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Five months after Clinton diverters, most people who bike say it’s much improved

Posted by on May 5th, 2016 at 1:10 pm

inner diverter

A new diverter at SE 17th and Clinton, designed to reduce automotive through traffic on the major bike route. The other new diverter is at 32nd.
(Photos: M. Andersen/BikePortland)

It’s been almost two years since we started reporting on the call by some Portlanders for traffic diverters on Clinton Street, one year since Mayor Charlie Hales and Commissioner Steve Novick approved them, and five months since two were installed.

So as the city prepares for similar diverters on Ankeny and considers them someday on Northeast 7th, we wondered: How are things going? I spent 90 minutes on Clinton Wednesday during the evening rush hour to ask passers-by what they thought.

Here’s what people said…

elizabeth williams

“I can’t say enough about how happy I am about the diverters,” said Elizabeth Williams, who’s been biking Clinton for three years. “I live just east of 39th. … I think they’re great.”

mike davis

Mike Davis has been biking Clinton for about a year and a half. He says the diverters have “definitely” changed things.

“I would say it’s been a lot better,” he said.

kate weltner

Kate Weltner has been riding Clinton for three years and never felt there was a major traffic problem on Clinton before or after the diverters. She said she hadn’t noticed a major change, at least during rush hour.

“I’m actually kind of surprised when I get to them how often there is a car behind me,” she said.

murph

Murph (she said she only goes by the one name) bikes more often in northeast Portland but has also been riding Clinton for about six months, since just before the diverters went in.

“I guess it’s slowing people down for sure,” she said. “You know, I haven’t really analyzed it.”

david thalen

David Thelen has been riding Clinton for seven years. He said the diverters had “reduced the amount of traffic.” His only problem was wishing that the parked cars could be a little further from the 32nd Avenue diverter so it wouldn’t be so hard to squeeze through the space with a bike trailer.

ben blechman

Ben Blechman has been biking Clinton for eight years and saw “immediate” improvement after the diverters appeared.

“The last couple years had gotten really bad, and then they put these in,” he said.

scott watkins

Scott Watkins said he hadn’t noticed the increased comfort of biking on Clinton traffic until a co-worker mentioned it to him.

“Once I took notice, it was pretty clear pretty quickly,” he said. “Seems to be quite a bit nicer now.”

tom kruger

Tim Kruger and his daughter Eleanor live on Woodward. He thinks the diverters are a “terrible idea.”

“It does make the street marginally safer for bikes — marginally,” he said. “I don’t think it makes a huge difference.”

Kruger also asked me to write down that he feels that most problems between bikes and cars are caused by people biking, and that this is because he thinks most people who bike in Portland have never learned to drive.

“For those of us who actually do use cars, the loss of the one street that you could actually get through fairly quickly” was a major blow, Kruger said. Also, as someone who lives on Woodward, Kruger doesn’t like the fact that more people are now driving quickly past his house.

“I can tell you it definitely affects all the neighboring streets,” he said.

tina williams

Tina Williams has been riding Clinton for five years and said the diverters have “made a huge impact as far as the traffic flow.”

“You feel safer,” she said. “It makes it so nice … less dust, less exhaust.”

She said she used to drive her car on Clinton to avoid Division, even though she felt bad about doing so.

“I’m a biker — that’s how I got the idea” to take Clinton, she said. Other people were doing the same, she realized. “The last two to three years it started getting progressively worse.”

When she drives today, Tina said, she takes Powell instead of Clinton or Division and is happy for the tradeoff.

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colleen mitchell

“We love them,” said Colleen Mitchell. “They make a big difference … There’s still some jerks, but they’re great.”

Mitchell has been riding Clinton daily for a year now. She said that until the diverters went in, she was considering telling her children to stop biking on the street.

“It was getting really scary,” she said. Now, she’s comfortable biking there with five-year-old daughter Zoe in tow.

“She’s going to be on her tagalong soon because of the diverters,” Mitchell said.

mark seguela

Mark Seguela didn’t have time to stop for longer than it took to say “They’ll just go around them.” How often, I asked? “Often.”

mary allison

Mary Allison had to hurry on, but first shared her take on Clinton post-diversion: “It’s great.”

matt radosevich

“I haven’t really noticed too much of a difference, to be honest,” said Matt Radosevich. “But I haven’t really been paying attention.”

kari schlosshauer

Kari Schlosshauer, one of the key organizers behind the successful pro-diverter effort, was one of those who walked past me.

“I think they’ve totally made a difference,” she said. “Definitely lower volumes of cars in sections … this section (near 23rd) is about the same, I’d say. I also think I’ve seen more kids on Clinton than before.”

larry smith

Larry Smith and Janna.

