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Southeast neighborhood group says city should ‘reopen conversation’ on 20s Bikeway

Southeast neighborhood group says city should ‘reopen conversation’ on 20s Bikeway

reed college place

Reed College Place would be better than 32nd
for a neighborhood greenway route, some say.
(Image: Google Street View)

The coalition of neighborhood associations that represents inner Southeast Portland is pushing for some 11th-hour changes that it says would improve the planned 20s Bikeway.

In a letter signed by its president, backed by a 14-2 vote of its board and circulated Wednesday, Southeast Uplift makes three requests of the city.

First, it proposes moving the southernmost leg of the route one block east to Reed College Place south of Tolman Street, avoiding the No. 19 bus line on 32nd Avenue.

Second, it urges the city to keep talking about possible shared space between cars and bikes in the commercial district between Southeast Stark Street and Northeast Sandy Boulevard, something the project manager had committed to but then backed away from as other project costs piled up.

Third, it’s urging the city to reconsider its decision to reject the Concordia Neighborhood Association’s request to add traffic diverters on the new neighborhood greenway north of Alameda Ridge.

Here’s the coalition’s argument for Reed College Place:

SE Reed College Place was originally designed as a recreational corridor, has clear sight-lines for many blocks, intersects other streets at right angles, passes directly next to Dunaway Elementary School, has the most public support and is already being used for recreational purposes. The center median planting strip makes it park like in character, hence by city definition should be, like NE 72nd in Roseway, a city greenway.

Both roadways are designated as Greenways on the 2030 Bike plan, whereas SE 32nd is not. The current choice of 32nd overlaps the 19 bus line, is filled with potholes, has unclear sight-lines and was built with wide curved corners shown to increase speeds and risks to vulnerable users. The neighbors and bicycle riders have expressed concerns that the buses on this narrow lane might pose a serious safety risk.

The one reason PBOT has given for the SE 32nd choice is that some users felt the narrow one lane lanes combined with parking left little room to pull over. As part of the SE Clinton safety project, “Bike may use full lane” signs work to improve safety for this purpose. Placing them to the left in the planted median would make this signage even more robust and alleviate much of these concerns.

Here’s the coalition’s proposed route:

20s bikeway alternative route





And here’s what Southeast Uplift has to say about the other two items:

The second and third requests apply to the neighborhoods north of Eastmoreland all the way to Concordia. They are about process and the city ignoring promises made. When the central alignment of 29th to 30th was chosen over the 28th avenue bike lane alternative, it was promised to the stakeholders committee that this decision would be revisited after the parking study was completed. This has since occurred. Thus, as a board, we request PBOT reopen this conversation about the shared use commercial environment and potential neighborhood impacts.

Concordia Neighborhood Association voted 19 to 0 for four points of diversion with NE 32nd and NE Prescott being their number one and NE Killingsworth their number two priorities. PBOT promised that they would study this as the project plans moved forward. Instead, the 60% designs were implemented without a public release of the 95% designs for public comment. The rapidity of this process during the winter season gave the neighborhood coalition system very little time to react. As this is a citywide infrastructure project, the board of SE Uplift feels it is critical for PBOT to reopen the conversation surrounding Concordia’s unanimous endorsement, as promised.

The letter is signed by Southeast Uplift President Robert McCullough and by Terry Dublinski-Milton, a Southeast Uplift member at large.

We reported last month that the federally funded 20s Bikeway project has been submitted for federal approval, so it might be difficult to get the city to reopen the process. But that hasn’t changed the frustration of some biking advocates including Dublinski-Milton, who wrote a guest post on BikePortland about the lack of diversion on the northern segment of the route and followed up with a detailed analysis on BikeLoudPDX.org.

As for McCullough, it’s noteworthy that he’s joined forces on this with Dublinski-Milton. Last year, he was opposing removal of parking spaces to create buffered bike lanes on Woodstock Boulevard, arguing that the city needed to do more study of the subject.

— Michael Andersen, (503) 333-7824 – michael@bikeportland.org

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Guest article: The 20s “bikeway” project through the eyes of two 12-year-old girls

Guest article: The 20s “bikeway” project through the eyes of two 12-year-old girls

Joey Harrington school bike safety event-26

How will the 20s Bikeway feel for Portland’s
target “design user” — a 12-year old girl?
(Photos: J.Maus/BikePortland)

This is a guest article by Terry Dublinski-Milton, who sits on the board of directors for the Southeast Uplift neighborhood coalition. It’s digested from an essay published Monday on the BikeLoudPDX website.

==

This winter, Portland will release the 20s Bikeway for contract bid with a design that City Hall will tout as a modern, much needed north-south bikeway.

Though this statement may technically be correct, my viewpoint is quite different.

“The 20s” is primarily a pedestrian safety project with secondary auto and bike capacity improvements. It needs to be labeled as a bikeway because the federal money that funded it requires it. I would more accurately describe it as a series of needed pedestrian improvements with small bikeway advancements connected citywide by sharrows.

Why do I say this?

It is not only the possible elimination of bike lanes on Southeast 26th or those already eliminated from the plans on 28th. I call this a modern bikeway in name only due to a series of decisions made from the onset that prioritized the requirements of other modes at expense of the bikeway elements through each stage of the process. The 20’s may comply quantatively with national standards, but human psychology is constrained by qualitative experiences: you remember the collision and close call, not the hundreds of safe passes.

To get the “interested but concerned” onto their bikes we need the qualitative experience to succeed. Through this lens, I predict the 20s will fail.

To illustrate this point, let us visualize the 20s Bikeway through the eyes of two fictional middle school friends. We’ll call them “Mary” and “Jane.”

Joey Harrington school bike safety event-25

Twelve years old, Mary and Jane live near NE Columbia Boulevard in the Concordia neighborhood. Chatting last spring in class about how excited they were going to high school together in the fall, they discovered a mutual interest in bike riding. Summer practice rides through the neighborhood had gone well so the girls plan, with their parents, a summer day trip together.

20s bikeway final route

The approved 20s Bikeway. Click for details on a PDF.

Where? To take the new 20s bikeway south, then the Springwater Corridor to spend the day at Oaks Bottom Amusement Park!

City Bicycle Planning Coordinator Roger Geller has said multiple times publicly that our bikeways should be designed so “two 12 year old girls can ride side by side.” This is a version of how their day may go:

Mary and Jane start early in the morning. They get their bikes ready, pack a lunch, say goodbye to Mary’s mother and start their trip. Starting south on the new NE 27th greenway, they are little intimidated by sharing a roadway with a bus line, but are reassured as the Holman turn is only a few blocks to the south.

After the bus passes by, they ride south to Holman and 32nd, which pass through quiet residential neighborhoods. They can casually take in their surroundings. As they approach the first major cross street, the new green cross-bike striping at Ainsworth makes it seem safer, even if the wide median island allows for bike and car to cross simultaneously.

The long, steady ride up the hill in the crisp morning air invigorates them, but their calm is interrupted by a morning pick-up truck zooming down the hill. The girls quickly learn that when they see one, it will bully them to the side of the roadway.

As they cross Killingsworth, Alberta and then Prescott the girls soon learn that though the curb extensions into the street make crossing easier, they still need to pay attention as they approach in case a car makes a last minute turn onto the greenway.

After Prescott, Jane glances at her phone, “according to Google we will need to turn soon.”

“Good,” Mary replies.“I’m sick of having to pull over.”

As they turn onto Regents, the houses increase in size as the pedaling becomes easier. Our adventurers have finally reached the crest of Alameda Ridge.

