Special gravel coverage

Guest post: Time to design streets with the ‘Worst Portlander’ in mind

Posted by on September 7th, 2018 at 10:40 am

(Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

We received this open letter to Mayor Ted Wheeler via email yesterday. The source is a longtime Portlander and former land-use planner who requested to remain anonymous.


Mayor Wheeler, Commissioner Eudaly and Director Warner,

I am about as Portlandy as it gets so my comments come from love for my city. I got my Masters in Planning in the ‘90s, worked on planning dense urban centers and greeted visitors from around the world who came on pilgrimages to see “the Portland Way”. I bike to work and play — and I nearly got smeared across the pavement recently while crossing Sandy Boulevard on NE Alameda, one of our wonderful bikeways.

The details of the near-miss are not important. Suffice it to say that there are now people who will disobey any traffic law in order to get somewhere faster with zero regard for anyone else. This was rarely the case in what we nostalgically refer to as Old Portland. But they are here now and we all see them everyday.

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We have always planned bike facilities with citizen’s safety contingent upon drivers being what I call the “Best Portlander”. The Best Portlander is a mythical person who has been in all of our heads for decades. We each know hundreds of them and we are that Best Portlander ourselves. We care about following the law as best we can. We try to learn and understand new rules when they come up. We read local articles and newsletters, we’ll go to a website to learn more. We talk to our friends and neighbors because we want to do the right thing.

Here’s the problem: In the past we could design bike lanes and infrastructure with the Best Portlander in mind. They read the signs, and pretty much obey the guidelines. While that worked for decades, the time for that is sadly in the past now. We need to provide safety for people’s lives and bodies by planning with the very Worst Portlander in mind. The Worst Portlander has their eyes down on the phone, they are racing to the 205 bridge and would do anything to shave a couple minutes off their trip, they are inebriated or they just got off an airplane and into a rental car 15 minutes ago and have no clue what the heck all that green paint and those crazy lines on the road mean.

Our streets need to provide safe passage for bikes from that Worst Portlander. Picture your loved one on a bike and the Worst Portlander approaching from behind. Have we provided adequate protection? We need to be physically separated and protected from distracted drivers with real bollards or curbs – not flimsy pieces of plastic and the copious lines of paint which will not stop anyone from ruining my life or ending it. If that is not our priority – ensuring that we can preserve life and limb – then we might as well pack it all up and go home.


A concerned Portlander


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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

  • maxD September 7, 2018 at 10:49 am

    beautifully written and great perspective. I thought vision Zero was supposed to provide some space to consider this perspective when designing streets, but it does not seem to be working out that way. In a recent conversation about Greeley with PBOT, they acknowledged that my laundry list of safety concerns was valid, but said it was out of scope, and that this is not a project identified by Vision Zero for improvements, so those standards don’t apply. Also, the project is being paid for with freight money, so safety improvements for other road users (cars, bikes, peds) are not the priority

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    • Keviniano September 7, 2018 at 11:05 am

      Ouch. That’s just disturbing. So it sounds like vision zero has been adopted as a program, but not as, well, a vision.

      For VZ to be successful, it needs to permeate the culture of the entire organization.

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      • Andrew N September 7, 2018 at 1:27 pm

        I look at Vision Zero as little more than an expensive (for taxpayers) propaganda campaign that is strongly reminiscent of the End Homelessness campaign around 10 years ago.

        It’s a great way to distract people from the fact that *we already know what we have to do to make the streets relatively safe* but don’t have the political will or appropriate levels of funding to do it. So consultants and staffers get paid in The City That Plans and the ball gets kicked down the road just a little further for the next group of ineffective city councilors to deal with. I would love for the city to prove me wrong but I won’t be holding my breath.

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        • Zeppo September 10, 2018 at 2:01 pm

          The “Twenty is plenty” signs are a physical manifestation of the propaganda campaign – designed to make Portlanders feel as though they are doing something to advance the vision, when in fact the signs do absolutely nothing to slow down cars. Has anyone put a speed camera on a street before and after signs go up?

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          • Dan A September 10, 2018 at 6:41 pm

            We don’t have ‘twenty is plenty’ signs in my neighborhood, but we do have some ‘slow down’ signs in a few yards, which I like to see because it reminds me that there are a few people out there who are on my side.

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    • paikiala September 9, 2018 at 11:28 am

      ‘Freight’ project money is often spent on making roads safer for freight and other ways to get around safer. Regardless of funding source, road reconstruction has to meet the designated street design standards already in place.

