Getting it, or getting to it

As a quick follow-up to my previous post, Separation Anxiety, it’s great to see (and live in a city like) Portland experimenting with curb-side bike lanes and buffered bike lanes. Here, at the Lloyd District shopping center, where they took out a car lane to make this:

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It’s hard to see in this picture, but the auto turning lanes (turning right and crossing the bike lane where the bollards and yellow paint end) are a little awkward, in my opinion. Too small & short for a car to actually sit there if it needed to — meaning, if a bike was actually coming and the car yielded to it.

Once the city has bike lanes like this everywhere in a truly connected bicycling system, we can talk about why this buffer might be a wee over the top. But for now, hurrah.

Nevertheless, it’s good to see the city attempting to improve on the horror that is the exit-through-the-bike-lane that occurs on the Hawthorne Bridge. I know some people praise it, and of course it is “wonderful by comparison in the American system” but it gives me terrors.

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As a cyclist it’s difficult having to look back so far over my shoulder to see whether the traffic is actually going to yield to me. (Why do I have to look back so far? Because at this point on the bridge it’s essentially a free-for-all for the cars to try to make the light at the end of the bridge [not very visible in this photo] and they’re travelling at, let’s just say, “somewhat” above speed limit.)

But it’s also because I know what it’s like to be a driver at this intersection: the signage comes up so quick, and is so small — look at it in comparison to the huge “car-oriented” signs above, it’s that yield sign on the right-hand side, you can’t even read it in this image! It’s really made the size for a cyclist or pedestrian to read. I feel that the uninitiated (read: from out of town or otherwise not familiar with this intersection) might certainly miss what’s going on before it’s too late. I am somewhat surprised this hasn’t been more of a problem or crash site. Ah, but that’s another gripe for another day about why I hate driving in Portland: the signage is made for people who already know where they’re going and how to get there. And all the other drivers will curse and damn you if you don’t, but the signs sure aren’t going to help you. Okay, maybe it was a gripe for today.

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