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Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Mayor Creepy's latest delusion

Portland's lame duck mayor is grandstanding around bicycles again. Now he's reduced the speed limit on several city streets to 20 miles per hour, declaring that the speed reduction is "designed to prioritize bicycle and pedestrian travel."

This guy has been giving the finger to the majority of his constituents for the better part of a decade, and so it's no surprise that he's ready to trash motorists some more on his way out the City Hall door to his dubious future. But it cracks us up that anyone thinks that putting up 20 mile-an-hour speed limit signs is going to reduce actual traffic speeds. They've had them up on Fremont Street in the Beaumont neighborhood for years now, and it's a rare driver who goes that slowly through that stretch. And of course, police enforcement of the limit is just as rare, if not more so.

Knock yourself out with the signs, kids. All in good fun. As is this fairy tale:

In Portland, approximately six percent of commuters go to work or school by bike. This is the highest percentage of bike commuters for any large American city and translates to an average of over 17,000 people commuting on their bikes each day.

Are there really 17,000 bike commuters in Portland on an average day? Or is that on an average sunny day?

Comments (26)

From my office window I did see someone travel through Beaumont at 20mph once. They were passed on the left by someone doing 40mph. I'm not kidding.

The City of Portland Bureau of Transportation under the leadership of Adams has been fudging bicycle commuting numbers since Adams was a councilman. There was an article, I believe in Willamette Week, about ten years ago where some PSU students actually counted bicycle commuters on several bridges and proved that the city was exaggerating the figures by 3 to 4 times. This big lie has permeated the local press now and is accepted as gospel. One of the biggest suckers of this lie is Joseph Rose of the Oregonian. A more realistic number would be six percent of the commuters that live close in on the east side west of Cesar Chaves Avenue. This lie would have made Joseph Goebbels proud.

It's only 17,000 if they are counting EVERY SINGLE RESIDENT OF PORTLAND as a "commuter" - including children, seniors, the unemployed, etc.

The question, as always: are the flacks stupid, or willfully disingenuous?

"Are there really 17,000 bike commuters in Portland on an average day? Or is that on an average sunny day?"

COP explicitly excludes rainy days (and non-summer days) from their bicycle counts.

Here is COP's instruction for conducting bicycle counts in 2012:

"Conduct counts on good weather Tuesdays, Wednesdays, or Thursdays from June through September."


The 2011 bicycle count report:

"This report identifies the key findings from bicycle counts conducted between July 20 and September 30, 2011."


Buried in the 2011 report (page 7 of 8):

In 2010 and 2011, the bureau recorded bicycle counts on the Hawthorne Bridge from fall through spring. Results of these counts are shown in the figure titled: “Summer and Winter Comparison of Bicycle Trips” in this report’s appendix. As illustrated, winter counts were approximately half the 2011 summer counts.

I suspect that the regular Hawthorne Bridge commuters are more hard-core than your average bicycle commuter, so I suspect the winter drop-off in commuting is even greater elsewhere.

As soon as the signs are changed, they'll be putting photo speed camera's on those streets. I doubt they'll give any cyclists any tickets though.

Those counts are also conducted by "volunteers," which means they get the most hardcore cycling advocates. The chance that those counts are anywhere close to accurate is next to nil.

Can hipsters on fixies still blow thru stop signs riding in the opposite lane of travel? How about Critical Mass and Zoobombing: still allowed?

Will bikes be ticketed for exceeding the 20 mph limit?

If they really want to protect cyclists, why not require helmets and working front/rear lights for EVERYONE? If you mention that to someone w/ the mayor's office, good luck getting an answer.

New Term:

Smart-Ass Growth

We're arrogant, we're pompous, but we know better than you so we are going to social-engineer every aspect of your life.

Welcome to the New World Order, where freedom and liberty are seen as threats to the political class and their financial backers.