“We must be at the top!” Jane says. “Hold on, I’m sure we will go down soon.”

Suddenly they see the slope, round the curve and a bus appears approaching a stop sign to their right. The girls make eye contact so the driver sees them as they continue to follow the sharrows, taking the lane downhill. They have been taught these skills through the Safe Routes to Schools program, but as they hear the bus behind them, both envision some menacing monster following them.

Concentrating on the roadway, zooming as fast as comfortable, Mary and Jane do not have time to take in their surroundings. Hence they are temporarily confused when dumped off at a huge swath of pavement at the bottom of the ridge.

Screen Shot 2016-01-26 at 7.59.24 AM

Where are we?

After taking a few seconds to assess their situation, Mary points. There it is! They head through the sea of blacktop to head south on NE 26th.


(later in the day, Mary and Jane are at SE Division and 28th, headed back north)

Happy that the greenway passes directly next to the food cart pod, Mary and Jane pick out a great dinner. As they chat about their day, both became worried about how long it would take them to get home. Drivers are being very aggressive, so they decide against window shopping and exploring Division Street. Maybe another time.

They get back on their bikes and continue to explore the new 20s greenway. The climb north of Division is bumpy and unpleasant due to the cobble like surface, but it keeps them alert.

Screen Shot 2016-01-26 at 8.04.36 AM

Following 29th uphill past Hawthorne, downhill to Belmont, and back up to Stark their hearts race. Jane wonders out loud if there is a faster, more flat route that would have worked.

Mary just gives her an “I will get back at you for this” look.

Past Glisan, they stop at Oregon Park, pull out their phones, send some texts and rest. Google shows that once they get across the freeway they will be back on familiar territory.

After this needed respite, they head north on 28th and are relieved to see the super-wide bike lane to get across Sandy. But then … what is all that green? They see a big bike box, crosswalk and sign: “Northbound Greenway turn here.”

But why? Though neither cyclist is really sure why there are two northbound bike lanes on this overpass, they sit at the bike box and follow the hatching to get to the bike lane on the west side.

Uncomfortable that these fast moving cars are so close with only a paint and plastic buffer, at least they are on the correct side of the street to cross into the neighborhood and get on NE 26th. Once there, they recognize that they had been here before…..ah, almost home.

Now to only get over the ridge.

Nervous about the coming climb, they each see the hill: a six-foot bike lane squeezed between a row of occasional parked cars and a bus line, staring them down.

Jane’s father, they both know, speeds up the hill through the blind curves all the time.

Taking a deep breath, they imagine riding single file, hoping that no car doors open in front of them. Each in turn rejects the idea, so they walk their bikes up the sidewalk until the top.

Exhausted, but back on their bikes, they cross Prescott. Mary and Jane know home is close as they pick up speed.

“No wonder my mother complains that hauling my little brother is difficult,” Jane says. “These big bumps might slow down cars, but they would wake him up.”

A few minutes later, after locking their bikes in the garage, they sit in the living room sipping lemonade. Mary’s mother asks “So how was your day?”

“Oh, the day was nice enough and we had a great time, but there were too many cars. It was a scary ride.”

“I’m sorry to hear that — are you still considering biking to Grant High School this fall?”

I will let you as a reader and possible parent answer that question.

— Terry Dublinski-Milton

You can read Dublinski-Milton’s full piece, including their diversion to the Lloyd Center Mall and Springwater Corridor, here.

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After years of planning and compromises, 20s Bikeway is poised for construction

After years of planning and compromises, 20s Bikeway is poised for construction

A ride with the family-6

The commercial stretch of 28th Avenue will get speed bumps and a 20 mph speed limit.
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

The first on-street, low-stress route that (more or less) connects Portland’s northern and southern borders is likely to start construction in April or May.

That’s pending federal approval, which city project manager Rich Newlands predicted will arrive this month. A $2.4 million federal grant earmarked for biking improvements paid for almost all of the project.

The 9.1 mile 20s Bikeway has changed quite a bit since it was introduced in 2013 as a more or less straight line running directly through many of Portland’s fastest-growing neighborhoods, plus Reed College, Concordia University, Grant and Cleveland High Schools and two major grocery stores.

Here’s the original concept:

20s bikeway map

Proposed alignment.
-Click to enlarge-

And the final route:

20s bikeway final route

Most notably, the main route jogs to avoid the two biggest commercial nodes, at 28th near Burnside and 26th near Clinton, because the city decided that on-street auto parking directly in front of the stores was more important than all-ages bike access to the future of those districts.

The main route jogs to avoid the two biggest commercial nodes, at 28th near Burnside and 26th near Clinton, because the city decided that on-street auto parking directly in front of the stores was more important than all-ages bike access to the future of those districts.

There’s also a new northeastward jog at the northern end of the bikeway, running along 32nd Avenue north of Alameda Ridge. That’s intended to provide a relatively flat route up the ridge (which will get a new bike lane for people climbing the hill) and follow existing bike traffic patterns in the area.

In the middle, the route has been shifted from 28th to the lower-traffic 26th, further from Grant High School and the Grant Park Fred Meyer, in order to avoid a difficult corner at Halsey or any parking removal between Interstate 84 and Broadway.

At the southern end, the route has also been shifted from 28th Avenue (where residential curbside parking would have been removed for buffered bike lanes) to 32nd Avenue, where people biking to connect to the Springwater Corridor will share the road with cars and the No. 19 bus on a street without speed bumps or other traffic calming measures. (The Eastmoreland Neighborhood Association objected to adding speed bumps, and the city agreed with them. The city did, however, reject the ENA’s subsequent objection to improving the bike lane on four blocks of Woodstock Boulevard in order to preserve curbside parking in front of six large houses overlooking Reed College.)

Near Powell, the city has agreed to remove one of southeast Portland’s most-ridden bike lanes from 26th Avenue if the Oregon Department of Transportation continues to insist on it. (The state required the bike lane removal from 26th as a condition for approving a new bike-pedestrian traffic signal at 28th.)

The city hopes to draw on the next year or two of ridership data to persuade the state to save the 26th Avenue bike lane, but ODOT says it will not reveal what if anything might change its mind.

Commercial greenway concept scrapped without discussion as money ran low

A so-called ‘commercial greenway’ concept for 28th created by Kirk Paulsen, Brian Davis and Nick Falbo. See here for more detail.

In the 28th Avenue business district near Burnside, the city is planning to install speed bumps and a lower speed limit of 20 mph.

Two years ago, the city promised the project’s citizen advisory committee a separate discussion about that area in a subcommittee. One member of the committee who works as a traffic engineering consultant recruited two peers to create a pro-bono concept for a “commercial greenway,” adapted from Dutch infrastructure, that would combine fire-friendly speed bumps, cobblestone pavement, curb extensions with trees and raised sidewalks.

“This looks great,” said Scott Mapes, owner of the nearby restaurant La Buca, when the concept was presented to the advisory committee. “It’s the best thing I’ve seen so far. Bravo!”

Mapes’ enthusiasm for the commercial greenway concept, which wouldn’t have removed much if any parking, came after 57 nearby businesses signed a letter opposing parking removal and sent it to Transportation Commissioner Steve Novick.

Last spring, though, the city quietly scrapped its promise to discuss the greenway concept further. Kirk Paulsen, the advisory committee member who presented it, said Newlands told him that “the project simply ran out of money.”

City spokesman John Brady said Wednesday that the city’s lead traffic engineer “did not feel that the proposed elements delivered enough bang for the buck, that is, the value in traffic calming didn’t justify the costs.”

