Ask BikePortland: Are there right-of-way guidelines for riders on neighborhood greenways?

A family rides on the NE Holman neighborhood greenway on May 22, 2023. (Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

In this edition of Ask BikePortland we have a question from a reader about neighborhood greenways.

Here’s what they asked:

“Hi! Are there clear guidelines posted about the right-of-way for bicyclists on neighborhood greenways? The only verbiage I can find anywhere is “prioritizes bicyclists.” Had an encounter this week where a man in a pickup truck threatened us for being in the way in the neighborhood (he also lives on the greenway) and drove dangerously close to our bikes while doing it. Thank you.”

Thanks for the question.

Source: PBOT

Given the prominence of neighborhood greenways in the City of Portland’s transportation planning and network overall, you might assume they have some type of legal standing. Unfortunately, they don’t. At least, not on their own. There are some laws that refer specifically to “streets in a residence district” but they relate to speed limits and don’t directly connect to the presence of cyclists.

Charley Gee, a Portland-based lawyer and expert in bicycle law, says, “As far as I know the neighborhood greenways don’t carry any extra legal protections for anyone. A person driving a car in a neighborhood greenway has the same responsibilities as on any other street. And a person riding a bike has the same protections, but no greater.”

That being said, there are legal requirements for drivers on streets that have neighborhood greenway-like characteristics.

So the answer is sort of yes and no. Let me explain…

Here’s how the Portland Bureau of Transportation defines neighborhood greenway:

Neighborhood greenways are low-traffic and low-speed streets where we give priority to people walking, bicycling, and rolling. Neighborhood greenways form the backbone of the city’s Safe Routes to School network and connect neighborhoods, parks, schools, and business districts. Portland has more than 100 miles of neighborhood greenways in every part of the city.

From Driver’s Field Guide (ODOT)

And the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT, in their Driver’s Field Guide publication) says (emphases mine),

By law, bicycles are vehicles – and they have the right to ride in the roadway. Generally, they must ride on the right, in the direction of traffic. Typically, you’ll find bicyclists in a bike lane if one is available. But there are some exceptions. The center can be safer for bicycles. It’s legal for riders to take the lane when: avoiding debris or other obstacles; the road is too narrow to allow safe passing; they’re moving at or near the speed of traffic; they’re passing someone; or they’re preparing to make a left turn.”

The width of neighborhood greenways (“road is too narrow”) and the presence of parked cars and the door zones (“obstacles”) that come with them, mean you are allowed to “take the lane” and while you are doing so, someone would be in violation of the law if they passed you unsafely. With so many e-bikes being used these days, I also think more and more bicycle riders can operate “at or near the speed of traffic” on greenways given that they have a 20 mph speed limit. Some neighborhood greenways in Portland also have “Bikes May Use Full Lane” signage.

So even though greenways aren’t called out in Oregon law specifically, you do have some legal rights when riding on them. Beyond what I’ve shared above, keep in mind that the design of the streets and the policies that govern them were, in many ways, created specifically to prioritize bicycling. PBOT has done a very smart thing in their nearly 15-year quest to lower speed limits on residential roads. Former Mayor and PBOT Commissioner Sam Adams used the characteristics of neighborhood greenways (without naming them specifically) as a rationale both to give the City of Portland more authority to set speed limits and to lower the speed limits themselves.

In other words, instead of attaching legal rights to specific types of neighborhood greenway users, PBOT and the State of Oregon’s approach has been to essentially say, “We will use engineering, signage, and laws to create an environment on certain types of roadways so people drive safely and the environment is conducive to the types of users we want to encourage.”

Another thing worth mentioning is the presence of shared-lane markings — aka “sharrows.” These markings (a bicycle symbol under two chevrons) are ubiquitous throughout Portland side-streets and are used intentionally as wayfinding signs to point bicycle riders along routes that are designed to be safer than nearby arterials. But they also give you, as a bicycle rider, a bit more legal standing. (On a related note, check out the wonderful video on sharrows just released by the City of Eugene)

To sum up: There isn’t a specific Oregon law that governs neighborhood greenways, but there are clear legal guidelines about where you have the right to ride on residential streets that have all the characteristics (sharrows, relatively narrow cross section, lower speed limits) of greenways.

