TRIBUNE PHOTO: JENNIFER ANDERSON - PBOT's new signs along the Clinton Neighborhood Greenway carry four slogans: 'We built this to encourage walking and biking,' 'Thanks for traveling with care,' 'Welcome to our Neighborhood Greenway,' and 'Greenways are not cut-through streets.'

Portland Police issued 35 citations and 25 warnings last Tuesday as part of a daylong enforcement mission along the Clinton Neighborhood Greenway.

Police stopped a total of 45 people driving cars and 15 people riding bicycles.

With each traffic stop, officers also distributed Vision Zero pamphlets with information about safe travel for people who walk, bike and/or drive.

Portland Bureau of Transportation officials had said police would be on the lookout for violations including unsafe passing, speeding, aggressive driving and noncompliance with stop signs.

Instead, they stopped just one person for speeding, and no violations of unsafe passing or aggressive driving.

That's disappointing, says Betsy Reese, a Clinton neighbor and bike safety advocate.

"In my opinion, unsafe passing of bicyclists by motor vehicle drivers is the most important behavior to enforce on the Clinton Greenway," Reese says. "Officers did not station themselves at locations to observe this behavior, and often don't know how to recognize it when they see it."

Reese says she and other neighbors specifically requested that PBOT educate drivers about the diverters before their installation.

She doesn't feel last week's enforcement effort achieved that goal. For instance, officers could have located between 27th and 29th avenues, she says — a common place for aggressive and unsafe passing because cyclists go slowly up the steep hill.

Instead, officers located at a stop sign and gave out 26 stop sign violations — including many cyclists for not coming to a complete stop with their foot on the ground.

That's "like shooting fish in a barrel," Reese says, and "not achieving the education about the diverters, which was the whole intention."

The enforcement effort also included one felony warrant arrest, 26 failures to obey a stop sign, 17 equipment violations, five driving uninsured/failure to carry proof of insurance, two seatbelt violations, two driving while suspended, and one hit-and-run investigated, among other violations.

The PBOT-Portland Police effort was intended as an education campaign to improve safety along the Greenway, where the Portland Bureau of Transportation will install two traffic-calming diverters in early January.

One will be a median diverter on Clinton at 17th Avenue, sitting in the middle of the street like at other spots around the city, including 20th Avenue at Harrison and Ankeny.

The other will be a "semi diverter" at 32nd Avenue, consisting of old planters that had been used on the downtown mall.

The planters will block through-traffic on Clinton, breaking it into smaller chunks of road for local access, to make it less attractive as a through-route.

"There's always going to be some traffic that tries to go around it, but our experience with using diverers for protecting neighborhood greenways is it's really effective," says PBOT project manager Rich Newlands.

PBOT officials will monitor the semi-diverter at 32nd Avenue for six months and then make it permanent, Newlands says.

The diverters will cost $10,000 to construct and install.

As to why the traffic-calming measures on Clinton didn't happen sooner, Newlands says: "We really did have to have a public conversation about how these were going to work first."

At this point, he says: "We want to first hone the process, create a template for these projects, which Clinton is attempting to do. After we've had the chance to evaluate the Clinton project late next spring, we'll be in a better position to move forward with (other Greenway) projects."

The 22 new signs along Clinton, installed by PBOT last week, were designed to move around to other Greenways.

Activists are "cautiously optimistic" about the improvements, says Soren Impey, direct action coordinator for BikeLoudPDX, the advocacy group that's been calling for changes for the past year.

"Many of our members and others who bike commute have told us they've had negative experiences with illegal close passing, speeding and other issues," he says. "We look at it as a stepping stone to improving other greenways in Portland. Hopefully this will be a model."

West of Southeast Caesar Chavez Boulevard, data shows that automobile volumes on Clinton reach as high as 3,000 cars per day, as drivers use the Greenway as a cut-through route from Southeast Powell Boulevard or Division Street.

PBOT's ideal volume for a neighborhood greenway is 1,000 vehicles per day.

In August PBOT issued its "Portland's Neighborhood Greenways Assessment" report, prompting the Clinton pilot recommendations and a lot of discussion about how to reclaim greenways to serve their original purpose — as safe, calm neighborhood streets that prioritizes walking and biking over car travel.

With the Greenways Assessment report as a blueprint for action, Impey says, "We're excited to see the city finally develop some policy and plans."

Once the diverters are installed, BikeLoudPDX will hold a community event or celebration to highlight the changes to Clinton, Impey says.

Moving forward, BikeLoudPDX has asked for additional improvements, including more traffic calming measures between 20th and 26th avenues and a pedestrian plaza at the large intersection at 26th avenue.

PBOT has both of items listed in their Phase 2 plans.


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