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      • maxD September 10, 2018 at 1:25 pm

        ” Regardless of funding source, road reconstruction has to meet the designated street design standards already in place” except this doesn’t! The existing concrete walkway is less than 10 feet wide and ramp/intersection with Interstate Ave cannot possibly meet any standards. PBOT knows this is insufficient, and they are creating this as a new route, but somehow they are justifying not creating a safe route because the infrastructure is already there (even though it was designed for a different use. IMO, if PBOT fundamentally changes something, (ie changing it from 1-way traffic to 2-way traffic) they should also make sure it is functional and safe.

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      • Bald One September 12, 2018 at 10:42 am

        “making roads safer for freight” ? Is this a thing, since Freight is in danger of getting run over by bikes? Make Freight safe from accidentally dragging a pedestrian down the road when they didn’t see them by turning at a place where they shouldn’t even be?

        For example, have you seen what they are doing for Freight on the corners of SE 26th and Powell? They are completely rebuilding the corners of the intersection, so that giant semi trucks can more easily turn down this little street without taking out the lamp posts and power poles or bumping over the kids that are waiting there trying to cross the street to go to school.

        Does safer freight mean re-built intersections with wider turning angles to allow larger and longer trucks to more deeply penetrate into the small roads of Portland’s neighborhoods and avoid traffic jams on the larger roads? Is that what the money from the freight lobby buys in Salem and gets spent in Portland?

        I suppose next you’re going to say that the rear license plates on the 1000’s of container trailers (Oklahoma, Tennessee plates, mostly) moving through town would actually provide enough information to allow a local law enforcement officer to track who was driving that trailer on any given day, time, if they happen to be involved in a hit and run and only the rear license plate of the trailer was visible? And that these are safe vehicles, with safe cargo, easily monitored and traced, and fully law-abiding? And city of Portland just loves freight, can’t get enough of it – they love being the container shipping crossroads of the region.

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  • bikeninja September 7, 2018 at 10:55 am

    Maybe the worst Portlander is not a Portlander at all, since as the article says they are racing for the 205 bridge.

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    • David Hampsten September 7, 2018 at 11:10 am

      There’s actually quite a few I-205 bridges, but only two of them cross major rivers.

      I wonder if the writer is Mike Pence?

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    • Chris I September 7, 2018 at 1:09 pm

      My guess is that someone in a pickup with Washington plates turned right on red from 57th just as this person was crossing Sandy with a green bike light. I see it all the time up there.

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  • Cpt. Obvus September 7, 2018 at 11:05 am

    Even just about every “best Portlander” has long rolled stop signs (on both two wheels and four) except when cross-traffic is obviously in the way, failed to stop when turning right on red, driven with hazed-over headlight lenses so their headlights don’t shine as well as ORS 816.050 (8) requires (see https://www.oregonlaws.org/ors/816.050 ), tailgated, flouted posted speed limits, etc.

    The writer is right about street design, but probably wrong to imply that things were so much different in the good old (Portland) days.

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    • Austin September 7, 2018 at 11:48 am

      I’m pretty tired of all of the “old Portland” nostalgia lately… Things change.
      However, I think drivers have mostly been boneheads since the beginning (I used to be one of those bonehead drivers. Actually, I still catch myself making driving errors that shake me up).

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      • Huey Lewis September 7, 2018 at 1:29 pm

        Says the likely very young and/or new Portland resident. I’m gonna keep harping on it. New Portland is like 60% garbage.

        You’re correct that drivers have always been boneheads. Not all, but some. It’s just there were a hell of a lot less before everyone decided to jump ship and flee the shitholes they moved here from.

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        • Austin September 7, 2018 at 4:23 pm

          I’m 37 and was born here, grew up on Milwaukie Blvd – but none of that actually matters. We’re talking about how Portland is being experienced now. The past is in the past.

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          • Austin September 7, 2018 at 6:28 pm

            Haaaa Ave, not Blvd. old age has already caught up to me.

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      • Andrew N September 7, 2018 at 1:38 pm

        I’m tired of it too. There is no “Old Portland” — our Old Portland was someone else’s New Portland and they probably weren’t too stoked either. A lot of this nostalgia for a romanticised past, not to mention the anti-newcomer sentiment and concern about “our” culture being changed, reminds me an awful lot of the right-wing white nationalism pervading Europe right now. It’s an echo chamber of intellectual laziness but that’s 2018 for you.

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        • Huey Lewis September 7, 2018 at 4:19 pm

          Well that might be a stretch. Not wanting #___ Los Angelos and Bay Area transplants moving to your city in droves isn’t comparable to right wing nationalism.

