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Old 08-23-17, 01:06 AM   #1
AngeloDolce
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Potential move to Portland

I'd like to ask for information without starting too many flames if possible.

I've bicycled for commuting/transportation on the East Coast for about 30 years but am now interviewing with a company in Portland, OR. I've seen a few useful bike facilities in PA and NYC, but my general experience is that facilities are made mandatory when bicyclists won't use facilities that don't work (allow parking, right of RTOL, etc.)

I have questions about mandatory use in OR, and bridge access:

(i) Enforcement of mandatory bike lanes vs. quality & usefulness

* Do police and drivers aggressively restrict bicyclists to bike lanes (2015 ORS 814.420) or harass them on roads without bike lanes?
* Are drivers prohibited from merging into bike lanes before turning?

Bridge access - major bridges (MD, DE, PA) prohibit bicycles (I-95, I-495, Rt 322, I-76, I-95). I am allowed make 40-80 mile detours to bicycle across smaller bridges, but generally don't.

(ii) is it practical to live in Vancouver WA and bicycle to downtown Portland (e.g. 10-12 mile commute)?

My impression is that there is combined ped/bicycle access on the I-5 bridge (Columbia River) and I-405 (Williamette).
* Is this true?
* Is it a useful for a daily commute, or lots of stops for pedestrian signals required, or narrow and meant for very light volume?

Thanks for any comments.
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Old 08-23-17, 06:42 AM   #2
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I moved away from Portland a few years back due to family and career situations, plus the overcrowding and changes in the city was turning me off, but I hope to answer as I'm still from there, lived there for 40 years, rode all over the city, and commuted by bike for over a decade, from three different locations to downtown. I also still visit the city twice yearly, with my bike.

You shouldn't get trashed much for moving there from the East Coast. It's mostly Californians they get sick of.

I've bicycled for commuting/transportation on the East Coast for about 30 years but am now interviewing with a company in Portland, OR.

Once you get used to the rain, you'll appreciate the winters. They are damp and cloudy, and significantly easier to ride in than winters on the East Coast (where I now live, CT, where winter riding isn't a workout, it's a test of survival). Last year they got a lot of snow for them, but for you and me, it would have been a mild winter. Many winters, there's no snow at all in Portland, no ice. Just a lot of light rain and mist. Also, no humidity in the summer there. They may get 2-3 mildly humid days in early summer and everyone panics, but to you and me, it would be nothing. Late July and August can get surprisingly hot though. Even if dry, when it's 100 degrees, it's miserable to ride in.

Do police and drivers aggressively restrict bicyclists to bike lanes (2015 ORS 814.420) or harass them on roads without bike lanes?

You should be good. Just ride safely. There's a general respect for cyclists there who follow the law, and ride safely. Ride like a jackass, and expect to get harassed by drivers, and maybe cops too. There are already enough people that do this, please don't join them. Ride safe.

Are drivers prohibited from merging into bike lanes before turning?

Not to my knowledge. And if there is, it may not be well enforced. Be careful. I'd like to hear what others say.

Is it practical to live in Vancouver WA and bicycle to downtown Portland (e.g. 10-12 mile commute)? My impression is that there is combined ped/bicycle access on the I-5 and I-405 bridges.

Yes it is. Many people do it. Both bridges cross the Columbia though. The 405 crossing on nasty weather days can be windy, but there's a dedicated, protected bike lane right down the middle of the bridge, completely safe from traffic. IIRC, the I-5 bridge gets a little more crowded, but nothing like the cars you'll see. There are multiple bridges that cross the Willamette. Better ask about them individually in a future post.
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Old 08-23-17, 12:04 PM   #3
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Clarification of bridge info

Seems there's a bit of confusion with the bikeability of the freeway bridges, so I'll clarify:

There are two freeway bridges that cross the Columbia River between Portland and Vancouver, WA. Both are bikeable.
  • I-5 (Interstate Bridge) is on the west. It's less than a mile long. The bike path is narrow sidewalks on the sides. A tight fit so take it a bit slow.
  • I-205 (Glenn Jackson Bridge) is on the east. About two miles long. The wide bike path is in the middle. More of a slog heading northbound as it's uphill.

The two freeway bridges in central Portland across the Willamette, the I-5 (Marquam) and I-405/US 30 (Fremont) are NOT bikeable, as there are no facilities. However, all other bridges in the central city (from south to north: Broadway, Steel, Burnside, Morrison, Hawthorne, Tillikum, Ross Island) are bikeable, some better than others. The only one of those at this time that doesn't have good biking facilities is the Ross Island. But if you were heading down from Vancouver, that would be the least likely bridge to use.
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Old 08-23-17, 09:38 PM   #4
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The majority of the residents of Oregon were born elsewhere, mostly Washington and California. Don't let the minority of haters get you down, the majority are with you. Besides, the states bordering Oregon had to put up with Oregonians moving into those states for decades because Oregon's economy has always been less developed than a typical coastal state.

Before you move here, you should probably visit for a bit (weeks, not days). There's often things about other states that you just can't know without experiencing them, like how people behave around bikes compared to what you're used to.

