Better Naito is back: Bike/walk path will return for Brewfest

Better Naito is back: Bike/walk path will return for Brewfest

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People got a lot more room to ride, walk and breathe on Naito Parkway during the Rose Festival thanks to a temporary lane. Now the lane is coming back.
(Photos © J. Maus/BikePortland)

After what officials say was a successful pilot project, the Bureau of Transportation has decided to bring back the temporary biking and walking path on Naito Parkway.

“PBOT can use this and learn from this experience as we consider other improvements in the central city and other innovations throughout our system.”
— Dylan Rivera, PBOT

Just like they did back in May, PBOT will partner with Better Block PDX, a non-profit group that takes an open source approach to “creating inviting and interactive places that challenge the notion that streets are only for cars.”

The Better Naito sequel will start on July 21st and run through the 27th. The timing has been coordinated specifically to coincide with the Oregon Brewers Festival, an event that draws about 85,000 to Waterfront Park over five days.

From Tuesday the 21st to the following Monday, PBOT and Better Block will install a 15-foot wide, two-way multi-use path for nine blocks (one-half mile) between SW Salmon and Ankeny. Better Block’s Ryan Hashagen says they’re taking lessons learned from last month’s project to improve the experience for everyone this time around.

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“We’re working closely with the Brewfest to have their lines queue off of the path,” he shared in a phone call yesterday, “And we’ll have more signage this time to make everything more predictable.” Hashagen also said this time around they’ll add more placemaking features such as seating in Waterfront Park south of the Festival ground.

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Better Block’s Ryan Hashagen (at right) walked with
Commissioner Novick and ODOT’s Kelly Brooks on Naito
Parkway last month.

The new path is necessary, organizers say, because the existing path along the river in Waterfront Park is already at capacity and Naito lacks a sidewalk.

Timur Ender, transportation policy advisor for Commissioner Steve Novick said the Better Naito project is all about safety. “40 percent of Brewfest visitors take transit, 30 percent are from out of state, and 50 percent are female — this is the type of demographic that will directly benefit from safety improvements.”

PBOT spokesman Dylan Rivera said the city’s partnership on Better Naito is “part of our Vision Zero implementation.” Rivera said working closely with the community on a pilot project like this and devoting staff and engineering expertise to it is, “Not the type of thing we’ve typically done.”

The idea behind Better Block’s work is to help people re-imagine public space. Instead of a long, drawn-out public process for a project that only exists in mock-ups and concept drawings, Better Block gives people a real-time experience with a new streetscape, then gauges feedback and collects data to measure its results. Their project on SW 3rd Avenue last year was so successful it has sparked local support for permanent changes.

Better Block, PBOT, and Commissioner Novick’s office are working together once again because feedback and data from the previous Better Naito project have been very positive.

Ender said their office received only one call about the first Better Naito implementation. It was from a kindergarten teacher who took children on a field trip to Waterfront Park and was very pleased at how it improved their safety. Ender added that other feedback from Twitter and via email was mostly positive.

As for data, Better Naito led to a 108 percent increase in bicycle trips compared to the city’s 2012 counts (taken northbound at SW Morrison). When the two-way path was opened (during the final few days), they counted one bicycle trip in the southbound direction every 18 seconds (in the temporary path, not counting the existing southbound bike lane or the waterfront path).

To better understand impacts of a 15-foot wide path on Naito, the Better Naito project will also count how many people using cars are diverted off the route and onto side-streets. Similar to last time, this project will work with Portland State University urban planning graduate students to count bicycling and walking data.

This type of real-world data and feedback is a goldmine for PBOT planners, politicians, and engineers as they embark on their Central City Multimodal Safety Project.

And it’s not costing the city much at all. The first Better Naito cost only about $15,000 and it was paid for through sponsorships from Clif Bar and People For Bikes. This time around, Hashagen says they’re using leftover funds from those corporations as well as donations from new partners.

Does this double-dip by the City of Portland on Better Naito prove they’re seriously considering a new — and permanent — path? “We don’t have any plans for the future at this point,” Rivera said. But he also mentioned that PBOT is learning a lot and “closely monitoring” what they hear from the public. “PBOT can use this and learn from this experience,” he added, “as we consider other improvements in the central city and other innovations throughout our system.”

From PBOT:

    Have your say about the Naito Pilot Project:
    Twitter: #BetterNaito
    Email comments: NaitoParkway@portlandoregon.gov
    Web site: portlandoregon.gov/transportation/naitoparkway
    Facebook: Portland Bureau of Transportation
    Leave a message by phone: 503-823-4321

Read more coverage of Better Naito in our archives.


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