The last person I talked to was Larry Smith, who lives on the corner just next to the new diverter at 32nd Avenue.

“It’s got some positives and negatives,” Smith said. “Traffic has gotta be down to at most a tenth. … You see people that go zoom around it, that’s one of the negatives.” (As we spoke, someone did so.)

I asked Smith if it was annoying to have to turn a few extra times when he wanted to drive to or from his house. Here’s how he replied:

“When I first moved here back in ’87, I came down here once a week to help someone who had been involved in a collision,” he said. “I kept a blanket up here. They would go into shock.”

Smith said he’s been visiting his house since 1969, when it belonged to his grandmother. Before the speed bumps and the first diverter at Chavez, Smith said, Clinton Street was a very different place.

“The average speed on Clinton was 48 mph,” he said of Clinton in the 1980s, recalling a community conversation at the time.

On balance, Smith said, he loves having the diverters, and would change them mostly just by adding more signs to warn people not to drive around them.

“I think it’s a great thing,” he said. “Maybe they need more of them.”

diverter 2

The Portland Bureau of Transportation is also asking people what they think of the post-diverter Clinton Street in an online survey this month.

— Michael Andersen, (503) 333-7824 – michael@bikeportland.org

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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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soren
Subscriber

PBOT is also planning for diversion and other improvements on Tillamook…

Yashar
Guest
Yashar

I can already see people frothing at the mouth to respond to Tim Kruger’s comments. Let’s acknowledge one thing first: There has been an increase in traffic on Woodward. The biking community should work with the city and neighborhood to push for a solution.

As for his other comments, he seems to have a heavily skewed idea of how many cyclists don’t also drive.

Kelly Francois
Guest
Kelly Francois

I don’t travel on Clinton often – but when I do go that far South, I love taking Clinton now. As soon as I turn onto Clinton from 16th, it’s very obvious tha biking is important, valued, and protected. And that feels so good!

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

So, basically, Tim Kruger was one of the drivers creating the uncomfortable environment for the rest of us. Thanks a lot, pal.

Adam
Subscriber

Clinton is much better, though there’s still a good amount of aggressive passing, it’s much less than before. The line-up of cars at 12th seems to have gotten better too.

However, east of Chavez, it’s as bad as ever. Every morning, I witness drivers turning onto Clinton from 50th to avoid Division. Some of the most aggressive drivers in the city, I encounter on this 11 block stretch. Just this morning, someone on a motorcycle screamed at me and passed me way too closely. Going uphill around the 40’s is the worst segment because it’s too narrow for a driver to pass safely, so they will often rev their engine at me. A driver “trying to get his kids to school” nearly ran me off the road last week.

PBOT was supposed to install speed bumps as part of phase one, but nothing has happened so far. We also need a diverter and signal at 50th to prevent rush-hour rat-running. Please finish the job, PBOT!

matt
Guest
matt

Portland cyclists really need to up there steez game, there’s a complete lack of from this sample… No wonder people hate them, they look like complete dorks…

jeff
Guest
jeff

I see a car once a week driving around the diverters in whatever way they choose.

ethan
Guest
ethan

““For those of us who actually do use cars, the loss of the one street that you could actually get through fairly quickly” was a major blow, Kruger said. Also, as someone who lives on Woodward, Kruger doesn’t like the fact that more people are now driving quickly past his house.”

Ah, so apparently, driving quickly down Clinton was not a problem for him. But when other people drive down HIS street, it is a problem for him. Funny how that works.

Julia
Guest
Julia

I live on 23rd and Division. The diverters have made a huge difference in my commute. Some people do illegally drive around them but they are still an inconvenience, so the next time the driver will avoid Clinton, I hope. It doesn’t make sense to knowingly plan to take Clinton and go around the diverters. I have seen noticeably less vehicles driving there, however the number of people parking on Clinton just to hang out on Division still seems to be TOO HIGH.

Doug Klotz
Subscriber

At RNA meetings, some complained that the cars parking on Clinton near corners made it hard to for drivers to see cyclists, so we need more off-street parking requirements. Or….the city could sign and stripe for no parking within 50′ of any of those corners. But I guess we need those 16 spaces per intersection.

Andrea Brown
Guest
Andrea Brown

Clinton is much quieter than it was before the diverters and we love it. Even now, with tourist-ice-cream-pok-pok season upon us, it’s quieter. I’m looking forward to seeing the traffic data and hoping we can move the speed limit to 20mph.

