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Bike traffic on Williams Avenue is bonkers right now

Bike traffic on Williams Avenue is bonkers right now

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Peak-hour traffic on Williams Avenue.
(Photos: J. Maus/BikePortland)

It’s been a few years since the last time we shared a look at Portland bike traffic. With the sunny weather we’ve been having and the first year of the Bike More Challenge in May instead of September, I figured it was time to take another look.

I think we can learn by looking at bike traffic. We can see how people use the street and get a wider context for our design discussions. I often find the people themselves most interesting. Do riders prefer backpacks or racks? How many people ride drop-bar road bikes versus upright bikes? Do their faces look stressed out and angry or calm and serene?

I started out near the Hawthorne Bridge but wasn’t all that impressed with the volume of bikes so I rolled north to Williams Avenue.

I’ve said for years that Williams is the best bike street in Portland and after seeing it yesterday I’m glad to know that remains true. Glad not just because it leads to my neighborhood and I ride it a few times a week (I usually opt for the Mississippi/Albina hill via Interstate), but also because it’s the only dense commercial and residential street that has quality cycling access. Our other popular, dense, and destination-rich commercial streets like Hawthorne, Mississippi, Belmont, 28th have no dedicated bicycle access and East Burnside only has a standard (and uncomfortable in my opinion) bike lane.

For the uninitiated, Williams is also perhaps the most hotly debated bikeway in the city. When I last photographed bike traffic there in 2011 it was already the busiest bike street in Portland but it still had nothing more than a loathsome bike lane. It was bursting at the seams with traffic and it was frequently driven over by bus operators picking up passengers. This bus/bike “leapfrog” action was a major reason the Bureau of Transportation decided to redesign the street in January 2011. Then the project sparked a debate when members of the advisory committee said perspectives of longtime black residents were not being respected. The conversation turned from engineering to an important dialogue about the intersections of systemic racism, urban planning and gentrification in a neighborhood that was once an epicenter of black culture.

After a 17-month public process, the new plans for Williams Avenue shifted the bike lane to the left side (to avoid bus conflicts) and dramatically reconfigured road space to devote much more room to cycling.

The new design has its detractors and it’s far from perfect; but overall it’s vastly improved over what we had before. And after watching peak-hour traffic yesterday it seems to be doing its job of facilitating a high volume of bicycle riders.

But before we get to Williams, here are a few others shots and thoughts from my observations yesterday.

I’ll return to Hawthorne to photograph bike traffic some other time, but this one image from yesterday really stood out. The bridge path is very crowded during peak hours. Look at the expression on the face of the man behind the person with the yellow jacket. He’s worried that if those people walking and running swerve at all there could be a bad crash. (Hint: If you are in this situation, don’t stress! Just sit up and slow down.)

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Another busy spot is the Esplanade near the Steel Bridge, especially the ramps leading up to Peace Park and the Rose Quarter area…

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At the top of the Esplanade path where it re-joins the street (NE Lloyd and Oregon) there’s a bike signal that always has a large queue. Yesterday it was even more hectic due to a BTA Commuter Station set up near the top (and the free coffee and snacks were totally worth it!)…

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Then I observed the Rose Quarter Transit Center. Remember when riding through here was illegal? Thanks to the BTA and TriMet these bike lanes through the transit center have been serving thousands of bike riders every day since 2008. Here’s how it looked yesterday…

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Now let’s talk about Williams. It was actually hard for me to contain my excitement a few times when I stood aside the huge platoons of bike riders that went by. There were some groups that were 30-40 riders strong and at times you could see 2-3 separate groups all the way up the road. I’d love to know how current bike traffic volumes compare to auto volumes.

One reason Williams gets so much bike traffic is the feeder routes are strong. Most of that traffic from the Esplanade and the Rose Quarter heads right for it. So too does a ton of bike traffic from Weidler off the Broadway Bridge.

This is Weidler looking west from Williams…

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And this is the start of Williams as it leaves Wheeler Ave near the Moda Center…

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And here’s Williams:

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One thing I noticed is that about half the bike traffic on Williams are people who I assume are women present as women:

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In the photo below, notice how far people ride to the left. This tells you how important physical separation is — and how little people trust other road users to not suddenly swerve into the bike lane…

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Bikenomics in action. These full bike racks at New Seasons Market always make me happy…

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Photographing people on bikes is sort of an obsession of mine. I hope you find these images interesting and useful so I can justify continuing to do it. Is there anything in these images that stands out to you?