          And there is absolutely an Old Portland. Deny that if you want but you are incorrect there.

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          • Austin September 7, 2018 at 4:26 pm

            There was an Old Portland. Then there was a New Portland. And then there was an Old New Portland. Then a New Old New Portland, etc etc etc. Which one are you talking about? Which one would make Portland Great Again?

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          • Andrew N September 7, 2018 at 5:31 pm

            Thanks for proving the last sentence in my original post, Huey Lewis, by failing to offer any substance whatsoever to your logic-lite assertions.

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            • bikeninja September 8, 2018 at 10:36 am

              Well I have lived in Portland all my life and I can’t ever remember anyone mowing down a blind person in a signaled cross walk until just recently when someone who just moved in from out of state decided Columbia was his raceway. How is that for substance.

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              • rachel b September 10, 2018 at 11:25 pm

                Hear, hear, bikeninja.

                There have been many New Portlands over the long years (I’ve lived here all my life), but none of them so markedly, abysmally chock full of aholes as this one. We used to welcome newcomers. We welcomed the New Portland of yore. Newcomers of past New Portlands brought a whole lot of good to the city. But that all ended this particular round, because, frankly (and weirdly), so many of the newcomers of late have been like that loud jerk relative that ruins every single family gathering.

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              • q September 11, 2018 at 11:12 am

                This may be something people are feeling everywhere, not just Portland–especially established areas that are growing rapidly. Another factor might be using phones and texting while driving–it’s basically bringing drunk driving to the masses. One more thing–if I weren’t reading bikeportland, I’d have no knowledge of most of the incidents of people being run over, other than chance reading about the few that make it into the general news.

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        • Esther September 12, 2018 at 9:20 am

          I actually agree with Andrew. @Huey’s point – what exactly do you think makes Angelenos and Bay Areans different, demographics wise, from what you think of as “traditional” Portlanders (who actually have only lived here 150 years and stole this land from Chinook, Multnomah, and other tribes)?
          @bikeninja – you really never remember people being killed by cars? I’m sure it would take me about 2.7 seconds of googling to find historical stats that belie that assertion.

          I like the general concept of the article, that we need to design for the most inattentive, most ignorant, most careless drivers, but I dislike the framing. There is nothing ‘worst’ about universal design that makes sense to all users and that is intuitive and elegant and simple.

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          • rachel b September 13, 2018 at 12:36 am

            “….what exactly do you think makes Angelenos and Bay Areans different, demographics wise, from what you think of as “traditional” Portlanders (who actually have only lived here 150 years and stole this land from Chinook, Multnomah, and other tribes)?”

            That’s a good question, and key, I think. Who the newcomers are relates directly to the “why” they move here (or to LA or San Francisco). And the “why” has changed, drastically, for new Portlanders in more recent years. The attractors have changed; hence, those moving here have exhibited a different character than previous newcomers to the area, who were attracted by quite different things. And that new newcomer character, exhibited in the aggregate, is precisely the problem.

            I’d say (and I realize this is a generalization, and you can disagree) that Los Angeles and San Francisco attract–are famous for attracting–unusually ambitious people; more status- and appearance-conscious people than the average city; people with money (nowadays); lifestyle nomads (rootless types, those who move a lot, and usually to trendy places); people seeking excitement, or a “scene”; restless people with high entertainment needs/extroverts; trendy people who like being the first to “discover” something; young people; narcissists/people looking for attention.

            These are the people now moving to Portland in droves, and they possess the exact opposite of the qualities I’d hope people moving here would have, and DID have, in the not-so-distant past. As I mentioned in comments above–there have been many New Portlands in my lifetime here, and many warmly welcomed newcomers. These people respected the city and quietly settled in, hugely contributing to the existing character of the city in a graceful way.

            Many of the newest newcomers here in this iteration of New Portland are the antithesis of graceful and quiet. And they’re not welcome for that reason alone–not because there’s some cabal of “traditional Portlanders” out to get all newcomers. This antipathy is what boorish, stompy, disrespectful and destructive self-centered behavior has wrought. The welcome sign’s still out for the many good folks still moving here, and I do know there are many. For the rest, the self-absorbed, distracted-driving, trend-seeking boors–and gawd, but there are SO MANY of them!–I wish they’d never set foot here.

            p.s…re: the reference to First Peoples here… so, you agree that it was awful the way white people stomped on in and stole the land from the Chinook, Multnomah, etc.–right? Disregarding the people and the community that existed. Taking. Bulldozing over. Braying, shouting down. I’d conclude from that that you’d find like (though far less murdery) behavior now from newcomers equally repugnant and shameful.

