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PHOTO BY  - Kari Schlosshauer, a BikeLoud PDX member and Clinton Street neighbor, bikes with her two kids (one pictured here) every day. Shes hoping Bike to Shop and other events will make the neighborhood greenway safer.   Five days a week, Kari Schlosshauer loads her 5-year-old and 3-year-old into their bike trailer and hauls them to preschool, about 12 blocks away.


Then she and her husband, who shares drop-off duties, continue on to work by bike, and make the same return trip in the afternoon.

They travel on Southeast Clinton Street, a city Neighborhood Greenway that’s been a lingering battleground for cyclists’ rights.

While it would be easy to hop into the car, Schlosshauer, 40, says going by bike is her time to start the day with fresh air and physical activity, and see and point things out to her kids.

“We don’t have the same experience from inside the car, when they can’t see as much and we’re moving past things in the neighborhood more quickly,” she says.

Spurred by a desire for more traffic safety education and community building, Schlosshauer is helping the grassroots advocacy group BikeLoudPDX to organize a Bike to Shop Clinton Street week, May 17 to 21.

With May being National Bike Month — as well as this year being the 30th anniversary of Clinton’s Neighborhood Greenway designation — involving local businesses in the effort seemed like an obvious strategy, Schlosshauer says.

“There’s so much happening” with bikes in May, she says. “We’re trying to make Clinton a safe place for everybody. I definitely want to include people who want to walk. Trying to cross the street isn’t the easiest thing to do.”

Other events are planned as well. May 6 is Walk & Bike to School day, and most local schools are participating.

On May 21, Clinton Street Theater — celebrating its 100th anniversary at its current location — will hold a special screening of “E.T.” in partnership with the Safer Clinton initiative.

Neighbors will celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Clinton Street Neighborhood Greenway, one of the city’s first. It was established in 1985 as a safe, comfortable route through the Hosford Abernethy and Richmond neighborhoods.

But now, they say, city leaders haven’t maintained the right mix of traffic along the greenway, surpassing the city’s goal of no more than 1,000 vehicles using the street each day.

Currently, the traffic volume is two to three times that. Activists are calling for better traffic calming and enforcement on Clinton to keep it safe for all users.

BikeLoudPDX is also partnering with Prudent Media to release a series of Original Greenway shirts, stickers and coffee mugs.

Prudent Media will donate all proceeds from Original Greenway merchandise to BikeLoudPDX to support its work to keep traffic speeds and volumes down on Clinton.

Keeping the bicycle dream alive

BikeLoudPDX has used Southeast Clinton as its launch pad for its own brand of guerilla activism.

In the past year, cyclists have organized protest rides in traffic during rush hour.

In a move not condoned by any BikeLoudPDX members, rogue cyclists placed their own traffic-calming devices such as steel drums turned into planter boxes placed in the middle of Southeast 34th and Clinton.

Last summer BikeLoudPDX worked with Better Block PDX to host a pop-up plaza at Southeast 26th and Clinton, with tables and chairs and flags and neighbors and kids occupying an unused portion of the road.

“Our goal is to draw attention to the perception among cyclists that things are stagnating,” says Soren Impey, 45, another BikeLoudPDX member. “Also to celebrate what we do have, and hopefully encourage our city to begin to fund cycling infrastructure more.”

While headline-grabbing, police don’t condone actions like the barrels in the road.

“These types of tactics create traffic problems and are actually a crime (disorderly conduct in the second degree),” says Portland Police Sgt. Pete Simpson. “They don’t seem to help change the ‘share the road’ mentality that the city is actively promoting and may do more to widen the gap between bicycle rider and drivers.”

While the broad community just began talking about stagnation in Portland’s bike friendliness, BikeLoudPDX formed last year from those same sentiments.

Specifically, the group would like to see more bike infrastructure on commercial roads, such as bike lanes or protected bike lanes that provide connections to town centers.

On bike boulevards, more safety features like barriers or parklets are needed to decrease auto traffic, especially at commuting hours, Impey says. “Cars bypass the arterials and use the boulevards as detours,” he says.

Impey commutes from inner Southeast Portland to Oregon Health and Science University, where he teaches genomics. He’s had his occasional close calls with car traffic: “People buzz me within a few inches. They’re in a hurry and it’s morning.”

But those incidents are rare for him, he says. He’d even go so far as to say those types of conflicts are exaggerated.

When they do crop up, “Education is key, and tolerance,” Impey says.

As for an increasing number of Portland cyclists, commuting by bike is about more than the physical or economic benefits — it’s environmental and political.

“We believe very strongly it’s a limited amount of capacity for auto traffic,” Impey says. “We’re pretty close to that point. Other modes have to take the load off.”

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