— Jonathan Maus, (503) 706-8804 – jonathan@bikeportland.org

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Road rage erupts on Williams Avenue after woman gets called out for distracted driving

Road rage erupts on Williams Avenue after woman gets called out for distracted driving

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Woman accused of road rage on North Williams last night.
(Photo: Jessica Roberts)

An interaction between road users on North Williams Avenue during rush-hour last night turned ugly when a woman driving a car physically threatened a woman who was cycling by swerving her car into the bike lane and then chasing her into a nearby restaurant.

It started around 5:15 pm when Piedmont neighborhood resident Jessica Roberts saw a woman in a white sedan using her cell phone. Roberts told us this morning she first saw the woman on her phone when her car passed her while she was biking in the bike lane near North Stanton (Dawson Park). As usual during the evening rush Williams was completely backed up with auto traffic. Upon passing by the woman’s vehicle a few seconds later (near Fargo Street) Roberts looked at her and yelled, “That’s illegal!” In response, the woman, “Looked up and just exploded with rage,” Roberts says.

“She flung her car door open and left it running in the middle of traffic. I was terrified.”

Roberts doesn’t remember the exact string of expletives that came from both of their mouths but she remembers the woman in the car saying “I’ll get you!” According to Roberts the yelling continued for about three-to-four blocks. During that time Roberts claims the driver of the car swerved into the bike lane she was riding in multiple times. Roberts was screaming the woman’s license plate number. Then, worried that she might forget it, Roberts pulled out her phone and snapped a photo of the car. “That was really what made her super mad,” Roberts recalls.

After Roberts snapped a photo she claims the woman in the car stopped and came running after her. “She flung her car door open and left it running in the middle of traffic.”

“I was terrified,” Roberts says. At this point Roberts claims the woman was yelling something akin to, “You fucking delete that picture you goddamned bitch!”

Seeking refuge, Roberts ran away from the woman and sought refuge inside a nearby cafe. At this point a small crowd had gathered. Roberts says a cafe employeed told her to leave and didn’t want the fracas to impact business. “I refused to leave,” Roberts says, “because I was afraid if I went back out there I would get punched.” Just as the woman entered the cafe Roberts says a woman from the crowd came in and told the woman to get back in her car and threatened to call the police. The driver of the car went back to her vehicle (which had small children in it and was still idling in the middle of rush-hour traffic) and drove away.







Roberts isn’t sure what she’ll do next, but she’s hoping a few witnesses come forward in case she needs to corroborate her story in court. Roberts Tweeted about the incident last night. After posting the license plate number she received a response from a Portland Police officer. 45 minutes after her Tweet was published, Portland Police Officer Dave Sanders replied from the Portland Police Bureau’s Bike Theft Task Force Twitter account. Sanders said he ran the plate number and said he “Would pay her a visit.”

“How do we hold people accountable [for using phones while driving] without endangering our lives and with precipitating a totally pointless screaming match?”

Officer Sanders told us this morning that he stopped by the woman’s house twice last night but she wasn’t home. He has since spoken with her on the phone and is planning to meet with her in person today.

Roberts says Williams is her preferred route home and — before last night — she felt like the recent redesign of the road had calmed traffic down a bit. Her main concern is the larger question of how to deal with all the people she sees using phones while driving. Roberts, who sees people using their phones while driving “every single day” says she knows calling strangers out for their behavior almost never leads to a positive outcome. “I feel really strongly that being silent on this [people using phones while driving] is complicit,” Roberts says. “That makes it acceptable and it’s not acceptable to me. How do we hold people accountable without endangering our lives and with precipitating a totally pointless screaming match?”

Another piece of this story is the underlying tension about race and gentrification in the Williams corridor. The area used to be home to a thriving black community that has been dismantled, disrespected, and displaced after decades of systemic racism. In the past decade the corridor has changed dramatically as old buildings and homes have been demolished for new apartments and businesses that cater to — and attract — a much different, and whiter, demographic. These tensions are what bubbled up during the debate around the Williams Avenue Safety Project. In this road rage case, the woman in the car was black and Roberts (who is white) recalls that during the yelling match the woman said something about the “hipsters that have moved into my neighborhood.”