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      • joan September 7, 2018 at 1:49 pm

        Ugh, yes, enough with the glory days of Old Portland.

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        • rachel b September 10, 2018 at 11:29 pm

          Not picking a fight here, but it’s not a personal criticism–it’s an observation, and it happens to be an accurate one, with plenty available substantiation, too. The alternative is to ignore history, which seems silly.

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      • BLin September 7, 2018 at 2:22 pm

        I’ve seen some super crazy driving behavior as of late. People pulling into turn lanes to get around all the cars waiting at a red light – in order to jump out in front when the light turns green or to simply go right through a red. I’ve seen it twice in the last 2 weeks. Crazy reckless behavior by folks who don’t give 2 sh*ts about any rule or anyone’s safety….and that’s at 2 pm on a Tuesday. I know that kind of selfish disregard is new in this frequency and number and it totally sucks.

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      • Glenn September 7, 2018 at 8:26 pm

        Feel free to ignore the voices of those more experienced than you, but it’s a thing. There’s a big difference between someone who moved here back when it was rather shabby/dingy and rough around the edges, and someone who moved here as part of the gold rush, or because of Portlandia. Their motivations will differ, their personalities, the backgrounds they came from, all will tend to differ. Regardless, it’s not about being a newcomer. It’s about what kind of person you are, and whether you make any effort to respect and blend in with the existing culture (or architecture, for example), and more importantly whether you make any effort to follow the law.

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        • Austin September 10, 2018 at 1:05 pm

          ….and how about someone who was born here (me)? I’m not ignoring anyone.

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  • bikeninja September 7, 2018 at 11:18 am

    I object to the fanciful term “Worst Portlander” I would prefer the more technically accurate term of Criminals. In other words we must design our infrastructure to reflect the behavior of those who refuse to follow traffic laws. At other times in history we have faced times and places where we had to assume the rule of law was no commonly followed and adjust things accordingly. These were times such as the Dark Ages, and the Wild West. Seems like that is the way we are heading now.

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    • B. Carfree September 7, 2018 at 6:47 pm

      No, we’re not heading there; we’ve arrived.

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  • eawriste September 7, 2018 at 11:51 am

    The sentiment that streets should be designed with not with perfect, law-abiding people but rather for selfish or dangerous behavior in cars is fantastic. When I see street designs and video simulations it is often painfully obvious that much of the design relies on a vast majority of people following strict guidelines and law. Anyone who has experienced moving on a street (regardless of mode) can clearly see otherwise.

    The concept that the “Worst” person is somehow new, on the other hand, and “Old Portland” was somehow safer regardless of street design is silly and harkens back yet again to a Bruce McCall reminiscing of a time in Portland that never existed. Remember how safe Front Avenue–ahem, Harbor Drive–was? In 1972 54,589 people died from auto crashes. We ALWAYS needed protected infrastructure, but we’re just now noticing how much safer it is when we finally get to experience it.

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    • bikeninja September 7, 2018 at 1:24 pm

      Bruce McCall? I assume you are referring to our late great governor Tom McCall, who gave us the bottle bill, public beaches, cleaned up the Willamette, got rid of Harbor Drive of which you speak. I for one think we could use this type of innovation in state and city government again. In many ways we have been living off the accomplishments of McCall and the Oregonians that lived here in the 1970’s. You can scoff at the nostalgia for Old Portland but when you dump on the Tom McCall you might as well say the 77 blazers sucked and Mt Hood is just another crummy volcano.

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      • eawriste September 7, 2018 at 1:46 pm

        Nope. Artist Bruce McCall. Tom McCall wasn’t bad either.

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        • bikeninja September 7, 2018 at 2:34 pm

          I get it, retro futurism. It is correct to say that our cycling infrastructure was not as good back in the old days, and recasting history as if places like harbor drive were good places to drive would be false nostalgia. But anyone who has been cycling here for even the last 8 years ( let alone the last 40) can tell you with absolute certainty that the dangerous behavior of a large segment of drivers has increased markedly.

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          • eawriste September 7, 2018 at 3:55 pm

            Has it? I don’t discount this theory, but I have no data to support it. Speeding and drunk driving make up around 60% of crashes. Distracted driving due to cellphones etc. may be a more recent contributing factor in increased crashes, but has “dangerous behavior” increased? Or have we simply noticed it more because, duh, we’re realizing driving is inherently dangerous? Interesting study below that may support your opinion.


