Hidden bikeways near SE Hawthorne Blvd pose challenges for PBOT

PBOT Planner Zef Wagner talked about potential changes in the Hawthorne-area greenway system on a Bike Loud ride last weekend. (Photo: Taylor Griggs/BikePortland)

It’s been almost two years since the Portland Bureau of Transportation decided against building bike lanes on SE Hawthorne Blvd, a move that disappointed local advocates who’d pined for a radical reconfiguration of the street. Sinced then, the city finished a repaving project on Hawthorne that brought some safety benefits, but has largely been seen as a lackluster solution to the problems that remain for bicycle riders.

This past Saturday, PBOT Planner Zef Wagner joined the Southeast Chapter of Bike Loud PDX to lead a tour of upcoming greenways around Hawthorne. Wagner is leading PBOT’s plan to build several new greenway routes intersecting with Hawthorne in an effort to make the area more bike-friendly despite the lack of bike facilities on Hawthorne itself.

There’s no animosity between Bike Loud members and Wagner (he’s attended several of their rides), but it was evident from this weekend’s ride that people haven’t entirely moved on from the Hawthorne decision.

The area surrounding the bustling commercial main street is rife with car traffic in a way that’s inhospitable to people biking and walking, and it spills onto the nearby greenways. People attempting to cross at the newly upgraded crosswalks appear anxious and rush across the street even when they have a green light. 

When I’m riding through the area by myself, I might overlook some of the major issues on Hawthorne, but riding with a PBOT staffer and a group of passionate bike advocates, they were impossible to ignore.

Even though some greenway upgrades are better than nothing, they pale in comparison to what advocates think is necessary in order to make this area better for biking. And this focus on Hawthorne-area greenways brings back the same debates that were present when PBOT first decided against bike lanes on the street, citing the nearby Lincoln/Harrison and Salmon/Taylor greenways as viable alternatives.

“The neighborhood greenway network is rather hidden, especially to people who are newer to town.”

– Roger Geller, PBOT

Portland’s greenways – previously known as “bike boulevards” – make up a network of neighborhood streets that prioritize people biking and walking. The greenways were initially known as “bike boulevards” back when the city began to establish the network in the 1980s after inner eastside residents asked for more diversion to push car traffic off their neighborhood streets.

These days, Portland’s greenway system is made up of more than 100 miles of neighborhood streets citywide which are supposed to provide people a safe, low-stress network of routes they can use without having to deal with a lot of car drivers.

Think of the greenway system is as a shadow network of the city’s “major” streets – a.k.a., the ones filled with shops and restaurants. This means people on bikes don’t have direct and easy access to destinations, and bike traffic is largely hidden from the non-biking public. If you were sitting outside one of Hawthorne’s many coffee shops or strolling between its thrift stores and boutiques, you might never see a bike rider. And if you did see one, it might seem sketchy to ride without a dedicated bike lane next to so many cars. It’s not exactly a great advertisement for cycling.

Even PBOT Bike Coordinator Roger Geller thinks this is a problem. In February 2020 he told the city’s Bicycle Advisory Committee, “If there was a big green bike lane next them as they were driving with a lot of people biking on it, they might say, ‘Oh, I can see the way to bike. Instead of driving these streets, I just get on my bike.’ But that’s not the case because the neighborhood greenway network is rather hidden, especially to people who are newer to town.”

Bike share and scooter traffic on and around SE Hawthorne Blvd. (Source: PBOT/Ride Report)
A sign topper on the NE Going neighborhood greenways. (Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

On Saturday, ride participants pointed out that most people aren’t privy to the greenway system shadowing Hawthorne. Heat map data shows people using bike and scooter share often travel along more dangerous corridors instead of taking the detour to greenways – how much of that is because they don’t know the greenways even exist? This could be an opportunity for more wayfinding along the Hawthorne corridor so people – in cars and on bikes alike – actually know where the good bike streets are.

Wagner said there’s potential for more of this, which could come in the form of special toppers (a.k.a. “rider signs”) on street name signs (at right) or more green crosswalks to indicate bike crossings. These might be good places to start, but in my opinion, a lot more needs to be done to make sure people are aware of Portland’s greenways.

Because most greenways are just residential streets without destinations, a new Portlander may not discover them if they don’t know what to look for, and therefore may not know about the bike network the city has spent so much time and money to develop. And if you never see anyone riding a bike, you’re probably not going to feel compelled to take up cycling for the first time. That’s just basic marketing, and it results in a self-perpetuating downward spiral of bike riders.