“She was so mad,” Roberts recalls, “And I bet she drives Williams every day and I bet she’s mad every day. That’s kind of scary.”

— Jonathan Maus, (503) 706-8804 – jonathan@bikeportland.org

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The post Road rage erupts on Williams Avenue after woman gets called out for distracted driving appeared first on BikePortland.org.

Left-hook collision on Williams Avenue sends woman to the hospital

Left-hook collision on Williams Avenue sends woman to the hospital

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The scene of the crash. George was taken to hospital with what police describe as “non-life-threatening” injuries.
(Photos: Josh Berezin)

Sorry to be the bearer of more bad news, but there’s been another traffic collision that sent a person to the hospital.

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It happened at 4:45 pm on Thursday at the intersection of North Williams and Emerson, just one block south of Killingsworth (map). This incident has not been reported by the Portland Police Bureau but after receiving several tips from people who saw the aftermath we confirmed it with police this morning.

According to the police, 52-year-old Lisa George was riding northbound on Williams Avenue. As she approached Emerson (one block south of Killingsworth) 50-year-old Hassan Somow made a sudden left-turn into the bike lane. Somow was driving a Mazda mini-van.

First responders and police arrived on scene and tended to George’s injuries at the northwest corner of the intersection. As you can see from the photos taken at the scene by BikePortland subscriber Josh Berezin, George’s body and bike hit the front left quarter-panel of the mini-van. The impact dented the car and broke out the headlight. Somow was given a citation for Careless driving (ORS 811.135) and Failure to yield to rider on bicycle lane (ORS 811.050).

Because this crash involves a legally defined “vulnerable user of a public way” Somow will be ordered to appear in court, do 100-200 hours of community service or pay a fine of $12,500.

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Somow is in green on the left. George is on the ground.







George was taken to Legacy Emanuel Hospital with what police say were “non-life-threatening” injuries. We’ve heard from a source that she was taken to the Intensive Care Unit and we’re waiting for a call-back from hospital staff about her current condition. George is well-known in the community through her participation in Oregon Bicycle Racing Association events and membership on the Sweetpea Ladies Auxiliary cycling team.

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Northbound on Williams just before Emerson. The bike lane is on the left.

Williams in this location is one-way and has four lanes: two auto-parking lanes, one standard lane, and one bike-only lane.

Given the time of the collision and based on what witnesses have told us, the standard lane was backed-up with bumper-to-bumper traffic. It’s unknown why Somow made a careless left-turn; but as someone who rides this road weekly I often see people abruptly turn left to get out of traffic and find a quicker way to their destination by using sidestreets.

This warm and dry weather seems to have made the roads much more crowded and there are many more people riding bikes than just a few weeks ago. Please be extra careful out there.

— Jonathan Maus, (503) 706-8804 – jonathan@bikeportland.org

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The post Left-hook collision on Williams Avenue sends woman to the hospital appeared first on BikePortland.org.

Here’s what’s going on at North Williams and Killingsworth

Here’s what’s going on at North Williams and Killingsworth

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The new curb extension on northeast corner of Williams and Killingsworth.
(Photos: J. Maus/BikePortland)

The other day while biking home up North Williams Avenue I got a surprise. As I crossed Killingsworth, the usual cut-through I used to enjoy was gone. Instead of the bike lane leading me to a curbside channel with a median island buffer between me and people driving in the opposite direction, I had to ride head-on into traffic. I didn’t think much of it because it was an active construction site, but I wanted to find out what was going with this very busy intersection in the north/northeast Portland bike network.

Turns out the Portland Bureau of Transportation is building new sidewalks on Killingsworth from Commercial to Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. At Williams they’ve built a large new curb extension on the northeast corner of the intersection. Once the project wraps up in April, bicycle riders will be directed in a straight line from the existing bike lanes on Williams to the outer edge of the curb extension. You’ll note that Williams is one-way northbound south of Killingsworth and one-way southbound for driving and two-way for biking north of Killingsworth.

Here are some photos to give you a better sense of the changes that are in store.

