Comment of the Week: Let’s stop with the bikes-on-sidewalk B.S.

(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

Our post last week about the new crossing treatment on Northeast 37th at Prescott attracted a lot of ire. The vast majority of people we heard from do not like the new design.

High on the list of grievances is the fact that the transportation bureau decided to route bicycle users up onto a narrow sidewalk.

Long-time BikePortland reader and noted local activist Betsy Reese wasn’t having it. In fact, you could say she called B.S. on the idea.
Here’s her comment:

This is one more example of BS masquerading as an MUP.

MUP definition: Multi-Use Path. A shared pathway for bicycles and pedestrians which is either

1. very low traffic,
2. very scenic,
3. very long, or
4. has pathway and access/exit structures that are wide enough so that bikes and pedestrians are not in conflict.

MUPs are good for transportation, recreation, and novice bicyclists who are not yet ready to ride in the street.

Examples of MUPs:
– Springwater Corridor
– Eastside Esplanade at non-peak travel times
– Banks-Vernonia Trail
– SE 38th Ave. just south of Taylor 1/2 block ped/bike path at dead end


BS definition: Bikes on Sidewalk. A work-around when designers can’t figure out what to do about bikes or when bikes are an afterthought or lowest priority in allocating space. A BS:

1, puts bikes and pedestrians together in a situation that causes conflicts
2. makes enemies out of people who should be friends and advocacy allies
3. flips the blame to the bicyclists and pedestrians caught in this set-up with the admonishment of “Why can’t everyone just get along?”

BS is no good for anyone.

Examples of BS:

– Clinton LRT Station area of Clinton Greenway between 11th and 12 Aves.
– Hollywood LRT Station approaches and freeway overpass
– Hawthorne Bridge sidewalks
– Steel Bridge sidewalks

And a MUP that is just squeaking by with today’s volume, is tomorrow’s BS.

No more BS, please!

Provide proper MUPs, and provide bike infrastructure on streets like,

1. protected bike lanes,
2. side paths,
3. low-traffic Greenways, and
4. traffic law and the corresponding education and enforcement that protects bikes on all streets.

If you can’t figure out what to do about bikes, don’t just pop them onto the sidewalk. Step up to the challenge and figure it out.

Let’s be prepared to call BS when we see it in the planning stages. Let’s coordinate with pedestrian advocates and present a unified voice on this issue.

Thank you Betsy for contributing to the discussion here on BikePortland. Check your mailbox for a postcard and stickers! And thanks to everyone who flagged this so it was easier for me to find. Remember, when you see a great comment, just reply to it with “comment of the week”.

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and

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