(Update: in a comment beneath this post, Nick Falbo, one of the volunteers who helped illustrate the commercial greenway concept, offers some similar criticism.)


New signals, new sharrows
stark signal

The new signalized crossing of Stark Street at 30th.

Despite all those compromises, the route definitely improves north-south connections to all of these important destinations and others.

On today’s eastside biking grid, north-south routes through some of the most bike-heavy neighborhoods in the United States are left mostly to improvisation in the 2.5 miles between NE Rodney/SE 7th and NE 47th/SE 41st. The 20s Bikeway will change that using a trail of sharrows; new traffic signals or half-signals at Broadway, Burnside, Stark, Hawthorne and Powell; and one new half-diverter that will forbid (though not physically block) northbound traffic onto 28th from Holgate.

One spot that’ll get a big change is the crossing of Interstate 84 at 28th Avenue. The bridge there is slated to receive Portland’s first bidirectional protected bike lane, running along the west side of the bridge. The two bike lanes will each be 5 feet wide and will have a two-foot buffer. On the east side of the bridge, the northbound bike lane will include a five-foot-wide striped bike lane to serve people continuing northbound on 28th.

A few parking spaces will be removed
sidewalk view

28th Avenue north of Sandy would get buffered bike lanes on each side.

Between Interstate 84 and Sandy, the city decided to remove a handful of contested parking spaces outside the bar Katie O’Brien’s. We reported in 2014 that the city was considering spending $30,000 to narrow the sidewalk across the street rather than remove those free on-street spaces. (As we reported, the management of Katie O’Brien’s had decided a few years before to not pay a neighbor for parking spaces on a nearby private lot.)

Below is the stretch from Interstate 84 south to Oregon Street. Newlands said Thursday that this design is slightly out of date — the very northern section, near I-84, will actually get a five-foot bike lane on the east side of the street to serve people planning to continue north on 28th.

Oregon to Holladay

The corner of 28th and Sandy will get green bike boxes in the north-south direction. South of Sandy, the northbound bike lanes will go away and the southbound bike lane will continue to Hoyt, where it’ll sweep left in a “jug handle” design pointing to the new neighborhood greenway that zigzags around the commercial district:

hoyt corner

No diverter on NE 32nd despite neighborhood support
32nd prescott

NE 32nd at Prescott.
(Image: Google Street View.)

The city rejected a recent request from the Concordia Neighborhood Assocation to install a traffic diverter on 32nd, citing its new neighborhood greenway standards that set maximum levels for auto traffic on neighborhood greenways.

“The counts are not even close to the thresholds for consideration,” Brady said in an email. “Instead, we are committed to monitoring conditions over time, and if the traffic counts do get close to the new guidelines then we can start up a process for installing them when needed.”

Stakeholder committee member Paulsen, who lives in Concordia, wrote in an email to BikePortland that the traffic levels are indeed close to one of the triggers for a traffic diverter:

At 32nd Avenue immediately north of Prescott Street on the yet-to-be-built 20s Bikeway within the Concordia Neighborhood, the traffic counts from 2010 (which have likely increased since then) show approximately 50 vehicles per hour in the peak direction. I can only imagine that when some of the stop signs are flipped as part of the bikeway project the route will attract even more cars to cut-through along this route. Compare those numbers to the following…

The alternate guidelines within the Greenway Report state (emphasis is mine): “Alternate Guideline: An alternate vehicle volume measurement based on vehicles per hour may be used in lieu or in addition to ADT: to design, build and maintain for an average of 50 vehicles per hour in the peak direction, understanding that a neighborhood greenway can operate at an average of 75 vehicles per hour in the peak direction, but should be improved or maintained to not exceed 100 vehicles per hour in the peak direction.

The December 2010 counts Paulsen mentioned showed 30 to 32 cars during the morning peak hour and 40 to 58 cars during the evening peak. Brady said the city wasn’t able to look up the exact counts by Wednesday in order to comment.

In his Tuesday email, Brady said the only remaining hurdle is approval by the Federal Highway Administration, which funded this project as part of Portland’s goal to triple the rate of bike use over the next 15 years.

“If we receive approval from the FHWA in the near future, we will most likely start construction in April-May,” Brady said. “The usual caveat applies: if there are unforeseen delays, this start date will also change.”

Learn more about this project in our 30-story archive that dates back to 2009.

Correction 1/15: An earlier version of this post omitted the decision made last summer, but not announced until now, to stripe a northbound bike lane on 28th Avenue’s Interstate 84 bridge.

— Michael Andersen, (503) 333-7824 – michael@bikeportland.org


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State says there’s not enough proof that bike lanes boost safety, so 26th Ave lanes should go

State says there’s not enough proof that bike lanes boost safety, so 26th Ave lanes should go

26th powell bike box

The City of Portland wants to create a second, more comfortable crossing of Powell at 28th, but the state says it won’t allow one unless bike lanes and bike boxes at 26th (shown here) are removed.
(Photos: M.Andersen/BikePortland)

Three weeks after being asked if it can cite any evidence supporting its claim that removing a bike lane can sometimes increase bike safety, the State of Oregon has come up empty.

Moreover, a state spokeswoman wrote in an email Tuesday that four studies cited by the City of Portland that document safety benefits of bike lanes are inadequate, though the state did not say in what way the studies fall short.

“More research needs to be done,” the Oregon Department of Transportation said in its statement.

Research notwithstanding, the Oregon Department of Transportation is continuing to deny the City of Portland’s request to install a new stoplight at 28th Avenue and Powell (which would let the city create a new north-south neighborhood greenway on 28th) unless the city agrees to first remove the narrow bike lanes from nearby 26th Avenue.

Those bike lanes, which cross Powell directly in front of Cleveland High School and connect to the major commercial node at 26th and Clinton, are currently used for about 600 to 800 cycling trips a day.

ODOT’s statement came one week after BikePortland asked if the state had any response to a letter about 26th Avenue, sent by Portland Bicycle Planning Coordinator Roger Geller to the city’s bicycle advisory committee. In the letter, Geller had cited four studies showing, he said, that even a very narrow bike lane like the one on 26th Avenue tends to increase safety on the street.

“Research on this topic is not always conclusive and can even be conflicting. More research needs to be done.”
— Oregon Department of Transportation, on whether narrow bike lanes are safer than no bike lanes

According to the studies, even narrow bike lanes prompt people to bike further from the doors of parked cars and prompt people to give bike users more space when passing them in a car. According to a federally funded academic meta-analysis, bike lanes reduce crash rates on a street by 36 to 50 percent.

In an email Tuesday, ODOT said the idea that bad bike lanes are better than nothing was not a reasonable conclusion to draw from those studies, but didn’t say why Geller’s interpretation was inaccurate.

Also in that email, the state denied that the head of its engineering department had ever claimed, in an interview about the 26th Avenue bike lane, that there are “conflicting studies” about the phenomenon of “safety in numbers,” the frequently cited observation that increasing the number of bikes on a street or in a city tends to reduce the risk of biking.

Narrow bike lanes are better than nothing, city says

26th powell crowd in bike box

10 a.m. southbound bike traffic at 26th and Powell.

Aside from the question of evidence, the state’s fundamental argument is fairly simple: if you remove the 3.5-foot bike lanes from 26th Avenue and create a greenway crossing at 28th, most people will probably cross at 28th, which is safer than 26th because it will have fewer turning vehicles.

But if you do that without removing the bike lane from 26th, the state says, many people will keep biking on 26th.