Here’s how the intersection looks now. (Notice the location of the concrete median to the left and the curbside bike lane.):

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And here’s the plan drawing from PBOT:

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PBOT spokesman John Brady says, “In this particular section of Williams and Killingsworth we decided this new layout was a better design for pedestrians and bicyclists. Bikers will be able to move in a straight line through the intersection. It also works better for pedestrians and it is easy to maintain as compared to the previous island.”

As of this morning, the curblines are poured but the project isn’t quite done. Here’s how it looks as you approach northbound from existing bike lanes on Williams. Notice how the old bike lane striping leads to the right. The new design will keep the bike lane straight and will head right where those orange plastic barrels are:

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Are here are three southbound views:

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These changes are part of phase two of the Killingsworth Streetscape Plan which was adopted by the City of Portland in 2003. It also includes new street trees, stormwater facilities and “pedestrian scale lights.” The final recommendations in that plan also included a request from PBOT to lower the existing speed limit (set by the Oregon Department of Transportation) from today’s 30 mph to 25 mph. So far that hasn’t happened. The project is expected to be completed by April of 2016.

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Brady says later this summer PBOT will pave Killingsworth from Commercial to Martin Luther King Jr Blvd. With Killingsworth being a major commercial corridor with lots of destinations (including a high school, community college, restaurants, bars, markets, coffee places, a library, and so on) we wonder if there’s an opportunity to improve bike access on the street. Killingsworth, like most of Portland’s inner commercial corridors (Mississippi, Alberta, 28th), has two standard lanes and two parking lanes — but no dedicated bicycle access.

— Jonathan Maus, (503) 706-8804 – jonathan@bikeportland.org

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Man riding motorcycle dies after collision with delivery truck at Williams and Monroe (updated)

Man riding motorcycle dies after collision with delivery truck at Williams and Monroe (updated)

A man died early Tuesday, Portland police said, two days after a collision between a motorcycle he was riding and a Red Cross blood delivery truck turning left off of North Williams Avenue at Monroe Street.

It happened at about 2:30 a.m. Sunday on the corner just outside Urban Nest Realty, one block south of the Waypost and immediately west of Legacy Emanuel Medical Center. According to a police statement on Tuesday, the man in the motorcycle had been trying to overtake the truck on the left, presumably by entering the bike lane, when the truck made a legal left turn.

This is to my knowledge the first traffic fatality on Williams since its late 2014 redesign that created a wide left-side bike lane and various crosswalk improvements, and restricted auto traffic on many blocks to a single lane.

Here’s the PPB’s initial description of the collision:

Officers learned that the delivery truck driver was heading northbound on North Williams Avenue and took a left turn onto North Monroe Street when it collided with a motorcycle. The motorcycle riders, an unknown age male and 29-year-old female, were thrown from motorcycle. The male suffered life-threatening injuries and the female was also seriously injured. The delivery truck driver, who was in the process of delivery blood to the Red Cross, suffered non-life-threatening injuries.

An investigation into the crash is underway. The Major Crash Team was unable to respond and the Portland Police Bureau is being assisted by the East County Major Crash Team.

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Police later identified the man as Robert Gabriel, 32. His passenger was Tasheena Kuehl, 29. She “remains in the hospital and is expected to survive,” police wrote Tuesday.

As the main conduit between North and inner Northeast Portland and most of the rest of the city, the Williams-Vancouver couplet is Portland’s single most-ridden bike route.

Update 5 p.m.: Here’s more from the PPB. I’ve updated the text above to reflect this.

The driver of the delivery truck involved in this crash has been identified as 29-year-old John Millar.

Investigators have learned that Millar was driving northbound on Williams and began to make a legal left turn onto Monroe Street when Gabriel, riding a motorcycle, attempted to pass him on the left and crashed into the truck.

Investigators believe that excessive speed and alcohol were factors in Gabriel’s driving and crash.


The post Man riding motorcycle dies after collision with delivery truck at Williams and Monroe (updated) appeared first on BikePortland.org.

PBOT will make changes to three Williams Ave bike lane trouble spots

PBOT will make changes to three Williams Ave bike lane trouble spots

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Because of a bad design coupled with dangerous and illegal behavior by some road users,
PBOT will move the bike lane over and add a median island at Williams and Stanton.
(Photo by J. Maus/BikePortland)

The “three-year journey” (to use the City of Portland’s phrase) to make North Williams Avenue work better for cycling isn’t quite over yet.

