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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on April 6, 2011 7:47 AM. The previous post in this blog was Problems in Fukushima no. 1 confirmed. The next post in this blog is Portland doc exposed by Wall Street Journal. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Blumenauering Williams Avenue

If you currently use that Portland traffic artery to get somewhere in a car, you may want to start thinking about your alternate route now, because you're probably about to lose a lane or two, for you-know-what. Since it's in a "couplet" with Vancouver Avenue, they'll probably make that miserable for cars, too.

Comments (28)

The bus I ride home everyday goes down Williams Avenue and let me tell you it is a miserable ride almost everyday. I give the bus drivers on the #44 credit for having to deal with congested traffic because of all the trendy new businesses being open but mostly for having to deal with bicyclists who think nothing of veering into the traffic lane to pass each other, without checking first to see if there is a vehicle in the lane, they make right turns in front of buses that are signaling to pull away from the curb, the bicyclists do not yield to people exiting buses, at times the bicyclists are so backed up at a light next to a bus stop the bus has to wait to pull up to the curb in order to use the wheelchair lift, the list goes on. It seems like the bicyclists think they are racing each other and that the cars, buses and pedestrians are just in the way. Whoever thought it was a good idea to make Williams Avenue a bike boulevard was, to put it kindly, not thinking.

For people who actually have real jobs to get to or those who are trying to conduct commerce by moving goods other than what fits in a baggie in a backpack, the city is running out of alternate routes and I believe that's why the freeways are turning into full-time parking lots.

The clowns are just shifting traffic from the arterials to the freeway, then claim they've eliminated driving and saved the planet (fanfare of posthorns here), sort of like politicians claiming they've eliminated prostitution by shifting it to another neighborhood.

that powerpoint from the City was actually quite thoughtful -- they obviously did a comprehensive transportation study. There are lots of problems with Williams (I ride north on it, on my bike, from my "real job," Mr. Grumpy, every day). It makes perfect sense to think of those problems in terms of different segments -- around Emanuel, a primary conflict is the "vulnerable adults" who live around there crossing the street as cars whiz by fifteen miles over the speed limit. Around the trendy blocks (Tasty & Sons up to Vendetta) a big problem is parking conflicts. Some of these problems are old (like cars speeding on a road that has no stop lights between Russell and Skidmore), some are new (like parking in the trendy blocks), and some exist but are predictably getting worse (like increasing bike traffic).

The City is looking at these problems and thinking about solutions. They aren't talking about stealing Water Bureau dollars to do it, or taking out junk bonds to lay down streetcar tracks. You may not like the solutions they propose, so feel free to participate in the public process about it. Just understand that saying "cyclists are rude and entitled" is not a solution at all, just as it is not a solution to say "cars are unsafe when they speed and their drivers are entitled." Both may be true, but they're just observations.

"Blumenauering" is right. Same old M.O. We've just got to stop making it so darned easy to get from place to place.

Dear Matt,
You look like a nice guy with a nice family.
However, you need to be more discerning when reading anything produced by the city.
As for participating in the public process....well that has proven to be mostly useless as by the time the city gets around to the public process part of anything the fix is already in 99.99% of the time.
I wish you good luck riding your bike. I sincerely hope you don't drag your adorable children around in one of those little tike trailers. They could be killed by some one in a car.
And when you are old or your knees and hips have given out...good luck riding that bike! Trust me it WILL happen!

I found the following statement over on the bike-loving Mercury blog awhile back?

"Another change the city can make is setting light cycles to change to green at a speed that's good for bikes—so if you're biking down a street, all the lights will be green for you. This "green wave" occurs on SW 4th Avenue downtown and on the new Eastside Couch couplet, but, annoyingly, not on the major bike routes of North Williams or Vancouver"

I can say from experience, that the Burnside/Couch couplet is not timed well. It creates pretty serious back-ups in both directions.

This is a trend we definitely have to watch out for, because if they can get away with it, the car-hating, bike-worshiping PBOT will time signals all over town for bikes and most likely never tell the public that it is happening.

Going into Portland is a waste of gas. And too far to bike.

Matt, there is really no question anymore as to Mr. Grumpy's point that these crazy bike improvements negatively impact "those who are trying to conduct commerce by moving goods other than what fits in a baggie in a backpack".

