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-   -   Downtown PDX to Tualatin - Commute route advice sought (http://bikeportland.org/forum/showthread.php?t=4278)

BellaBici 09-20-2012 12:53 PM

Downtown PDX to Tualatin - Commute route advice sought
Why, hello all!

I am very new to Portland. I live in north Portland, but this commute route advice request is for my beautiful friend. ;) Being new, I am completely unfamiliar with the route that my friend needs to take from her residence to her place of employ.

First, I think that it's very brave of her to choose bicycle commuting to take her to work. It's forced, since her work early morning arrival time is before Trimet buses run, yet she does have a car at her disposal. I admire her for choosing cycling as an option!

She plans on cycling to work in the morning and returning back to downtown Portland via Trimet bus. So, one-way commute advice is desired. (north to south)

Here are the general intersections of her departure and arrival: (with Google Map link) 11th St & SW Jeffersons St, Portland, OR to SW Sagert St & SW Martinazzi St, Tualatin, OR

Ideally, I want her bicycle commute to be an optimal blend of the safest roads/paths, flattest terrain, and shortest route. This is where I need the assistance of your collective knowledge. :) And please, the more route details/info/cautions the better! ;)

In addition, I plan on riding the route before she does to confirm that it is indeed safe, flat as possible, and direct as will allow.

Lastly, any commuting tips and advice that could help her would certainly be valued and appreciated. Thank you!

lovedoctor 09-20-2012 02:28 PM

I ride from where SW PDX, Tigard, and Beaverton all meet up to SE Hawthorne everyday. The route you posted is easy going and safe along the river, but that lefthand corner on the map (heading West up to Barbur) is a really nasty uphill climb. I mean stoopid nasty. After coming over the Hawthorne Bridge, I hang a left on 1st street and head up to where Barbur starts and take that all the way home. Barbur is actually pretty easy once you get acclimated to the high speed autos. It isn't the most pleasant ride given the traffic and lights further South, but there just isn't a good route that I know of other than that, and it has a reasonable bike lane for most of it. But just be prepared for flats, since there is usually a bit of road debris. The Fanno Creek Trail is certainly nice, but it's rather hodge podge, and often filled with joggers and walkers, so I avoid it when I'm actually trying to get somewhere.

Regardless, you and your friend should do a few practice rides and see how it goes. Kudos to your friend for her initiative, and to you for helping!

BellaBici 09-20-2012 04:14 PM

Thanks lovedoctor! That's some first-hand knowledge that I can use. :)

That path on Google Maps was the default cycling path that Google presented me. Since I posted above, and with your help, I've altered the commute route to be reflected below.

I think that Google Maps sent me up the steep hill on a footpath! :confused: You are correct though, if she goes down Salmon street to the Willamette's elevation she will then need to ride back up. :rolleyes: Best to preserve that height and head southwest on Broadway towards SW Barbur Blvd and Tualatin.

Here is the revised bicycle commute via Google Maps (revision 1.1) ~> 11th St & SW Jeffersons St, Portland, OR to SW Sagert St & SW Martinazzi St, Tualatin, OR

I've also revised the route to more fully use SW Barbur Blvd.

This brings me to another question/point, what about taking SW Terwilliger Blvd above OHSU instead of SW Barbur Blvd until where the two boulevards intersect southerly? I see that SW Terwilliger Blvd is sinuous along the same elevation through the hills. Although, this may include ups and downs too. Is this a safer/calmer alternative?

Another question about the route in this post's Google Map bicycle commute, near the southern end, at the intersection of SW Hall Blvd (turns into SW 85th Ave) & SW Durham Rd, would it be better continuing south along the SW 85th Ave (along the above route) or turning east along SW Durham Rd then proceeding south on SW Upper Boones Ferry Rd?

Salty Dog 09-21-2012 08:29 AM

The time of morning you have mentioned she will be riding Terwilliger is a much less stressful/safer alternative, although more strenuous. I personally avoid Barbur in the early morning hours. I don't mind the high-speed commuter traffic in the mornings or evenings, but I just don't trust those out after the bars close to notice the cyclist in the bike lane. I think in those hours Barbur being low traffic is actually more risky, because tired/intoxicated drivers don't have a "pack" to follow and keep them aware of their lanes.

Although Terwilliger has much more narrow bike lanes, if you are riding in the wee hours of the morning you can take the pedestrian path almost the entire way to Barbur. Most times of day there are dog walkers and joggers using it, so the bike lanes are the way to go. But in the early morning hours it's perfectly reasonable to use the side path on your bike and much safer if you are worried about car traffic (as long as you enter the infrequent intersections cautiously, remember turning cars will not be expecting any traffic in the crosswalk) . Even though it is more of a workout, this is my preferred route late at night and in the early morning.

I'm glad you caught that crazy foot-path route google maps suggested before trying it. I blindly followed those directions late one evening and was rewarded with a brutal climb through the neighborhood up to Barbur. Those "footpaths" are quite steep and go right past people's front doors, carrying my bike up them at midnight did not seem like a good choice. From that night on I only have used the tri-met route planning tool at rtp.trimet.org

lovedoctor 09-21-2012 09:18 AM

That route looks boring but good. That's what I would take to get from A to B. Terwilliger is definitely more fun, and aside from one notorious intersection (Jonathan did some posts bout this on bikeportland.org), it's pretty safe and calmer than Barbur. However, it does mean a fair amount more elevation change. I'd ride them both before making it official and see which she prefers.