Even though they announced a month ago that construction on the project was all but complete, we’ve heard consistent concerns about three intersections in particular: Stanton, Cook, and Fremont. The good news is they’re working to address those trouble spots.

Last week I spotted the spray-painted lines of a re-positioned bike lane and a new median island at Stanton, so I inquired with PBOT Project Manager Rich Newlands to see if anything was up. Sure enough, he confirmed that a relatively major change is coming to that intersection, as well as more minor tweaks to the two other intersections.

Williams and Stanton (at Dawson Park)

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(PBOT change order document)
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Notice the word “island” near the bike lane character.
(Photo by J. Maus/BikePortland)

We’ve already reported about the issues at this intersection. The problem here is that PBOT has not made it clear enough to road users that the left lane leading up to the intersection (prior to an existing median at N Graham) is left-turn only. Because there is zero signage or markings to that effect, many people use the lane illegally and with no intention of making the left turn at Stanton. As a result, they sit in the lane and try to merge back into the single standard travel lane to continue north. Instead of waiting to merge, some people simply drive in the bike-only lane. The other problem is that the bike lane at Stanton veers too drastically the right (in order to preserve room for an auto-parking lane adjacent to Dawson Park). This jog in the bike lane puts riders in the direct path of people illegally attempting to merge with their cars into the right lane.

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All the cars in the left lane here are in violation of the law, but they might not even know it because there’s such a lack of signage.
(Photo by J. Maus/BikePortland)

To fix this problem, PBOT is planning two things: They’ll re-stripe the bike lane so it doesn’t jog so much to the right and they’ll install a new median island. Newlands says the island aims to, “prevent right merging traffic from using the bike lane for merge space.” The new island will be similar to the existing ones in the left one between Beech and Skidmore.

In addition, PBOT plans on adding more signage prior to the existing median at Graham in order to “send a stronger message” (says Newslands) that the left lane is for left turns only. There will be two, “Thru Traffic Merge Right” signs and two, “Left Lane Must Turn Left” signs.

Williams and Cook

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(PBOT change order document)

The Cook intersection has been a mess for months now. This is a major feeder of Williams traffic thanks to it being an outlet from Interstate 405. There was a delay in getting a new traffic signal up and running, and the new bike lane here is just five feet wide — the most narrow of anywhere else in the project. Add in the constant stress of nearby construction and the fact that the bike lane is sandwiched between two standard lanes and it doesn’t feel like much of an improvement over the old design.

To help bulk up the bike lane here, PBOT plans to add some green paint.

Williams and Fremont (New Seasons)

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(PBOT change order document)

This is the block face (between Ivy and Fremont) adjacent to New Seasons Market. It’s a very busy area, and once again the new design requires people using cars to cross over the bikeway to access a left-turn pocket to go west at Fremont. Back in December there was a collision in this location.

According to their design drawings, PBOT plans to add green paint to the entire bike lane from Ivy to Fremont.

All of these changes should be completed by the end of this week. Let us know how they work for you and we’ll keep sending feedback to PBOT until we get this right.

The post PBOT will make changes to three Williams Ave bike lane trouble spots appeared first on BikePortland.org.

One rider’s Twitter crusade shows the ‘City that works’ what doesn’t

One rider’s Twitter crusade shows the ‘City that works’ what doesn’t

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Vanlue on the job.
(Photo: Asta Chastain)

Maybe the All-Powerful Bicycle Lobby had something to do with it, but the day Will Vanlue decided to start delivering for SoupCycle was an especially good day for the rest of Portland.

As a courier for the Portland-based soup delivery service, Vanlue — a former BikePortland contributor and Bicycle Transportation Alliance communications manager, a talented photographer and one of the most courteous and mindfully upbeat biking advocates in town — spends many of his daytime hours traveling the city’s streets in an upright city bike with a trailer full of fresh soup.

Also with him: a smartphone camera he’s been using for months to share street design shortcomings on Twitter.

Interspersed with Vanlue’s Instagram posts about family, beer and funny road signs and various good questions about infrastructure in general, he’s staked out the new design of North Williams Avenue for particular dismay.