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    • eawriste September 7, 2018 at 3:58 pm

      “The sentiment that streets should be designed not for perfect…”

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    • rachel b September 10, 2018 at 11:40 pm

      It’s not “silly” if it’s true. Why so quick to dismiss the accounts of folks who have lived here all their lives? It’s not like we’re lying because we want to go home and cuddle our Old Portland snow globes.

      As I said (in a comment currently awaiting moderation above)–there have been MANY New Portlands over my lifetime here (and many warmly welcomed New Portlanders) and not one would I complain about until this most recent New Portland, which has been daily demonstrably riddled with aholes. So-called Old Portlanders weren’t always so sour on newcomers, believe it or not. We were driven to it by this most recent crop.

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  • sikoler September 7, 2018 at 12:17 pm

    We need more Greenways, not more mixing of bikes and cars.

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    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) September 7, 2018 at 12:23 pm

      i don’t know about you but I get way too much mixing on greenways these days.

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      • Dan A September 7, 2018 at 1:40 pm

        Do drivers even know how to identify greenways, or know what sharrows mean? Some of the lamest interactions I’ve had with drivers have been on NW Johnson, where a few agitated drivers were upset with me for riding 15mph uphill in the middle of the sharrows. It seems to me that many do know know what sharrows represent, or that there are parallel roads more suited to their antics. I ride 6 blocks out of my way to use Johnson instead of Glisan — I shouldn’t have to put up with this nonsense.

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        • Johnny Bye Carter September 7, 2018 at 2:06 pm

          Does it matter if drivers know? They know they break a lot of laws and they don’t care. So I have to assume they don’t care when they’re doing things like riding my butt and yelling at me for riding over the sharrows on a greenway.

          When something like that happens I find the closest road with 2 lanes going my way and I take a lane there. Sounds like you should be on Glisan. I usually end up on Powell. When I have my own lane on a major road I don’t get passed so close. I still get yelled at sometimes, but as a person riding a bicycle I’m used to it.

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          • sikoler September 8, 2018 at 8:46 pm

            Ever heard the old saying,

            “You catch more flies with honey than you do with vinegar”

            Your attitude will only cause us to be ignored and makes us sound irrational. *Of course* there are tons and tons of great, conscientious drivers out there! Let’s make friends not enemies, and I think we will have an easier time focusing on the bad actors. Most importantly, if we ally ourselves with good drivers they will join our cause.

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            • turnips September 10, 2018 at 10:19 am

              good drivers? conscientious people don’t regularly poison their neighbors for perceived convenience.

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              • Hello, Kitty
                Hello, Kitty September 13, 2018 at 1:52 am

                You mean like people who build fires or barbecue in their backyards? Those are far more “poisonous” than a relatively modern car.

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              • turnips September 13, 2018 at 8:36 am

                I’m reminded of that every time I ride by The People’s Pig on Williams. do you have a grudge against a particular neighbor? if we’re just playing the “what about?” game, let’s add lawn mowers and leaf blowers.

                if you’re just trolling: real great work. if you’re serious, I’ll take some blame for using “poisoning neighbors” as short hand for all the ills that the ubiquitous use of automobiles, most of which are independent of how “safely” they are being operated. those ills include, but are certainly not limited to, poisoning air and water for both humans and not-humans in myriad ways.

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              • Hello, Kitty
                Hello, Kitty September 13, 2018 at 9:09 am

                No grudge, and you are right; your examples are probably better than mine. Describing any of this as “poisoning your neighbors” is shrill and hyperbolic, even if arguably true on some technical level.

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              • turnips September 13, 2018 at 9:25 am

                I’ll have to disagree. the number of premature deaths attributable to automobile pollution likely exceeds deaths caused by crashes. that does not include harm to health quality of life that falls short of killing a person early.

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              • Hello, Kitty
                Hello, Kitty September 13, 2018 at 9:30 am

                You may be right, and I don’t disagree with your fundamental point; just not the use of shrill and hyperbolic language. Especially as most of your neighbors are likely “poisoning themselves” much more directly.

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              • turnips September 13, 2018 at 9:40 am

                fair enough. I would likely try to be more politic in other settings. you read it as shrill, I was going for concise.

                that a person might be harming their own self does not strike me as license to join in.

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              • Hello, Kitty
                Hello, Kitty September 13, 2018 at 9:52 am

                In this case, I think we have a “societal license”. It might be a little different if you started smelting lead in your backyard, which is not something that is generally regarded as being within the limits of polite society. But driving certainly is.

