28th Avenue update: A business owner explains why she signed the petition

28th Avenue update: A business owner explains why she signed the petition

Staccato Gelato owner and Stakeholder Advisory
Committee member Sarah Holliday.
(Photo courtesy Sarah Holliday)

The public dialogue around how to best improve cycling conditions on the central segment of the 20s Bikeway Project is heating up. Yesterday we posted a petition signed by 60 business owners on 28th Avenue who united against a City proposal to remove on-street parking on the street and replace it with a buffered bike lane.

Since posting the list, readers have contacted many of the business via email and/or Facebook. We have also heard from business owners directly. This has resulted in the removal of one business, Wolf & Bear’s, because an employee signed it without the owner’s knowledge (the only name on the petition signed by an employee and not an owner). One other business owner, Earl Ninsom of PaaDee, contacted us to request his removal from the list, saying he signed it in haste, without fully understanding the issues. And Captured by Porches, a beer brewer, says they don’t even own the beer dispensing cart on 28th and their name shouldn’t be on the list either. We’ll continue to investigate the list and update our reporting as necessary.

“Biking along the route demands that you take the lane and hold your ground; not ideal. I want to help improve the situation for cyclists.”
— Sarah Holliday, business owner who signed a petition opposing curbside auto parking removal on 28th Avenue

With dozens of businesses still on the list, many readers are reacting to it with disappointment. There are talks of protest rides, boycotts, and there might even be a counter petition. However, some people see this moment as a golden opportunity to engage business owners and move the conversation toward a productive outcome where all interested parties can claim success. (I strongly recommend checking out the ongoing discussion in the comment thread of yesterday’s post.)

I have also heard through various channels that there is growing support for a plan similar to the “cars as guests” concept we shared last week.

On that note, PBOT Project Manager Rich Newlands told us yesterday that the discussion about 28th Avenue “is not over.” While PBOT has switched their proposal from a buffered bike lane in one direction (and removal of 100 curbside auto parking spaces) to a an “enhanced shared roadway” (sharrows and speedbumps), Newlands says that, “A promising new idea or a change in our understanding of public sentiment on the core issues would certainly warrant continuing it.”

We have heard from members of the Stakeholder Advisory Committee (SAC) who say they are not happy with how PBOT has handled the issue thus far. They say they look forward to the next SAC meeting where they can analyze the new draft recommendation and offer their support or opposition to it. The next SAC meeting might also be the place where a new proposal is presented. Perhaps one that is seen as a compromise.

While this issue continues to be discussed, we have been in touch with a business owner who signed the petition and wanted to explain her reasons for doing so in more detail. Sarah Holliday is co-owner of Staccato Gelato (near the corner of 28th and Everett) and a member of the 20s Bikeway Project SAC. We’ve pasted her essay below:

I am a cyclist. When I moved to Portland in the late 90’s I worked in Milwaukie and lived in NE Portland. I biked everywhere and didn’t own a car. I know very well the problems of finding a safe and direct route from the north to south on the eastside. Cycling is a big part of who I am – there are 9 bikes in my home, my husband bike commutes year round and my friends and family are all bike commuters, bike lovers and bike racers. I also now have a young daughter, and am learning the challenges of getting around town by bike as a family.

Being part owner in a business on NE 28th, I naturally jumped at the chance to be a stakeholder on the 20’s bikeway committee to help create a bike route for “interested but concerned cyclists”. I know the route well and the challenges of biking down the stretch of 28th between Broadway and Stark. It’s a busy street with pedestrians, cars, bikes and the enormous trucks from the Coca-Cola plant all vying for position. Biking along the route demands that you take the lane and hold your ground; not ideal. I want to help improve the situation for cyclists. Plus, as a fairly long term business on the street (11 years!) I also have seen how unsafe the street is for pedestrians. I have personally seen three pedestrians struck and seriously hurt on 28th. A 2012 Oregon Department of Transportation study found that pedestrian accidents have increased 51% over the past 5 years. With that in mind, it’s of key importance to me that the plan we as a community come up with makes the 28th area safer and more friendly for everyone – cyclists, pedestrians, children, those with access and mobility challenges – everyone.

One of the city’s initial proposals was to remove parking on the west side of the street and add a one way southbound bike lane. While that would be better than doing nothing, it would only really help cyclists travel south in a safer manner, and would not have done much for the northbound cyclists. Plus, bikes would still have to negotiate the busy intersection at Burnside, and it would not improve conditions for pedestrians and others. I believe we as a community can do better than that. The removal of parking along 28th would also have the unwanted effect of pushing car congestion to the residential streets as cars circulate looking for parking spots.

Another option was put forth to create a greenway on 30th with the addition of bike activated lights at Glisan, Burnside and Stark. Personally, I prefer the greenway option of biking on low traffic streets away from trucks, cars and congestion. For example, I much prefer the Going street greenway experience to access the Alberta area over the Williams/Vancouver bicycle lanes where you ride right next to cars (a cyclist was right hooked in front of my husband on that street during his ride home just a couple weeks ago… and I’m sure you all have your stories too). Plus, other progressive cities (Vancouver, B.C. is a great example) are finding that bike lanes next to traffic lanes are not as safe as they should be without other additional measures being put in place (physical buffers, lower speed limits, speed bumps, etc.).

Many small businesses on 28th signed a petition stressing the need for a more comprehensive plan for the users of 28th. On 28th we wanted crosswalks, a lower speed limit, bike sharrows and speed bumps. We want the street to be safe for everyone including cyclists. Based on this community dialogue the city is now proposing a plan that I (and many in the 28th community I know) are really excited about. This new plan makes 28th safer and more accessible, AND creates a greenway on 30th. The City is now proposing: traffic calming measures on 28th (lower speed limits, speed bumps, etc.) and bike sharrows for cyclists who want to access 28th, plus a greenway on 30th for bikes that want a mellower experience or who are just continuing south. I think it is going to be fantastic. Ideally I would love to see that section of 28th be something along the lines of the Rotterdam “guest car” street where cars, bikes and pedestrians are all going the same speed. Hopefully this is a step in that direction.

Thank you for letting me have this opportunity to share my point of view. I know many people may not agree with my perspective on this issue but hopefully we can continue to have an open dialog about improving the neighborhood for everyone.

Sarah Holliday
Staccato Gelato

We’ll continue to cover this project as it develops.

— Read past coverage in our archives.

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