Here’s one of his first tweets on the subject, from last fall:

Another construction shot from a few days later:

Later in November, he started using a new hashtag for the series, #4thBestBikeCity:

In November the BTA, which has been on a multi-year campaign to get Portland to create a formal, multi-bureau policy about detours and other road work issues, sent a formal letter to the city about problems with the Williams construction work. Vanlue kept finding problems:

The day after Vanlue shared the series above, a man driving north just south of Fremont during rush hour, just outside New Seasons, collided with a woman biking north. She had been merging right out of the bike lane and into the busy shared travel lane to make a right turn.

At the time, Abraham Sutphin, owner of a bike shop across the street from this collision, wrote in an email to us: “Williams has been nuts since the lane switch… I think it would be prudent to report on the chaos. I’ve never seen or heard of a crash for the 4 and a half years of sitting on this corner.”

Around that time, Vanlue started including the Twitter handle for the Bureau of Transportation, @PBOTinfo, so they would see his comments as he made them.

To the bureau’s credit, it responded in less than half an hour:

The pattern continued through the construction process, with Vanlue now including PBOT as well as BikePortland and the BTA in many tweets, and PBOT (among others) responding and often taking action:

Vanlue got to the heart of the matter with this one, 15 minutes after his close call:

His public reports continued into January:

And most recently, from two weeks ago:

And Vanlue’s crusade goes way beyond Williams. Most recently he’s focused his cameraphone at SE Division:

Is Vanlue’s point here that Portland is a terrible place to bike, or that it doesn’t care about its streets? Of course not. In the U.S. context, the prompt attention he’s received from the city’s official channel is remarkable.

The problems Vanlue identifies here aren’t vast or existential, either. On the long-term scale, there are lots of reasons to believe that by making the right choices now, Portland can overcome its current lull and keep on using bikes to improve the city for everyone.

What seems to be maddening to Vanlue, and probably to many people who use Williams and the other streets he tweets about, is that the problems here are relatively small and solvable.

It takes effort to communicate to contractors that comfortable biking and walking is more important than automotive speed when designing detours — but not that much effort. It requires tradeoffs to avoid sending bikes and cars into the same chaotic mixing zone at the busiest point on the most important biking artery in the country’s would-be biking capital, but not insurmountable or totally ridiculous tradeoffs.

It’s clear that city leaders want cycling to be comfortable for riders of every age and ability. And it seems equally clear that without people like Vanlue, who have so much faith in their community that they mount campaigns like this one, the city could convince itself that their current street designs are working fine everyone.

The post One rider’s Twitter crusade shows the ‘City that works’ what doesn’t appeared first on BikePortland.org.

One rider’s Twitter crusade shows the ‘City that works’ what doesn’t

One rider’s Twitter crusade shows the ‘City that works’ what doesn’t

vanlue

Vanlue on the job.
(Photo: Asta Chastain)

Maybe the All-Powerful Bicycle Lobby had something to do with it, but the day Will Vanlue decided to start delivering for SoupCycle was an especially good day for the rest of Portland.

As a courier for the Portland-based soup delivery service, Vanlue — a former BikePortland contributor and Bicycle Transportation Alliance communications manager, a talented photographer and one of the most courteous and mindfully upbeat biking advocates in town — spends many of his daytime hours traveling the city’s streets in an upright city bike with a trailer full of fresh soup.

Also with him: a smartphone camera he’s been using for months to share street design shortcomings on Twitter.

Interspersed with Vanlue’s Instagram posts about family, beer and funny road signs and various good questions about infrastructure in general, he’s singled out the new design of North Williams Avenue for particular dismay.

Here’s one of his first tweets on the subject, from last fall:

Another construction shot from a few days later:

Later in November, he started using a new hashtag for the series, #4thBestBikeCity:

In November the BTA, which has been on a multi-year campaign to get Portland to create a formal, multi-bureau policy about detours and other road work issues, sent a formal letter to the city about problems with the Williams construction work. Vanlue kept finding problems:

The day after Vanlue shared the series above, a man driving north just south of Fremont during rush hour, just outside New Seasons, collided with a woman biking north. She had been merging right out of the bike lane and into the busy shared travel lane to make a right turn.

