Browsed by
Category: Better Block PDX

Call to action: Let’s make ‘Seasonal Better Naito’ a reality

Call to action: Let’s make ‘Seasonal Better Naito’ a reality

Naito Parkway traffic observations -14.jpg

We can set this in stone every summer for five years if we let City Council know we want it.
(Photos: J. Maus/BikePortland)

Bicycle access through and to Waterfront Park is in dire need of help. And ‘Seasonal Better Naito’ — a project proposed by the Bureau of Transportation and supported by Mayor Charlie Hales — is our best chance to get it.

We’ve heard from various sources that despite the City Budget Office throwing a bit of cold water on the project last week, there’s still a very good chance Mayor Charlie Hales and Transportation Commissioner Steve Novick can get the one additional vote from the other three Council members they need to get it funded through the Fall Budget Monitoring Process (a.k.a. “Fall BuMP”).

But in order to grab $350,000 from the intensely competitive general fund where there’s only $4 million up for grabs across all bureaus citywide, they need to hear resounding support from the community. Again.

Yes, we agree that a permanent reconfiguration of Naito Parkway with year-round protected space for walking and rolling is needed. Unfortunately given the timing and political realities we find ourselves in, that’s not just going to happen. We think that pushing for this seasonal project would be a very positive step forward. And most importantly, it could actually happen.

Here’s why we’re asking you to email or call Mayor Hales and the four other city commissioners to tell them you support Seasonal Naito in the Fall BuMP…

Funding and the sure thing

As a photographer I often remind myself of an old hunting mantra: “One in hand is better than two in the bush.” That means when in doubt I shoot the sure thing that’s right in front of me, because I never know if the perfect image I want will ever manifest itself. In this analogy, Seasonal Naito is “in hand” while a more robust, year-round version is “two in the bush.”

PBOT estimates that a year-round, mature version of the Better Naito trials we had for the past two summers (as in, one not implemented for pennies by the all-volunteer nonprofit Better Block, bless their hearts) would cost around $3.7 million. The full version of Better Naito PBOT wants to do would come with first-rate design and materials — both of which come with a price tag City Hall can’t swallow right now.

And right now — as much as we wish we could do everything all at once — a full redesign of Naito Parkway simply isn’t as urgent to a large swath of the community as other infrastructure needs. Equity is carrying the day at PBOT right now. And while that doesn’t mean they won’t invest anything in the central city, it means there’s more momentum (from the public and from funding sources) to spend money in east Portland where a disproportionate number of people fear their streets and all too often die while using them.

Political timing

Politics is everything. Whatever change you seek in Portland, if you don’t get the politics lined up, it ain’t gonna’ happen. Naito has had the attention of Mayor Hales for over two years now. He went from mentioning it in an off-handed comment in August 2014, to putting together an official (and unfortunately misguided) budget proposal for it back in May, to making a desparate plea to advocates over the summer to help him garner support for it.

Mayor Hales has rolled up his sleeves to make something happen on Naito.

Mayor Hales has played both the inside and outside game to try and make something happen on Naito.

With just a few months left as leader of Portland Hales likely sees this as a legacy project and the Fall BuMP is his last best chance to make it happen. Hales is an embattled mayor swimming in negative press lately for his (mis)handling of the police union contract and the homelessness crisis. It’s also worth noting he was elected in large part by transportation reform advocates who were excited about his experience with rail transit and previous stint as a city transportation commissioner.

But in the past four years Hales doesn’t have one marquee transportation project to his name. When I shared that opinion on Twitter this week, the Mayor’s account replied by mentioning the gas tax increase and bike share. Those are massive wins for Portland, but Hales was just a supporting actor.

Naito would be his project. He could take credit for making a significant change for the better on one of Portland’s most iconic streets.

And if we miss this opportunity, who knows what will happen with new Mayor Ted Wheeler. He’ll come in and face pressure to tackle very high-profile issues like police relations, a growing Black Lives Matter movement, homelessness, and so on. Even if he is supportive of street reform, it’s unlikely he’ll put Naito Parkway front-and-center.

Seasonal Naito is worth fighting for

If we don’t act now and make it clear to City Hall denizens that we want $350,000 for Seasonal Naito, we’ll be giving up a major opportunity.

