PBOT nears final decision on “right-sizing” and bike lane for SE Division

PBOT nears final decision on “right-sizing” and bike lane for SE Division

A bike lane could be in Division’s future

A road diet on one of Portland’s most dangerous “high crash corridors” is looking more and more likely as the Bureau of Transportation gets set to hold its final open house on the SE Division Street Safety Project later this month. PBOT has proposed re-striping Division between 60th and 82nd from its current configuration of four standard lanes to a new configuration that would have two standard lanes, a center turn lane, and two bike lanes.

Since PBOT presented their plans last year, neighborhood groups and citizens involved in the process have been very supportive of the idea. The Bicycle Transportation Alliance (BTA) has also thrown their weight behind the project, and they’re urging PBOT to extend the proposed lane configuration further west to SE 52nd in order to connect to the forthcoming 50s Bikeway and a nearby park.

Since this project comes from PBOT’s High Crash Corridors program, the main emphasis is on improving safety. In a project open house in September of last year, PBOT reported there have been 298 total crashes on this stretch of SE Division in the past 10 years and 44% of people driving cars go over the posted speed limit of 35 mph. PBOT also touted national studies that show a “road diet” — converting a street from four lanes to three — can result in a 29% reduction in crashes.

PBOT has shown this example from a Seattle project at previous open houses.

Michael Kuhn, a nearby resident who’s been actively engaged with this project since it kicked off in March 2012, said “right-sizing” Division with bike lanes (and a possible lowering of the speed limit to 30 mph) would be a huge boon for the neighborhood. “This segment of the street is now too wide, too fast, and much too dangerous for all users,” he shared with me via email yesterday, “At this time there is no good east/west bike route between downtown and points east of Mt. Tabor anywhere between NE Glisan and SE Clinton, a distance of 1 1/2 miles North to South. This is a large deficit in Portland’s bike infrastructure.”

“The new bike lanes on Division will create an excellent bike route from all inner southeast Portland to the PCC campus where no good route exists today.”
— Michael Kuhn

Kuhn says the location and visibility of bike lanes on Division might also lead to “considerable usage” by new riders who have previously been deterred by the lack of safe routes in the area. Another plus of the proposal, says Kuhn, is that Portland Community College’s Southeast Center campus at 82nd and Division is expanding to almost double in size and could serve 18,000 students. “The new bike lanes on Division will create an excellent bike route from all inner southeast Portland to the PCC campus,” says Kuhn, “where no good route exists today.”

The BTA’s advocate on the project, Carl Larson, says PBOT deserves support on this project. “This is not simply a ‘bike project,’ wrote Larson on the BTA Blog yesterday, “The fact that people on bicycles could have a safe, dedicated space to ride is just one of many exciting features of this project.” Larson points to benefits for people walking and driving on Division: the bike lane will mean less bike traffic clogging up the sidewalks and it will create a buffer between walkers and noisy, smelly auto traffic; and the center turn lane will alleviate auto backups.

Larson created a flyer to build public awareness:

The final open house for this project is at Warner Pacific College (Egvelt Hall Room 203, 2219 SE 69th Ave) on Tuesday, April 23rd from 6:30 to 8:30 pm. Join the BTA and other advocates for a ride to the open house that leaves at 6:00 pm from Los Gorditos (SE 50th and Division). Show up at 5:30 to discuss the project.

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