Thanksgiving 2013 Open Thread

Have a happy holiday, everyone!

6 responses to “Thanksgiving 2013 Open Thread”

  1. I just emailed this to Portland’s “safe” email hotline for safety concerns. I’m wondering what the people here think of my concerns and suggestions.


    I’m emailing you about a subject that has been bothering me for quite some time. I commute daily by bicycle through downtown Portland, and I feel that currently there is simply *no way* to cycle south through downtown that is safe, legal, and convenient. Consider the options:

    The waterfront. Protected from cars, but also full of pedestrians and bicycles going the other way, with no rules for who rides where. It’s too chaotic to be safe unless I ride very slowly.

    3rd street. A very busy street, with fast-moving traffic that isn’t expecting bicycles. Even so, this is probably the safest current bike route for going south.

    5th street. The transit mall, with many fast-moving buses and only one lane available that I have to share with all cars. I can’t ride there safely without obstructing traffic.

    Broadway. A very skinny bike lane, right next to highly-used parking spaces and high traffic. Every time that I’ve tried riding there, I’ve had close calls with cars turning in front of me or pulling into/out of parking spaces or opening their doors right in front of me. Apparently even the PBOT director had an accident there!

    Park street. A one lane street, with parking on both sides. Again, I can’t ride there safely without obstructing traffic, and I have to watch out for parked cars pulling out/opening doors on both sides.

    11th street. With streetcar tracks in the right lane, I need to use the left lane to avoid being “tracked”. This leads to having drivers behind me that are angry and confused that I’m not riding to the right, where bikes usually ride. They may also perform unsafe driving maneuvers in order to pass me, such as speeding or driving uncomfortable close to me.

    13th street. Another skinny bike lane, but this one is right on the edge of a busy highway. Here I feel that, although the risk of an accident is low, any accident could easily be fatal. I also have to cross two lanes of traffic to get into it, and then two more to get back out of it. At the end, at Market St., it’s even worse because the bike lane merges left while most traffic turns right, and many cars move very fast because they’ve just come off the I-405 freeway.

    Here are my suggestions in order to improve safety:

    On the waterfront path, put in designated lanes telling cyclists where to ride and in what direction, and warning pedestrians.

    3rd street: Put in “sharrows” in the right lane to warn drivers to expect cyclists, and strictly enforce speed limits.

    5th street: I’m not sure what to do here. It’s a tough environment for cyclists. Maybe some warning signs would be best.

    Broadway: Remove the bike lane, and put in sharrows in the right lane instead. Cyclists need a full lane here in order to be visible and safe. The current bike lane is just about the width necessary for a buffer zone from parked cars- a car door can extend up to 5 feet from a parked car, which is a serious risk for cyclists.

    Park Street: If we could remove parking on one side, this would make a perfect Neighborhood Greenway where cyclists ride slowly and safely in the right lane, and cars can pass them on the left.

    11th Street: The only real solution is to find a technology that allows cyclists to ride safely along streetcar tracks without the risk of falling into the grooves. Until that can be developed, I think the best stopgap solution is painting sharrows in the left lane, to inform both drivers and cyclists that cyclists should ride there in order to avoid the tracks.

    13th street: Widen the sidewalk, raise the barrier, and extend the current bike lane over the overpass until Montgomery St.

    I realize that I’m asking for a lot in this email, but I think that none of these suggestions would considerably improve bicycle safety, and none of them would require expensive infrastructure. If you can do any of these things, many cyclists will be saved from painful accidents.

    • What do you think of the cycletrack on Broadway through the PSU campus? Extending it further north would likely meet some greater resistance and technical issues: storefronts might object to having a bike lane between the sidewalk and the parked cars, and it might exacerbate right-turn conflicts (neither of which is an issue through PSU).

    • I love the Transit Mall streets. I ride north on 6th, deliberately taking the lane. And, I ride south on 5th, deliberately taking the lane. Because it’s just a single lane, with those warning stripes on your right, autos rarely try to overtake you. Mostly they don’t honk either. It’s safer than Broadway, or any other streets.

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