The city, on the other hand, argues that people should be able to choose which street to bike on, and that many people are likely to bike on 26th Avenue (or at least to cross Powell there) whether or not there is a bike lane. Removing the bike lane, the city says, will make 26th Avenue more dangerous for no good reason.

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Here are the four studies Geller cited, showing (he said) that even narrow, substandard bike lanes like the ones on 26th Avenue are safer than a street with no bike lanes:

Evaluation of Shared-Use Facilities for Bicycles and Motor Vehicles,” Transportation Research Board, Record No. 1578, Harkey, D.L, Stewart, J.R., 1997 concluded that “bicycle lanes as narrow as 0.92 m (3 ft) provide sufficient space for motorists and bicyclists to interact safely. At the same time, a 1.22m (4-ft) wide bicycle lane tended to optimize operating conditions because there were very few differences in the measures of effectiveness when 1.22-m lanes were compared with wider lanes.”

Effect of Wide Curb Lane Conversions on Bicycle and Motor Vehicle Interactions,” Report prepared for the Florida Department of Transportation, William W. Hunter, John R. Feaganes, Highway Safety Research Center, University of North Carolina, April 2004; concluded that people bicycling and people driving positioned themselves more safely on a roadway with 11’ travel lanes and 3’ bicycle lanes than with just a 14’ travel lane.

National Cooperative Highway Research Program Report 766 “Recommended Bicycle Lane Widths for Various Roadway Characteristics,” Transportation Research Board, 2014 provides a literature review that states the following:
“Bike lanes have a positive impact on safety when compared with unmarked roadways. Bahar et al. (2008) found that the presence of a bike lane reduces bicycle crashes by 36%. This finding is supported by other research.”
“Reynolds et al. (2009) examined the relationship between bicycle infrastructure and cyclist safety through a review of 23 papers from 1975 through 2009. When examining the studies related to roadway segments (rather than intersections), marked bike lanes and bike routes were found to reduce crash rates and injuries by about half when compared to unmodified roadways. The safety effectiveness of specific bicycle facility designs was not described by Reynolds et al.”

How Pavement Markings Influence Bicycle and Motor Vehicle Positioning: A Case Study in Cambridge, MA” Report prepared for City of Cambridge, MA, Ron Van Houten, Mount Saint Vincent University and Cara Seiderman, City of Cambridge, concluded bicycle lanes “encouraged cyclists to ride farther away from parked cars” helping to reduce the chances of being doored when compared to streets without bicycle lanes.

In an email Tuesday, ODOT spokeswoman Kimberly Dinwiddie offered “ODOT’s response” to Geller’s citation of these studies. Here it is, in its entirety: “We don’t feel it’s fair to boil down many research studies into one black-and-white summary statement. It’s not that simple. Research on this topic is not always conclusive and can even be conflicting. More research needs to be done.”

State says engineering manager never claimed that reducing bike traffic can improve safety

students biking in crosswalk 26th powell

Some people who bike on 26th already don’t bother with the bike lanes.

Another issue raised by BikePortland’s Aug. 5 interview with several ODOT officials, including regional traffic engineering manager Sue D’Agnese, was what D’Agnese had meant when she said that there are “conflicting studies” about whether having more bikes at a location increases bike safety.

Because she said ODOT was motivated “only by safety” in pushing the city to remove the 26th Avenue bike lane, I’d asked her whether she had any evidence that removing the 26th Avenue bike lane would in fact improve safety. Even if most people began crossing at 28th, I said, the people still biking on 26th would see increased risk — if nothing else because there would be so few of them.

In the interview, D’Agnese responded that the “safety in numbers” trend was not always true.

“There’s conflicting studies in the transportation safety realm,” she said. “There’s also studies that when bike volumes are high, crash rate goes up. … It depends on the geometry and the site-specific conditions.”

At the time, I told D’Agnese that this was contrary to everything I’d heard about the subject as a reporter, so I would like to know where that information was coming from. On Aug. 18 I sent another email making the request more explicit.

In her email Tuesday, Dinwiddie (who wasn’t herself present at the first interview) wrote that ODOT believes my notes from the interview were inaccurate:

Unfortunately that’s not an accurate summary of what Sue said. She said: “Regardless of mode, generally more traffic results in a higher frequency (total number) of crashes due to the higher exposure. Therefore, an increase in bike traffic could result in an increase in the frequency of crashes. However, an increase in the frequency of bike crashes could occur at the same time there is an overall lower crash rate due to higher total traffic volumes.”

That’s a perfectly reasonable statement — to carry it to an extreme, of course there would be zero bike crashes if no one ever rode bikes — but it doesn’t have any bearing on how the state is balancing the potentially increased risk of biking on 26th Avenue against the safety benefits of a new signal at 28th. Also, it’s definitely not anything close to what D’Agnese said.

Assuming ODOT does not change course, the city’s staffers have not yet reached a decision about whether to scrap their request for a signal on 28th Avenue or to scrap the bike lane on 26th.

“Our intent is to keep our options open,” city project manager Rich Newlands wrote Tuesday. “We believe there are still creative solutions that will allow us to have both the new signal at 28th and retain the bike lanes on 26th.”


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State’s proposal to improve bike crossings of Powell: Remove bike lane from 26th

State’s proposal to improve bike crossings of Powell: Remove bike lane from 26th

26th powell bike box

About 600 to 800 people a day currently bike on 26th to cross Powell. The city wants to create a second, more comfortable crossing at 28th, but the state says it won’t allow one unless the lanes and bike boxes at 26th are removed.
(Photos: M.Andersen/BikePortland)

The Portland Bureau of Transportation is facing pressure from its counterparts at the Oregon Department of Transportation to do something it’s almost never done before: remove bike lanes from a street.

An ODOT official said she could not cite evidence other than the site-specific judgment of her engineering colleagues that removing the bike lane on SE 26th Avenue would improve overall road safety. But she said that because 26th is not as safe to bike on as 28th would be, it stands to reason that the bike lane on 26th should be removed in order to encourage people to cross at 28th.

Therefore, ODOT has agreed to approve the city’s request to add a new traffic signal at 28th and Powell only on the condition that the city remove the bike lane and bike box from 26th.

“There’s no doubt there’s going to be some out-of-direction travel for the bicyclists. We just think it’s safer.”
— Sue D’Agnese, ODOT regional traffic manager

“If you gave me a choice of crossing at 26th and crossing at 28th, I’d cross at 28th if there was a signal there,” said Shelli Romero, ODOT’s interim west area manager for the Portland region, in an interview last week. “We’ve got freight that go through there, we’ve got a high volume of cars that go there.”

Cleveland High School sits on the northeast corner of Powell and 26th, so if the bike lane were removed, anyone heading to the high school on a bike from the southwest would either have to cut east to 28th, cross the street and get back west toward 26th, or else would travel on 26th without the bike lane.

“There’s no doubt there’s going to be some out-of-direction travel for the bicyclists,” said Sue D’Agnese, ODOT’s regional traffic manager. “We just think it’s safer.”

Sub-standard bike lanes

door zone biking 26th

26th Avenue just south of Powell.

The bike lanes on 26th near Powell are unquestionably some of the worst in Portland. They get as narrow as 3 feet wide, or 3.5 feet in the northbound door zone just south of Powell. The national standard requires at least 4 feet for new bike lanes, or 5 feet in a door zone.

