Roseway resident’s fake traffic scheme will likely backfire

Message posted to Roseway PDX group. Background photo of NE 72nd Avenue through Rose City Park Golf Course from Google Earth.

“Our engineers are able to tell if someone’s been trying to do something that is not a normal travel behavior.”

– Hannah Schafer, PBOT

How far will some people go to prevent any loss of car access? At least one resident of the Roseway Neighborhood in northeast Portland is willing to sabotage city equipment to ensure they can still drive as easily as they do now.

Earlier this week, someone in the Roseway PDX Facebook group appeared to encourage others to drive their cars over a set of hose counters that had been laid across NE 72nd where it goes through the Rose City Park Golf Course. The idea was to make sure the tally of cars was high enough to prevent the Portland Bureau of Transportation from moving forward with a plan to turn the street into a one-way for drivers.

As we reported in 2021, PBOT is working on their 70s Neighborhood Greenway project. The plan calls for making the northbound lane a carfree path and allowing car users to only use this section of the street in the southbound direction. The person behind this effort is under the impression that if the hose counter gets more than 3,000 cars per day, PBOT will reverse course on that plan.

PBOT graphic showing the planned changes for 72nd Ave through the golf course.

Keep in mind that one of the main goals of PBOT’s neighborhood greenway program is to reduce auto traffic in order to create a safer environment for walkers and bikers. Northbound NE 72nd dumps right into NE Sacramento, a street that has become a very nice, low-car environment since PBOT added speed bumps, concrete diverters, new striping, and other measures.

Speaking of NE Sacramento, let’s not forget that some folks in the Roseway neighborhood were opposed to the traffic calming project because it ruined their view.

A PBOT hose counter. (Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

Back to the hose counter issue.

After some folks in the community were confused and/or not satisfied with an email from the PBOT project director, I called the Communications Director Hannah Schafer and asked her about it.

“I know there’s a lot of concern right now and there’s been talk in the neighborhood about trying to game the hoses to a degree one way or the other,” Schafer shared in a phone call this morning. “Our engineers are able to tell when they pull that data if someone’s been trying to, you know, do something that is not a normal travel behavior.”

Schafer didn’t want to go into any more detail about how engineers can spot fake traffic on the hose counters. That’s understandable, since the more they share, the easier it might be to game the system. The fact that PBOT is aware of folks posting to the neighborhood FB group about it, makes it even easier for them to ferret out any dubious data.

So if you thought a car critical mass going back-and-fourth over the hose counters would fool PBOT, you might want to think again.

And lastly, what does this episode tell us about people people and their driving habit. Can you imagine someone being so blinded by their attachment to their car and the status quo — and their fear of change — that they are willing to resort to this level of subversive behavior? Sheesh.


UPDATE, 9/11: PBOT has already made their decision to close the northbound lane to drivers. It’s official now. Stay tuned for updates and a first look once the project is complete.

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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Cap'n Pastry
Cap'n Pastry
9 months ago

And just to help save a few valuable pixels and some blood pressure elevation, there is no more question about the northbound lane becoming bike/walk only. I live a few blocks from NE 72nd Dr and today received a postcard from PBOT alerting me to the changes coming to that roadway soon. You may still have feelings about process and whathaveyou but the product is on the way.

Michael
Michael
9 months ago

Ugh, I live in the area and use that street pretty regularly. The push back from motorists appalled by the idea that they might need to go a mile (a few minutes drive time) out of their way to head north from Tillamook to Sacramento is just mind-boggling. But god forbid we do anything about the lack of safe north-south connections over I-84 so I don’t have to bike a mile out of my way over to 74th just to get to Montavilla….

bjorn
bjorn
9 months ago
Reply to  Michael

I actually did some measurements with google maps around this and it turns out that for most residents/destinations cutting through the golf course doesn’t actually shave off much distance and in many cases is longer. I don’t think there is any destination where this closure will add a mile to a residents round trip. Frankly it is disappointing that they are not closing it in both directions.

9watts
9watts
9 months ago

Of course PBOT will say this. They have to give the impression that they (and their hardware) are not dupes. Whether that is true or to what extent it is true is unclear.

PTB
PTB
9 months ago
Reply to  9watts

Do you know something we don’t?

9watts
9watts
9 months ago
Reply to  PTB

Do you disagree with what I wrote? If so why don’t you say so, and explain why/how.

pierre delecto
pierre delecto
9 months ago

The person behind this effort is under the impression that if the hose counter gets more than 3,000 cars per day, PBOT will reverse course on that plan.