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              • turnips September 13, 2018 at 10:54 am

                I guess I’m not sure what you’re driving at. while I don’t disagree that driving regularly is socially acceptable in the greater culture of this city, I lament that it is so.

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              • Hello, Kitty
                Hello, Kitty September 13, 2018 at 11:42 pm

                I guess the point I was trying to make is that the harm your driving does to your neighbors is de minimis, and that they, like all of us, exert a similarly small harm on you and their other neighbors. We all accept it — it’s hard to live in close proximity and not have any impact. That’s why I disliked your use of the word “poisoning.”

                That said, I don’t take the issue of vehicular pollution lightly, and would like us to take (collective) action. I am strongly in favor of electrification of our transport system which will reduce (but not eliminate) the urban air problems associated with vehicles.

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              • turnips September 14, 2018 at 9:06 am

                I’m reading you as arguing that the responsibility for the mess caused by ubiquitous and reflexive automobile use falls on some group or another rather than individual drivers. is that right? I can go along with that a little way, at least as a practical matter. it lets harmful and selfish behavior off the hook a bit too easy for my taste, but maybe that’s just the protestants of my youth talking.

                as far as electrification, I’m not counting on that to solve any problems for a couple of reasons. I haven’t seen any scenario where current levels of driving can continue without creating further externalities, though they might occur out of immediate sight. and air pollution is only one of many problems caused by the ubiquity of cars.

                that said, if electrification were coupled with a dramatic decrease in the prevalence of automobiles, count me in.

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              • Hello, Kitty
                Hello, Kitty September 14, 2018 at 4:31 pm

                Mostly. I would say it falls on society as a whole.

                For better or worse, I think autonomous vehicles will likely increase usage of cars, possibly supplanting transit as we know it (or creating some new form of transit that replaces what we have). The combination of speed, convenience, privacy, and carrying capacity just seems too attractive to be replaced by any of the currently-existing alternative modes. I bike almost everywhere I go, but I understand why that doesn’t work for many.

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              • turnips September 14, 2018 at 4:40 pm

                maybe I don’t disagree with your analysis or prediction so much as what I perceive as your response to them. hordes of autonomous cars may well be heading our way, but I will do what little I’m able to prevent that and convince others to do the same.

                checking out now. not bad as far as internet disagreements go. thanks.

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              • Hello, Kitty
                Hello, Kitty September 14, 2018 at 10:50 pm

                I think the alternative to hordes of autonomous cars is hordes of the cars we’ve got.

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        • Andrew September 7, 2018 at 3:39 pm

          I live on Johnson and know exactly what you mean. Summer is coming to an end and the number of dingbats doing 30mph through the neighborhood circling for a parking spot will soon drop off. I’ll be going 20 downhill and get passed, only to sit next to them waiting to cross 21st

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        • SD September 7, 2018 at 4:17 pm

          I don’t think that most of them do, or they see others driving aggressively and think that its ok. PBOT needs “Local traffic only” or “No through traffic, except for bikes” signs to clarify.

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          • turnips September 7, 2018 at 4:31 pm

            I have heard more than one driver extol the merits of using greenways for their lack of stop signs and traffic. adding more advisory signage/paint/signals seems unlikely to get through to that crowd. physical barriers might fare better.

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            • Dan A September 9, 2018 at 10:03 am

              The funny thing is, Johnson has a stop sign at nearly every block. There is almost no reason to drive on it, and there’s certainly no reason to pass me on it. I’ve never been passed by a driver who managed to clear the next stop sign before I caught up with them.

              The last guy who passed me went completely into the oncoming lane and gunned it, despite the poor visibility near the column of parked cars and a cyclist coming the other way directly towards him. I caught up to him at the stop sign where we both waited for crossing traffic for 15-20 seconds.

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        • Zeppo September 10, 2018 at 2:08 pm

          You ride 15mph uphill?! Congratulations! I can’t do that on my e-bike.

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          • Dan A September 10, 2018 at 2:53 pm

            It’s barely a hill, but it is uphill. If your e-bike can’t do 15 on Johnson, there’s something wrong with it.

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      • sikoler September 8, 2018 at 8:39 pm

        I fail to see how us mixing with cars *more* will help make us safer. Greenways and dedicated paths not in main car commuter roads are the only way.

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        • turnips September 10, 2018 at 1:38 pm

          meh. I’m not content to acquiesce to so much public money and space being dedicated to car sewers. mixing works fine if maximizing the speed of automobile traffic isn’t the sole design criterion.