But that hasn’t stopped people from biking on 26th. Bike counts at 26th and Powell in February 2012 and June 2013 show that the 26th Avenue bike lanes are some of the most-ridden in southeast Portland, carrying between 60 and 80 bikes in the morning and evening peak hours. That suggests total daily bike traffic in the 600 to 800 range.

Except at the point where it crosses Powell, SE 26th Avenue isn’t actually very dangerous for people biking. Between Division and Holgate, 26th Avenue saw 17 bike-related injuries reported from 2004 to 2013 — eight of them at the crossing of Powell.

26th Avenue, a onetime streetcar route north of Powell, is flatter than 28th in the area and connects directly to more commercial destinations.

City and state agree that new crossing at 28th would boost safety

26th powell crowd in bike box

10 a.m. southbound bike traffic at 26th and Powell.

The proposed signal at 28th Avenue would be part of the city’s planned 20s Bikeway. In the city’s early plans for that bikeway, 26th and 28th would form a couplet, with 26th Avenue replacing its 3.5-foot-wide bike lanes with a single southbound buffered bike lane and with a separate neighborhood greenway at 28th. However, the city has since rejected that idea in favor of leaving the narrow 26th Avenue bike lanes as-is while also creating the neighborhood greenway on 28th.

“We’re moving them in a location where they don’t have to compete with left or right turns of cars.”
— Shelli Romero, ODOT interim area manager

The city’s original proposal to remove the northbound bike lane from 26th, though, had caught ODOT staffers’ attention. If removing the northbound lane at 26th would be expected to divert northbound bike traffic to 28th, wouldn’t removing both bike lanes from 26th be expected to divert even more bike traffic to 28th?

“It shifts an already over-capacity high-volume intersection — it shifts those users over to 28th,” said Romero. “We’re moving them in a location where they don’t have to compete with left or right turns of cars.”

Romero said the presence of the bike lanes and boxes have no impact on Powell traffic capacity or travel time, though a new signal at 28th would increase travel times a bit.

City and state officials said in interviews that they’ve been involved in a months-long negotiation, with the city angling to keep the 26th Avenue bike lanes in place and the state angling to have them removed.

Rich Newlands, the city’s project manager for the 20s Bikeway, called the long disagreement an “unfortunate situation.” Ultimately, because Powell is a state highway, ODOT holds authority over any signal changes there.

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Biking advocate: People will use both intersections, so both crossings should be safe

The corner of 26th and Powell drew heavy media attention in May when two separate collisions injured two men riding bicycles on 26th. One man’s leg was severed in a collision with a left-turning truck and the other man’s leg broken by an eastbound Jeep.

“You’re not going to stop that travel choice, so you end up putting people in danger.”
— Rob Sadowsky, Bicycle Transportation Alliance

The first incident led to a demonstration by many locals who urged ODOT to prioritize safety by redesigning Powell Boulevard to reduce unsafe driving. ODOT responded by saying it would add a left-turn arrow phase to the signal at 26th.

Rob Sadowsky, executive director of the Bicycle Transportation Alliance and stepfather of a Cleveland student, called ODOT’s position “kahooey.”

“26th and Powell being a major school that people are biking to, how are you going to get them there?” Sadowsky said. “You’re putting students at significant risk because now they have to travel from 28th to 26th either via the sidewalk or via Powell.”

“It forgets to look at both the macro and micro at the same time,” Sadowsky said. “You’re not going to stop that travel choice, so you end up putting people in danger despite their stated best intentions to make it safer. … If they have an alternative way to get people to Cleveland High School safely, then let’s see it.”

Plan follows logic of neighborhood greenway system, ODOT says

se portland bike plan

The city’s Bike Plan for 2030 calls for “separated in-road bikeways” (blue stripes) on 26th.

There’s no question that Romero and D’Agnese see themselves as arguing in the interest of bike safety by trying to make it less desirable to ride a bike on 26th Avenue.

“We support the city in their off-major road system, to keep bikes on lower-traffic roads,” D’Agnese said, referring to the city’s neighborhood greenway network. I replied that the bike plan approved by the city in 2010 includes both neighborhood greenways on side streets and separated bike lanes on major streets, including on 26th Avenue across Powell.

“I’m not up on the city’s latest plans,” she said.

I asked Romero and D’Agnese whether they had any evidence that removing a bike lane from 26th would improve overall safety, or whether the additional risk to people who would still bike on 26th without the bike lane might outweigh the safety benefits of shifting bikes to 28th.

D’Agnese replied that there are “conflicting studies in the transportation safety realm” and that some show that “when bike volumes are high, crash rate goes up.” Therefore, she said, it’s not necessarily true that people biking on 26th would be worse off without a bike lane.

“It depends on the geometry and the site-specific conditions,” she said. “I’m trusting the state traffic engineer.”

Road user: I’d rather have both crossings, but I’d use 28th

vinnie mey

26th Avenue bike commuter Vinnie Mey.

Finally, on Thursday morning I visited the site to get some photos of how people are using 26th Avenue right now. I asked one man biking past, nearby resident Vinnie Mey, what he’d like to see happen.

Mey, who bike-commutes to his job at Portland Teriyaki at 125th and Glisan, said he’d prefer to have both crossings. Given a choice of which to use, though, he said he’d rather ride 28th across Powell and up to Clinton — due in part to what he thinks is a bad bike crossing of Holgate at 26th.

“It’s dangerous,” Mey said. “There’s a time when all the lights are green. That’s when people get hit.”

Correction 8/14: An earlier version of this post incorrectly said this was the first time Portland has removed bike lanes without something else taking their place. It previously did so on NW Lovejoy west of 11th Avenue.


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Fixing Southeast: Three achievable proposals from a fast-rising advocate

Fixing Southeast: Three achievable proposals from a fast-rising advocate

clinton speed

SE Clinton Street.
(Photo: M.Andersen/BikePortland)

Southeast Portland has always been the heart of Portland’s biking culture. But as the last few weeks have made horrifically clear, it’s still full of problems.

In an article published Friday on the Southeast Uplift neighborhood coalition’s website, a new member of that organization’s board laid out three concrete and seemingly achievable suggestions for making the area a bit better — as well as a perceptive theory about the recent problems on Southeast Clinton Street.

Terry Dublinski-Milton, who several years ago created his own neighborhood-greenway-focused bike plan for the city and has since become active in the city’s formal neighborhood association system and the advocacy group BikeLoudPDX, had this to say about three different needs of the big swath of Portland south of Interstate 84 and west of Interstate 205.

Clinton-Woodward Bikeway

Clinton Street is one of Portland’s oldest and most well-established bikeways. Unfortunately this once-lauded and always popular bicycle route is troubled by safety and equity issues. Parts of Clinton handle over THREE times the number of vehicles daily than they should according to national standards for auto counts on bike boulevards. Previously this wasn’t as much of a problem because there were big gaps where bikes could move to the side.

Now that Division St is a trendy destination, visitors are increasingly parking on Clinton and drivers are using Clinton as a convenient (few stop signs) cut-through during peak commute times. This has created dangerous conditions for bicycles as drivers try to pass without adequate space to do so safely. To reduce conflict and modernize this critical bikeway, I believe the City should install diverters that would direct cars back to the arterials.