When I first learned about the push for bike lanes on Hawthorne, I thought it was a bit overblown: I lived a block away and didn’t have much trouble navigating the greenway system. But I’ve realized now the strong feelings around this topic go deeper than that. I was already a frequent bike commuter when I moved to the neighborhood and so I was willing to go out of my way to figure out the best routes to get around by bike. Not everyone is going to do that. And that’s exactly the problem.

If we continue to hide our best biking streets, we’ll never find the increase in ridership we desperately need.

If one thing was clear from the Bike Loud ride, it’s that the community fire for Hawthorne bike lanes is still burning.. So who knows? Maybe the saga isn’t over yet.

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SilkySlim
SilkySlim
3 months ago

I’m pretty darn happy riding greenways (Lincoln, Clinton) that are parallel to “destination” streets (Hawthorne, Division). Ok, maybe I’ve been bashed into complacency, but here we are…

But what I really hate is biking up Lincoln and trying to remember if I’m supposed to turn up 28th or 32nd or 34th to hit my actual destination. What if we could bolster our greenway signage, almost like what they have for highway exits?

“Turn here for Bagdad Theatre/Powells”
“Last Brewery For 8 Blocks”
“Thai Restaurants: .25 Miles Left, .4 Miles Right”

And then like the article said, have signs on Hawthorne along lines of “Two Blocks To Greenway Route”.

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)
Admin
Reply to  SilkySlim

That exact thing is what some folks ask for at the Bicycle Advisory Committee meeting. Like what ODOT does on freeways where you know which exit to take if you want Starbucks or McDonalds, or whatever.

Wagner said at the BAC that PBOT has considered this but thought it might not work if a sign goes up and then a business goes under or moves. To which I was like, “so change the damn sign!”.

But yeah, I like this idea.

But my favorite idea is to stop prioritizing car users on main streets and let bus and bike riders have the space they deserve.

Buster
Buster
3 months ago

Worth pointing out that the freeway signs you reference are paid advertising. Businesses pay ODOT for that privilege, which is why it’s all McDonald’s and Subway and other chains who can afford it. I personally don’t think public agencies should advertise private businesses.

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)
Admin
Reply to  Buster

Oh.

Thanks! I was always curious about if they were paid for or it. Good to know.

And yes, I agree signing businesses would be cumbersome. PBOT already did a bit of this in 20s right? There are a few “business district” signs on the greenway pointing to 28th.

Obviously, Hawthorne is much longer and I think that’s where the issue lies. Of course, some sort of bike on Hawthorne would fix all this.

On that note, could we create a few “bike access zones” on each block? These would be like a parking space or two on the corner that would receive bike traffic from side streets and give bike users a place to either park or dismount and get situated to walk on the sidewalk? Sort of like a bike welcome zone?

Buster
Buster
3 months ago

Hawthorne actually has several of those on side streets from the previous streetscape project. There are covered bike parking corrals with area maps and everything. I would love to see more stuff like that where the greenways meet the main street. It would make sense for the business association to sponsor them.

Aaron K
Aaron K
3 months ago
Reply to  Buster

Ultimately streets like Hawthorne will be pedestrian only. Bicyclists and motorists (we have lots in common) will both need “access zones” to reach these high volume areas. They don’t need to be on each block, but certainly at each junction with the bike network and car network. Don’t worry arterial lovers, there are incremental steps to get us there.

The closest we have to this right now for bikes is our BIKETOWN stations, which should be how most people are beginning and ending their trips to Hawthorne businesses. Currently there are only 8 BIKETOWN stations and 13 bike network junctions. The stations are not always sited directly on the junctions, and are often located on the side streets instead of directly on Hawthorne, which might not be perfectly ideal.

With better cohesion, we can get these welcome zones to integrate better with the destinations and the network which will drive users to both. This cohesion might come in the form of more public/private partnership as there are benefits all around.

Covered, with maps to neighboring “access zones” and destinations, highly visible — “hubs” if you will. Making the connections to the network, and helping route-decision-making will require wayfinding, but it might not be all signs. Who reads signs anyway? “Intuitive” cues are best, but are based on prior experience, which is built up over time.

Motorists also need welcome zones to help them become pedestrians. These could be in the form of parking areas/diverters capping junctions with the car network.

These might seem like “inner SE” problems, but they are also solutions to the safety/equity/accessibility issues preventing mode-shift in all areas and most cities. The cost of this type of transformation is surprisingly low, since its mostly reconfiguration of existing infrastructure.

