One of the most bicycle-oriented neighborhoods in America has a problem with unsafe cycling.
“We have contacted security services and they have contacted the Portland Police’s Traffic Division for support.”
— Melissa Dragich, assistant principal at Abernethy Elementary
The Hosford-Abernethy neighborhood surrounding Ladd Circle is home to thousands of daily bicycle riders. Many live in the neighborhood and many more ride through it on their way in or out of downtown and other destinations. The circle itself is controlled by stop signs and has a long and controversial history that we’ve been covering since 2007. To make a long story short, the stop signs at the eight streets that come into the circle are often disregarded by road users. Combine that with an area that has a lot of foot traffic and you can understand why tensions sometimes mount.
Remember that one time in 2010 when someone was so upset over the stop sign running they installed a trip-wire across the intersection? Despite gestures of goodwill in the form of fresh baked cookies, an appearance by a traffic calming sasquatch (seriously), and grassroots efforts to fix the problems, it appears that as long as their are stop signs up at Ladd Circle (something that even City of Portland traffic engineers admit is not an ideal design) people will run them.
And that brings us to the current front in the Ladd Circle stop sign war: Abernethy Elementary School. In the school’s “Monday Mailer” sent to parents yesterday, Assistant Principal Melissa Dragich included this message:
“The office has received several concerns about bicyclists moving through the neighborhood at fast speeds and not abiding by traffic signs. There appears to be a problem at Ladd Circle and Harrison. We have contacted security services and they have contacted the Portland Police’s Traffic Division for support. This week I have noticed increased patrols in the neighborhood surrounding our school. Hopefully that presence will help slow all vehicles and ensure that our students can walk or bike to school safely.”
Just for context, Abertnethy Elementary is one of the most bike-friendly schools you’ll find anywhere. They held the “Tour de Ladd” bike-a-thon back in 2008 that was put together by none other than urban cycling pioneer (and local resident) Mia Birk.
So what gives? Maybe folks just need to slow down and ride with a bit more consideration for other road users. This isn’t the first time inner southeast Portlanders have shared concerns about unsafe cycling, and it probably won’t be the last. Keep this in mind if you ride in the area.
— Jonathan Maus, (503) 706-8804 – firstname.lastname@example.org
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