To the west there is the Tilikum Crossing, a world class active transportation bridge, yet to the east the Clinton-Woodward bikeway ends in gravel with no residential connection to the Green Line Division MAX station or I 205 path. Completing Clinton-Woodward, MAX to MAX, would create a central residential safety corridor for all of SE Uplift which would physically show we really do care about equity, while we connect SE Uplift including the forgotten “Middle East” of Portland between 60th and I 205 together. This would be good for all of us.

terry

Terry Dublinski-Milton.
(Photo: M.Andersen/BikePortland)

Dublinski-Milton’s point about Clinton becoming a worse place to bike in part because its parking spaces have become scarcer isn’t backed up by hard data (not that I know of, at least). But it squares the city’s argument that traffic volumes on the street haven’t changed much with Clinton users’ contention that the street has recently gotten much less bike-friendly.

His use of the phrase “Middle East” to describe the mostly gridded but more auto-oriented area between 60th Avenue and Interstate 205 is also useful. Whether or not that language takes off, this part of Portland is likely to see big changes in the next decade and is going to need a name.

Interested in fixes to Clinton? The City of Portland hasn’t counted of traffic volumes on Clinton since the Division streetscape project finished, but the neighborhood group Safer Clinton is conducting its own rush-hour counts tomorrow in order to gather data before the end of the Portland Public Schools year. If you can help out between 7 and 9 a.m. or 4 and 6 p.m., email your preferred shift to schlosshauer@gmail.com and show up at the time planned.

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20s Bikeway

The 20s Bikeway – a 9.1-mile route that goes from Lombard Avenue in the north to the Springwater Corridor in the south – is funded for this fall. Here we have a rare opportunity to build in a fix to Clinton: engineer diversion near 28th on Clinton as part of this bikeway. This small improvement on the 20s bikeway, which connects Hosford Middle and Cleveland High Schools, would solve two problems at once: creating a safe, low traffic, north-south bicycling corridor while concurrently creating safer conditions on this stretch of Clinton through traffic reduction. This is just one possible improvement, but working together SE Uplift, neighbors, businesses, and neighborhood associations can help make sure the 20s Bikeway is a genuine world-class bike facility.

Almost two years after planning began, the poor bedraggled 20s Bikeway Project is looking like a federally funded photocopy of a photocopy of a photocopy. But Dublinski-Milton’s suggestion for leveraging its money and process to fund a crucial bit of diversion on Clinton is interesting.

60s & 80s Bikeways

There currently is a large gap in our north-south bikeway network that spans the SE Uplift coalition area between the 50s and I-205. Over the past months, I have worked with neighborhood associations and individuals to network the “Middle East” of Portland into a series of priority bikeways including the 60s from the 60th MAX station to the Springwater via Mount Tabor Park and 80th from Madison High School south into Brentwood-Darlington. These have been endorsed by a number of neighborhood associations and are on the planning maps, but we need to call on City Hall to get them built. Each of these bikeways cross Clinton-Woodward and will integrate nicely into the 2016 SE Foster Roadway safety modernization, thus supporting this growing commercial corridor.

The 60s and 80s bikeways are essentially neighborhood-driven variations on the jagged neighborhood greenways sketched into Portland’s 2010 bike plan on either side of Mount Tabor. As Portland waits (and waits…) for some sort of bike access on 82nd Avenue, the 80s bikeway in particular could be a decent interim alternative. Here are Dublinski-Milton’s homebrewed Google maps of the routes:

Interested in learning more about it? Dublinski-Milton, joined by city transportation staffer Zef Wagner and others, is leading a Pedalpalooza ride (Facebook, Shift) south along the 80s bikeway from Madison High School south to the Cartlandia food cart pod.

With Portland’s biking problems feeling as pressing as they ever have, these ideas are worth talking about. It’s nice to see a neighborhood coalition giving them a platform.

Disclosure: I serve with Dublinski-Milton and others on the board of the North Tabor Neighborhood Association, largely because I was impressed by what he was getting done for our neighborhood. We don’t always agree, of course.


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Sunday morning collision at 26th and Powell severs leg of man on bike

Sunday morning collision at 26th and Powell severs leg of man on bike

Screenshot 2015-05-10 at 11.15.12 AM

The southbound view at 26th and Powell. Police said preliminary information indicated that the man was biking south when a northbound truck turned left in front of him.
(Image: Google Street View)

A collision involving a pickup truck and a bicycle critically injured a man biking southbound on 26th Avenue just before 10 a.m. Sunday morning.

Police said the injured man’s leg was severed after the northbound truck turned left onto Powell in front of him. He was “transported to a Portland hospital with life-threatening injuries.”

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Here’s the full news release from the Portland Police Bureau:

On Sunday May 10, 2015, at 9:52 a.m., Central Precinct officers responded to Southeast 26th Avenue and Powell Boulevard on the report that a man riding a bicycle had a leg severed after being struck by a man driving a pick-up truck.

Officers and medical personnel arrived and located the injured man in his 20s. The victim has been transported to a Portland hospital with life-threatening injuries. Several passersby stopped to provide medical aid until paramedics arrived at the scene.

The driver of the truck remained at the scene and has been detained by police for further investigation.

Preliminary information indicates that the truck driver was northbound on 26th Avenue and the bicycle rider and a friend were riding southbound on 26th Avenue. The truck driver turned left in front of the bicycle riders, colliding with the victim.

The Traffic Division’s Major Crash Team has responded to the scene to investigate the crash.

The intersection of Southeast 26th Avenue and Powell Boulevard will be closed to all traffic for several hours as a result of this investigation.

This is one of the most important bike crossings of Powell, with bike lanes and bike boxes in both directions. It’s the main corner in front of Cleveland High School.

The 20s Bikeway project, which is nearing completion, is currently considering creating an alternative neighborhood greenway route on 28th Avenue, a lower-traffic street two blocks east. That would require a new signalized crossing. As of April 30 the Oregon Department of Transportation, which controls Powell Boulevard, had not yet decided whether to approve that new city-requested signal because it is so close to the existing one at 26th.

This post will be updated as we can learn more.


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Sunday morning collision at 26th and Powell severs leg of man on bike (updated)

Sunday morning collision at 26th and Powell severs leg of man on bike (updated)

Screenshot 2015-05-10 at 11.15.12 AM

The southbound view at 26th and Powell. Police said preliminary information indicated that the man was biking south when a northbound truck turned left in front of him.
(Image: Google Street View)

A collision involving a pickup truck and a bicycle critically injured a man biking southbound on 26th Avenue just before 10 a.m. Sunday morning.

Police said the injured man’s leg was severed after the northbound truck turned left onto Powell in front of him. Alistair Corkett, 22, was “transported to a Portland hospital with life-threatening injuries” but is expected to survive.

Kenji Sugahara, executive director of the Oregon Bicycle Racing Association, said in an email Sunday afternoon that Corkett was “a development rider for one of our teams in PDX.”

Brandon Bruins, a manager at the Clackamas Bike Gallery, said Corkett and a man who was riding with him were both employees there, and that Corkett had raced bicycles for years. Bruins said he’d been told Corkett was speaking to people after treatment.

Steve Remy, another friend of Corkett’s, said the man riding with Corkett was Anthony Disano.

According to the online map of traffic injuries since 2004 created for the Portland Bureau of Transportation’s Vision Zero campaign, this is the most dangerous intersection on Powell between SE 7th and SE Cesar Chavez, with 73 injuries from 2004 to 2013: 60 people in cars, eight people on bikes and five people on foot.

Screenshot 2015-05-10 at 10.48.30 PM

Injuries are marked in yellow, fatalities in orange.

Here’s the full news release from the Portland Police Bureau:

On Sunday May 10, 2015, at 9:52 a.m., Central Precinct officers responded to Southeast 26th Avenue and Powell Boulevard on the report that a man riding a bicycle had a leg severed after being struck by a man driving a pick-up truck.