The political will to make these types of reconfigurations will happen when Portland switches from ‘predict and provide’ to ‘decide and provide’ which is inevitable as the climate keeps forcing our hand.

soren
soren
3 months ago
Reply to  Aaron K

Ultimately streets like Hawthorne will be pedestrian only. Bicyclists and motorists (we have lots in common) will both need “access zones” to reach these high volume areas.

Your erasure of bus public transit in this comment is problematic. Hawthorne is a transit priority street and Trimet line 14 plays a critical role in linking Lents and Powellhurst-Gilbert with the inner city.

Aaron K
Aaron K
3 months ago
Reply to  soren

Yes, good catch. It wasn’t to imply transit shouldn’t be using main streets, but rather it’s the one mode that is working right. My suggestions are to make driving and biking more like transit, and then give a lot more room for all of us once we reach our destination.

Buster
Buster
3 months ago
Reply to  Aaron K

I love this vision of main streets. Main streets should be car-free or car-light, with public transit and bikes allowed to go through. Once the street is car-free or car-light, you don’t need separated bike lanes. The space currently used for parking can be used for freight loading during certain times of day, street seats, sidewalk expansion, bike parking, and wider tree wells. The street should be mainly used for walking. This is how most great commercial streets in European cities operate. The obsession many bike advocates have with separated bike lanes on main streets really cuts against good urban design for main streets. They should be so calm that you can safely ride your bike in mixed traffic, or better yet you feel compelled to park your bike and walk to your destination.

FDUP
FDUP
3 months ago
Reply to  Buster

Those bike corrals are pretty much useless. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a bike parked at the one by the 7-11 at SE 20th and Hawthorne.

Aaron K
Aaron K
3 months ago
Reply to  FDUP

Thank you for noticing that, I wonder why that is? Some problems might include that corner of the intersection isn’t a popular destination. The BikeTown rack across the street by CineMagic is one of the least popular on Hawthorne. The design of that bike parking hub is a little incognito by today’s standards, and feels unwatched. It is sited on Elliott Ave which is not officially part of the Portland bike network. There is more convenient bike parking nearby. The in-street bike corral across the street in front of Blackbird Pizza and the adjacent individual sidewalk staples get lots of use. That’s where the popular businesses are. Crossing Hawthorne sucks, so why do it. These are just some of my first ideas. I don’t think it’s disuse means people don’t want covered bike parking. Some of those staples should get moved across the street to Little Big Burger, they have none!

FDUP
FDUP
3 months ago
Reply to  Buster

The reason we have those freeway signs is b/c of the billboard ban. Which would you rather have, small discreet signs or rows and rows of giant obnoxious billboards?

Rain Waters
Rain Waters
3 months ago

Theres money in Ashland. Lotsa cars and trucks too. Theres money on Hawthorne. Where theres money there are cars and trucks. If Hawthorne was a utopian walk bike plaza then two adjacent paralells would need dedicated to cars and trucks to serve the money. Such were my thoughts in 2001, when a solution mighta been possible. I used Clinton Lincoln and tried to remember what cross street as Hawthorne was already off limits to my common sense.

20 years later what was is now entrenched and at war. Nobody knows Hawthornes (moneys) future so nothing will likely change. Encouraging cycling on a busy street where women are getting dropped off in the rain so a driver can find parking isnt great cycling.

Im sure its had some sorta “road diet” to ramp tension even higher ?

Hows that cancelled 84 lookin now ? it wasnt built and Cali still came right down to your surface streets. Unbelievable

David Hampsten
3 months ago
Reply to  SilkySlim

I like the sign toppers I’ve seen in rural England and Canada that point to local businesses, distances, and so on, often maintained by the rural municipal corporation (i.e. by local volunteers, often by the businesses themselves).

Since Portland already has an established network of 95 neighborhood associations, they could subsidize each one to change the signs as needed rather than engage in the much more expensive and longer process of government work orders.

soren
soren
3 months ago
Reply to  SilkySlim

Inner SE problems:

“Turn here for Bagdad Theatre/Powells”

“Last Brewery For 8 Blocks”

“Thai Restaurants: .25 Miles Left, .4 Miles Right”

Outer SE problems:

comment image

soren
soren
3 months ago

but maybe something like that would help get wealthier Portlanders who live in the central part of the city to actually use what they have

I am very skeptical of these “carrot” approaches when driving is so easy and convenient. And this is especially true in the context of a demographic tidal wave that continues to displace people who bike out of inner PDX.