Considering that PBOT used this exact argument to reverse course on improving NE Grant Place and instead spent approximately a million dollars creating an alternative greenway route, it seems to me that there is a de facto policy of prioritizing higher levels of car/suv throughput on neighborhood greenways.

cc_rider
cc_rider
9 months ago

Which is odd because PBOT is more than happy to have extremely high car throughput on their currently existing “greenways”.

dw
dw
9 months ago
Reply to  cc_rider

One that comes to mind is 34th between Belmont and Division. There are so many cars on that route and it’s the only relatively comfortable north south route in that part of the neighborhood. To add insult to injury, the water bureau tore it up to rebuild the sewer. That’s fine on its own but they left the street cross-crossed by shitty patches. Now the street slows bikes down but poses no obstacle to big trucks, SUVs, and Subarus.

9watts
9watts
9 months ago
Reply to  dw

Those lumpy torn up sections will be replaced shortly, possibly very shortly. The equipment is already sitting there.

pierre delecto
pierre delecto
9 months ago
Reply to  9watts

If the “replacements” are anything like those on Salmon they won’t be much of an improvement. I now avoid Salmon because the crappy filled in sewer areas have ridiculously “wavy” asphalt and still have bone-jarring joins to existing pavement.
.
Platinum!

pierre delecto
pierre delecto
9 months ago
Reply to  dw

Unfortunately, 34th is not a neighborhood greenway.

Cap'n Pastry
Cap'n Pastry
9 months ago
Reply to  pierre delecto

I must take exception to both your premise and your example. NE Grant Place was always a crummy part of the Tillamook N.G. alignment. I never enjoyed the skinny bike lanes leading to that stretch nor the amount of traffic on school days/nights. (And until we legislate away the ability to drive to Grant High I don’t see a likely motor vehicle alternate route.)
On the other hand, I love taking NE Hancock now that the concrete has been smoothed – much more direct route, the light at 33rd is often instantaneous in changing when called, and the diversion on 33rd keeps school traffic manageable. True, the connection at Sandy is wonky, but that will be fixed.

David Raboin
David Raboin
9 months ago
Reply to  Cap'n Pastry

I agree. Grant-Tillamook is a tough fix. Hancock works better but Hancock still has one major flaw: the connection across Sandy is terrible. I thought that the park behind Reo’s Ribs was going to become a connector path with a diagonal bike crossing signal and paint at the corner of Hancock and 43rd. That part of the project seems to be going nowhere.

EP
EP
9 months ago
Reply to  David Raboin

It’s sketchy trying to ride NW across Sandy/43rd from Hancock while trying not to get hit by northbound or southbound cars on 43rd. I usually just end up going up to Grant.

It’s easier to feed back into traffic and cross that intersection when you’re headed eastbound on Hancock and ride through the park, but you still have to ride on the sidewalk. The diagonal crossing fix part of this needs to happen to really activate that route.

dw
dw
9 months ago
Reply to  EP

If it was this hard to drive places safely nobody would drive. Why do we make it so hard for people to bike?

pierre delecto
pierre delecto
9 months ago
Reply to  David Raboin

Grant-Tillamook is a tough fix.

Only because PBOT chooses to ignore its own stated policy in the council-approved Greenway report.

For example:

1. Diversion and/or traffic calming between 33rd and 37th would reduce vehicles per day and create a safer route to school.

2. Removal of parking and creation of enhanced bike lanes between 37th and 42nd would preserve an existing greenway and create a more practical route that preserves direct access to major destinations (e.g. Library, Whole Paycheck, Grocery Outlet etc.).

The ridiculously sub-par Hancock greenway is a classic example of how PBOT prioritizes motorvehicle throughput (even on formerly designated bike routes) by shunting people biking onto ever more windy and tortuous routes.

pierre delecto
pierre delecto
9 months ago
Reply to  Cap'n Pastry

nor the amount of traffic on school days/nights.

Your opposition to diversion on a neighborhood greenway that exceeds city-council approved VPD limits and is adjacent to a school is noted.

Guy
Guy
9 months ago

Could this be called “brownway activism”, I guess?

Ken S
Ken S
9 months ago
Reply to  Guy

I like where you’re going with that.
Bikes get greenways,
Cars get brownways

dw
dw
9 months ago

I hate to play devil’s advocate but I get why people do this stuff. They feel like they have no control – everything is suddenly way more expensive, we see people strung out on drugs and living in squalor every day, and the future of the world feels very uncertain. The bike lane is closest thing to lash out at, and the thing they feel like they have control over. Humans like routine and the status quo; so this person wants to preserve two way car traffic on 72nd because it’s the “last straw”, so to speak.

Driving back and forth over a car counter is pretty “car-brained” behavior though. This person needs to go for a walk or bike ride, get some fresh air, and really re-evaluate where they’re putting their time & energy.

Racer X
Racer X
9 months ago
Reply to  dw

Image what the blah blah AM radio heads would say if cyclists were doing this on a traffic counter?!