I hope this answer was helpful. Thanks for asking!


Got a burning bike question, ask BikePortland! Send an email to maus.jonathan@gmail.com.

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

Founder of BikePortland (in 2005). Father of three. North Portlander. Basketball lover. Car owner and driver. If you have questions or feedback about this site or my work, feel free to contact me at @jonathan_maus on Twitter, via email at maus.jonathan@gmail.com, or phone/text at 503-706-8804. Also, if you read and appreciate this site, please become a supporter.

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Carrie
Carrie
10 months ago

I just returned from a trip to Italy, which included 24 hours in Milan. Milan has an extensive, connected, functional protected bikeway network (that we used) along with lots and lots of small neighborhood streets (narrower than greenways). Then we were out in the countryside with mostly small towns with roads closed to cars from 6am-10pm and then arterial roads between them (narrow). In all cases there just was so much more actual honest-to-goodness SHARING going on between all the road users. Not sharing like we see here “oh, you can use this pavement but get the hell out of my way unless you’re also in a car”, but sharing in that “this is pavement for everyone to use to get from a-to-b and we’ll work together to get there”.

In the city there were a TON of cars. And folks weren’t going all that slow. But on the main roads the bike/ped infrastructure was totally separate (and don’t even tell me we need more room for this here — there was no car parking and magic happened!). On the side streets it was like a narrow greenway. While there was a ton of ‘close passing’, it wasn’t like being buzzed by a big truck. It was a close pass by a tiny car and everyone using space appropriately. Lots of babies on bikes with parents there too, FWIW.

In the country we saw more sporty cycling. And again a lot of really close passing, but also with much smaller cars and the general feel was not one of ill intent, it just was because stuff was way more narrow.

But here — yes we need to restrict car use wherever possible (and it’s possible!), put in diverters, enforce the heck out of current laws, and push our Feds to tighten car manufacturing rules IMMEDIATELY.

idlebytes
idlebytes
10 months ago

the road is too narrow to allow safe passing

This is slightly misleading the law says:

to avoid unsafe operation in a lane on the roadway that is too narrow for a bicycle and vehicle to travel safely side by side.

The important distinction is the lane is too narrow not the entire road. This is the one that drivers need to be reminded of constantly. That one exception basically allows you to take the lane on almost every street in the city. A lane wide enough to be shared safely with a car is anywhere from 16 to 21 feet depending on the car. A Chevy spark being about 6 feet in width with mirrors and a Dodge Ram 3500 10+ feet depending on the mirror type.

This is assuming that:

  • You take up about 3 feet.
  • There’s 3 feet between you and the car.
  • Another 3 feet between you and parked cars or curb.
  • And just 1 foot between the car and the adjacent lane.

There’s not many streets that wide here. I can’t think of one that has 21 foot lanes and certainly none on a greenway. Heck some greenways aren’t even 21 feet for both directions.

pierre delecto
pierre delecto
10 months ago
Reply to  idlebytes

From your link:

Nothing in this paragraph excuses the operator of a bicycle from the requirements under ORS 811.425 (Failure of slower driver to yield to overtaking vehicle) or from the penalties for failure to comply with those requirements.

According to Oregon law anyone who is riding on a neighborhood greenway at a speed “less than a speed established in ORS 811.105” and “fails to move the person’s vehicle off the main traveled portion of the highway into an area sufficient for safe turnout” …. “commits the offense of failure of a slower driver to yield to overtaking vehicle”.

(Yes, neighborhood greenways are highways according to Oregon law.)

Likewise 814.430 requires people riding on a neighborhood greenway to ride “as close as practicable to the right curb or edge of the roadway.”
“Bikes May Use Full Lane Signs” are needed on all neighborhood greenways because the function of sharrows is too vague in the MUTCD (e.g. does not give explicitly give a right to the full lane).

PS: I violate these laws and many other traffic laws that apply to people cycling constantly (and gleefully).

John
John
10 months ago
Reply to  pierre delecto

That interpretation flies in the face of an article that just came up on Bike Portland days ago:

https://bikeportland.org/2011/11/11/residents-riders-come-together-to-discuss-rural-road-safety-61831

[local bike lawyer] Ginsberg disagreed with Wheeler, telling him that a “bicyclist is entitled to the full lane” and that, “as a slow moving vehicle they have nowhere else to go.”