PBOT would use bollards that screw in-and-out of the roadway.(Images: PBOT)

PBOT would use bollards that screw in-and-out of the roadway.
(Images: PBOT)

The project would create protected space on the west east side of Naito Parkway during the busy summer season. It would vastly improve our waterfront for everyone: While driving we’d be able to slow down and appreciate the urban landscape (a new report from Better Block (PDF) shows that the driving delay is just 30 seconds or less throughout the day); we’d be able to walk, bike, roll, and simply exist without less stress and danger from other road users speeding past in large and loud vehicles. The space on Naito would also reduce demands on the riverfront path in Waterfront Park — which means you could take your friends and visitors on a leisurely walk without getting buzzed by people on bikes who are afraid to use Naito and are hurrying to get from A-to-B.

If this project gets funded we’d have this space guaranteed to us for five years. We’d also have the door to more permanent changes left wide open.

Perhaps the most exciting aspect of Seasonal Naito is that it would institutionalize Better Block-style tactical urbanism within PBOT. This is huge! If you believe in street reform and want PBOT to be more flexible and attentive to the needs of non-driving road users, you should eagerly support a project that creates a tactical urbanism crew within the city bureaucracy. The thought of PBOT maintenance staff screwing in flexible bollards to create protected space for biking on Naito makes us smile. And it would plant a seed within PBOT that could take root and blossom into very exciting things.

This isn’t the big step many of us hoped for, but can you really argue that it’s not a step worth taking?

If you support Seasonal Naito, please take a few minutes to remind Mayor Hales and Commissioners Novick, Amanada Fritz, Nick Fish and Dan Saltzman (their emails and phone numbers are below). Please keep in mind that none of them oppose Seasonal Naito. In fact, in a budget work session yesterday we learned that Hales has included the project in his Fall BuMP proposal (along with $1 million for Vision Zero work on outer Halsey, watch it here at the 02:14:30 mark) and even Commissioner Fish had positive words to say about it.

We’re close, but there are no guarantees. Here’s the contact info:

Mayor Hales:, 503-823-4120
Commissioner Fish:, 503-823-3589
Commissioner Fritz:, 503-823-3008
Commissioner Novick:, 503-823-4682
Commissioner Saltzman:, 503-823-4151.

Let’s do this! Because a seasonal Better Naito is better than no Better Naito at all.

UPDATE, 3:30pm: We’ve just heard that Commissioner Nick Fish supports the seasonal Better Naito funding request. Fish’s Policy and Communications Advisor Everett Wild sent us this email from Fish in response to a constituent:

Thanks for your email.

I have talked to a lot of stakeholders about Better Naito (Community Cycling Center, Oregon Walks, etc.), read the summary report prepared by Better Blocks PDX, and received briefings from PBOT and Novick.

I am impressed with the breadth of community support (Better Blocks PDX, Travel Portland, Rose Festival, etc.).

The briefings were helpful–and I now better understand the costs and benefits. I also appreciate PBOT’s efforts to relieve congestion in the central city during rush hour.

Here is where I land: I favor an extension of the pilot.

We have limited surplus $ to carve up in the Fall BMP, and a lot of compelling needs. While I am a strong supporter of Vision Zero, the Council ultimately needs to decide which of the transportation safety “ask’s” in the Fall BMP make the cut now, and which are taken up through the regular budget process

Thanks again for sharing your views with me.



That’s three votes, so this should be funded next week. Nice work everyone!

— Jonathan Maus, (503) 706-8804 –

BikePortland is supported by the community (that means you!). Please become a subscriber or make a donation today.

The post Call to action: Let’s make ‘Seasonal Better Naito’ a reality appeared first on

Old idea of a human-centric, carfree downtown will be brought to life Saturday

Old idea of a human-centric, carfree downtown will be brought to life Saturday

Flyer for Saturday's big event.

Flyer for Saturday’s big event.

The crew that brought us the 3rd Avenue plaza, Better Broadway and Better Naito are about to embark on yet another ambitious project: this Saturday Better Block PDX will connect the north and south Park Blocks to create a one-mile stretch of carfree streets and plazas.

It’s an effort in partnership with the City of Portland and nonprofit Oregon Walks to offer a sneak peak of the future “Green Loop” project. And like their previous efforts (which have been very successful), organizers hope to plant seeds with Portlanders that this is how downtown could — and should — always look and feel.

Or, as organizers say in the official press release, it’ll be, “a one­-day open street demonstration project intended to inspire us all to re­imagine our downtown streets as car­free, people­-first environments.”

In addition to 26 blocks of open streets where people can walk and role undeterred by the usual dominance of motorized vehicles, this event will also create a new public plaza on SW Ankeny between Broadway and Park. This little alleyway between Bailey’s Taproom and Mary’s Club is similar to the one adjacent to Voodoo just a few blocks away. That is, before it became a carfree promenade and plaza.