Officers and medical personnel arrived and located the injured man in his 20s. The victim has been transported to a Portland hospital with life-threatening injuries. Several passersby stopped to provide medical aid until paramedics arrived at the scene.

The driver of the truck remained at the scene and has been detained by police for further investigation.

Preliminary information indicates that the truck driver was northbound on 26th Avenue and the bicycle rider and a friend were riding southbound on 26th Avenue. The truck driver turned left in front of the bicycle riders, colliding with the victim.

The Traffic Division’s Major Crash Team has responded to the scene to investigate the crash.

The department added in a later update:

The driver of the pick-up, 42-year-old Barry Scott Allen, was detained and released as the investigation continues. Drugs and/or alcohol do not appear to be a factor at this time.

Once the investigation is complete, the case will be given to the Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office for review.

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This is one of the most important bike crossings of Powell, with bike lanes and bike boxes in both directions. It’s the main corner in front of Cleveland High School.

The 20s Bikeway project, which is nearing completion, is currently considering creating an alternative neighborhood greenway route on 28th Avenue, a lower-traffic street two blocks east. That would require a new signalized crossing. As of April 30 the Oregon Department of Transportation, which controls Powell Boulevard, had not yet decided whether to approve that new city-requested signal because it is so close to the existing one at 26th.

Beneath this post, several readers have had things to say about this intersection and the surrounding area. From Ezm:

Another Car v Bike happened in this intersection 2-3 weeks ago. Driver hit a high school kid, similar circumstances, although I don’t think the injury was nearly as bad.

I live a block away, cross here on feet or bike several times a day. The intersection is very straight forward, few if any vision obstructions. Yet daily I see drivers not following signage, not respecting the bike box, and just generally not yielding or driving with caution.

Car traffic has a tendency to get jammed here during the rush, especially as parents drop kids at school. A lot of what I see is frustrated drivers, on powell and 26th alike, pushing the light and driving super aggressive.

From Carter:

I have to bike through this intersection on my bike several times a day and I feel like I’m gambling with my life every time. 1) The N/S light is way too short (and the E/W too long), so everyone speeds through. 2) No one enforces the green boxes, so a lot of the cars turn right on red 3) There are no alternatives for crossing Powell within 6 blocks 4) Traffic on 26th has gotten progressively worse over the years with no change in traffic patterns to accommodate it (a left turn signal would be pretty useful).

The section directly in front of Cleveland HS is especially dangerous with the bike lane frequently blocked by buses in the bus stop, parents dropping off/picking up their kids at school (because the kids can’t seem to walk half a block, I guess), and, during rainy season, a poorly drained lake at the corner. All factors that force cyclists into the car lane.

And reader Stevie Mare noted the number of crashes at this intersection.

KATU.com has a photo of the truck that was involved.

Nearby resident Dan Kaufman, whose children attend Cleveland High School, is organizing a “super legal slow-down of this intersection at afternoon rush hour” on Monday.

Nicholas Caleb, a candidate running for city council against incumbent Transportation Commissioner Steve Novick, shared the news on his campaign Facebook page:

As soon as I arrived home from a wonderful, leisurely day at Sunday Parkways, I saw this terrible news.

The reality of cycling in Portland is that it is extremely dangerous. The infrastructure that should be in place to protect cyclists has not been installed & each passing day without it means life threatening danger for cyclists who venture out into the streets. Fragile human bodies stand no chance when they come in contact with metal machines weighing in at thousands of pounds and moving fast. Helmets and reflective clothing won’t change this reality. We need real safety infrastructure & traffic laws to be strictly enforced in order to protect human lives.

I will fight for a society much closer to what we experience at Sunday Parkways.


The post Sunday morning collision at 26th and Powell severs leg of man on bike (updated) appeared first on BikePortland.org.

Eastmoreland residents organize against wider bike lanes that would remove parking

Eastmoreland residents organize against wider bike lanes that would remove parking

yellow house from below

Some people bike on Woodstock Boulevard’s sidewalk to avoid the door-zone bike lane that would be upgraded as part of the 20s Bikeway Project.
(Photos: M.Andersen/BikePortland)

The Eastmoreland Neighborhood Association is trying to stop Portland from widening the four-foot door-zone bike lanes along four blocks of Woodstock Boulevard.

The four blocks would be a key link in the planned 20s Bikeway, the first continuous all-ages bike route to stretch all the way from Portland’s northern to southern border. But Kurt Krause, chair of the neighborhood association’s bike committee, said the benefits of a continuously comfortable route aren’t worth the costs of removing curbside parking in front of seven large houses that overlook the Reed College campus across the street.

All seven houses have private driveways and garages on their lots.

big house

yellow house driveway

basketball hoop

“The biggest problem, I guess, is just for deliveries, for repairmen, for things like that,” Krause said.

Tradeoffs for roadway space

door zone lane

SE Woodstock Boulevard, looking east toward 32nd Avenue.

The city’s current plans call for creating a five-foot curbside bike lane on each side of Woodstock with a two-foot striped buffer.

But there’d be no room for that on the current street without removing the one lane of parking.

“When they have their Thanksgiving dinner, they will not be able to have their family get to their house very easily — that was the example given by one family.”
— Robert McCullough, president of the Eastmoreland Neighborhood Association

A visit to the site last week showed that there were indeed a handful of cars, not obviously associated with the homes’ residents, parked along the south side of Woodstock Boulevard. (There is already no curbside parking along the north side, next to Reed’s campus.)

Two nearby residents described themselves as pro-bike in general but said they’d prefer to keep the street parking.

“If I clear out my garage, I’ve got two, three, four, six, eight cars here,” conceded Tyler Stevenson, who was washing a car in the driveway of one of the houses, where he lives as a tenant. Still, Stevenson said, “having the parking for the public is important.”

car wash

Tyler Stevenson said he’s “pro-bike” but would rather give up the grassy strip in front of the house he rents than the on-street parking lane.

Stevenson said that cable or gas company drivers are sometimes forbidden from parking in private driveways. He added that campus events often lead to people using the curbside parking on Woodstock, which leads many guests of people in the homes to park on Moreland Lane, the narrow street behind the homes.

Cindy Simpson, whose home faces Moreland Lane, confirmed this.

Simpson’s driveway was one of the few on the block that was full when I stopped by on a Monday afternoon. It holds four cars:

4 cars

Simpson said that’s because her daughter’s family shares the house with her and her husband. She said they never park cars in their garage.

simpson

Cindy Simpson said street parking is
already scarce.

“We have storage, you know,” she said.

“I’m all for bikes — I like sharing the road with them,” she added. “I think the bike lane is huge already. And I think it’s a waste of money when they could be paving the roads.”

(In our conversation, I told Simpson that I thought the bike lane was actually the minimum width, but I was wrong; it’s actually narrower. The current national minimum standard is four feet for a curbside bike lane and five feet for a door-zone lane. Both of Woodstock’s bike lanes are four feet wide.

According to a 2014 study, 94 percent of people bike in the door zone of a four-foot door-zone bike lane. With a five-foot door-zone bike lane, this falls to 91 percent.)

“I’m able to live with it however they do it,” Simpson said in conclusion.

Bike Gallery warehouse sale!


City shouldn’t remove parking without studies to justify it, neighborhood official says

map

Robert McCullough, president of the Eastmoreland Neighborhood Association, called his own opposition to improved bike lanes “mainly a public involvement question.”

He said it was based on objections from nearby residents about the lost street parking.