[mult co sheriff] Capt. Reiser added: “My understanding of the law, is that when you have a bicyclist riding solo, as safely as possible… and if you have a driver that comes across that bicycle coming from the rear and there’s no bike lane, that driver, if they make determination to do so, can go around that double yellow line.”

It’s pretty clear that 814.425 and 814.430 must not be the last word here. I’m not a lawyer, so I don’t know why your surface level reasoning isn’t correct, but apparently it isn’t. The cyclist can ride in the road and does not need to get over.

pierre delecto
pierre delecto
10 months ago
Reply to  John

That piece focused on roads with a double yellow line, a very different situation. There are many neighborhood greenways that are 32+ feet wide and would seem to fall under ORS 811.425 and 814.430.

I think the real question is why do neighborhood greenways not have any legal status (or even a listing in the MUTCD)?

idlebytes
idlebytes
10 months ago
Reply to  pierre delecto

I’m pretty sure they’re talking about actual highways with actual turnouts you know like the ones in rural parts of Oregon. Pulling over into a parking spot isn’t exactly the same thing. Two things that would disqualify this from applying that you overlooked are

The highway is a two directional, two-lane highway; and

There is no clear lane for passing available to the driver of the overtaking vehicle.

Most greenways the other lane is available for passing. Also lets be clear in the real world usage of this the slower vehicle doesn’t have to pull over immediately for every driver that comes along. You wouldn’t be able to get anywhere on busier roads if that were the case. We’ve all seen an RV slowly crawling up a hill on some small highway that eventually pulls over once they have several drivers waiting to pass them or they just keep going because the passing lane markings are coming up.

I seriously doubt this has ever been enforced on neighborhood streets or that a judge would interpret it that way (maybe in Bend). It would apply to drivers too. Almost every day I have drivers going slower than the speed limit looking for parking. Can you imagine them getting a ticket for that?

Likewise 814.430 requires people riding on a neighborhood greenway to ride “as close as practicable to the right curb or edge of the roadway.”

My entire post is about how that doesn’t apply. That doesn’t apply if the lane is too narrow which by my math would be 16 to 21 feet. Maybe my quote was too vague

A person is not in violation of the offense under this section if the person is not operating a bicycle as close as practicable to the right curb or edge of the roadway under any of the following circumstances:….

When reasonably necessary….to avoid unsafe operation in a lane on the roadway that is too narrow for a bicycle and vehicle to travel safely side by side.

Atreus
Atreus
10 months ago
Reply to  idlebytes

That seems correct to me. The average local street in Portland is 36 feet wide, with parking on both sides, leaving a remainder of about 20 feet, which is two 10-foot lanes with no centerline on a two-way street. Since a car and a bike can’t fit side-by-side in a 10-foot lane, the legal thing to do is to ride in the center of the travel lane while bicycling, roughly 5 feet to the left of the parking lane. Drivers can pass bicyclists by moving fully over into the opposing travel lane, which is perfectly legal as long as no oncoming traffic is coming down the road.

pierre delecto
pierre delecto
10 months ago
Reply to  idlebytes

It’s my understanding that “highway” is defined as any road/street in the ORS (and by ODOT).

That doesn’t apply if the lane is too narrow which by my math would be 16 to 21 feet.

The narrowness seems ill-defined and there are quite a few greenways that are wide enough that they would not be so ambiguous. It’s really stupid that we have had these de facto bike streets for many decades and they still have no legal meaning.

I agree that it’s unlikely that any of these laws would be enforced which kind of argues that they are bad laws to begin with in the context of cycling.

Jim Calhoon
Jim Calhoon
10 months ago
Reply to  idlebytes

I am sure you exaggerated the Rams width to make a point. But actual width of a Ram 3500 (at the mirrors) is 103.5 inches or 8.625 feet. The widest HD Pickup at the mirrors is the F350/F450 at 105.9 inches or 8.825 feet. In Oregon (and other states) the max width for any vehicle is 8.5 feet. My belief is that does not include the mirrors. The width of a box truck or semi-trailer is 8.5’ but we know the mirrors stick out farther. Anything wider than 8.5’ requires an extra permit and possible pilot cars. 