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    • mark September 7, 2018 at 1:14 pm

      That’s great, but we also need access to streets where businesses exist.

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    • emerson September 11, 2018 at 2:29 pm

      Pfff, what’s a greenway but a relatively traffic-free road for someone in an auto to bypass a bottleneck? They are lame and not well implemented — they need to be smartly diverted to accomodate local residents and to avoid and disrupt cut-through usage.

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  • q September 7, 2018 at 12:31 pm

    The thinking is great because how people “should” behave is irrelevant compared to how they do behave.

    Things should also be designed with the idea that people biking or walking may not be behaving “ideally”. As it is, the penalty for, say, walking while being drunk, having a child’s comprehension of safety, being distracted, misjudging timing or distance, etc. can be death.

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  • Chris I September 7, 2018 at 1:11 pm

    More red light cameras. More speed cameras. The criminals will only stop their behavior when enforcement is 100%.

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    • Dave September 7, 2018 at 3:26 pm

      And, brutally steep fines ***portion of comment deleted by moderator – Dave, I don’t tolerate any encouragement of violence and I don’t think the comparison you made is an appropriate one. — Jonathan***.

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      • B. Carfree September 7, 2018 at 6:57 pm

        I don’t think the fines have to be brutally high, just noticeable and near-certain.

        It would help to adopt the day-fine idea that is apparently common in Europe. $500 means a lot more to someone earning $150/day than it does to someone earning $1500/day. Even day-fines should have an escalation factor, since losing a week’s wages means a lot more at the poverty line than it does for someone earning seven figures.

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        • Dave September 11, 2018 at 2:00 pm

          Remember, we’re talking about an uncontrolled apex predator with no natural enemies and thus with no fear. It needs to have a state of fear established that will control its behavior.

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    • Middle of The Road Guy September 10, 2018 at 12:34 pm

      I get the gist of what you are saying, but I think there is a fine line between adequate policing and excessive policing. I mean in the name of Equality, shouldn’t we be enforcing all laws equally – meaning cyclists running signs and lights should also be penalized (which would pretty much require licensing).

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      • Dan A September 10, 2018 at 1:00 pm


        We don’t have nearly the resources necessary to make it worthwhile. We have 4 or 5 traffic cops for all of Portland. Every minute they waste on a cyclist slow-rolling a stop sign is a minute they could be using to protect us from multi-ton machines being operated poorly. And there are enough of those to keep 50 traffic cops busy around the clock.

        And, I believe enforcement should be done proportionately, which is a better definition of Equality. I’m not sure why you rally against smart, proportionate law enforcement, but I’ve given this same reply to you in the past and you consistently ignore it.

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  • soren September 7, 2018 at 2:21 pm

    Until Portland and Oregon’s love affair with business-as-usual (captured) democrats fades this is unlikely.

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  • X September 7, 2018 at 6:43 pm

    Sharrows were lame on day one. That is, redundant in some cases and just ignored in others, ambiguous logos with no force of law placed out of the line of sight. Now they’re stale. Very few have been refreshed or maintained, so most are mishapen or invisible.

    A “greenway” with lumpy old pavement and few if any diverters? It’s a layer of annoyance added to what was most likely already a practicable but slow route. “We’ll reserve the table by the kitchen door for you.”

    No mode share bump in that.

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  • Jim Lee September 7, 2018 at 8:23 pm

    Want to really see routine flouting of traffic laws?

    Watch 26th and Clinton during morning commute.

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    • sikoler September 8, 2018 at 8:48 pm

      Morning (and evening) commute is hell on all of us. But it’s at least 100% predictable. 2x per weekday people travel the same routes.

      Does anyone here think drivers *like* gridlock?

      Of course not!

      Clinton does suck and it’s because drivers have nowhere to go.

      We need to be more sympathetic and give drivers actual options for commuting, and more importantly not mix cyclists and high traffic commuter areas.

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      • q September 8, 2018 at 11:19 pm

        Speak for yourself…commuting isn’t hell for me, or for many people. Even when I worked downtown, I enjoyed walking, running or biking to and from work during rush hours.

        And, “We need to be more sympathetic and give drivers actual options for commuting”? Aren’t things skewed way too much towards car commuting as it is? I’d rather see more good options available for PEOPLE to commute so they don’t need or want to be drivers.

        Also, one reason some routes have high traffic is because that’s where people need or want to go. If you’re thinking “not mixing” cyclists and drivers means giving people biking the ability to ride those same routes without having to be in the same lanes as cars, that’s one thing. But if you’re thinking people on bikes shouldn’t be on those streets, that’s wrong.