I’d like the city to be watching traffic speed and numbers on Lincoln now. Evening rush hour seems to be getting pretty janky and it would be cool if it could get some of the same treatments as Clinton, signage, diverters, and speed bumps that mean something.

seRider
Guest
seRider

I’ve been commuting on Clinton for 9 years. The diverters have substantially reduced rush hour auto traffic on Clinton despite the fact that almost every day I see cars going around the 32nd diverter on the left and/or U-turning at the nearest driveway on 17th to defeat that diverter. Yes, cut-through traffic has increased on the neighboring streets. I think not as much as has been reduced on Clinton but I will wait for actual counts before saying I know that’s true. Cut-through seems worse on Brooklyn and Tibbetts than Woodward, presumably because they are wider and therefore faster (a narrow street is your friend because it slows and discourages frantic motorists). From my daily observations, cut-through varies a lot from day to day depending son how backed up Powell is. Powell is only going to get worse in future years; It will take many more diverters and other street “features” to keep the neighborhood anywhere near as quiet as it is now as tens of thousands more people move to Portland.

David Hampsten, now in Greensboro NC
Guest
David Hampsten, now in Greensboro NC

Michael, do you know how much these cost? We could use a few dozen here in Greensboro, but I still do not know, from all your articles, how much PBOT spent on these.

Jim Lee
Guest
Jim Lee

BP should do a double-blind text, Michael.

You photograph and interview riders at the diverters, then Jonathan photo IDs all those running the blinking red at 26th.

I guess there would good correlation between likers and runners.

Extra points for those runners who jump the curb in front of Noho’s and pick off TriMet customers using the 10 bus!

Terry D-M
Guest
Terry D-M

A diverter at every Greenway crossing as policy and we could build a Clinton like this for everyone….. Well, at least where we have a street grid.

Kapow
Guest
Kapow

I live on Woodward. I’ve biked in PDX since 1990 when I moved here. sure Clinton has a few less cars, I don’t drive or bike it anymore.I also noticed more bikes on Woodward since change. I can tell you with certainty that the number of cars on Woodward has increased dramatically since the diverter was installed. Near accidents happen routinely. conflicts between bikes and cars trying to get around happen frequently. friday and saturday night it’s a zoo as people get pissed that they are diverted up the hill and then have to circle back to find parking because guess what all the parking on top of the hill is now filled up. the diverter is an emergency responders nightmare. love to see a fire truck go around it -not enough room. as a pedestrian, yes i take the bus too,i’ve been yelled at by bikers when i try to cross. some bikers because of projects like this and the attitude a name like bike loud conveys have given some bikers a sense of priveledge and they’ve forgotten how to share the road.

buildwithjoe
Guest

My bike commute is 27 miles daily, and I use Clinton/woodward from 20th to 71st. The diverters have made a huge safety increase for me and all bikes and everyone. The downside is a few extra minutes of trip times for cars. Clinton diverters put more people on bikes and out of their cars. I pushed on every legal button and worked with many activists on this. Everyone should use every tool they can until we have city wide diverters on every greenway. Far SE and NE need them the most. And Ankeny.

Laura
Guest
Laura

There are roughly 500 units being built on SE 50th between Hawthorne and Woodward (including the Sewickly building at 49th/Hawthorne). PBOT needs to get ahead of this and get diverters on the eastern segments of Lincoln (Chavez to 60th) and Clinton (Chavez – 52nd) NOW.

Fillard Spring-Rhyne
Guest
Fillard Spring-Rhyne

The City of Portland has posted an evaluation survey for phase 1 of the diverter project. It’s linked to at the project page: https://www.portlandoregon.gov/transportation/68514

Unfortunately the survey is one-sided: It makes a point of evaluating whether phase 1 has gone too far, but appears to ignore whether phase 1 has gone far enough. For example, it asks whether you support diversion at 32nd and one-way traffic on 34th (these are elements of phase 1), but doesn’t ask whether you support new diversion at 26th* and at 50th.

(Even if the city has already decided that it’s not going to add diverters for phase 2, this is important information to gather for future planning.)

Please do fill out the survey, and add your comments on the “Anything else” page.

In related news, Rich Newlands will be making a presentation concerning the diverters at the Richmond Neighborhood Association board meeting on Monday May 9. http://www.richmondpdx.org/

*Assuming the #10-Harold bus route remains in place, the east leg of the intersection at 26th & Clinton could have a semi-diverter like at 32nd. The west leg could have “soft” diversion, i.e. signs prohibiting westbound traffic except buses and bicycles. Not perfect, but a big improvement over the current intersection.

rachel b
Guest
rachel b

Another witness for Woodward (I have a front-seat view of the corner of 26th and W): traffic’s definitely increased and there’ve been several fender-benders. Drivers dash across 26th dangerously. Woe to the pedestrian or cyclist when drivers on Woodward do their thing (right turn, left turn, cross) on SE 26th! Lots of people scrambling, trotting, running. Lots more honking too–usually at pedestrians and cyclists.