Geller’s recent presentation to the BAC echoes many of the points I’ve been making here for years:

Younger, long-term residents in Portland’s most bicycle-friendly neighborhoods have moved away. Newer (wealthier?) residents don’t know about bicycle transportation…

.

It’s still very easy to drive in Portland. People are moving here from places where congestion is worse. To them, Portland is an urban driving paradise

https://www.portland.gov/sites/default/files/2022/july_2022_bac_presentation2.pdf

Charley
Charley
3 months ago
Reply to  soren

I think Taylor is right. And, at any rate, making things better for people *makes things better for people*. Making things (navigation) better for cyclists, makes things better for cyclists. So why not try it?

As to the possibility that this will increase ridership, and thus increase political will for safety reforms: it’s like Pascal’s Wager for bike infrastructure. Should we really forego a creative, probably inexpensive navigation aid? Would we even know if it “didn’t work”? Would *not* doing so save any lives in East Portland?

soren
soren
3 months ago
Reply to  Charley

Making things (navigation) better for cyclists

This is an interesting way to describe having the city pay for advertising for private businesses. This kind of signage is not cheap* and would need to be frequently updated given the high turnover of businesses on Hawthorne.

*How about we install some diverters instead

Suburban
Suburban
3 months ago
Reply to  SilkySlim

Wow, yuck , I dislike this idea very much. I have come to believe that traffic problems that use more signage as a solution are not really solved at all. One need not pedal far to find some intersection “fixed” with signs and/ or road paint. Some are effective and ugly, some ugly, and some just get run over.
Signs and road paint have their place, but should be a solution of last resort, not a go-to design solution. Let’s de-sign all city streets as much as possible, and build intuitively safe spaces.
https://bikeportland.org/2013/04/22/riders-discover-woman-driving-car-on-glenn-jackson-bridge-bike-path-85780

dw
dw
3 months ago
Reply to  Suburban

“What if we just put up signs asking drivers politely not to kill people? Why has nobody tried that?”

squareman
squareman
3 months ago
Reply to  dw

“I couldn’t read the sign. The sun came out of nowhere.”

qqq
qqq
3 months ago
Reply to  SilkySlim

I appreciate the signage suggestion as a brainstorming idea. But it reminds me of sitting in a design hearing right before the commissioners are about to rubber-stamp a building with a 200′ long blank wall that will suck the life out of the block, but want to look like they listened to the opponents. So they make adding a mural or two benches and a drinking fountain in front of the wall a condition of approval.

All those really do is remind the few people who notice them how bad the underlying decision was that led to their being there.

Mark Linehan
Mark Linehan
3 months ago
Reply to  SilkySlim

I’ll bet the Hawthorne Business Association would be happy to maintain signs like that.

(On the other hand, I hate to have more sign clutter.)

soren
soren
3 months ago
Reply to  Mark Linehan

I have no problem with the Hawthorne Business Association paying for these signs but I do not support the moral hazard of having PBOT pay for private business advertisements using public funding.

John L
John L
3 months ago

This isn’t thought fully through, but I wonder if center turn lanes can be used as bike lanes. Those center lanes are usually empty.

Where there are raised pedestrian refuge islands in the center lane at intersections, as in the current Hawthorne Blvd, ramps on the ends of those islands could allow cyclists to simply keep riding the center lane both midblock and through intersections. Of course cyclists would have to stop for pedestrians, as they have to now.

Where the center lane is used as a left turn lane (not referring to Hawthorne, but other streets) cyclists will need a way to get around cars waiting to turn left. Maybe curbing can be added to let a cyclist get around those waiting cars, without having to merge into the travel lane. Those intersections often could use more curbing and raised areas (pedestrian refuge islands and curb bumpouts) anyway, to make pedestrian crossing easier.

Might need to prohibit trucks from stopping in the center lane to load/unload.

Anyway, just a thought. I know that I often ride in those center lanes.

David Hampsten
3 months ago
Reply to  John L

It could work – Minneapolis has some 2-way bike lanes where they would normally have turn lanes, in the downtown core, and of course there is the famous center protected bike lanes on Pennsylvania Avenue between the Capitol and the Treasury.

Matthew
Matthew
3 months ago

Portland’s greenways – previously known as “bike boulevards” – make up a network of neighborhood streets that prioritize people biking and walking. 

I’ve got a question regarding the greenways prioritizing people biking and walking. For folks on bikes, you can take the lane, correct? That’s the only way “prioritize” makes any sense.

