Comment of the Week: A better way from Clinton to Tilikum

Comment of the Week: A better way from Clinton to Tilikum

clinton tilikum map

Here’s another way to go.
(Map by Google)

Sometimes, you just have to stop reading the signs.

That’s the advice from BikePortland reader axoplasm, who responded to Tuesday’s post about the hassles of navigating to the east landing of Tilikum Crossing with a homemade route of his own that he said is “slightly longer” but “much faster, with simpler crossings and saner stoplights.”

Here’s his take on the situation, starting with a reply to an observation from Justin C., the bike commuter who wrote most of Tuesday’s post.

(Axoplasm refers to a series of numbers we used to identify the issues Justin identified. You can keep track of them here if you’re interested.)

“It’s as if someone thought of connecting the bike route to the bridge via Tilikum Way but then decided against it…here’s the reality: We’re hoping for signal timing to make a bad route slightly less bad.”

THIS. A good guide to sanely using the Tilikum is to assume the bike signals are steering you AWAY from a good path.

I take this bridge routinely from approximately the same place as Justin C. I’ve found that the crossings are much better if I actively disregard signage & wayfinding (but not the law). The clean crossings are all there, but Tri-Met is trying to steer bikes away from them.

For example, avoid (1-2-3) altogether by turning north on 12th (the sidewalk works OK if I’m with my kids), crossing Division, turning west on Caruthers and then crossing Division (again) and the tracks at SE 8th (4). This is a straight shot over the tracks and the light is more sanely timed.

Then, avoid the jog onto Tilikum Way (5) a poorly-timed light at Water (7), and a second light at the Max station by skipping the bike lane and riding west on Division Pl to 4th, then turning left on Caruthers & crossing through the Opera parking lot. Only one crosswalk light, which is almost always green.

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Despite being slightly longer this detour is much faster, with simpler crossings and much saner stoplights. And it is 100% legal.

Even better is to avoid Division altogether by crossing the freight tracks on the new Lafayette/Rhine bridge just off 21st — especially if you’re coming from the south (Holgate). In this case, avoid (again) the bike-only signals, particularly at 12th/Milwaukie, by jumping into the street on Gideon. (This does require proceeding straight through the intersection onto the trail on a right turn arrow)

There are similar shortcuts on the westside. For example, slow to walking speed & get out of the bike lane at approximately Elephant’s deli. Then use pedestrian signals to cross the tracks and/or Moody. Do this on foot if it’s congested. Even at a walking speed, it’s usually faster to walk than following the bikelane into the weird gooseneck at Moody & waiting through two or even three signals.

Interested in shortcuts like these? If you’re a BikePortlander, you’re in luck. Our new monthly email newsletter Street Beat will feature a “route of the month” that features clever, useful or beautiful tricks and secrets like this one for making your way efficiently and joyfully around town.

If you’re not a BikePortlander yet, get on it! The first edition of Street Beat goes out next week.

Yes, we pay for good comments. We’ll be sending $5 and a little goodie bag to axoplasm in thanks for this great one. Watch your email!

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