Conversely, Clinton’s become so pleasant, I’ve bumped my walk down to MAX over from Taggart, which has become less pleasant.

Adam
Subscriber

Another issue is that drivers feel they need to zoom around people cycling on Clinton. Can’t they just drive a bit faster and pass safely instead? Or just wait behind the person cycling? Far too many times someone zooms around me and almost hits an oncoming cyclist. Not sure diverters can solve this, but perhaps narrowing the roadway so they can’t pass would work? Or diverters at the collectors to discourage further motor traffic (at 26th ideally).

Buzz
Guest
Buzz

I have also observed a recent increase in motor vehicle travel on the Lincoln-Harrison bikeway between SE 20th and 26th that I would at least partially attribute to the new diverters on Clinton.

shirtsoff
Guest
shirtsoff

When can we expect a few diversions on SE Harrison between perhaps 40th and 52nd Aves? It’s ridiculous just how many and how fast cars will zip around cyclists pedalling full speed in a road zoned for 20 Miles Per Hour. It reminds me of Clinton a year ago.

tyler
Guest

I agree. The 32nd Ave diverters need more room to the east and west to allow for a safer and smoother flow of bike traffic to pass. The parking space on either end is uncomfortably close. In general, I think these diverters are in the wrong place. They should be attached to the already existing center islands, as four sided spokes, at 30th, 37th, etc..

@Tim Krueger – Really? You think Clinton should be available for cars to rip through quickly, while biking with your child? I *drive* too. I’d like to see Clinton with diverters every 4-5 blocks, from the River to the 205 path. I do agree, there is a need of “downstream” traffic management with diverters in place, so we don’t overwhelm neighboring streets with collateral cut-through traffic. But, I live on Woodward too, and haven’t noticed an increase in traffic.

Adron @ Transit Sleuth
Subscriber

To me, this just further proves that neighborhoods surrounded by arterials need to have all the inner streets cut w/ diverters to prevent people and *Waze* from directing impatient, irresponsible, irate traffic through neighborhoods. It is actively and routinely done for the suburbs, in far more brutal ways (albeit traffic aggression/speeding/etc also happens as much or more in the suburbs because of wider streets). I saw one diverter recently in Vancouver WA that the local resident(s) just posted right in the middle of the street! It was kind of amazing, and made it impossible for cars to go through or around without serious damage to the actual car itself. I’d rather not have diverters like that, more like the ones they have in Vancouver BC with flowers and such, but at this point I’d take anything that’s effective.

Rider
Guest
Rider

I’ve been biking Clinton for about ten years. About a year ago I decided the aggressive driving on Clinton had gotten too bad and started to take most trips on Lincoln. About a month after the diverters went in I decided to try Clinton again and it was incredible! Some people go around them, which is upsetting but it seems most aggressive driving has been moved elsewhere. It seems Woodward now needs diversion of its own based on some comments here. Now can we move the number ten and get diversion on Ladd’s?

jess
Guest
jess

I’ve been biking on SE Clinton as a commuter often the past 3 years, and residing in the neighborhood for over 8. The diverters are certainly an improvement and over all, I’ve noticed an increase in bikes and decrease in cars, but I have noticed:
> more cars turning without stopping or barely stopping on the sidestreets heading into or off of clinton
> smaller cars — including car 2 goes — going through the 32nd diverters on a regular basis. seriously, I’d guess ever other trip on SE Clinton I see this happen
> yes, less car traffic, but more noticable zoom & pass activity, which nearly always has a car zooming to miss an oncoming bicycle
> I’ll add that it’s a shock to see so many bikers using Division itself, but they are usually of the no helmets/sunny day/tourist/new condo-er variety.

GlowBoy
Guest
GlowBoy

I just rode Clinton on Monday night, as well as another evening a couple weeks ago, and it seems waaaayyyyy better than before.

There’s a lesson to be learned here, I think.

Jessica Wiseley
Guest
Jessica Wiseley

I have lived in the neighborhood for 13 years. With our evolving city, traffic on Division and Powell have become increasingly bad, so I used Clinton as a pedestrian, runner, cyclist, and driver. In my opinion, roads are meant to be shared. I have seen my fare share of both cyclists and drivers using the roadway inappropriately, and am sad to see that we cannot share Clinton. I do agree that it has increased traffic on other neighborhood roads. Selfishly, it is a pain to drop off my child at school on Clinton, then navigate to work. That being said, biking on Clinton now is easier.