I think the story makes a solid point regarding people’s general knowledge of greenways. They are simply not promoted properly at street level. The signage is small and some greenways (the 53rd stretch between Glisan and Halsey, for one) are way too popular with cars to feel like a “low stress” experience.. And do the cross streets have any signage or indication that a person is entering or crossing a greenway?

I use the greenways extensively, but they feel — as too much Portland bike infrastructure does — like a nice concept half-heartedly implemented.

John L
John L
3 months ago
Reply to  Matthew

When I moved to Portland, my bible was the pocket version of the city’s Bike Map. It was widely available at bike shops.

City could extend that to smartphone app form, possibly as an overlay to Google Maps.

Marking landmark businesses on it (Baghdad, etc) would also help with the way-posting issue.

el timito
el timito
2 months ago
Reply to  John L
idlebytes
idlebytes
3 months ago
Reply to  Matthew

some greenways (the 53rd stretch between Glisan and Halsey, for one) are way too popular with cars to feel like a “low stress” experience

This greenway has gotten significantly better since Eudaly implemented the Slow Streets program during the pandemic and Hardesty made it permanent. Before the pandemic during rush hour it was almost a guarantee that a driver would try to sprint past me before an oncoming car or traffic circle but now I can’t remember the last time it happened. Not saying it’s perfect but it’s definitely improved.

soren
soren
3 months ago
Reply to  Matthew

Only on neighborhood greenways that have “bikes may use full lane” signs. On neighborhood greenways that lack these signs a person cycling is legally obligated to move “as close as practicable to the right curb or edge of the roadway” when a cage driver wants to pass them.

https://oregon.public.law/statutes/ors_814.430

ORS 814.430 is one of the many Oregon traffic statutes that I violate as often as possible.

idlebytes
idlebytes
3 months ago
Reply to  soren

How you phrased your response is pretty misleading. As far as right as practicable on most roads in our city is taking the lane. It’s unsafe to do otherwise. Our lanes aren’t wide enough for a driver to share them safely with a cyclist and our blocks are too short to pass safely before you reach an intersection.

It’s not practicable to ride so far to the right that you put yourself in danger of not being seen by cross traffic, encounter road hazards such as the door zone, debris, or pedestrians stepping into the roadway. It’s also not practicable to ride to the right if the lane is too narrow for a driver to pass safely or if you’re too close to an intersection for a driver to pass safely.

Also bicycles may use full lane signs are informative and do not provide any additional legal obligations on drivers or right of way privileges to cyclists.

soren
soren
3 months ago
Reply to  idlebytes

As far as right as practicable on most roads in our city is taking the lane. It’s unsafe to do otherwise. Our lanes aren’t wide enough for a driver to share them safely with a cyclist and our blocks are too short to pass safely before you reach an intersection.

I always enjoy the rationalizations of people who do not want to admit that our legal system is anti-cycling.



idlebytes
idlebytes
3 months ago
Reply to  soren

Only on neighborhood greenways that have “bikes may use full lane” signs.

This is 100% wrong but sure I’m making rationalizations. I cited statutes that back up my statement. Were they incorrect? Instead of a contentless snarky reply why don’t you add something to the conversation.

soren
soren
3 months ago
Reply to  idlebytes

You cited a stub article on wikipedia.

Like all states that receive federal funding, Oregon follows MUTCD regulations for traffic signs:

02 The Bicycles May Use Full Lane sign may be used in locations where it is important to inform road users that bicyclists might occupy the travel lane.

https://mutcd.fhwa.dot.gov/htm/2009/part9/part9b.htm

The bikes may use full lane has a white background so it is not merely “informative”.

comment image

A white background indicates a REGULATORY sign; yellow conveys a general warning message;

https://mutcd.fhwa.dot.gov/services/publications/fhwaop02084/index.htm

idlebytes
idlebytes
3 months ago
Reply to  soren

The wikipedia article has the same thing you quoted so I’m not sure your links add anything.

I don’t understand the disconnect here. Your quote literally uses the word inform. Regulatory signs inform drivers of regulations and not necessarily ones that vary like speed limits but sometimes such as in this case of a regulation that applies throughout the city.

In your last link there’s a yield to peds regulatory sign do you think unless that sign is present you don’t have to yield to pedestrians?