Vendor and activity map.

Vendor and activity map.

You could also think of Saturday’s event as a mini Sunday Parkways.

Taken from 1972 Portland Downtown Plan.

Taken from 1972 Portland Downtown Plan.

While organizers are certainly looking toward the future, their idea to reduce car use in this part of downtown goes way back in Portland planning history. 44 years back. The 1972 Downtown Plan (PDF) as adopted by City Council said we should, “develop major pedestrian-bicycle circulation along the south park blocks,” and “close Park and Ninth avenues to vehicular traffic, except for service access.”

We haven’t exactly lived up to that plan, but on Saturday we’ll get closer than ever. Park Avenue will be carfree from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm between NW Hoyt and SW Morrison and from SW Main to Market.

The event officially opens at 10:00 am and there will be a ceremonial kickoff at 11:00 am on SW Ankeny at Broadway. It also coincides with the International Open Streets Summit which begins tomorrow and runs through Sunday at Portland State University.

Full details at

— Jonathan Maus, (503) 706-8804 –

Our work is supported by subscribers. Please become one today. You can also make a one-time donation here.

The post Old idea of a human-centric, carfree downtown will be brought to life Saturday appeared first on

At just $20,000, Ankeny Plaza is Portland’s cheapest “bridge” project ever

At just $20,000, Ankeny Plaza is Portland’s cheapest “bridge” project ever

Ankeny Plaza ribbon cutting-13.jpg

Cheap. Fast. Popular. Now let’s do another one.
(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

It’s the cheapest bridge project ever completed in the Portland region. For just $20,000, the city’s Bureau of Transportation has changed the face of an iconic and historic part of town. And they’re sort of bragging about it, which is awesome.

At the ribbon-cutting event for Ankeny Plaza today, City Commissioner Steve Novick delighted in how his Bureau of Transportation has radically transformed the streets between 2nd and 3rd Avenues in Old Town/Chinatown. “This is incredibly awesome,” he bubbled, before making a reference to Martha & The Vandellas’ classic tune, “Dancing in the Streets.”

Ankeny Plaza ribbon cutting-1.jpg

Commissioner Novick.

“We did a lot with a little bit of money,” Novick continued, after making a jab at Director Park (a Parks Bureau plaza project just a few blocks west) for being “expensive” by comparison.

PBOT Commissioner Leah Treat also showed confidence not only in Ankeny Plaza, but in what’s to come. “This represents a new chapter for open streets in Portland… and this is just the start,” she said.

Ankeny Plaza ribbon cutting-5.jpg

James Silviano, president of the Ankeny Alley Association, cuts the ribbon.

Two years ago, Southwest 3rd Avenue between Burnside and Ash was a wide expanse of road space where only people inside cars could go without feeling harassed. The cross-section was three wide standard vehicle lanes and on-street auto parking lanes on both sides. Then those merry souls from Better Block PDX got organized and staged a demonstration of what a public plaza here could look and feel like. Everyone loved it — including Mayor Charlie Hales and especially Commissioner Novick. Fast forward to last October when PBOT striped buffered bike lanes and then followed that up by the slow and steady build-out of the plaza as it stands today.

“Making it easier for people to explore the neighborhood with safer crossings and slower driver speeds… That is creating a bridge for both sides of the neighborhood.”
— Helen Ying, president of Old Town Chinatown Community Association.

Now instead of three lanes for driving on SW 3rd, there are two. Both on-street parking lanes remain, but the eastern-most one (near Voodoo Doughnuts) now floats in the intersection which has opened up 20,000 square feet of public plaza space. As we previously reported, the plaza has been remade with a walking zone, a new bike corral, a bike share station and cafe tables and chairs that are now along the edges (instead of in the middle) of the street to provide a promenade through Ankeny Alley. Additions in the last week have included dozens of large planter boxes filled with beautiful bushes and small trees from the Chinese Garden a few blocks north. PBOT says they also plan to use these planter boxes to create protection for the new bike lane on 2nd Avenue.

And we can expect more improvements to this area thanks to an $82,000 community livability grant from the Portland Development Commission that the Ankeny Alley Association plans to allocate for “long-term improvements.”

Taken all together — the new buffered lane on 3rd and the new Ankeny Plaza and promenade that connects to the nearly-completed protected bike lane on SW 2nd (more on that later) — we have formed a bridge that connects several of Portland’s oldest neighborhoods. Burnside, and to a lesser extent 2nd and 3rd Avenues, are the rivers in this analogy and they still require caution. But PBOT has slowed the current and has extended a helping hand for anyone who wants to cross.

