Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Why the heck are they riding on: Powell

by: Rachel.db

Occasionally I'm a passenger in a car and I get to see all the streets I avoid as a cyclist.

At least once every car ride there is a person riding a bicycle on a busy car thoroughfare. I shake my head and think "WHY!!!" but in a strictly rhetorical fashion. The idea of knowing someone's "reason" for riding on a street like Powell makes me think of that Lewis Black sketch with the woman who says "If it weren't for my horse I wouldn't have spent that year in college."

I pretend it's just because they don't have a bike map of the city, or someone hasn't told them that: as a general rule, streets that are good for cars, are not good for bikes and vice versa. So in my little world, I imagine giving each of these persons one of the Portland bike specific maps, (many of them free, others amazingly detailed ), and they say "thanks bike map fairy!" and it's one less person riding on Powell.

With that in mind, we're going to shout out the occasional "Why the heck are they riding on..." post.  Just like the "WHY!?" in my head, it's a rhetorical question. With the idea that maybe it's just because they don't know any better, the post will offer a practical alternative.

So to fanfare and trumpets and cellos and the bicycling harper may I present:

Why the heck are you riding on: Powell ... when  
Woodward and Clinton are just a few blocks away. 

This comes from my FAVORITE bike map, the Portland folding pocket map, they are free and we have some at the shop.

A close up of an inner SE portion of Powell.

What do all those colors mean? Here is the bike map legend. Notice the white marking says "Major Street" add "FOR CARS" to the end of that and you know not to ride on those!

Portland has amazing bike maps that will help you navigate the city in the bike friendliest way.

Coming up on the "Why the heck..." list: bike salmon.


Aaron said...

Okay. this is a valid question. So as someone who occasionally rides on Powell and MLK I will offer a response. I've ridden in Portland for 7 years now and know the whole city in terms of what areas are good and what areas aren't. I've even started my own Google map of good bike routes which is superior to the 'bikethere' map. 90% of the time I'm on roads like Clinton, Tillamook, etc. But there are a few reasons I wont. If I'm headed south from Tillamook and Rodney, there's no more efficient route than MLK and going south I can keep a good pace (going north I'll often take the sidewalk). On Powell there are two places that I might ride. If I'm going from People's coop area and I have to get to Sellwood or the Ross Island bridge it's less out of my way to take Powell under the rail bridge. Otherwise I might take Powell east of 80th ave where alternative routes are harder to come by. Sometimes I'll also take 2-lane Division because I often pull a heavy trailer between Harrison & 44th and Woodstock. It's less hilly to take Division to 60th to get to Woodward than to climb the hill at 51st.
Certainly there are other people who are just unaware of bike routes. But for me I take it when it's the most (or the only) convenient route

jacob said...

If you're near people's coop heading to Sellwood, it's a much more reliable idea to ride over to 26th & then down to Bybee into Sellwood , so as to avoid the greater possibility of death flying past you at 50mph .

& I'm fairly certain that cycling should not be about the convenience as much as the experience . We take the more pleasing ride , even if it's a little further out of the way , even if there's a big climb & especially if there are less semi-trucks

Kristin said...

I'm so glad you pointed this out as I have similar issues with people riding up east burnside during rush hour traffic. It does no good to have the second lane open when it's being filled by a biker. Ankeny is a block over, and yeah you have to jog around a little, and there's a large hill by Laurelhurst park, but that's just part of it. There's biker highways for a reason. I lived on 60th for a year and had to bike that route, it wasn't the easiest as I'm not in the best shape, but come on people. There needs to be mutual respect between cars and bikes, and biking on Burnside is just selfish in my opinion.