The statutes I quoted make it pretty clear that a driver shouldn’t be trying to share the lane with a cyclist unless that lane is sufficient width to pass safely and is far enough away from an intersection to not cause a hazard. Which is pretty much everywhere in this city. So cyclists should take the lane because it’s not practicable to safely share it with a driver.

Finally I’ll add that it’s PBOTs general practice to place bike sharrows in the area of the road that is the safest for cyclists to ride. The road crews don’t always get them right but generally they’re in the center of the lane on greenways throughout town whether or not there is a regulatory sign for drivers.

soren
soren
3 months ago
Reply to  idlebytes

The road crews don’t always get them right but generally they’re in the center of the lane on greenways throughout town whether or not there is a regulatory sign for drivers

Not quite the same thing as a regulatory sign that instructs drivers that people on bikes will be in their way (and that they should just GTFO — my interpretation).

Which is pretty much everywhere in this city. 

Arguing that car-headed legislators passed a statute that allows people on bikes to take the lane everywhere in cities is silly. The intent of legislators matters more than the hopefully optimistic interpretation of cycling enthusiasts.

As I stated above, I violate this law constantly. In fact, I violate just about every traffic law that applies to people biking as often as I can.

idlebytes
idlebytes
3 months ago
Reply to  soren

Ok so now we’ve gone from what the actual law says and regulatory signs mean to drivers want cyclists out of their way and legislators are car headed so those statutes couldn’t possibly mean what they say.

Yes please take the lane but you’re not violating the law and probably shouldn’t be telling other people they’re not allowed to take the lane unless there’s a regulatory sign reminding drivers that cyclists are allowed to do so.

And no sharrows aren’t the same as regulatory signs but I would find it astounding if PBOTs best practices for the placement of sharrows are suggesting people violate the law.

soren
soren
3 months ago
Reply to  idlebytes

they’re not allowed to take the lane unless there’s a regulatory sign reminding drivers that cyclists are allowed to do so.

I never wrote this because there are, of course, limited exceptions to the statute. It’s a moot point in any case because the law is rarely enforced in Portland (but I still enjoy violating the law).

Ray Thomas:

Of course, from the bicyclists’ perspective, the obligation to ride only as far to the right as practicable is the legal “bottom line,” mandated by ORS 814.430

https://www.tcnf.legal/oregon-bicycle-passing-laws/

 legislators are car headed so those statutes couldn’t possibly mean what they say.

This is precisely how Oregon law works. The car-headed intent of state legislators matters, not the self-interested interpretation of the law by a private citizen.

idlebytes
idlebytes
3 months ago

It’s definitely a lot less safe for cyclists now especially going east because of the grade. At least before there was another lane drivers could use to go around a cyclist now they try to use the middle lane before the next refuge island.

It’s foolish to think someone is going to go a half mile out of their way to go a mile down the street. Even drivers complain about having to do such things which is why they have to be physically prevented from cutting through neighborhoods. The end result is less cyclists and more dangerous passes by drivers.

Michael Mann
Michael Mann
3 months ago

I live in the Montavilla neighborhood and bike commute several times/week to South Waterfront. I regularly ride the Lincoln, Salmon, and Clinton east/west greenways. The most dangerous part of my commute is ALWAYS the section on Salmon between Cesar Chavez and 30th, and even more so the section of Clinton between 26th and 34th, because of all the drivers desperately searching for parking or quicker through routes and zipping across the greenways. The long-term safety solution MUST involve reducing auto trips. Period.

Watts
Watts
3 months ago

I take Geller’s ideas about why folks are riding less with a grain of salt. It’s not because the low traffic streets are somehow hidden (they’re a lot more visible now than they were when riding was more fashionable). It’s that people simply ride less. It’s not in the air, and it’s no longer such a part of our culture. It’s not what people do.

I don’t know what it will take to change that, but building infrastructure and adding signage on greenways is probably not it.

Bill
Bill
3 months ago

Perhaps (and this is a wild idea) the reason cyclist still ride on Hawthorne despite there being neighboring greenways is that THEIR DESTINATION IS ON HAWTHORNE

Mark Remy
Mark Remy
3 months ago
Reply to  Bill

I bike on Hawthorne for the same reason people drive on Hawthorne—it’s often the quickest, most direct, and (literally) smoothest way to get where I’m going. Because the speed limit is 20mph, I’m almost alway able to “keep up” with vehicular traffic, even when that traffic exceeds 20mph, which it usually does. I have learned, the hard way, to take the lane whenever I can—more than once I’ve come very close to being right-hooked on Hawthorne by oblivious drivers making turns.