Tom Kruger
Guest
Tom Kruger

As the Mr. Kruger who stirred up so much controversy here, I thought I would take a moment to clarify and reiterate my position here. First, I think that all streets should be shared. The idea of cutting off a perfectly usable street – which was in fact designed and constructed for automobile use – is just stupid. It defeats the purpose of the city grid transportation network, and pushes problems to other focal points rather than resolving them. Second, as a nearly 20-year veteran year-round bike commuter I have seen and been involved with my fair share of incidents between bikes and cars, and the irresponsible party in those incidents has often (though definitely not always) been the bike rider – who is not paying attention or following basic traffic laws, acts erratically in traffic, and puts himself into a position of danger. Or worse, rides in traffic without functional brakes. Yes, there are definitely irresponsible drivers, but bikers too must take more responsibility to learn and follow the rules of the road. Finally, I don’t drive fast down Clinton, Woodward, or any other residential city street. It’s far too dangerous. But – Clinton was until recently the one decent east-west connector in the southeast that was not jammed up by buses and trucks and stop lights so its loss to residents who drive through this neighborhood is significant. That said, More Bikes, Fewer Cars!

Jessica Wiseley
Guest
Jessica Wiseley

Now I remember why I don’t post in these public forums.

jeff
Guest
jeff

who the hell is watching these intersections? I watched a semi-truck drive west on SE Clinton and right OVER the diverter on 17th this morning. simply plowed over the bollards and drive over the cement curbs.
he received a middle finger for his efforts.
they need to be better reinforced with concrete. they need to be taller. they need to extend the length of the entire intersection.
I’ve never witnessed such a complete disregard…the design was worthless to stop the behavior.

Josh R Chernoff
Guest
Josh R Chernoff

This article is a false sense of security. I stood there for less that 2 hours and 8 out of approximately 40 cars drove through at 32nd between rush hour at 5/7pm and one woman even drove through a second time and waved me out of her way as I stood in her way and talked to a neighbor who said they are more but cause I’m out there videoing them they are seeing me and turning away. At peek hours almost 25% of drivers ignored the drivers on a random warm sunny day how is this a quantification of success?

David Lewis
Guest

Diverters only work as part of a traffic management system, and fail as a stand-alone segregation. Division, and the larger menace of the seven-corners @55-F8xK, is what causes road users of all stripes to use Clinton. Whether or not diverters exist, folks will avoid Division.

Tom Kruger
Guest
Tom Kruger

To create safe biking areas is awesome, and if it makes more bikers happy then I really have no complaints. But on Clinton the vast majority of the problem is, and always has been, cross traffic. So, without stopping all the cross-traffic, the diverters are a half-assed solution to a “problem” that would barely register as such in any other city in the world. Drop a Portland native in New York on a bike, and he’ll be dead in two days because he doesn’t have a clue what traffic actually is. You Portlanders are so fu#*ing lucky to live in a city of generally overly courteous drivers that half of you have gone completely lazy about watching out for your own damn safety. Take some goddam responsibility for your own actions, instead of expecting every driver to give deference. Just this morning, on Clinton, I was passed by riders blowing through three stoplights when they did not have the right of way, then some idiot on a bike who was not looking blew through a stop sign onto Clinton inches in front of me. Please folks, just remove yourselves from the gene pool and make our species smarter. Just don’t do it anywhere near me. Your careless riding endangers me! I have far fewer problems with cars and drivers than I do with careless bikers.

Jerry Hanson
Guest
Jerry Hanson

The diverter at 17th is as smartly designed as the one at 32nd is ill-advised in it’s design and placement. To pick just one serious flaw consider that at 17th no left-hand turn is allowed from Clinton. At 32nd left-hand turns are allowed. Worse, cars are doing this from traffic speed – not from a stop sign. Why is this bad design? Cars can turn into approaching cyclists who are not well seen as well as traffic coming from the left. It’s especially bad at night because many cyclist have modest or no front lights. Poke around with Google on left-hand turn accident statistics to see how foolish it is to create this hazard for cyclist. The Oregonian has a story today of three who died trying to do a left-hand turn.

9watts
Guest
9watts

Another three months have come and gone. Anyone know what the traffic counts pre- and post on Woodward show? Adam’s article (link below) about bike and car counts on Clinton is encouraging but I’m still curious to hear about the fallout on Woodward.
http://bikeportland.org/2016/08/12/peak-hour-bike-traffic-on-clinton-street-now-exceeds-motorized-traffic-189251