Guy
Guy
9 months ago
Reply to  dw

I wonder how fast a “brownway activist” graduates to “rolling coal”?

Concordia Cyclist
Concordia Cyclist
9 months ago
Reply to  dw

I’ll play devil’s advocate to your devil’s advocate. Is it possible people do this stuff not because they feel they have no control, but because norms on ordinary behavior have been pushed so far out of bounds by our current political and (dis)information space that they feel they can break rules or game systems for their own personal benefit with no sense of pushback or responsibility to the community they are a part of?

Today’s conditions (outside of climate change & rising domestic authoritarianism – which certainly aren’t PDX-specific things) aren’t any worse than at many times in the past (I mean, some of us lived here when Portland was a much rougher place to live), but they’ve been magnified by actors who do not actually care about the conditions, just instead how to exploit them for political or economic gain.

I guess I don’t see the viewpoint of people such as this as being a rational response regardless of whether they feel the world around them is “out of control”.

EP
EP
9 months ago

Bike and pedestrian improvements make Rose city park better for all the people who use it. Keeping high volumes of traffic through the park does not make the park better for anyone using it, it just “conveniences” a driver for a minute or two.

I’m looking forward to the RCP Trail Project that will put a loop trail around the park, add two crosswalks, and connect to a sidewalk at the high school. A lot more people are going to be biking through, and walking around RCP, and closing a lane of 72nd will help calm the traffic for all of them.

https://www.portland.gov/parks/rosecitygolfcoursetrail

EP
EP
9 months ago

So I just cruised over here for a lunch ride Friday 9/8 at 1pm. There’s a counter south of Tillamook on 74th. I didn’t notice one east of 74th on Tillamook or west on Tillamook between 74th and 72nd. There is no counter in the park on 72nd between Tillamook and Sacramento. No counter east of 72nd on Sacramento, either.

Usually they put counters in a few at a time to determine turning directions and Overall travel direction and such. I’m guessing they took the 72nd counter out to avoid a whole sideshow in the park.

EP
EP
9 months ago
Reply to  EP

I should add that I saw the standard two tube road counter on the road on 74th. Maybe they’re using something more sneaky on 72nd in the park? Either way it’s a great day for a bike ride and I saw a lot of people biking through 72nd and up on Rocky Butte.

Tony Thayer-Osborne
Tony Thayer-Osborne
9 months ago
Reply to  EP

There were the remnants of one sitting on the road yesterday – I saw the hose loosely sitting on the roadway and the box was missing. Today it was gone. I wonder if someone messed with it.

qqq
qqq
9 months ago

Sounds like counter-terrorism.

Fred
Fred
9 months ago
Reply to  qqq

Comment of the week! – or certainly pun of the week (new feature idea!).

Cap'n Pastry
Cap'n Pastry
9 months ago
Reply to  EP

Counters generally only go in for a couple of days. Take a look at the City’s Traffic Counts map and you’ll see the count dates – most are 48 hours.
You can also see that some counts show volumes (number of vehicles), some show speeds and some show type of vehicles. Click on one of the colored dots and in the window that opens you may have to use the arrows in the upper right hand corner to move through south-bound/north bound, different dates counts were taken, and type of data collected (volume, speed, etc.).
Fascinating information there – e.g., a count done on 72nd Dr just north of Tillamook this past May showed an average of just 831 vehicles going northbound, of which 65% were exceeding the speed limit.

David Hampsten
9 months ago
Reply to  Cap'n Pastry

That doesn’t sound like a hose counter but rather one of those flat detection systems they lay in the roadway, covered with roof shingle, that are designed to be run over – they are very good at detecting speed but are usually in the road for less than 72 hours.

(I once had a job where we used about a dozen different detection devices, some better for speed, some better for turn movements, and still others for counting human beings. We would sometimes get results of drivers doing 115 mph at 3 am on a 25 mph minor collector, with over 90% of users moving within 5 mph of the posted speed limit. Human counters are notoriously unreliable, frequently low-paid interns or volunteers – they periodically drop off asleep from sheer boredom then suddenly over-count when they wake up.)

David Hampsten
9 months ago

Quite frankly I’m surprised PBOT is relying just on hose counters, most jurisdictions use infrared readers these days, or a combination thereof. It may be that PBOT is using both technologies, but the infrared readers aren’t easy to spot if you don’t know they are out there (they look like small electrical outlets).

Todd/Boulanger
Todd/Boulanger
9 months ago

Was the option of making it 2 way for motor vehicles (but yield control with only a few queueing areas) evaluated? (Just curious.)

AND if drivers really want to keep it open to cars how about adding a toll: aka “park entry fee” for driving through it vs visiting?

