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Question for Portland Commuters

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Question for Portland Commuters

Old 03-30-13, 08:04 PM
  #1  
erbfarm
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Question for Portland Commuters

Hi Everyone

Just moved to Portland 3 days ago and start work at the University of Portland on Monday morning. I'm staying in Sellwood for the month of April. I'm just wondering if there's a decent alternative to riding on N Interstate/Greeley. The traffic seems pretty heavy and fast moving there and the bike lane is really narrow. I'm used to sharrows/greenways and much wider bike lanes so that 4 miles stretch really scares me. Especially in rainy or dark conditions. What's the concensus out there? Is it pretty safe even though it looks scary? I tried going up Mississippi/Michigan/Rosa Parks today and that seemed to take a lot longer and also had more busy crossroads to navigate so I don't know which one is the better choice. Is there another option? Thanks!
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Old 03-30-13, 08:43 PM
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You might post your question in the regional forum-
http://www.bikeforums.net/forumdispl...ific-Northwest
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Old 03-30-13, 08:59 PM
  #3  
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Get the Portland bike route maps, you can pick them up at most bike shops, order them free from the city's website, or download a PDF. http://www.portlandoregon.gov/transportation/39402

It shows the best routes.

I haven't ridden from Univ Portland to Sellwood, but I've ridden most of the roads on the way. Williamette is fine, Greeley is too, and so is Interstate. "Fine" meaning there is a wide enough bike lane. That's all you need, plus some basic defensive riding. Portland drivers and cyclists co-exist pretty well, I routinely commute with cars a couple feet alongside. Then you can get on the bike/pedestrian path by the river and take it all the way to Sellwood. Seems like a good commute route overall.

I'd rather ride Greeley-Interstate than the alternative you mentioned, because there are fewer intersections. I think most of the dangers riders face are at intersections (right hook, left hook, red light runners, etc).

You should have good lights and reflective bag/jacket if you're riding in the dark. Lots of threads here and in the Electronics forum about lights. I use a four LED Knog Blinder on the seatpost and a $15 single red LED blinky on my helmet. On the front, at least have a flashing white multiple LED light, like the PDW or Planet Bike ones, I think that is the minimum.

If you're not experienced riding on streets and bike lanes, ask here for tips, also see if the BTA (Bicycle Transportation Alliance) is giving classes in riding safety. Also, the bike shop near you, Sellwood Cycle, should have some tips and local info; I hear it is a good shop.

Welcome to Portland. Look for info on Pedalapooza which starts in a couple months, tons of bike rides and events, fun and a good way to see different parts of the city. Also join a welcome ride with the Portland Wheelmen club, any question you have about local riding can probably be answered by the club members.

Last edited by jyl; 03-30-13 at 09:18 PM.
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Old 03-30-13, 09:41 PM
  #4  
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There have definitely been some problems with N Interstate/Greeley, including a cyclist killed at the intersection of the two in 2007.

I don't commute in Portland, so I can't say what conditions are like during rush hours, but I'd probably try Vancouver/Williams as a way to get to Rosa Parks. You'd run into a lot of bike traffic that way, but that's not entirely a bad thing.
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Old 03-30-13, 10:02 PM
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The 2007 accidents at Greeley/Interstate were both cyclists riding south on Interstate and trying to go straight through the intersection, they were hit by vehicles turning right from southbound Interstate onto Greeley. Right hooks are the most dangerous situation in my opinion. Especially when the cyclist is going fast, e.g. down a slope; the driver doesn't check for a cyclist coming up on his right, and the cyclist can't stop in time when the car cuts him off.

Coming home, the OP is going to be coming Greeley south/eastbound and turning right to Interstate southbound, that is a straightforward turn and if memory serves, he can even ride on the sidewalk to make that turn. Going to work, it will be trickier to make the left turn from Interstate northbound to Greeley north/westbound, if traffic is daunting I would consider dismounting and crossing the intersection pedestrian-style, at the crosswalk shortly after the intersection. He'll be riding up a slight grade anyway, so dismounting won't cost him a ton of momentum. Or, experiment with riding north on Interstate to Rosa Parks Way?

Compare to riding the whole way on Williams/Vancouver - there will be dozens of opportunities to be right hooked at intersections and at least to stop and start, losing momentum.

Maybe it is six vs half dozen, my personal preference would be the route with fewer intersections.

Last edited by jyl; 04-02-13 at 12:51 PM.
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Old 03-30-13, 10:11 PM
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Yep, the Portland bike maps list all the bicycle routes in the area. A tremendous help for this new commuter, in a new city.
Welcome to Portland!
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Old 04-01-13, 09:49 AM
  #7  
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Originally Posted by PDX Reborn View Post
Yep, the Portland bike maps list all the bicycle routes in the area. A tremendous help for this new commuter, in a new city.
Yes, the map will tell you what all your options are but it can't tell you which ones are the safest, the most practical, or even the most attractive. If the o.p. has actually made the ride on Interstate then they are in a better position than most to make the decisions. Is there a bike lane? Are there other cyclists making the same choice? A yes, to either of these would eliminate a lot of questions/doubt if it were me.