For example, you seem to be concerned about law enforcement. We don't have that here, at least as it pertains to roadway behavior. Every so often the PDX cops go on a bike harassment thing, but it's always short-lived and focuses only on areas where relatively affluent people are whining.

You might be surprised by the number and boldness of Oregon's homeless population. It's not unheard of for them to simply take over a bike path and render it unusable for an extended period.

I hope it all works out for you. There's a lot to like about the Portland area.
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Old 08-24-17, 09:23 AM   #5
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Bring Money, Its an Expensive place to rent housing, , and costs keep going Up.

& as half the state population lives there, it has heavy traffic, and a Cyclist is killed in traffic at a low %,

but with so many on bikes in heavy traffic, it is a regular occurrence..





....

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Old 08-24-17, 12:21 PM   #6
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Thanks for the comments so far.

AdventurePDX - thanks, comments from those who ride there are always more informative than online blogs and maps

B. Carfree - I agree a visist in weeks would be nice, but this is unlikely. On the other hand, if I do get the job it will be better than no job in NJ.
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Old 08-24-17, 12:28 PM   #7
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The Society of Three Speeds also sounds interesting - I like the English 3 speeds very much.
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Old 08-25-17, 01:31 PM   #8
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* Are drivers prohibited from merging into bike lanes before turning?
It's illegal, but I've never seen it enforced. California law requires drivers to merge into the bike lane before turning, so a lot of people here (having moved up from Cali) do it.

On the other hand, there are a few places in Portland with "bike boxes" -- a big green area across both the bike lane and the auto lane that cars are prohibited from entering, and that seems to be respected. In fact, even biking in the suburbs I frequently see cars behaving as though there were a bike box at intersections where there isn't one. For instance, I'll stop at a traffic light in the bike lane and the first car to arrive after me will stop in the auto lane but well behind my rear wheel. Out here it's kind of annoying because often the lights don't trigger properly for a bike in the bike lane. I guess it's better to have driver's that are too courteous though.

Another thing to note is that in Portland proper a lot of traffic control, particularly on designated bike routes, is designed to specifically accommodate bicyclists. One of my friends claims that you can get away with anything up to a minor felony as long as you're on a bicycle. For instance, you see a lot of signs like this in some areas:



That's a place where as a bicyclist you're allowed to continue along Williams Avenue, which has just become a one way street going the opposite direction. It's a residential block with near-zero traffic, so that's perfectly safe and comfortable.

Honestly, bicycling in Oregon is so much easier with regard to traffic interactions than any place I've been on the east coast (I moved here from Maryland in 1995) that I think you'll be very pleasantly surprised.


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(ii) is it practical to live in Vancouver WA and bicycle to downtown Portland (e.g. 10-12 mile commute)?
This may be practical to do on a bicycle. The same commute is not entirely practical in a car, though thousands of people do it every day. Automobile traffic across the bridges is horrific. I can't understand why anyone does it. Cheap real estate and no income tax are only worth so much compared to quality of daily life.
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Old 08-27-17, 09:35 AM   #9
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Read this blog a couple times a week and you'll be up to speed on Portland bike scene in no time. Caution: the comments on articles are often written by cranks, weirdos, militant bike nazis, antisocial trolls or nice people who get shouted down.

https://bikeportland.org/
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Old 08-27-17, 07:59 PM   #10
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It's illegal, but I've never seen it enforced. California law requires drivers to merge into the bike lane before turning, so a lot of people here (having moved up from Cali) do it.
Yeah, merging into the bike lane prior to making a right turn (or left turn for those damnable left-side bike lanes) is soooo odd, being that it is required by the vehicle codes of 48 states, with only Oregon and Arizona doing it differently.

I don't feel that one way or the other works better for people on bikes. They both have their obvious drawbacks. However, I do wish we would settle on a national standard on this most basic of bike infrastructure issues.
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Old 08-30-17, 04:19 PM   #11
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Yeah, merging into the bike lane prior to making a right turn (or left turn for those damnable left-side bike lanes) is soooo odd, being that it is required by the vehicle codes of 48 states, with only Oregon and Arizona doing it differently.

I don't feel that one way or the other works better for people on bikes. They both have their obvious drawbacks. However, I do wish we would settle on a national standard on this most basic of bike infrastructure issues.
It seems safer for bicyclist if cars are allowed to merge into the bicyclist lane before turning right. Less chance of a right hook? I wasn't aware it was illegal here. I merge into it (near LEO's) and haven't been pulled over so it's not enforced much clearly.

To the OP: If you want to bicycle across all the bridges, including the Fremont and Marquam, you can sign up for the Providence Bridge Pedal. You just missed this years ride but that's okay because they weren't able to ride across all of the bridges. The 2018 ride will go back to all of them.

Providence Bridge Pedal | Providence Health and Services
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Old 09-12-17, 11:51 AM   #12
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The last time I rode the Bridge Pedal, it was more of a Bridge Push due to the astounding number of people that had signed up. And I purposefully chose the earliest option in order to avoid that. Hopefully it's better now.

In Portland now, having not ridden here in six months, even then just barely, my last real riding around the city was last year. Here are some observations on changes I've seen:

• Tillikum Crossing is just fantastic, as is the ways to get on and off it and connect to other routes. What a wonderful project. Huge props to the city for getting this done.

