A vision for bike access on Hawthorne Blvd

A vision for bike access on Hawthorne Blvd

Detail of a mock-up of bike
access on Hawthorne. See full
image below.

Reader Paul Peterson sent over an inspiring mock-up of what SE Hawthorne Blvd could look like if Portland’s transportation infrastructure lived up to its sustainability and bike-friendly rhetoric.

Peterson is a locally based designer, director, and cinematographer. After he sent over the image (see full version below), I asked him to share more about why he was inspired to create it. “I did this mockup mostly for my own curiosity and out of frustration that Portland is supposed to be a platinum bike-friendly city, but has virtually no bike access in the commercial corridors,” he said.

With his mock-up and his thoughts on main street bike access, Peterson gets at what I think is a growing issue in Portland. While we are moving forward nicely with neighborhood greenways, we have yet to muster the political will to create adequate access for people who want to ride bicycles on main streets. Peterson puts it this way. “The neighborhood greenways are great for commuting to the city center, but the majority of my trips are to the grocery store, barber shop, a bar, café, bank, etc., and there’s no really convenient and direct way to get there on a bike.”

Without quality bike access on streets like Hawthorne, Alberta, 28th, Sandy, and so on, Portland is not only creating unsafe situations for road users, they are sending a signal that driving is still preferred and respected over other modes. “It really is much easier to drive,” says Peterson, “and that seems silly in this city when I live so close to half a dozen commercial areas.”

For Peterson and others like him, the lack of comfortable and convenient access on main streets is bad for business because, he says, “There are a lot of businesses that I just don’t know about because if you’re on a bike, you’re diverted to the back streets.”

PBOT (which is overseen by Mayor Sam Adams) has taken a direct role in this diversion. Back in June they posted signs on NE Alberta encouraging people on bikes to leave the street in favor of a “low-stress” option a few blocks over.

Fueling Peterson’s thoughts and vision for Hawthorne, is the fact that he once lived in Amsterdam, a place where all streets are bike accessible and many major streets have the separated infrastructure that Portland officials have been dreaming about — and promising to deliver — for many years. It’s a place where, according to Peterson, you can, “Ride side-by-side with a friend, partner or child without sweating car doors, buses, cars parallel parking, and when you saw a business that caught your eye you could stop and lock up right there.”

How long until the same thing can be said for Portland?

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