As promised, the Better Broadway project got a few improvements since our post yesterday. I went out there again this morning to take a second look at how things were shaping up.
Before I share more photos and thoughts about the project, I want to say thanks to everyone who has shared their opinion about it in the comment thread of yesterday’s post. One of the main goals of Better Block is to “start a conversation” and hear feedback from the community. We’re happy to act as a conduit for that aspect of the project.
Temporary bike racks sponsored by businesses
In order for Better Broadway to reach its potential, more businesses need to “activate the space” in front of their stores. The idea was for all the auto parking to leave the curb and “float” in the street — thus freeing up space in front of businesses for eating, hanging out, parking bikes, or whatever. In hopes of spurring that, Better Block put out a bunch of temporary bike racks. I came across one at Chen’s Dynasty restaurant, OnPoint Credit Union, and a few others.
I also noticed that the bike racks were strategically placed to prevent people from darting into the new protected lane prior to making a right turn.
So far, the “street fair” atmosphere hasn’t materialized. Hopefully by the end of the week more businesses will embrace the space.
How the auto parking should be
Another hope for project organizers was to have the auto parking lane act as a buffer between different uses of the street. Unfortunately they haven’t been able to pull that off for the entire length of the project. But there is one block where they’ve managed to make it happen. Between 15th and 16th they’ve added a bunch of temporary striping (a.k.a. white tape) to designate the parking lane. I saw several people pull in and park in the floating parking lane. It looks great, it frees up the curb lane and it appears to be working very well.
The floating transit island in action
— BikePortland (@BikePortland) May 10, 2016
Another thing that’s working very well — and what might be the star of the whole show — is the temporary floating transit island. At NE 16th, local company JRA Green Building donated their time and materials (with wood donated by Sustainable Northwest Wood) to construct a new TriMet bus stop complete with a curb ramp from the sidewalk, a new crosswalk and a fully ADA-compliant waiting area. This morning I watched several people use this new island without any issues at all. It was marvelous to see!
More space for everyone
At the western end of the project I met a man who was using a mobility device. I was riding on the sidewalk going in the opposite direction of the street and I watched him pull right out into the new protected lane. I chatted with him for a few minutes and he told me he was very appreciative of the extra space. “The sidewalk’s too bumpy!” he said. He also said it’s hard for him to navigate around tables and chairs that restaurants put on the sidewalk.
As I watched him calmly motor his rolling chair up the new lane it made me think we could easily make this a two-way configuration. Ideally the entire Broadway-Weidler couplet would be abolished in favor of two-way streets; but if that doesn’t happen maybe we could try a two-way biking and walking lane on the north side. There’s clearly demand for two-way access and no one likes it when people bike on the sidewalk in a commercial area. If we constructed little ramps to roll over the curb extensions and got rid of the curbside auto parking it might work. Of course bicycle riders would have to perhaps slow down a bit and be courteous of other road users for it to work. What do you think?
The only way to truly understand this project is to spend some time on Broadway. And on that note we’ll be leading a ride tomorrow (Wednesday) to encourage folks to experience Better Broadway. We’ll meet at the Moda Center plaza near the fountain at 6:00 pm to soak up the Trail Blazers playoffs vibe. Then around 6:30 we’ll head up to Broadway as a group to check out the project. Then we’ll find a great place to watch the game on TV (it’s in Oakland) and support local businesses. Join us!
— Jonathan Maus, (503) 706-8804 – firstname.lastname@example.org
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