Regarding your last question, I dunno. I don't head that far South too often, but perhaps others (K'Tesh?) have.

BellaBici 09-23-2012 06:34 PM

Thanks for your input, Salty Dog. Much appreciated! It really put into context what I experienced today.

So, today (Sunday) I rode SW Terwilliger (and then back north on SW Barbur) and SW Barbur also (and then back north on SW Terwilliger looping again).

SW Terwilliger has a grade that is certainly manageable. Not too bad. Car speeds seemed reasonable and cars were more aware of cyclists. The impression that I was left with.

Now, SW Barbur. Well, let's face it, that section is simply a highway. :mad: Five lanes wide in some places! I rode on those two bridge sidewalks that seem to be part of the bikeway. Wow, what craptastic biking infrastructure! :mad: The first bridge crossing ended in a pretty steep drop from the bridge sidewalk right into a drainage grate. :confused: Who was proud about kludging that together?!

Also, there were two (thankfully) marked road/path damaged areas. Thanks, whoever marked those!

When I was riding south on SW Barbur a Trimet bus brushed by me with less than 2' then proceeded to ride inside the bike lane. I thought it quite rude and threatening, but I bet that it would have frightened my lovely friend. Disappointing Trimet driver. (On the way back north on SW Barbur another Trimet bus driver was very courteous near an intersection.)

Lastly, again, those bridge-sidewalk crossings. It seems as if they've reinforced the bridge railing with projecting metal that further limits/impedes the sidewalk width by ~ 8"-12". Again, disappointing bike infrastructure.

lovedoctor, what is that "notorious" intersection on SW Terwilliger? I didn't see anything too bad. Maybe when SW Terwilliger crossed SW Capital Hwy?

I'm going to push for the inclusion of SW Terwilliger in the commute. The ride is fun and beautiful. The climbs manageable and the descents exciting but not too much so. It only adds ~0.5 miles to the commute length.

So here is commute including SW Terwilliger via Google Maps (revision 1.2) ~> 11th St & SW Jeffersons St, Portland, OR to SW Sagert St & SW Martinazzi St, Tualatin, OR

There! A little less boring for lovedoctor. ;)

lovedoctor 09-25-2012 08:20 AM

SW Condor. Read more HERE. The intersection has gone through some revisions since the bollards did not hold up to motorists defying the No-Left-Turn, so now it mostly just looks like every other crossing. The majority of the time it really isn't bad, but there have been a few high profile collisions caused by motorists failing to yield. I point it out just to make you aware, but don't let it deter you or the friend. I've riden that route many time without incident.

I personally take Barbur most days, just because it's faster and on day 5 of my work week the legs are burning a bit less. Understandably, many bike commuters avoid Barbur like the plague, but I've had very few truly dangerous situations along the bridges, riding in the motor lane. However, Terwilliger is just more fun and calmer. Whatever keeps your friend on the bike, do it.

biciclero 10-02-2012 08:47 AM

Terwilliger & Condor
That notorious Terwiliger & Condor intersection is really only a problem if you are northbound on Terw. in the bike lane. The angle at which Condor intersects makes it hard for drivers entering Terwilliger to see far enough to their left. Also, I think some of the notoriety stemmed from impatient rush-hour drivers gunning it to shoot into a rare gap in car traffic.

Riding SB should present no problems.

Psyfalcon 10-02-2012 05:19 PM

The signs before the bridges on Barbur do say "Bikes on Roadway." I suggest those be used rather than those mini sidewalks.

I have been honked at on Terwilliger, going down the hill at the north end, I took the lane because the bike lane is narrow at that point. Impatient driver was not happy.

BellaBici 10-14-2012 02:55 PM

Thanks ALL for contributing to this thread! Your input is surely appreciated. ;)

I rode the entire route (including about five extra miles of taking the wrong turn and getting lost) this past Thursday morning.

I've changed the last 1/5th of the route to include SW Durham Rd. Here is the final iteration via Google Maps (revision 2.0) ~> 11th St & SW Jeffersons St, Portland, OR to SW Sagert St & SW Martinazzi St, Tualatin, OR

I'd rather she ride the roads of SW Durham Rd and SW Upper Boones Ferry Rd than the wooded path section to the west during the early morning hours. Especially during the winter season.

Actually the SW Terwilliger Blvd section and the final SW Hall Rd to final destination are descent sections to ride. The 4.7 miles along SW Barbur Blvd/SW Pacific Hwy is the most unpleasant section.

I rode the final route back with a slow/average commuting pace and it took me ~1hr.

Next week I'll ride the route at the actual very early hour and see how the route looks traffic wise during the week. After that, I will then ride the route during the day with her to familiarize her and warn her of any dangers or other safety issues.

I will surely show her how, and why, to take the lane on some of the SW Terwilliger Blvd descents for safety's sake. I noticed that the speed limit is 25MPH there, but, as usual, few drivers care at all to observe this. :mad:

I will post an update about her impressions of this route and taking on this bicycling commuting challenge. Until then...

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