Case in point: The "NE 12th Avenue Overcrossing". PBOT is trying to accommodate bike traffic on NE 12th between the Central Eastside to the Lloyd district where there are no designated bike lanes. So the City, being "quite thoughtful" is "looking at these problems" and "thinking about solutions".

In this case, their "solution" will definately KILL JOBS in the Central Eastside district. Many trucks coming from westbound I-84 take the Lloyd exit to the Central Eastside and need to make a left turn onto 12th. The City wants to rework this intersection onto NE 12th, making it impossible for large trucks to make that left-hand turn into the Central Eastside. Franz bakery, for one, employs hundreds...and when trucks cant get to their bakery (which many do every day), Franz would likely relocate -- probably out of Portland.

The whole thing is here:

http://www.portlandonline.com/transportation/index.cfm?c=53906&a=335353

Be sure to look at the exhibits.

The NE 12th Avenue Overcrossing is a small PBOT "improvement" but will have a very large negative impact on employment, but the bureaucrats clearly don't care about that.

Jack, I wish you'd give this issue a little exposure. PBOT "insists" that trucks will still be able to make the turn, but truck drivers and business insist otherwise. The nimrods at PBOT insisted that trucks could make right turns off Couch into the Central Eastside once the Couplet was done. Trust me, it can't be done.

This is what the City does with out tax dollars? The kill jobs by re-striping intersections to accommodate cyclists...what a joke this place is.


Have no fear... trucks will be able to make these turns through restricted intersections just as safely as Tri-Met buses do.

Here's an observation to ponder...

Why, in a city based largely on small grid blocks, do they insist on bikes displacing space on, and hobbling the few arterials that even exist in that grid?

If PBOT ran the internet, we'd all be going back to dial-up.


Another change the city can make is setting light cycles to change to green at a speed that's good for bikes—so if you're biking down a street, all the lights will be green for you. This "green wave" occurs on SW 4th Avenue downtown and on the new Eastside Couch couplet, but, annoyingly, not on the major bike routes of North Williams or Vancouver

The reason why the traffic signals are timed that way on S.W. 4th has nothing to do with bikes. The speed limit for 4th Avenue (as well as any other business district in Oregon, unless otherwise signed) is 20 M.P.H. The signals are timed for, IIRC, 18 M.P.H.

I've ridden my bike on 4th and since it's a nice gradual downslope from PSU to Union Station, I can attest that it is no problem to bust the speed limit (and I am neither an in-shape bicyclist, nor do I have a fancy light-weight carbon-fiber bike.) (Now, on 5th Avenue, my speed is much slower since I'm going uphill.)

On Williams/Vancouver, I believe the speed limit is either 30 or 35. So, no, the signals will not be "timed for bikes". They will be timed for the majority of traffic moving at the speed limit. It is foolish and unreasonable to take an existing arterial and force the majority of traffic to slow for the sake of a handful of bicyclists. (Not as though many bicyclists obey the laws anyways and they will blow though the red lights regardless, so I'm still not sure why any accomodations need to be made for them.)

About a week ago I had the honor to turn right off SE Grand and head eastbound up the 'new and improved' Burnside/Couch couplet for the first time. It was late in the evening and there was very little traffic and I felt as though I had most of the street to myself.

One of the things I noticed is that there is now a signal every block from Grand (5th) up to 14th where there was formerly only one at 9th and 12th. Another thing I noticed is the speed limit sign said 25mph. Finally, I noticed that unless my speed was about 15mph I would get stopped at every signal. It would be impossible for anyone to even come close to the speed limit unless they blew through multiple red lights.

"It is foolish and unreasonable to take an existing arterial and force the majority of traffic to slow for the sake of a handful of bicyclists."

Do you think that something being "foolish and unreasonable" will keep the City of Portland from doing it?

So does any commenter above acknowledge that N. Williams is a problem street? And if so, does any commenter who acknowledges the problem have anything constructive to say about it? Or is this just an opportunity for reflexive "the City is out of touch"/"cyclists are jerks"/"let me talk about my different pet peeve" echo-chambering?