Sheilagh A Griffin
Sheilagh A Griffin
10 months ago

Regardless, threatening with a car by driving dangerously (my words) is NOT ever ok. Seems they should be reported and if I were their neighbor, I may try and have a conversation that is not while I am on a bike and they are driving a car and see where we could get. It is so sad that this is a neighbor situation!

Randi J
Randi J
10 months ago

For me the bottom line is it doesn’t really matter if cyclists have any special protections on Grennways. The cold reality is that even if we did it’s unlikely there would be any police response, investigation or prosecution for something like this in current day Portland. I just try to avoid conflict and realize I’m a vulnerable road user when on a bike. Most days it works out fine.

Kayleigh Tormades
Kayleigh Tormades
10 months ago

Here’s a guideline that we actually need: ebikes that travel at automobile speeds shouldn’t use Greenways. They should be on arterials with the mopeds and motorcycles. I’m beyond tired of getting unsafely passed by someone doing 25+ mph uphill or being nearly hit by ebike riders blowing stop signs & entering greenways without giving any regard for bicycle traffic.

We have created and promoted the use of vehicles that have no business operating in human-powered transit facilities and it’s time we put an end to it. The conflicts will only increase.

Steve C
Steve C
10 months ago

Greenways are not “human-powered transit facilities”, they are roads. If you feel so strongly that greenways should be human powered, ban cars before ebikes.

People on ebikes, just like anyone else, should pass safely and respectfully.

Atreus
Atreus
10 months ago

I disagree. The principle should be that e-bikes should not operate above the legal speed limit. So if a greenway is posted 20 mph, that should be the limit for e-bikes. I have a very powerful e-bike, but it tops out at 20 mph. Why should I not ride on greenways that are posted 20 mph?

Alex Bauman
Alex Bauman
10 months ago

I’m trying to understand: do you have a problem with bikes riding at faster speeds than you expect? Or is it that you feel that all e-bike riders should be banned because some e-bike riders are disrespectful? If it’s the latter, how is that different from drivers who point to a bike rider being disrespectful and arguing that all bikes should be banned from roads? Also, are Greenways “human-powered transit facilities” in the sense that no artificially-powered transit is allowed there? I thought cars were allowed and that’s the point of this post.

Full disclosure: I use a class 3 e-bike once or twice a week for daycare dropoff & pickup. I fastidiously obey the speed limit, stick to or below 15mph on the paths (incidentally, I’m pretty sure that’s below the top speed I feel comfortable at on my acoustic bike, though of course I go slow to pass or in busy areas, because the paths in Eugene are built without regard for safety), and obey state law at traffic controls. The thing I love/hate about riding a bike that can go the speed limit on pretty much any street I’d ride on is that every ride confirms that almost every driver is speeding almost all the time. Even on the 20mph side street with major traffic calming near my daughters daycare, I’m usually passed by people driving 5-10mph over the speed limit. So I get confused when people complain about people biking.

pierre delecto
pierre delecto
10 months ago
Reply to  Alex Bauman

I think it’s really amusing that you ride your class 3 e-bike on paths (illegal) while making a sanctimonious point of how you obey state law at traffic controls.

Give in to the dark (scofflaw) side, Alex.

Myth Dispulsion
Myth Dispulsion
10 months ago
Reply to  pierre delecto

Amusing too is stating that the bike is powered, or maybe operated, by sound. There is no such thing as an acoustic bicycle, to date.

(Nor is there an “analog” versus a “digital” bicycle, for instance.)

[sigh]

P
P
10 months ago

E-bikes create cyclists. Activists.

E-bikes are accessibility. In the market for a regular bike now, but I still love what my e-bike has brought to my life. I commute almost daily on my e-bike. Definitely not getting rid of her.

dw
dw
10 months ago

I would rather see regulation on the sale of ebikes. I ride a pedal assist ebike that only goes 20mph max and I ride at normal bike speeds, just minus struggling up hills or being really sweaty. Ebikes are awesome for that. Anything with a throttle and cosmetic pedals should be classified as a moped and come with the legal requirements and responsibilities of one.

surly ogre
surly ogre
10 months ago
Reply to  dw

We need regulation and limits on the speeds of automobiles. It is an incredible danger and patently unsafe that GM, Ford, Mercedes et al make vehicles that do not follow speed limits, especially on greenways, other streets with bikeways, streets with schools, streets with retail, sounds like all streets and freeways too.

pierre delecto
pierre delecto
10 months ago
Reply to  dw

I would rather see regulation on the sale of ebikes.