Ankeny Plaza ribbon cutting-3.jpg

Ankeny Plaza ribbon cutting-7.jpg

Ankeny Plaza ribbon cutting-8.jpg

Ankeny Plaza ribbon cutting-9.jpg

The view looking south from the other side of Burnside. (The truck belongs to workers who are renovating the Paris Theater.)
Ankeny Plaza ribbon cutting-11.jpg

Ankeny Plaza ribbon cutting-17.jpg

Ankeny Plaza ribbon cutting-19.jpg

Looking west from Ankeny Alley toward 3rd Avenue
Ankeny Plaza ribbon cutting-18.jpg

This is a transformation not only of a major downtown intersection; but of the politics that rule our intersections. What bike share has done to encourage and legitimize the use of bicycles, Ankeny Plaza will do to create urgency for more — and even better — street transformations in the future.

Ankeny Plaza ribbon cutting-2.jpg

Helen Ying is president of the Old Town Chinatown Community Association.

Speaking at the event today, Old Town Chinatown Community Association President Helen Ying said the changes to the streets are a key part to her group’s efforts to, “Make this neighborhood the best in the city.” One of the biggest obstacles to that has been what Ying refers to as, “The traffic patterns and Burnside Boulevard that has divided the north side of the neighborhood from the south side.”

“Making it easier for people to explore the neighborhood with safer crossings and slower driver speeds… That itself is creating a bridge for both sides of the neighborhood.”

From Better Block’s activism and the city’s official embrace of their vision, to the full-throated support and gratitude from neighborhood leaders and the execution of the plaza design itself, we can only hope this project is a template for many others to come.

Commissioner Novick put it best in his brief speech today when he said, “This is what Portlanders want from their government. They want us to implement great ideas, work with the community and implement them in the most cost-effective way possible. And here in Ankeny Plaza we’ve delivered. We’ve all, collectively, delivered.”

Check out PBOT’s new Portland in the Streets website where you can see all their livable streets initiatives.

— Jonathan Maus, (503) 706-8804 –

Our work is supported by subscribers. Please become one today.

The post At just $20,000, Ankeny Plaza is Portland’s cheapest “bridge” project ever appeared first on

Who’s mad and who’s glad about ‘Better Naito’?

Who’s mad and who’s glad about ‘Better Naito’?

Naito Parkway traffic observations -13.jpg

Naito Parkway on Thursday afternoon as seen looking north from the Morrison Bridge.
(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

This weekend, the City of Portland plans to remove the temporary multi-use path from the eastern side of Naito Parkway so the space can be used by cars instead.

It slowed rush-hour northbound auto trips somewhat: by about 1.5 minutes in the morning and between 30 seconds and two minutes in the evening, according to an independent analysis requested by The Oregonian and published Friday. (That’s for someone traveling all the way from I-405 to NW Everett.)

On the other hand, the project vastly improved the experience of biking or walking on Naito, especially during the summer festivals in which Waterfront Park is fenced up to the edge of the curb. In past years, people typically spill into the bike lane, forcing bikes into the auto lane, and the waterfront path regularly becomes almost impassable by bike because so many people are walking there.

So for politicians, here’s the question: How do you weigh the benefits of depressurizing the waterfront path and increasing the appeal of biking and walking downtown against the costs of increasing delay for people driving?

In short: how much were people who drive ticked off by those additional minutes of delay?

Well, out of the 10,400 people who drive northbound on Naito on the average weekday, exactly 45 sent either a voicemail or an email to the city opposing the project’s congestion effects. Just for fun, let’s look at that on a chart:

did not complain

“I work in Portland Monday-Friday,” wrote Paula Beard. “I drive North on Naito Parkway to Davis, then to 8th and Glisan. My evening commute has not been impacted by the Northbound Naito lane closure, but my morning commute time is greatly increased. I timed it today—25 minutes from the time I merged to Naito on the South end to when I arrived at the Davis Street stoplight. Without the lane closure it is about 5-10 minutes.”

Now, obviously there were many people annoyed by the Naito change who didn’t take the time to contact the city about the plan. Feedback like this is a better indicator of how many people are passionate about a policy — potentially to the extent that it’d influence their vote.