I will say this, which is especially germane to this article: I also sometimes choose to bike on Hawthorne, rather than use a parallel “bike friendly” route, precisely because it’s not bike-friendly. i.e., I make myself a visible reminder to motorists that cyclists exist and deserve to use the same streets that they do.

Fred
Fred
3 months ago
Reply to  Mark Remy

Great point, Mark. Here in The Wild, Wild West – aka SW Portland where I live – we mostly have little to no cycling infrastructure of any kind. So when I’m riding on two-lane stroad with no shoulder and just some slippery white paint, I say to myself, whenever a car is zooming up behind me, “I have as much right to use this road as you do!”

It doesn’t make me any safer but it makes me feel better.

maxD
maxD
3 months ago
  1. The greenways fail to make a network- they lack connection. The proposed greenways around Hawthorne are a horrible example of disjointed little segments- really really bad planning and design.
  2. Since PBOT is now relying on greenways to function as transportaion corridors, they need to resolve some fundamental problems:
  3. There are too many cars- add diverters
  4. They are too dark. Forget about finding the Bagdad Theater or similar designations, I can’t read the street signs! Either the street lighting needs to upgraded or cross streets need to be painted on the street where a bike light will illuminate it or something!
  5. Routes needs to be simple and direct. PBOT does a terrible job at designing these routes, making every compromise and concession that comes along, and then they do a even worse job at providing adequate route-finding.
Zach Katz
Zach Katz
3 months ago

The obvious short-term solution for Hawthorne is to replace the existing parking lanes with protected lanes. This can be done without removing any concrete median islands. Would just take a bunch of concrete curbs and some paint.

Watts
Watts
3 months ago
Reply to  Zach Katz

… and redoing the drainage where you remove all that pedestrian infrastructure that makes walking on Hawthorne much safer and better than it would otherwise be.

#notobvious

Zach Katz
Zach Katz
3 months ago
Reply to  Watts

What are you talking about? You don’t have to redo any drainage or remove any pedestrian infrastructure. Just replace the parking lanes with bike lanes.

Watts
Watts
3 months ago
Reply to  Zach Katz

How do the parking lanes cum bike lanes get around the curb extensions?

Zach
Zach
3 months ago
Reply to  Watts

The curb extensions are not that wide. I’ve measured it

soren
soren
3 months ago
Reply to  Zach

comment image

Zach Katz
Zach Katz
3 months ago
Reply to  soren

comment image

soren
soren
3 months ago
Reply to  Zach Katz

So we’ve moved from “curb extensions are not that wide” to removing an additional 4 feet from a transit priority route lane.

You can ride your bike a few blocks to a briewpub using an alternate route but someone who depends on line 14 does not have that privelege.

FDUP
FDUP
3 months ago
Reply to  Zach Katz

NIce clean bike lane there! I wouldn’t use it.

FDUP
FDUP
3 months ago
Reply to  Watts

The curb extensions were always a costly mistake, all they end up doing is preserving/reserving the parking lane for motorists to store their vehicles. And since they are hardscape they were expensive to install and will be expensive to remove.

John L
John L
3 months ago
Reply to  Zach Katz

What do you think about the center lanes as bike lanes?

Zach
Zach
3 months ago
Reply to  John L

Great idea if your priority is maintaining car parking by any means possible. Horrible idea if you care about cycling convenience, comfort, safety, etc. Center-running bike lanes are only good if the entire street is car-free.

squareman
squareman
3 months ago
Reply to  Zach

Make the center lane the parking lane and reclaim parking for bike lanes. Then every driver to Hawthorne will have to contend with getting in and out of their car in traffic – the awareness factor and advocacy for safety will shoot up bunches. I’m being snarky, but there’s something there I kind of like.

John L
John L
3 months ago
Reply to  squareman

Everyone getting in or out of a parked car has to jaywalk through traffic – yes, I’m sure PBOT will take that idea seriously.

Adam Pieniazek
3 months ago

The greenways are a nice idea for a car obsessed car city. For a “bike city” though they’re a complete failure and somewhat embarrassing. And as someone still new to the area they’re super confusing as I need to learn two different sets of streets, one the city wants to hide on, the other the actual streets I need to use to get to where I’m trying to get to.

squareman
squareman
3 months ago
Reply to  Adam Pieniazek

I find little difference between greenways and any other neighborhood street except that the stop signs are often prioritized for greenway throughput (only making them more attractive to cut through driving). And with the passage of the stop-as-yield law for bicycle riders, it makes even less sense to seek out greenways specifically, especially when the “recommended” route is often so serpentine.