LOL at the idea that this can be regulated in any meaningful way! I have a stealth class 1 e-bike that I converted to a class 3 e-bike by installing a tiny little dongle.

comment image

P
P
10 months ago

I’m an ebike rider that is especially cautious in mixed use paths, which I’m on for the majority of my commute. I keep my speed around 8 to 10mph when pedestrians are present but I often get passed by road bikes going around 17 to 20mph and weaving in and out of pedestrians as if they’re stationary objects.

There are inconsiderate riders no matter the wheels. If there is a posted speed limit, I’d be hard pressed as a rider to exceed it whether on my roller skates or bike. There are reasons why the limits exist.

Sam Balto (Contributor)
Sam
10 months ago

Without diverters on Greenways are just another example of thoughts & prayers for people riding bikes. Sad considering PBOT claims Greenways are the “backbone of the Safe Routes to School network”.

eawriste
eawriste
10 months ago
Reply to  Sam

Exactly. I would encourage people to stop calling them greenways. They are just residential streets. PBOT has successfully marketed residential streets to people on bikes enough for some to assume there might be special rules to ride on them. Until there is a sustained and data-based redesign of these streets where the city installs frequent (e.g., every 3-5 blocks) diversion, they are just streets for cars.

Watts
Watts
10 months ago
Reply to  eawriste

“they are just streets for cars.”

They are generally also great places to ride.

eawriste
eawriste
10 months ago
Reply to  Watts

I ride residential streets too. Not because they’re practical, or because they’re safe, but because they’re pretty much the only thing Portland has. Imagine for the last two decades, if instead of selling residential streets as bike infrastructure, PBOT had focused on building a practical separated network like the 2030 bike plan. Imagine if we had a protected bike network like Amsterdam or even Montreal. Those are not only great places to ride, they’re actually functional.

pierre delecto
pierre delecto
10 months ago
Reply to  eawriste

Imagine if we had a protected bike network like Amsterdam or even Montreal.

I can’t imagine this.

This city has become a California-style SUV-centric city.

2.5%by2030

Watts
Watts
10 months ago
Reply to  eawriste

“Not because they’re practical, or because they’re safe”

Luckily, they are plenty practical for me. As for being “safe”, I’m not sure how you measure that. Safe compared to what? Though I am sure it has happened, I have never even heard of anybody being seriously injured on a Greenway because of “cars”, except where it crosses a major street like Powell.

Perhaps you are comparing it to the safety of your imagined “what could have been” scenario (that was never an even remotely realistic possibility). It is always difficult to fare well in a comparison with an idealized picture that doesn’t have to grapple with reality.

Compared to what other cities in the American context have managed to build, I think we’ve got a pretty good deal.

eawriste
eawriste
10 months ago
Reply to  Watts

Portland has focused its efforts on residential streets for two decades and has had a 46% decline in ridership since 2016. Cities that have built separated cycle networks have had a consistent increase in ridership. There is a high probability of increased ridership in Portland if we focused on building a separated network.

Remember the anecdotal “Plenty practical [or safe] for me” does not indicate others will feel/do the same. We are talking about interested but concerned, not people already cycling and not “professional cyclists.” The best way to get average people on bikes it with a separated network.

Watts
Watts
10 months ago
Reply to  eawriste

I agree that my perceptions are anecdotal.
However, you make a lot of assumptions about why ridership has fallen that are equally unsubstantiated. I’ve seen no evidence to support the idea that new riders would be enticed by arterial bike facilities, or that the decline in ridership is linked to any particular factor. The one thing we do know is that there is a strong negative correlation between building bike infrastructure in Portland and ridership levels in Portland.

eawriste
eawriste
10 months ago
Reply to  Watts

“The one thing we do know is that there is a strong negative correlation between building bike infrastructure in Portland and ridership levels in Portland.”