Commuting is easy for me. I Google the trip. Google defaults to the most direct route. That's good enough for me for a start. I ride the Google route. There isn't a road that I am afraid to use unless it is an interstate or a limited access freeway. Anything else is fair game. Especially if it has a bike lane. Some left turns require finesse. This you learn by riding the route as given by Google. Google has a bike option now. I suspect the results won't differ much from the Bike Portland Map but I find it confusing. I am partially sighted and cannot read street signs. A straightforward, direct, route suits me much better than one that meanders all over the place in an effort to find the least stressful path that encounters a minimum of motorized traffic. YMMV.

H
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Old 04-01-13, 11:42 AM
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i think the bike lane on interstate is fine but there are bike boulevards that will get you to nopo (albeit a little circuitously):

http://www.portlandoregon.gov/transp...article/351010
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Old 04-01-13, 12:40 PM
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I'm an ex-Portland commuter. I used to work in Sellwood and lived in NW. I often rode to U of P. If it were me, I'd take a longer, but more scenic and safer route. I'd cross the Sellwood bridge, ride the bike path along the west side of the river all the way to Front ave and continue to Kittridge. Cut over to Hwy 30 (generous shoulder for biking), cross the St. John's bridge, then take Willamette to U of P.
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Old 04-02-13, 12:54 PM
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Am I the only one who gets scared out of his pants when riding the bike/ped path on the St. John's bridge? It is 240 feet high, often windy, the railing is barely waist height when you're on a bike, I'm pretty sure that if some clumsy pedestrian hip-checked me into the railing at 15 mph, I'd go o v e r b o a a a r d d d d
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Old 04-02-13, 01:25 PM
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Originally Posted by jyl View Post
Am I the only one who gets scared out of his pants when riding the bike/ped path on the St. John's bridge? It is 240 feet high, often windy, the railing is barely waist height when you're on a bike, I'm pretty sure that if some clumsy pedestrian hip-checked me into the railing at 15 mph, I'd go o v e r b o a a a r d d d d
imo, the sharrowed lane is a better option.
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Old 04-02-13, 01:29 PM
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Careful out there , I heard on the Radio, of another Cyclist - motor vehicle collision,
and cyclist fatality in PDX , this am.
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Old 04-02-13, 01:49 PM
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Originally Posted by jyl View Post
Am I the only one who gets scared out of his pants when riding the bike/ped path on the St. John's bridge? It is 240 feet high, often windy, the railing is barely waist height when you're on a bike, I'm pretty sure that if some clumsy pedestrian hip-checked me into the railing at 15 mph, I'd go o v e r b o a a a r d d d d
I love the St. John's bridge, and biking across it on a nice day with low traffic is bliss (though it still barely makes up for the pure ugliness of Route 30 -- happily I drop in from Germantown Road). I haven't used the bike/ped path. I feel very comfortable in the right lane. I might feel differently during peak traffic times.
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Old 04-02-13, 04:22 PM
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Originally Posted by Leisesturm View Post
Yes, the map will tell you what all your options are but it can't tell you which ones are the safest, the most practical, or even the most attractive. If the o.p. has actually made the ride on Interstate then they are in a better position than most to make the decisions. Is there a bike lane? Are there other cyclists making the same choice? A yes, to either of these would eliminate a lot of questions/doubt if it were me.

Commuting is easy for me. I Google the trip. Google defaults to the most direct route. That's good enough for me for a start. I ride the Google route. There isn't a road that I am afraid to use unless it is an interstate or a limited access freeway. Anything else is fair game. Especially if it has a bike lane. Some left turns require finesse. This you learn by riding the route as given by Google. Google has a bike option now. I suspect the results won't differ much from the Bike Portland Map but I find it confusing. I am partially sighted and cannot read street signs. A straightforward, direct, route suits me much better than one that meanders all over the place in an effort to find the least stressful path that encounters a minimum of motorized traffic. YMMV.

H
Yes, I agree with you, that the maps don't list the, "safest routes", but its a good start. Safety is all relative
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Old 04-02-13, 04:24 PM
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Originally Posted by fietsbob View Post
Careful out there , I heard on the Radio, of another Cyclist - motor vehicle collision,
and cyclist fatality in PDX , this am.
Sad to hear this
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Old 04-03-13, 03:17 PM
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cyclist fatality
I googled this and could not find any info. Anyone have a link?
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Old 04-03-13, 04:43 PM
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You can see and/or order maps here.
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Old 04-03-13, 08:30 PM
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A little perspective on the safety of cycling in Portland.

According to this site there have been 58 traffic fatalities in Oregon to date in 2013.

In 2011, there were 207 cars drivers killed along with 62 passengers. 15 cyclists were killed and 47 peds.
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