They installed a bike counter on the Hawthorne last month. Excluding yesterday and weekends, I calculate 6,652 daily trips over the Hawthorne. The "official" 2011 counts noted over 8,000 trips. Some of those trips might have transferred over to the Morrison bridge path which opened since then, but the "official" numbers are inflated.


Good point about the lights on bicycles..
Sunday evening along NE Killingsworth between Union and 33rd we encountered three bikes trundling along with no lights. The first was a bike with trailer, weaving along about 20th. The other two were just before 33rd, riding in tandem, almost but dressed in dark shirts and pants.
At least they were riding with traffic and using both hands on the handlebars.
Instead of bothering with licenses just stop and confiscate any bike being ridden at night without lighting.

According to the US Census, 2010. there were 286,228 Portland residents who worked and 17,035 commuted to work on a bike. That's almost 6%. The 2010 Census was done over the entire year, so that is an annualized measure. Although it is self reported and you cannot select more than one mode.

Speaking of bicycles and the law we did witness a minor miracle on Clinton street bike route last night around 6PM several bikers were ticketed for running the red light across Cesar Chavez, flashie lights and all the police chased them down and ticketed them.

Problem: Bikes travel much more slowly than general traffic.

Solution: Slow everyone down so that they move at the speed of bikes.

What could go wrong?

Following up on Robert's post, I vaguely remember filling out a questionnaire a few years back asking about transportation to work. You could check a box indicating if you HAVE EVER ridden a bicycle (or Tri-Met or your own two feet) to and from work. I checked that box and I suspect my one-time lapse in judgment has forever labeled me as a bike nazi according to the City of Portland. Sorry!

the police chased them down and ticketed them.

Since bikes don't require licenses or registrations, is this anymore than symbolic?

I'm asking honestly, here. I'd like to know.

Since bikes don't require licenses or registrations, is this anymore than symbolic?

Absolutely--cyclists can still earn a host of traffic infractions...them not being licensed is another point entirely, but doesn't keep them from getting tickets for running stop signs, red lights, etc.

TriMet counts you as a "regular rider" if you use TriMet at least once a month.


I use TriMet twice a day if not more...if TriMet were an airline, I'd be one of their platinum super-duper elite frequent fliers with miles falling out of my ears, exclusive access to the VIP lounge, first class tickets all the time, unlimited baggage allowance, free food/beverage/onboard entertainment, and meeting with corporate executives on how to improve service.

At TriMet, I'm shunned and ignored, because I don't preach the religion of light rail, and I don't ride the Red Line from PDX to the Convention Center like Pat Sajak and Tom Hanks did.

Back to bikes...I wonder how many of those 6% of trips taken are kids riding their bikes to and from school. As in, middle school and Freshman/Sophomores in High School that don't really have much choice, except walking.

Unusually slower speeds on sections of major arterials with little signage + photo radar = speed trap = unrestricted revenue stream!

Yeah, maybe. But I think the motivation here is just more of the Sam Rands and their adoring throng of know-it-all 20-somethings wanting to p**s off the normal working people who pay their salaries and obscene pensions.

We were told by a Portland Planner that the 20 MPH Speed Limit exists to slow drivers and be an inconvenience to them, not to enhance safety, because they can't produce statistic that show any benefit what so ever. Traffic is not reduced, slowed and is inconvenienced by design to encourage people to not drive.

Mark, that's how I understand it to be: They lower the speed limit and put in bumps to make the street less attractive to car drivers, hoping that they will choose another route.

A big part of the problem is cohort dingbat support at the state legislature for the slacker bicyclist special interest agenda.

"A pedestrian has a 95 percent chance of surviving a collsion at 20 mph."

No mention of how well you survive when run down by an unlighted and uninsured bicyclist at night going 20 mph. Assumed risk for living in the Pedal City, I guess.

Wait, why are y'all so pissed off about 20mph speed limits on some low-traffic residential streets? The speed limit reduction might increase your travel time by 30 seconds. And it could save some poor kid's life, whether he/she's playing ball, riding his/her bike, or just walking to school. Shame on you!

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