“Portland has built just 38 miles of protected bike lanes — less than four miles per year — since 2010. One of the reasons we’ve been given for this glacial pace is that PBOT staff (engineers, planners, project managers) haven’t had an official guidebook to work from.”

Link

Your assumption is completely ridiculous. In 12 years Portland has built 38 miles of PBLs. That’s an average of 3 miles/year. Relative to other cities, Portland has built very little in the way of functional infrastructure.

For perspective NYC has built over 60 miles of PBL from 2019 to 2022. That’s 20 miles per year.

Paris, which has already installed dozens of miles recently, will install 180km (112 mi) of PBLs by 2026. That’s 37 miles per year.

As a general rule of thumb, cities that install a protected network have an increase in mode share. Paris, Montreal, NYC, Vancouver all have an increase in mode share. Portland has not focused on building protected infrastructure. That is why we have had a decline in ridership since 2016.

Here’s a challenge: Find a city that installed a significant network of protected bike lane miles while simultaneously had a decrease in ridership. Honestly, I’ve been looking for a long time and would love to find something like this, so please tell me if you find one. Prove this correlation wrong.

Pierre Lathau
Pierre Lathau
10 months ago
Reply to  Sam

What bothers me is the city of Portland is not enforcing no camping regulations on our Safe Routes to School Network as promised.

PDX Bicyclist
PDX Bicyclist
10 months ago

Bikes have the right of way AT ALL TIMES, what this article really needs to be about is how do we ABOLISH CARS!

chris
chris
10 months ago
Reply to  PDX Bicyclist

“Bikes have the right of way AT ALL TIMES” Is that why I rarely see bikes stop for pedestrians at crosswalks? I thought pedestrians have the right of way AT ALL TIMES.

John
John
10 months ago
Reply to  chris

I have to say, I just don’t stop for pedestrians. They need to just walk, bikes are not cars. I’m not going to plow into you. And I’m also not going to slam on my brakes to let you walk. If I’m 10 seconds away, you just start walking, there is zero danger of collision. People should not be of the mindset that everyone needs to stop for whatever mode has the highest “right of way” priority at all times. Bikes and peds can interleave naturally, it’s fine.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pqQSwQLDIK8

Steve C
Steve C
10 months ago

I try to stop for pedestrains when it seems appropriate. But to be honest, a cyclist stopping does not guarentee in any way that drivers will stop for walkers. More often than not, as a cyclist but sometimes also while driving, stopping for someone waiting at a curb to cross can put pressure on the pedestrian to push out into traffic and assert their right of way when they were just waiting for traffic to pass. It’s a difficult balance and sometimes I err on the side of just going through the interesection with caution, after too many experiences of seemingly annonying everyone by stopping for a walker to cross. It’s a judgement call and unfortuanlly everyone involved, walker, cyclist, and drivers are inconsistent when making split second decisions.

Maybe we need a universal pediestrian hand signal to indicate they are wanting to cross and for other users to stop as opposed to just waiting to cross when the intersection is clear of traffic? I’ve tried the middle finger, but I think that just gets people worked up.

Watts
Watts
10 months ago
Reply to  chris

“I thought pedestrians have the right of way AT ALL TIMES.”

They don’t. One obvious example is crossing when there’s a don’t walk signal, but there are many others. There are plenty of cases where cars have the right of way over pedestrians.

Atreus
Atreus
10 months ago

My advice is to always ride in a position as close as possible to the sharrow markings, since those are literally meant to provide a guide for where to ride in the street, and legally they are meant to communicate that it is a shared lane situation. I often see people riding as far to the right as possible, which either puts them in the door zone next to parked cars or has them weaving back and forth when parking is less utilized, and I think that leads drivers to engage in unsafe close passing behavior. Much better to ride closer to the center and unambiguously take the lane.

I see there is a lot of debate about whether or not the law about riding along the right side of the road applies to neighborhood greenways, but I don’t see how that could be the case. A sharrow is always placed where the bicyclist is supposed to be riding, and in some cities they actually place them to the far right side of wide travel lanes, to encourage drivers to pass them. But if it’s placed in the center of the lane, or toward the center of a local street, that’s where you are supposed to be riding.