Adam Pieniazek
3 months ago
Reply to  squareman

Occasionally some of them have a diverter or two. But yeah they make little sense to seek out and are nearly wholly just neighborhood side streets.

Brandon
Brandon
3 months ago
Reply to  squareman

With the Idaho stop on the books I think every neighborhood intersection should now be a 4-way stop. It would discourage cut through driving, improve safety, and have no real impact on cycling.

Nuala
3 months ago

This set up on Hawthorne has been and continues to be disastrous for disabled people. The sidewalks are too narrow and difficult in dodging obstacles. For those of us using mobility devices like wheel chairs, electric scooters, e-bikes, or even standard bikes- we are sent off to areas without curb cuts or to (energy draining) blocks away from our destinations.
For some reason using a scooter as a mobility accommodation makes some drivers even more infuriated and threatening.
Yes I have a disability parking placard but it really doesn’t matter since the last mile problem is more challenging for us.

Daniel Fuller
Daniel Fuller
3 months ago

In the Netherlands they have the concept of ontvlechten (‘disentangling’): having separate networks of streets that prioritize walking, cycling, transit, and cars, respectively. But this is done in addition to separated cycling facilities on all main streets as well. People on bikes need safe and convenient access to shops, restaurants, libraries, and so on just as much as people in cars.

I like riding through neighborhoods on a network of quiet, leafy streets. But greenways by themselves aren’t enough. We have to design destination streets “for the mode share [we] want, not the mode share [we] have” (thanks @tonyatwork).

Fred
Fred
3 months ago
Reply to  Daniel Fuller

Good point, Daniel, which reminded me of the most MADDENING thing about the Hawthorne decision: that somehow bikes have to be kept off Hawthorne b/c there are alternatives. Unbelievable!

And we wonder why bike mode share in Portland has dropped and continues to drop.

Buster
Buster
3 months ago
Reply to  Daniel Fuller

I’ve been to Amsterdam, Utrecht, The Hague, Delft, and Rotterdam multiple times, and can safely say that most main streets in the Netherlands do not have separated bike lanes. Main streets are usually very narrow and car-free and are designed for walking, and bicyclists are expected to dismount, park their bikes, and walk. Separated bike lanes are primarily provided on busier streets that are not the commercial main streets. They also have a ton of quiet shared streets that are very similar to neighborhood greenways. Plus advisory bike lanes, which are kind of a hybrid.

Daniel Fuller
Daniel Fuller
3 months ago
Reply to  Buster

Thanks for the correction. I forgot that most countries don’t have the peculiar North American habit of designing commercial streets like highways, a.k.a. “stroads”. Even SE Hawthorne, which is comparatively narrow by US standards, has way more space for auto traffic on it than most European main streets.

Fred
Fred
3 months ago

That sign topper is such a missed opportunity! (wait: you removed the photo from the web story – it’s still on the email)

When I look at the sign topper, I clearly see people standing together, and trees, and buildings. But the representations of the “wheels” look like they could anything – Ferris wheels, paddlewheels on a river steamer, etc. And there is only half of a wheel, and the wheels themselves don’t really look like bicycle wheels but are more abstract.

NOWHERE in the image do we see an actual representation a bicycle! Why not? Was someone afraid that there would be community backlash against the idea of bikes using the greenways? Isn’t that their EXPLICIT purpose?

Maybe someone can tell me what I’m missing here.

Jason
Jason
3 months ago

I’ve lived off of Hawthorne for most of the last 20 years and have been continually perplexed and disappointed by cyclists who choose to ride on Hawthorne over Lincoln or Salmon. It makes as much sense to me as having a picnic in the Fred Meyer parking lot over Mt. Tabor park. I’ll never understand it.

Nuala
3 months ago
Reply to  Jason

Jason, That’s like asking why drivers don’t drive and park on the Banfield when they wish to do their shopping and errands.
Lincoln, Salmon, and Clinton are for commuting and traveling distances. Hawthorne, Division, and Clinton are where people walk and drive for obvious reasons- it is arbitrary to ban bicyclists and scooter riders from enjoying these streets.

Coach Dan
Coach Dan
3 months ago

Please remove the signals at 34th and Division and 34th and Clinton. Thank you.

M McCallister
M McCallister
2 months ago

I ride Madison as an alternative to Hawthorne and have no problems. Tricky part is at 12th where it’s a free for all.