• Bike lanes are cheap to make, but the city has done a very good job with them. I see more than I ever have, though some of them at crossings and turn lanes confused me a little.

• There's an ungodly amount of homeless people now living here. Maybe twice as many as a year ago. A year ago there were an awful lot, but they were mostly crammed along the Springwater Corridor. Now, some of them are still there, but they are scattered throughout the city, and a shockingly large amount of them. It was such a turn-off, a blight, that I won't be going back to some areas unless I absolutely have to. Mostly the east side of the river, and the businesses there (Grand, MLK, etc), where hoards of them crowded sidewalks, but also downtown, McCall park. I'm 99% sure I actually saw someone shooting something up along the 205 trail, which was crammed with them. There has to be a tipping point here, I can't see this continuing.

• Who's the genius that decided to turn a northbound lane on Front Avenue (Naito Pkwy) into a bike/pedestrian only lane? I rode on it, and found myself maybe the only cyclist, with a heap of slow moving cars. One car was even in the cyclist lane behind me. I'm all for more bikes and less cars, but this was nuts. Hopefully this is a temporary solution and there are plans on building a bike lane in the park itself or something like that.

• When I rode at Mt. Tabor years ago people used to let their dogs run free everywhere, and didn't give a damn about the law, or anyone else. They made it their dog park, and it was a nightmare. Somehow, this has abated, and I saw almost no loose dogs there. The park itself however was more crowded than ever with people.

• There are more cool places to eat, and cool unique shops and other things than I ever recall, including some neat murals. Having said this, there are parts of the city that are still rundown, empty businesses even, and need community (city) help to clean up.

• Like the rest of America, more and more roads are crumbling. Not just roads, but other infrastructure. May get to a point where the main bike I ride isn't a road bike, but a gravel bike.

• 20 years ago Vera Katz (excellent mayor in retrospect) suggested moving, raising, or tunneling I-5 on the east side of the river, and opening up a second waterfront there. People asked why, as it was mostly just old industrial area. The only thing really built was the Esplanade, which now bears her name and a statue of her. But now that numerous small businesses, shops, restaurants have opened along Water avenue and the streets there, slotted and pocketed in here and there, I think people should have taken her idea more seriously.

• Traffic was bad a year ago, now it's a nightmare. A wet Los Angeles (sorry). Much better to get around by bike.
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Old 09-16-17, 03:18 PM   #13
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I keep having to drive through Portland from Salem to get up to work in Chehalis or sometimes, Woodland. It's a pain. If I had to live in Portland I doubt I would own a car.
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Old 09-18-17, 07:19 AM   #14
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@ Rider51...yeah, just got back home after working out of town for a few years...I don't understand the Front Ave. bike lane either, and the increase in homeless everywhere is astounding.

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Old 09-19-17, 02:30 PM   #15
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Lack of homes for sale weighs on Portland-area real estate market | OregonLive.com
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Old 09-25-17, 01:58 PM   #16
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I own my house in Portland and rent it out. It falls into that "under $500k" category, and I'm shocked what it's reportedly worth. Double what I paid for it a dozen years ago. But I don't know what the city is going to do about it, or realistically can. With people pouring into the city, a strict urban growth boundary, and other factors, unless you're making over six figures, buying a home, even renting a home, is just going to get tougher and tougher for people. And the argument that it's still less expensive housing than SF, LA, SD or Seattle (barely) isn't really news people want to hear.
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Old 10-02-17, 05:05 PM   #17
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Who's the genius that decided to turn a northbound lane on Front Avenue (Naito Pkwy) into a bike/pedestrian only lane? I rode on it, and found myself maybe the only cyclist, with a heap of slow moving cars. One car was even in the cyclist lane behind me. I'm all for more bikes and less cars, but this was nuts. Hopefully this is a temporary solution and there are plans on building a bike lane in the park itself or something like that.

Better Naito (the 2-way cycling/pedestrian lane) during commuting times and, especially, Festival season gets quite a bit of use. Maybe more importantly, it keeps fast commuters and roadies off of the waterfront path. The waterfront path is a really wonderful place to walk as well as ride really slowly, but for those who want to cruise without dodging walkers, runners, etc, Better Naito is a pretty slick solution.
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Old 10-12-17, 11:54 AM   #18
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Thanks for the replies. I will be moving to Portland later this month, trying to find a place to stay.
@fietsbob, Yes, I've been noticing the housing prices and issues. Evidently lots of people are getting job offers
@B. Carfree, Yes, I'm from one of the other 48 states, I don't understand directing bicyclists inside turning motorists.
@BikeliciousBabe, Thanks for the suggestion. Actually I was just looking for access to some bridge, don't need access to Interstate Willamette bridges if 6 others are open to bicycles.
@Rider51 - thanks for the detailed comments. Regarding homeless, I saw 1-2 camped, not large settlement, On I-5 two were accommodating (pulled his trailer aside to let me pass), one seemed overly aggressive but OK when I let him pass. I-205 bridge was defeaning, hope not to need very often.
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