The City gets lots of things wrong. But fixing traffic problems is part of what the City is supposed to do (as distinct from the optional fripperies that Jack appropriately calls folks to task on).

Notice how PBOT has taken to referring to these improvements as enhancing "non-motorized acces", rather to say "bicycle access"...

This language is popping up everywhere...can't they just come out with it and announce that their mission is to cater to the two-wheeled crowd?

Matt, the great thing about bikes is that they can ride on sleepier side-streets to avoid heavy car traffic and get where they need to go just as quickly.

Williams is a major thouroughfare. Why congest car traffic by eliminating lanes, adding lights and reducing the speed limit just to accommodate cyclists? Soon, cars will start taking side streets, neighborhood groups will raise a stink, and PBOT will have to "think about solutions" anew.

It makes no sense until we all realize that PBOT's real mission is to accommodate the cyclist.

Matt, I agree that "fixing traffic problems is part of what the City is supposed to do."

I just wish they still fixed traffic problems for cars sometimes, and not just bikes and streetcars.

The vast majority of people paying the taxes that allow the City to function drive cars. An overwhelming majority.

It is not the least bit unreasonable for us to expect that the people we pay, working in the bureaus we pay for, will keep our street system working smoothly for our cars. Otherwise what are we paying them for? If it is turning into the Bureau of Bikes, then cyclists can pay for it.

I just today received the second mailing in a week from the Portland Bureau of Transportation, telling me to "Drive less, save more!" I also learned that I could obtain a "Bandana bicycle map," a "SmarTrips [sic] umbrella," and a "Walk There! Book [sic.]".

The members of my household choose not to drive very much. The car gets dusted off for grocery trips, and any trip in general that is more than three miles away. However, I think it is important to note that we have not made these decisions because Sam "Mayor Creepy" Adams had some of his teenage staffers tell us to do so -- we made these decisions based solely on personal choice, a great many years ago. Frankly, the only problem with this choice is deteriorating bus service in our NE neighborhood -- I certainly can tell you that I drive a lot more than I did in 2007, before Trimet cut the 33 Fremont route to downtown, and slashed "Frequent service" on the Sandy bus into absurdly long waits. When one can walk from Hollywood to Roseway more quickly than waiting for, and hopping on, a bus, then the choice is clear, and there is a glaring problem with the mass transit portion of the SmartTrips! agenda.

But seriously, two mailings in a week? To us, a household that embraced their ideology before anyone who wrote their puerile mailings was born? Not to mention the same mailings to people who have not made the same choices at all, and never will? These wasteful mail pieces make me, personally, want to drive more. Sam, this is not at all a good way to spend our sewer and water fees. Is your current young love interest somehow invested in a local printer or something?

Either way, I can't wait to vote against you for the third time.

Sent with kind but stridently anguished regards to Mayor Creepy.

"they obviously did a comprehensive transportation study."

I'll give an idea of how this happened in order:
1) Sam's staff asked where can we put more bike lanes
2) Found N Williams
3) Reached into recycled ideas and pulled out the "Make driving harder and throw a bike lane in"
4) Started counting where to get money from new fees or PWB

I know people pretty high up at some places and employers are starting to avoid Portland because of transport issues. If you drive any kind of delivery vehicle, forget about going downtown since you have to avoid bike lanes, train tracks and no parking.

Perhaps they could consider expanding a nearby street, make it impediment free and then let traffic divert itself.

It gets tiring hearing the "Kill Piggy" refrain about cars all the time. We're going to drive out the non-pollutting cars also.

They should just stop with the mailings (propaganda) for awhile. We need a moratorium period on so many matters, a moratorium until their terms are up, so no more damage can be done.

So for most elected officials, I propose they just be figureheads, don't do anything and we would all be better off. Stop the debt swamping.

I know people pretty high up at some places and employers are starting to avoid Portland because of transport issues.

Isn't that just the last straw to the agenda?

The worst is yet to come. They want to "bring" either by propaganda or whatever means, more people in, did they say a million more??

Anyone else see constant gridlock?

Pushing huge numbers of people onto bikes won't work, the whole scheme is bogus. . . and made some $$ for some at the expense of the rest of us. Most likely, those who benefited have places they can escape to from what I believe will turn out to be "an example one day of what not to do in city planning!"

