Citizen activist, transportation planner, and southeast Portland resident Nick Falbo has upped the ante in the grassroots effort to add a high-quality bikeway to SE Foster Road.
As we reported last month, the City of Portland and residents are currently working on an update to the Foster Road Streetscape Plan and a new bikeway on the street has figured largely into initial discussions. Those involved with the project are vying to influence exactly how the cross-section of SE Foster between SE 52nd and 90th ends up. With grant applications in the pipeline and some funding already in hand, the stakes are high. How the lines in the plan divide up Foster — and specifically, how much roadway space is devoted to bicycles — remains an open question.
Falbo, a former video game designer and graduate of Portland State’s Urban Planning program (he’s done work for several local projects (including a series of animated videos explaining the CRC project and visualizations of the Sullivan’s Gulch Corridor he created during a stint with Alta Planning + Design), has been actively engaged in the project for months now. Yesterday, he published an open letter to the leader of the Bicycle Transportation Alliance on the FosterUnited.org neighborhood blog. Falbo wrote the letter in hopes that the BTA would champion the Foster Road Bikeway and make it a “cornerstone project” in their updated Blueprint for Better Bicycling.
Falbo has laid out four main reasons he thinks the Foster Road Bikeway is worthy of a major advocacy push (graphics below are Falbo’s):
“The Foster bikeway would provide a mainline connection from the greater SE area onto the new 50′s Bikeway… offer easy connections to the Central City. The bikeway will encourage more people to bike from Outer SE, and convince neighbors to ride around their own neighborhood for local trips.”
“Foster is identified as a High Crash Corridor. A significant reason for this is the lack of adequate bike/ped facilities and few safe crossing opportunities for pedestrians…”
“Foster’s commercial districts are stable, but are missing the full range of neighborhood supporting services and existing buildings suffer from excessive vacancy. The community development trajectory of Foster has nowhere to go but up, and installing a bikeway to promote and prioritize local and regional bicycle access can be a key part of the revitalization process…”
“Forget the bike backlash, the Foster Bikeway concept has broad neighborhood support. Three neighborhood associations, Southeast Uplift and the corridor-wide Foster Area Business Association have expressed desire for a protected Foster Bikeway. Unlike other commercial districts, the conversation about adding a bikeway is happening now and the neighborhoods are on board in a big way.”
Given how much weight PBOT puts on community support for projects (especially “bike projects”), this proactive and strongly communicated push for a bikeway on Foster could have significant influence. Whether the official streetscape plan reflects it or not, or whether the BTA embraces the project as much as Falbo would like, the cat is out of the bag. The grassroots campaign for the Foster Road Bikeway has begun. Where it goes from here is entirely up to whoever shows up and supports it.
Attend the Stakeholder Advisory Committee meeting on Thursday December 13 at 6:00 PM (SE Works, 7916 SE Foster Rd, Suite 104)
– Learn about the options on the table and stay updated at FosterUnited.org.
– Visit PBOT’s official Foster Rd Streetscape Plan website.
– Tell the BTA what projects should prioritize in their Blueprint.