Mark Remy
Mark Remy
9 months ago

This is pathetic.

EEE
EEE
9 months ago

Why have a road there at all. At most, it should be a multi-use path.

Hotrodder
Hotrodder
9 months ago

I hate to say I know this, but about a month or so ago, there was a long thread on Nextdoor about this issue. One resident in particular was vehement that this ‘closure’ would cause her life irreparable ruin and anguish. Most people, however, saw it as a positive for the neighborhood, as do I. (I bike this road at least once a week, and I’m happy that PBOT is making this change)

Guy
Guy
9 months ago
Reply to  Hotrodder

Still on there?? Sorry to hear it! Boycotting that site was one of the single best moves I ever made for my mental health.

Fred
Fred
9 months ago
Reply to  Guy

I agree, Guy. But it’s great if you need to get rid of an old rain barrel.

EP
EP
9 months ago
Reply to  Hotrodder

“J. Lo” has brought out every argument in the world against this. From the environmental impact of added driving to the inconvenience of longer bank trips, wondering why cyclists can’t just go to 57th or 82nd, added emergency vehicle response time, and the latest is some potential hazard having to do with trucks delivering sand to the maintenance yard possibly causing the hill on 72nd to collapse, and/or they go out of control and crash into people.

I think the real reason for all the performative concern is that she’s worried about increased cut through traffic past her house at the east end of the park. Like; hey, let’s just admit that there are too many cars and we need to figure out how to better manage them!

qqq
qqq
9 months ago
Reply to  EP

It’s ironic if it’s true (and it does seem plausible) that her real concern is cut-through traffic past her house, because to me that’s a reasonable concern.

It seems like it’s common for neighbors who are concerned about projects impacting them personally to come up with all kinds of other concerns which are often dubious. They may feel that nobody will listen if they just say what their real concern is–either that or they think adding a bunch of other concerns (that they may not really be concerned about) will bolster their argument.

It does seem inevitable that reducing auto traffic on that one street will increase traffic at either end of the park. That seems like something that could be addressed by the project.

David Raboin
David Raboin
9 months ago
Reply to  Hotrodder

After the improvements of the past four years Sacramento looks like one big rolling block party on the weekends. It’s great. Even when looking at in through the cynical lens of house value, the changes to the neighborhood have to be a net positive. The schools are improving, the streets are safer, and you see kids playing outside. Rose City Park is a success story.

Sam Balto (Contributor)
Sam
9 months ago

These people need lane man. https://www.tiktok.com/t/ZT82pKVrE/

Guy
Guy
9 months ago
Reply to  Sam

Yes. But he should better be called Lame Man because, as Ivan Illich points out, 20th century industrialization cut off his legs and offered him an artificial (but now mandatory) fossil fuel life support system in their place.

Evan young
Evan young
9 months ago

How is it sabatoge of city equipment? This is fake news.

Foot Patrol
Foot Patrol
9 months ago

Talk about backfiring! PBOT has established policies to bring volume down on neighborhood greenways that exceed 3,000 Average Daily Traffic Volume (Source: 2015 Neighborhood Greenway Assessment Report). If the NextDoor crowd succeeds, it will invite additional traffic calming and potential diversion.

idlebytes
idlebytes
9 months ago
Reply to  Foot Patrol

This is what I was going to say. Also these counters were most likely put in place to determine how successful the change is. Adding additional traffic now will just make it seem like even more of a success.

Matt S
Matt S
9 months ago

I agree with the folks on Sacramento. Those signs are UGLY.

Neil D
Neil D
9 months ago

It wasn’t me, I promise! But seriously, don’t write off all of Roseway yet!

cxhansen
cxhansen
9 months ago

Thank you Jonathan for clarifying that this is an individual resident (not actually in Roseway). This person does not represents a majority of neighbors nor the neighborhood association. Neither the Roseway nor Rose City Park NAs have tried to stop these projects. We have many neighbors who look forward to the reduced car traffic and increased safety on 72nd Dr. Personally, I’m looking forward to riding the completed 70s Greenway!

EP
EP
9 months ago

PBOT added the recent traffic counter data to their website. It looks like they got a baseline of traffic volumes on the side streets to the east and west of the park, as well as 72nd.

Interesting to note the 8/31-9/1 volumes for 72nd. 1089 cars headed northbound, with 42.9% driving over the posted 20mph speed. 793 cars headed southbound, with 45.5% driving over the posted 20mph speed. Both were 95.5-95.7% cars, the rest were trucks.

The count from 5/3-5/5/2023 was the reverse, with 850 cars heading northbound and 65% over the posted speed. 1095 cars heading southbound with 58.7% over the posted speed. 96-97.2% cars, the rest were trucks.