Chris Anderson
10 months ago
Reply to  Atreus

Watch the occasional motorist driving on a Greenway and see the line their head and driver’s side seat takes. It is well to the left of the sharrow, and usually to the left of the centerline. Unless there is oncoming traffic, that’s where I position my bike on greenways, and it seems to cut down on any ambiguity with drivers, who tend to turn off to a different street rather than try to pass me.

soren
soren
10 months ago
Reply to  Atreus

Sharrows have no legal meaning in Oregon except that ODOT has adopted MUTCD. The problem is that the description of a sharrow in the MUTCD is ambiguous and does not state that people riding have a right to the full lane or are absolbed from the requirement to follow state law (e.g. slow moving vehicle).

What does “assist or alert” mean from a legal perspective?

https://mutcd.fhwa.dot.gov/htm/2009/part9/part9c.htm

Assist bicyclists with lateral positioning in a shared lane with on-street parallel parking in order to reduce the chance of a bicyclist’s impacting the open door of a parked vehicle,

Assist bicyclists with lateral positioning in lanes that are too narrow for a motor vehicle and a bicycle to travel side by side within the same traffic lane,

Alert road users of the lateral location bicyclists are likely to occupy within the traveled way,

Encourage safe passing of bicyclists by motorists..

Scott Kocher
10 months ago

Our city councilors should pass an ordinance making greenways “no passing” for drivers, even if it means being patient and going slowly. Greenways are poorly-suited for cars and trucks to pass people on bikes. Dangerous and uncomfortable passes are a big problem for families and kids especially. Drivers shouldn’t be on a greenway for more than a block or two, so a no passing rule also helps with cut-thru and high speeds that degrade greenways.

SD
SD
10 months ago
Reply to  Scott Kocher

100%- My kid and I were dangerously passed by a pediatric urologist, who lives on a greenway, when I was taking a left to go to the park. He thought that when I moved to the middle of the lane, I was purposefully obstructing him so he gunned it to squeeze by us on the left. Fortunately, I registered that the sound of his engine meant that he was going to go full D-bag and I stopped the left turn just in time. I followed him to his house and he said “Share the road!”

jakeco969
jakeco969
10 months ago
Reply to  SD

What were you planning on doing after following him to his home? Did you bring your kid with you to a potentially dangerous situation??

pierre delecto
pierre delecto
10 months ago
Reply to  Scott Kocher

City councilors could also pass a greenway ordinance that would give people people walking and rolling have priority. (I think the chances of this happening are close to zero.)

Myth Dispulsion
Myth Dispulsion
10 months ago
Reply to  Scott Kocher

Streets with no center line are the smallest and slow streets and shouldn’t feature passing at all. In fact, it’s visibly unclear if there are two lanes or one, even if wide enough. On streets like those nobody ever expects a motorist to use the entire left half of a lane to pass anything.

Myth Dispulsion
Myth Dispulsion
10 months ago
Reply to  Scott Kocher

If it’s a necessary through route for motorists, too, that is a problem.

Else it’s normally never conceived but given we can’t have nice things now, it may come to where many streets are closed at one end or mid-block to motorized traffic for safety, to remove through travel. So long as each portion has connector and arterial access, it’s feasible. Barriers would permit bike to pass through, of course.

Separately, what about blocking cross traffic along these designated bike routes?

SD
SD
10 months ago

Greenways are lawless.
Greenways are a liminal space between serenity and madness.
The only rule of the greenways is you don’t talk about the greenways.
They are Portland’s little secret, hiding in plain sight.
They have no beginning and no end.
You enter them not knowing when or where you will come out.
You come out not knowing where you are.
Some say that D.B. Cooper is still riding on a greenway.

eawriste
eawriste
10 months ago
Reply to  SD

Love it. Thanks SD. Finally, someone else feels the way I do about “Greenways,” the most successful marketing campaign in Portland transportation history. (Don’t call them “streets” please. Put these glasses on. They are special streets.)

Atreus
Atreus
10 months ago
Reply to  SD

Comment of the week?

Fred
Fred
10 months ago
Reply to  Atreus

Yes! – absolutely the best comment of the week.

