I’ve even had people ask me about being trans which is awkward for both parties.

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      9watts May 8, 2016 at 8:31 am

      I appreciate your telling us about your experience here. A question I’ve always had and which your reply reminded me of is this: Since choosing to dress androgynously would seem to increase the chances of being mis-identified, I assume your choice of how to dress is done with the full knowledge that this outcome is both likely and reasonable? Or is there something else going on?

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        are May 9, 2016 at 12:32 pm

        if you find yourself trying to sort everyone you encounter into two categories you might ask yourself why.

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          9watts May 9, 2016 at 12:47 pm

          I always assumed—perhaps I’m wrong about this—that this is one of those things that we instinctively/subconsciously/reflexively do – you don’t?

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          • Hello, Kitty
            Hello, Kitty May 9, 2016 at 12:49 pm

            I think the categorizing of things into male and female happens on a pretty basic level; I don’t think it is learned or socialized behavior.

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            are May 9, 2016 at 2:19 pm

            i do, and i notice it, and i ask myself why.

            hello kitty says it is innate, and this may be so, though i am not certain the research bears this out. in any event, i think having the more developed prefrontal cortex might offer us the opportunity and/or maybe even give us the responsibility to try to get past some of this stuff.

            at one level, though, i was taking your question to mao as placing the responsibility on her to explain why she does not conform to cultural norms. my own experience, which need not be detailed here, is that the norms are confining, and that conformity to them tends to imply an acceptance that feels inauthentic.

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            • Hello, Kitty
              Hello, Kitty May 9, 2016 at 2:35 pm

              I’m not saying one can’t overcome an innate view of the world — there are plenty of examples where people can and do. There are also tons of examples where society has general categories for people that work in aggregate, but often fail on the individual level. Politics (left/right, dem/rep, etc.), race, sexuality, etc. Gender may be another one of these. Binary categorization works most of the time; it is impossible (or difficult at least) to come up with a categorization system that works for every single individual that is also not completely cumbersome to use. If we want to be able to generalize, we need to use some categorization system; none will satisfy everyone, especially on a subject as personal and individual as gender identity.

              I am a total believer in showing people respect and consideration, and I practice what I preach in this department; I also think that it is possible to take things too far, and, in my opinion, criticism of the original caption (if it said what I think it did) was a bit much.

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              9watts May 9, 2016 at 5:30 pm

              Good stuff, are. And I agree with what you are saying.

              “at one level, though, i was taking your question to mao as placing the responsibility on her to explain why she does not conform to cultural norms.”

              I guess that is close to what I was saying. All I was really saying is that an androgynous dresser who is consistently misgendered is going to have a Quixotic or Sysiphean experience. Whether this is placing responsibility on her, or simply acknowledging that of all the things we humans do this may be one of the more innate and, I would venture, harmless things, and therefore pretending it is not there or resenting that it is are both in my view hopeless stances. Mao didn’t specifically say she did either, but these are in my view some of the possible implications I was trying to understand better through my questions.

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