By the way, am seeing more and more bios-wales around the city, how much do they cost and some are painted a garish yellow - look just awful on nice neighborhood streets - more mosquitoes this summer? This another smart growth idea?

They want to "bring" either by propaganda or whatever means, more people in, did they say a million more??

There won't be a million more people in the City of Portland for a century. In the suburbs, sure. But the city population grows at 1.25% a year maximum -- probably less than that. At that rate, Portland won't even reach 1 million total for 43 years.

People in Wilsonville don't generally come to Williams Avenue for any reason.

When people find out or see for themselves what a mess this smart growth and high density has done to our once beloved city, I doubt we will have to worry about having to make room for so many, they won't want any part of it.

Like I have said before, it has worked so well $$$ wise for some, but at the expense of not only our pocketbooks, but also our quality of life here.

I love the ratio cars/bikes.

Segment--Cars----Bikes---% bikes
1---------420-----240-----57%
2---------700-----300-----43%
3---------800-----380-----48%
4-min----950-----230-----24%

TOTAL--2870----1150-----40%

4-max 1100 390 35%
5-min 750 no count
5-max 800 no count

Much better than the 14% from the between July 20 and September 30, 2010 on their 4 favorite bridges. Are any of these counts by neutral parties or in bad weather?

Clinamen: Gridlock is already on some of the freeways. Back in early August my wife and I were in town to see family and attend a collector car event at the Red Lion in Jnatzen Beach. This was on a thursday - not a friday. To make a long story short, we found ourselves stuck on I-5 going north to Jantzen Beach during a bridge lift just past the Rose Garden. Traffic was completely stopped for 15-20 minutes going north, while thousands of vehicles idled or even stopped their engines. It then took us better than 30 minutes to reach the Red Lion.
Later that afternoon, we had to drive to Lake Oswego to sign the papers to close the sale of our Portland home. Once again I-5 was gridlocked with traffic going south from downtown all the way past the Lake Oswego Exit. Only by getting off I-5 and taking Barbur Blvd. and Highway 99 did we get to our appointment. It took us over 70 minutes to do so from Jantzen Beach..

Gridlock has increased on the freeways because primary surface arterials have been re-engineered to be almost useless, e.g, E Burnside, N. Interstate (Hwy99W), NE Sandy (Hwy30BUS), E MLK/Grand (Hwy99E). Combine that with public transit that shrinks its service and escalates its ridership fees and that leaves the freeway as the only way left to get across town unless you're content or able to be a planner-engineered captive in your home.

....unless you're content or able to be a planner-engineered captive in your home.

Captive is a good definition of the scene.
Hear from others that after a certain time of day, they no longer go out on the road.

That window of time to avoid undue traffic congestion is getting less and less.

City knows the transportation congestion is getting worse, is that why they are doing their level best on their anti-car agenda and promoting the bike agenda?

There won't be a million more people in the City of Portland for a century....

Thank you.
More people need to call them on this ongoing mantra.

Besides why should we give up the quality of living now in our city because of this "more might come in 40 years bit"
Tired of hearing about this growth coming when people are making plans as they may have to leave. Many will no longer be able to afford living here as a result of financial mismanagement.


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Madeline L'Engle - A Wrinkle in Time
Steven Hart - The Last Three Miles
David Sedaris - Me Talk Pretty One Day
Karen Armstrong - The Spiral Staircase
Charles Larson - The Portland Murders
Adrian Wojnarowski - The Miracle of St. Anthony
William H. Colby - Long Goodbye
Steven D. Stark - Meet the Beatles
Phil Stanford - Portland Confidential
Rick Moody - Garden State
Jonathan Schwartz - All in Good Time
David Sedaris - Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim
Anthony Holden - Big Deal
Robert J. Spitzer - The Spirit of Leadership
James McManus - Positively Fifth Street
Jeff Noon - Vurt

Road Work

Miles run year to date: 113
At this date last year: 155
Total run in 2016: 155
In 2015: 271
In 2014: 401
In 2013: 257
In 2012: 129
In 2011: 113
In 2010: 125
In 2009: 67
In 2008: 28
In 2007: 113
In 2006: 100
In 2005: 149
In 2004: 204
In 2003: 269


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