Greenways are yet another example of Performative Portland: they are nothing more than marketing to convince people that the city is doing something to prioritize cycling when in fact it is not.

Please cycle at your own risk.

Atreus
Atreus
10 months ago
Reply to  Fred

I wasn’t saying I agreed with any of the content. I just like the idea of absurdist poetry about greenways.

Jay Cee
Jay Cee
10 months ago
Reply to  SD

I saw db cooper riding a e-bike on the going greenway

Myth Dispulsion
Myth Dispulsion
10 months ago
Reply to  SD

Arterials in many places are getting worse, too, and motivating some instead to use side streets, including a number of people who formerly always used arterials for serious through travel.

But abandoning routes to motorists is normal now, and we’re numb to the more childish anger about “yielding” or “surrender” and the like. Just be safe, first.

Jay Cee
Jay Cee
10 months ago

This is why we need more traffic diverters on greenways, especially in the N and NE parts of town. Such as every three blocks. If greenways offer bikes no legal priority or protection over other vehicles, we need to pressure pbot to do a better job with car traffic diversions to physically discourage automobile usage on these supposed backbones of Portland’s bike network.

Mark Remy
Mark Remy
10 months ago

Someone please share this article with the driver who absolutely ROARED past me and two other cyclists going south on SE 41st (a greenway!) this past Friday. She passed us by speeding the wrong way around the concrete planter in the intersection of SE 41st and Harrison, before swerving back to the right and narrowly avoiding one of us approaching the stop sign at SE 41st ad Lincoln, where she tapped her brakes before roaring ahead.

Good times.

ActualPractical
ActualPractical
10 months ago

Good info. I find myself being hypervigilant around pickup truckers, they often seem aggressive and uncaring for human life. Too much to lose to assert my rights to the road these days.

X
X
10 months ago

It’s good material for humor but the vehicle a person drives isn’t great information for planning safe travel. I don’t have a clicker on my bars but if I did I’d be able to tell you truly that I’m most likely to go out on the bow of a Subaru.

The most scrupulously polite driver I’ve ever encountered was driving a full bore rally car with Idaho plates. I wouldn’t have known they were behind me if it hadn’t been for their exhaust note. To have that much car and maintain accurate following distance shows something.

FDUP
FDUP
10 months ago

No matter how fast or slow you are going, or what kind of vehicle you are piloting, you have the right of way over anyone behind you.

Watts
Watts
10 months ago
Reply to  FDUP

Not true. On a highway, you need to make sure there is no one coming up from behind you before you change lanes.

maxD
maxD
10 months ago

Portland “greenways” are not Greenways. They are a marketing bikewash courtesy of PBOT. They are not protected, the signage is very poor and they do not meet any greenway standard. PBOT allows cars to park right up to the intersection along all of the greenways. They do not even install stop signs at cross streets in Alameda and Overlook neighborhoods, that I have noticed. They mostly lack diverters, or the they use diverters that make it optional for cars (Ex.: N Michigan at Skidmore- over half the cars turn left; NW Flanders at 21st- the diverter is so wide, cars just drive straight through it- ALL the time).

This morning, a car rolled out in front of me (through a stop sign) on NE Going. They may not have seen the stop sign because it was blocked by a sprinter van and there is no stop bar. Th car proceeded to drive down the greenway for 10-12 blocks, then turn right on 31st, another “greenway” and proceed across Prescott another “greenway” to Regents, another “greenway” and stay on the greenway all the way to Knott. PBOT designs greenways to be effective, attractive shortcuts for people driving, then they tell people on biking that they they have priority and they are safe places to ride. I have been tailgated and honked at a bunch of times on greenways, and that is the the reason my teenager will no longer bike in Portland. PBOT does not design bike facilities for transportation, they are exclusively for marketing or to create faster and more convenient places to drive.

TA
TA
10 months ago

I’ve said it before and will say it again – Google and Waze should be forbidden to suggest routes that use or cross greenways unless the origin or destination are on one. The stretch of SE Harrison between 24th and 30th gets sketchy, even with the diverter at 26th. I ride and run around there (live at 25th and Harrison) and it gets hairy. Residential streets shouldn’t be the main connection between Hawthorne and Division