“When they have their Thanksgiving dinner, they will not be able to have their family get to their house very easily — that was the example given by one family,” McCullough said.

In the face of conflicts like this, McCullough said, the city should be consulting “best practices” before any such changes.

“There’s a whole set of traffic rules and regulations and studies,” he said. “We don’t do much of that in Portland.”

McCullough said he isn’t familiar enough with transportation policy to offer examples of what would or wouldn’t constitute a “best practice” on parking conversion.

McCullough also serves as president of the Southeast Uplift coalition of neighborhood associations, an organization that he’s helped rally to action against unregulated Airbnb rentals and the city’s calculations for a new “street fee.”

McCullough has also been one of the more vocal critics of many aspects of the 20s Bikeway since its planning process began. Under his leadership, the Eastmoreland Neighborhood Association has persuaded the city to reroute the bikeway away from Southeast 28th Avenue south of Woodstock, where parking removal would have been required, to its current route onto Woodstock and 32nd instead. EPN also persuaded the city not to add speed bumps to 32nd Avenue south of Woodstock. That street is expected to become part of a new neighborhood greenway connection to the Springwater Corridor at the south end of the 20s bikeway.

“The reality is that this is exactly what we envisioned for neighborhood associations to do in 1975 when we set it up,” McCullough said. “The right answer always is to involve everyone.”

Street could be worse, two local bike users say

small biker

SE Woodstock Boulevard, looking west toward 28th Avenue.

Krause, McCullough’s counterpart on the neighborhood bike committee, said people who say the city can’t increase the use of bicycles without upgrading door-zone bike lanes like Woodstocks “certainly have a point.”

“I’m a bike rider myself, and I know those substandard lanes do cause problems and it’s difficult,” Krause said. “But you can make it on the 4-foot lane. It’s not impossible. I’d like to see them not do it. But then it seems as though we’ve sent letters and spoken out at meetings and had face-to-face with [Project Manager] Rich [Newlands] and other things, and nothing seems to really move them from their stance.”

Though Krause said he “would like to see wider bike lanes,” “I just don’t see it as having enough payoff to ban parking on the one side.”

Colin Stacey, a nearby resident pedaling home from work in Woodstock’s bike lane last week, said he’s all for biking improvements, up to and including removing the parking.

“I tolerate some pretty bad conditions,” he said, smiling ruefully. “I just came from Northwest through the Pearl. It’s terrible.”


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As engineering starts on 20s Bikeway, a few pieces are still shifting

As engineering starts on 20s Bikeway, a few pieces are still shifting

20s Bikeway SAC meeting-6

City traffic engineer Jamie Jeffrey discusses options for the 20s Bikeway design in May.
(Photo: J.Maus/BikePortland)

The final plans are coming together for the first on-street bike connection between Portland’s northern and southern borders.

Under the latest plans, the much-discussed commercial section between SE Stark and NE Oregon would get a mini-process of its own this winter and spring; a separated “jughandle” at NE 28th and Buxton would ease left turns out of the commercial area; the corner of NE 26th and Fremont would get intersection markings instead of a physical median; a new signal would change traffic options at SE 30th and Stark; and SE 28th and Powell would be signalized.

In an email to stakeholders Friday afternoon, 20s Bikeway project manager Rich Newlands detailed each of these developments. (Here’s a PDF version of the full plan as of June, for comparison’s sake.)

A ‘breakout’ process for 28th near Burnside

A so-called ‘commercial greenway’ concept for 28th created by Kirk Paulsen, Brian Davis and Nick Falbo.

In the commercial heart of the 20s Bikeway, a coalition of business owners and a major landlord successfully opposed the city’s proposal to remove parking from the west side of 28th.

But as a pair of volunteer traffic analysts proposed this spring, another option might be to use unusual street design elements to create a “commercial greenway” and sense of place that could improve the district for biking, walking and shopping alike.

The main challenge is that the street carries 7,000 motor vehicles per day, more than four times the maximum recommended for a residential bike boulevard, including quite a few large trucks.

“I am planning on breaking this piece off and engaging the business community and neighborhood (and anyone one else who is interested) in developing a design in the winter/spring time frame,” Newlands wrote.

A ‘jughandle’ turn at 28th and Buxton

buxton 28th

Where the angle of Sandy Boulevard jostles the eastside street grid at 28th and Buxton, there’s a little-used triangular area. The city’s latest plan would rebuild some of it to help southbound bikes complete a left turn across two lanes of traffic in order to reach a new 14-block neighborhood greenway on 30th Avenue. (This greenway stretch was championed by some residents and business owners as an alternative to creating a comfortable bikeway on 28th itself.)

“This allows us to avoid turn conflicts due to the close proximity to vehicle queues at Sandy, and take advantage of the under-utilized space at the 28th/Buxton intersection to better stage the turns and improve the pedestrian connection along the west side,” Newlands wrote Friday.

North of Buxton, here’s the city’s latest design for crossing Sandy and Interstate 84.

Oregon to Holladay

Note that it seems to send the bike lane directly along either curb of 28th north of Sandy. That’d be contrary to an earlier city proposal to narrow a sidewalk and create a door-zone bike lane here in order to preserve on-street auto parking next to an unused private parking lot. Newlands, who’s out of town until Thursday, didn’t address this issue in Friday’s email.

A novel intersection design at Fremont

fremont 26th

In response to what Newlands described as “a very well attended meeting” at which Fremont Methodist Church and the Alameda Neighborhood Association expressed “strong opposition to the parking removal adjacent to the church,” the city is planning not to build a traffic-calming median that would have eliminated several on-street parking spaces.

Instead, the plan will use green stripes of paint to mark bike crossings and add signs on the center line “which recent studies have shown to improve yielding behavior,” Newlands wrote.

“This seems to be a promising approach for relatively narrow (36 ft) arterial crossings, and is under consideration at other locations such as Alberta and Killingsworth,” Newlands added.

A 2-way buffered bike lane on 30th south of Stark

30th stark

The major budgetary cost of the 30th Avenue greenway concept is a new traffic signal to be added at Stark. The city’s latest plan would use that new signal to block both northbound and southbound traffic through what is today a somewhat awkwardly offset intersection.

It’d also create a dedicated right-turn lane for southbound cars and a rare two-way buffered bike lane to guide greenway users around the corner to 29th Avenue, which is also due to be converted into a neighborhood greenway.

A new signal and median for 28th and Powell

In what Newlands called “great news,” the Oregon Department of Transportation has “tentatively approved” the city’s proposal to add a traffic signal and median here, helping the new neighborhood greenway on 28th cross the state-owned Powell Boulevard. As with the northern stretch, this segment was designed as a low-stress route that could bypass a commercial district from which the city decided not to remove on-street parking.

A few other items are still in motion, including strong opposition to the bikeway plans from the Eastmoreland Neighborhood Association that has yet to be resolved.

On the current timeline, Newlands estimated that the city’s engineering will be complete in May 2015, which would mean construction in fall 2015 or (more likely, given the amount of striping work) spring 2016.

In an email to the Active Right of Way listserv, neighborhood greenway advocate Terry Dublinski-Milton wrote that given that parking removal from commercial areas had been “a nonstarter,” the latest plans for NE 26th and SE 30th seemed OK to him.

“A parallel route is what it has to be for now,” Dublinski-Milton wrote. “[Neighborhood associations] have been asking for a new crossing at 26th and Broadway for years. That is exactly what this ‘Bikeway’ is … a series of needed pedestrian crossings strung together by sharrows. If BIKES were prioritized, then different decisions would have been made.”

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