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        • sikoler September 9, 2018 at 3:51 am

          I just think an attitude of cooperation and understanding will help more than blaming people.

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          • Dan A September 9, 2018 at 9:54 am

            I would like drivers to understand why speed limits exist, and begin cooperating with them.

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          • X September 9, 2018 at 4:13 pm

            Car use is subsidized and legal on almost every sort of public right-of-way. Cars are stored on public real estate and that is taken as a right. A motor vehicle is seen as the best expression of a person’s identity to an alarming degree. I understand that cars are seductive but so are opioids. Nothing in the constitution about either. . .

            I’m happy to cooperate with people but sometimes on the street I’m seen as a not-car. Screw that.

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          • rachel b September 10, 2018 at 11:47 pm

            Why shouldn’t people be blamed if people are to blame?

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      • turnips September 10, 2018 at 1:48 pm

        why do they deserve sympathy for making the same poor decision day after day? do they not have the option of skipping the gridlock by bicycling same as the rest of us? and those who aren’t physically able to bike would be a lot better served if those who are chose anything other than private automobiles.

        (I actually do think motorists deserve a small bit of sympathy, but only because they inherited the same car-centric development the rest of us did and social norms aren’t always easy to reject.)

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      • Paul J Atkinson September 10, 2018 at 3:10 pm

        Slight amendment: we need to give *people* more options for commuting. I don’t want “give drivers more options” to be misinterpreted as “more, wider dedicated auto lanes with fewer obstructions and higher speeds,” which is usually where that discussion ends.

        When people want to get around it needs to be clear and obvious that there are reasonable, convenient options other than personal automobiles. Until we have those options it’s going to be a hard problem, but we won’t get those options by doubling down on our already ridiculously auto-centric designs.

        Welcome to the transition period, folks. It’s not the easiest part but it’s not unique either.

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      • Cpt. Obvus September 10, 2018 at 4:41 pm

        Um, agreed? So in the interest of “not mix[ing] cyclists and high traffic [car] commuter areas,” please keep your car off Clinton, which is an officially designated neighborhood greenway. Instead, maybe keep it to the nearest of those high-traffic [car] commuter areas, which is Powell.

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    • rachel b September 10, 2018 at 11:45 pm

      That used to be such a quiet corner. We lived up the street. Got the hell out last year and I wish we’d done it years earlier.

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      • rachel b September 10, 2018 at 11:46 pm

        (nesting issue)–this was in response to Jim Lee:

        “Want to really see routine flouting of traffic laws?

        Watch 26th and Clinton during morning commute.”

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  • Barb Lin September 12, 2018 at 1:56 pm

    Agreed Andrew, its unfortunately how I now look forward to the end of August and Labor Day so we will have fewer visitors and out of towners on the roads. I’ve actually been scheming of a way to leave town for every August. Uncle Bill visiting from wherever doesn’t seem to know the etiquette of driving with so many bikes. . Our downfall is that we are thinking visitors can read or figure it all out while en route. We ask too much, we need to make it easy to do the right thing, not hard.
    “Summer is coming to an end and the number of dingbats doing 30mph through the neighborhood circling for a parking spot will soon drop off. “

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  • Barbara Larrain September 13, 2018 at 8:19 am

    I’ve lived quite near there for 38 yrs and have used that crossing at least 1x a day as pederstrian or cyclist. Has gotten much worse that I considered it a very dangerous place to cross even after the improvements. People nearly run down pedestrian s all the time as well as ignore the right turn on red. WA drivers use NE Sandy as a private freeway from 205 to 84 speeding all the time. They cut thru at Me 57th and now NE 54 at Du Grill. Unless there is some enforcement all is for naught.

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  • Plin September 13, 2018 at 11:20 am

    The author just touched on this, but I think it is worth more thought and discussion. That is that in many cases our bike lane design and placement actually puts riders at a higher risk than if there was no bike lane at all. One of my biggest issues is with deleting motor vehicle parking areas on busy streets with retail and adding a striped bike lane. These retail businesses need to have deliveries. With no place for a large truck or semi to park, they have to block the bike lane. That situation forces a bike rider to enter traffic under very unsafe conditions. The second issue I have is with all the painted who knows what they actually mean ( I do) markings that are supposed to guide cyclists and drivers. Even if you know what you are supposed to do, can you see them in the dark? When the road is wet? When the road is dark and wet?

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