At the time, Abraham Sutphin, owner of a bike shop across the street from this collision, wrote in an email to us: “Williams has been nuts since the lane switch… I think it would be prudent to report on the chaos. I’ve never seen or heard of a crash for the 4 and a half years of sitting on this corner.”

Around that time, Vanlue started including the Twitter handle for the Bureau of Transportation, @PBOTinfo, so they would see his comments as he made them.

To the bureau’s credit, it responded in less than half an hour:

The pattern continued through the construction process, with Vanlue now including PBOT as well as BikePortland and the BTA in many tweets, and PBOT (among others) responding and often taking action:

Vanlue got to the heart of the matter with this one, 15 minutes after his close call:

His public reports continued into January:

And most recently, from two weeks ago:

And Vanlue’s crusade goes way beyond Williams. Most recently he’s focused his cameraphone at SE Division:

Is Vanlue’s point here that Portland is a terrible place to bike, or that it doesn’t care about its streets? Of course not. In the U.S. context, the prompt attention he’s received from the city’s official channel is remarkable.

The problems Vanlue identifies here aren’t vast or existential, either. On the long-term scale, there are lots of reasons to believe that by making the right choices now, Portland can overcome its current lull and keep on using bikes to improve the city for everyone.

What seems to be maddening to Vanlue, and probably to many people who use Williams and the other streets he tweets about, is that the problems here are relatively small and solvable.

It takes effort to communicate to contractors that comfortable biking and walking is more important than automotive speed when designing detours — but not that much effort. It requires tradeoffs to avoid sending bikes and cars into the same chaotic mixing zone at the busiest point on the most important biking artery in the country’s would-be biking capital, but not insurmountable or totally ridiculous tradeoffs.

It’s clear that city leaders want cycling to be comfortable for riders of every age and ability. And it seems equally clear that without people like Vanlue, who have so much faith in their community that they mount campaigns like this one, the city could convince itself that their current street designs are already working fine for everyone.

The post One rider’s Twitter crusade shows the ‘City that works’ what doesn’t appeared first on BikePortland.org.

Collision between driver and bike rider on Williams

Collision between driver and bike rider on Williams

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The scene.
(Photo by J. Maus/BikePortland)

There was a collision on N Williams this evening at around 5:30 pm.

It happened just south of Fremont right outside New Seasons market. Fire and police units responded but there were no serious injuries.

I happened to roll up on the scene about a half-hour after it happened. The driver and the bike rider were still at the scene. I spoke to both parties and they were both very shaken up by what happened.

According to the man who was driving the car, he was coming up Williams in the left lane. He works off of NE Broadway and lives in Vancouver. Just north of Cook, he noticed another driver who was “nosing out” of the New Seasons parking lot. (There is a major construction site between Cook and New Seasons that has fencing and other materials coming right up to the bike lane. In order to see around the construction zone, people in cars must nose out in order to see oncoming traffic.)

The man continued to tell me that he drove around the car that was poking out of traffic and when he came back into his lane “she was just right there in the lane.” There were a few skid marks in the lane next to the bike lane.

The woman on the bike confirmed this story. She told me she was merging over, out of the bike lane, in an attempt to go right (east) on Fremont. She’s a regular, everyday bike rider who works at OHSU and lives near NE 13th and Fremont. She wasn’t seriously hurt, but her bike was damaged.

I haven’t confirmed from the PPB what, if any, citations will be issued. Because there were no serious injuries and both parties are cooperating with each other, my hunch is that there will only be an information exchange and the insurance companies will figure it out. (UPDATE, 8:44 pm: That’s indeed the case. PPB confirms no citations issued.)

This collision highlights weeks of concerns about how people are reacting to the huge changes brought on by PBOT’s North Williams Traffic Safety Project. The City’s recommended way to turn right from the new, left-side bikeway, is to do a two-stage turn or a “Copenhagen Left.” (Note: There are several new green left turn boxes to facilitate these two-stage turns, but there is not one at Fremont.) In reality however, most people simply do what this woman attempted to do. I have personally seen this behavior a lot lately and it makes me cringe.

Abraham Sutphin, owner of a bike shop across the street from this collision, emailed us tonight. He wrote that, “Williams has been nuts since the lane switch… I think it would be prudent to report on the chaos. I’ve never seen or heard of a crash for the 4 and a half years of sitting on this corner.”