But in that case, we also need to consider the number of people who sent emails or voicemails supporting the project’s biking and walking benefits. We don’t have good data on how many people bike or walk on Naito, unfortunately, but a total of 65 people contacted the city since Better Naito was installed to express support for the idea. So here’s another chart:

direct feedback

The city also got a handful of letters and voicemails from people discussing design issues with the temporary path, such as trucks parking there or confusion about where bikes should turn. Those aren’t counted in this analysis unless they also mentioned general support for or opposition to the general change.

To be fair, all but nine of those positive comments came over the last week, when some biking advocates organized a letter-writing campaign in anticipation of the project being removed. But of course that only happened because someone was motivated to take the time to organize a letter-writing campaign … and because 56 people apparently cared enough to join that campaign even before the trial was removed.

“I’ve heard rumors that Better Naito is being torn out this weekend,” wrote Evan Heidtmann in an email to the city Tuesday. “Why would this happen? It doesn’t make any sense to me. I enjoyed riding on Naito this summer and I don’t know of anyone who wants it to go back to the way it was. Our waterfront is one of the best things going and we need to make it a great place to be, not a giant sewer for people driving fast in their cars. Everyone has already figured out how to use the street in its new configuration. Changing it now will just lead to confusion, frustration, and increased dangers for everyone on the street.”

By contrast, most of the negative feedback arrived at the start of the project; only nine of the 45 negative comments arrived in the last week.

Here are 19 more examples of things people had to say to the city about Naito, released to BikePortland after a public-records request. We’re publishing positive and negative feedback in the same ratio that the city received: about 60 percent positive.

Subject: Better, Better Naito

Dear Mayor and City Council – I have been loving the Better Naito project and had no idea it wasn’t going to become permanent! If there is a jewel of downtown Portland, it is the waterfront. I have taken family and friends there from Ohio, California, Colorado, Iowa and of course Portland, and everyone loves it. Having the security to ride and walk along more safely has been a great improvement, especially when there are thousands of people at the many events there.

What other city would do this grand experiment with traffic control? I congratulate you for conducting experiments like this and risking the wrath of other commuters. The investigative work is essentially done, and now we need to take it to the next step and make it permanent.

I love that we live in a city that is so progressive and tries things like this. And I agree with people who say we can’t really pave our way out of our new traffic problems, so where we can, let’s continue facilitating active transportation so that it becomes part of our lives.


Rob Hertert

Subject: Commuting from SW to NE


Just some feedback about clogged arteries. I am sure your office is aware of the worsening of traffic conditions in the past few years. I live in NE Portland and work on SW Macadam, a 6 mile commute by car. Whether due to new residents or tourists, the traffic on I5 and 405 has ramped up considerably. It can take 45 minutes for me to get home in the worst of the traffic jams. Naito Parkway has been an alternative option for me to use when the freeways are at a standstill. The blocked easternmost lane has created yet another traffic log jam. I see drivers taking unnecessary risks. The other day I saw a van driving down the blocked lane. The pedestrian flow was in Waterfront Park with people crossing Naito at lights or marked crossing points. I did not see people using the blocked lane as a walking space. The lane was empty. This experiment in blocking a lane of a main artery seems frivolous and potentially dangerous.

I have lived in NE Portland since 1980, long before it became trendy, and love its walkability. However, I am increasingly concerned about the liveability of the city as a whole. We have had a huge influx of people without the transportation infrastructure to move them quickly.

Jan Volkin
NE Portland

Subject: Commuter Experience

Heya! I heard your soliciting feedback on the Naito bike route.

I am a 100% car commuter. I drive from North Portland into SW downtown for work, dropping my kids off at school and daycare on the way. I don’t have time to bike to work, regardless of how nice or big the bike is …

… And I *LOVE* the bike path. It doesn’t significantly impact my commute time, I see tons of cyclists using it every day, it helps keep the waterfront pedestrian path clear and safe, and I think it’s the right thing for out growing city!!

Regarding the folks who complain about traffic snarls: in my experience, the #1 jam is the Hawthorne bridge on ramp from Naito. Everything else moves at a pretty steady clip. Opening up the Naito bike line to vehicular traffic isn’t a solution to any of the traffic problems I’ve seen. At best it’s a short term solution to the same congestion, whereas a bike path can accommodate many, many more commuters!

I’m thinking about the continuous development in the north Pearl, the south waterfront, and the upcoming inner SE — all need access, and all are extremely bikeable. Let’s set the right precedence and make our city even more friendly to cyclists …

And I say this as a 100% downtown car commuter!

-Peat Bakke

Subject: Please keep BetterNaito!

