My regular commute to work downtown is to bike down SE Ankeny, turn right on SE 6th, then left onto NE Couch. This is the “recommended” route to the Burnside Bridge both from the city’s bike map and the signs. However, the timing of the traffic light on NE Couch has been annoying ever since the light went in last year. The light would turn green at SE 6th and E Burnside, but the only way to make the next light at NE Couch was to bike as fast as I could. Only one or two bicyclists could catch the light at most. This created some unintentional consequences:
- Some cyclists were tempted to jump the green light in order to get a head start on making the light.
- Some cyclists would cut the corner short at Couch through the yellow. Cutting the corner created a problem where the cyclist would not ride over the signal loop that turned on the flashing beacon sign at NE Couch and NE Grand.
- Many other cyclists just avoided going down 6th and took Grand instead. Grand is a busy arterial with streetcar tracks.
I happened to mention this to Roger Geller, the Portland Bureau of Transportation’s Bicycle Coordinator. He agreed to look into the signal timing and low and behold, only a few weeks later changes were made. I now can easily make the light without hurrying. Thanks to Roger and to Peter Koonce, the City’s signal traffic engineer who figured the changes out, I feel safer about my choices.
Signal changes are not an easy business. They couldn’t simply change the timing on 6th; they needed to do changes on the whole stretch of Burnside and Couch. We’ve got a smart and capable team at the Bureau of Transportation.
PS: This type of service is available to anyone! You don’t have to be Executive Director of the Bicycle Transportation Alliance to request a change. Suggestions for changes can be made by any citizen directly, through a neighborhood association, or, if you need a little guidance, through us. Feel free to reach out to our Advocacy Assistant, Carl Larson, for help on requesting changes in the tri-county area. He can be reached at email@example.com.