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‘Rider Appreciation Day’ shows business support for cycling on Williams Ave

‘Rider Appreciation Day’ shows business support for cycling on Williams Ave

Rider Appreciation Day on Williams Ave-11

Wine Up, a wine bar on Williams Ave, gave away free snacks and drinks to bicycle riders yesterday.
(Photos by J Maus/BikePortland)

What often gets lots in emotional planning meetings and divisive media headlines is that, in reality, many business owners in Portland not only support bicycling, they embrace and encourage it. Nowhere was that more evident than last night’s Rider Appreciation Day on N Williams Ave.

Rider Appreciation Day on Williams Ave-2

Event organizer Jocelyn Gaudi.

Created in 2012 by Portland Design Works, a business located at the southern end of the very popular Williams Ave bike route, the event was created to to change the biking/business narrative. It’s a simple idea really: encourage business owners to head out into the street and show their irsupport for bicycle riders.

In a parking lot adjacent to PDW’s headquarters on Williams and Hancock, the company’s co-founder Erik Olson and Jocelyn Gaudi, their marketing manager, mixed among a large crowd. Olson was BBQ’ing free hot dogs and Gaudi was busy making connections and making sure everyone was having a good time. The Bicycle Transportation Alliance had a booth set up where folks could sign up for the group’s email newsletter and become members right on the spot. Also at the PDW stop were Portland Bureau of Transportation staff who stayed busy walking curious citizens through the major changes coming soon to Williams Avenue.

Rider Appreciation Day on Williams Ave-3

Portland Design Works co-founder Erik Olson.

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PBOT staffer Scott Cohen explains the Williams project.
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BTA volunteer Tessa Buono shows off one of their membership perks — a free bandanna.

A few blocks up the road, employees from Metropolis Cycle Repair were handing out free patch kits and stickers while store owner Nathan Roll was servicing bikes.

Rider Appreciation Day on Williams Ave-6

Further north I noticed an umbrella outside Wine Up on Williams so I pulled over to chat. Wine Up owner Camille Gonzalez and head chef Steve Payne poured me a cup of refreshing cold water infused with mint and cucumber and handed me a sampling of savory and sweet trail mix. “We see all these bikers going by all the time and we just wanted to come out and say hi,” Gonzalez said. As riders stopped in, Gonzalez told them about Wine Up and offered free wine tasting coupons.

Rider Appreciation Day on Williams Ave-8

Camilla Gonzalez and Steve Payne from Wine Up on Williams.
Rider Appreciation Day on Williams Ave-10

Rider Appreciation Day on Williams Ave-12

As we were chatting, we looked up to see another rider get right-hooked as someone turned their van onto N Monroe. The woman on the bike gathered herself and then slowly walked over to the Wine Up table. After getting a drink and enjoying a chat with Gonzalez I heard her say, “Thanks! I’m sort of glad I got right hooked and ended up stopping.”

Yikes! This sucks, but at least she picked a good place to pull over and take a break.

Oh, the joys of biking on Williams.

After navigating the congestion around New Seasons, I gladly pulled into the next stop at Cha! Cha! Cha! taqueria. Employee Kayla Shutes was standing out near the bike lane offering riders ice cold tamarindo and horchata. For those who stopped, there was also a plate of taquitos and empanadas to sample from.

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Rider Appreciation Day on Williams Ave-14

Cha! Cha! Cha! employee Kayla Shutes doing the horchata hand-ups.
Rider Appreciation Day on Williams Ave-15

Rider Appreciation Day on Williams Ave-16

My last stop of the day was Hopworks Bike Bar where a live band played out front and the sidewalk was jam-packed with appreciative bike riders sampling free tastes of beer in free pint glasses wrapped in free koozies printed with a message of “Keep on biking.”

Rider Appreciation Day on Williams Ave-18

Rider Appreciation Day on Williams Ave-19

Hopworks employee Meredith Morelli giving away free beer, pint glasses, and other fun stuff.
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Perfect respite on a hot ride home.

All this! Just to show appreciation for bicycling and the people who do it every day. That’s my kind of event.

Thanks to Portland Design Works and all the businesses that took part in R.A.D.

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