I’ve followed the instructions on your website and tweeted my thanks for #BetterNaito, but tonight I’ve learned that there is a chance that we can keep it.

Please, please, please! This would be great for family biking. Just last week we had a biking family visiting from Seattle and it was wonderful to be able to get to the BoltBus stop easily from the Hawthorne Bridge and then use it to connect to the path to the Tillicum. Lots of visitors want to ride the Tillicum and BetterNaito was a great, low-stress way to get there on our cargo bikes.

For those of us that don’t venture over the river to the westside very often, it’s hard to find a low-stress way to get where we do need to go. This is so helpful. My bakfiets weighs 90 pounds before the kids get in it with all their gear, so we need a flat or downhill route to get where we are going. BetterNaito lets me ride at my speed (I average 4 mph) without inconveniencing people walking or people biking faster than that. And it’s so flat!

I’m looking forward to taking the kids to Jamison Square if you keep it. I hope you do.

Thank you,
Kathleen Youell

Subject: A Joy


Thought I’d take a moment to say how much this project means to me. Traveling between SE to NW Portland is made easier when I can stay on the East side of Naito. This makes getting on and off the bridge easier. I wish it would carry on through the winter. I typically take the Eastbank home after work in the summer but when winter rolls around it’s too dark and I take Naito. Riding South on the West side of Naito, I have to watch the parked cars since they may pull out or open doors without warning. Also, it can be stressful to get across Naito at the Salmon St fountain to get to the Hawthorne bridge.

Thank you for taking the time to read my message. Please let me know if you have any questions or comments.

Be well,

Subject: Please make Better Naito permanent

I just heard that the opening of Better Naito to pedestrians/cyclists/skaters is coming to an end this Sunday. This lane has made life better for so many at so little a cost. Walking down on the shared path by the water is so much safer and more welcome for the elderly and families and tourists. Meanwhile faster moving thru-cyclists, runners and skaters have taken to Better Naito to move through more efficiently without disturbing their fellow Portlanders. It really has been marvelous. I drive through here too and I have not noticed any significant change in the driving time.

There is limited capacity and growing demand for human-powered movement in this area. Better Naito eases both problems elegantly and inexpensively. This is future thinking. Please make it permanent.

William Rausch

Subject: “better naito” is not better

Regarding “better naito.” It seems like a nice idea, but really, it is a mess.

Your website has too much positive spin and doesn’t speak realistically. Fact is, delays are more like 10 minutes – you cite 45 seconds to 1 minute. Try again. I take the route daily and know this for a fact. Your website states there is a sign alerting drivers ahead of time – barely noticeable. But again – the alternate route adds 10 minutes.

Your solution only help bikes/peds even though you say “more connected way for all Oregonians.” What about people who are trying to get to work DURING A REGULAR MORNING WHEN THERE IS NO FESTIVAL? It is a ridiculous concept to create a traffic jam and a mess of construction cones during these times. How did anyone think this was smart?

A better solution that would indeed benefit all Oregonians using downtown would be to erect the lanes during festival HOURS only. Simple, efficient, smart for all.


Subject: Better Naito
Hello Mayor and City Commissioners;

I am an internal medicine physician at OHSU and bike to the tram every day from my home in NE Portland. I am writing to express my sincere and heartfelt support for the Better Naito project. Although there are certainly other areas of the city which sorely need bike infrastructure attention, I have personally experienced how the conversion of Naito the last several months has benefited a huge number of Portlanders and visitors to our great city- bicyclists and pedestrians alike. I can’t help but smile every time I bike down Naito now. Seriously!

I appreciate the hard work you all do on a daily basis for Portland (despite the complaints and grumblings of many). This project is important for you to support and I feel that it (and other bike and pedestrian friendly projects across the city) enhance what is already such a great place to live.


Joe Hardman, MD

Subject: Make #BetterNaito permanent!

Hello City of Portland representatives,

Today I write you to make my appeal for keeping the #BetterNaito changes permanent. It has been absolutely wonderful to have this dedicated cycle and pedestrian path for the last few months. I ride my bike five days a week from Inner SE to Naito and NW 9th Ave and this segment is crucial for my commute.

It has been wonderful to have this alternative bike path available, especially in the summer time. There is no easy traffic-free way for me to make an efficient north/south commute from the Pearl to the Hawthorne bridge except on this path. The festivals that take place on the Esplanade during the summer months make riding near impossible with people who are leisurely trying to enjoy those festivals and the park. Similarly, riding on the East side Esplanade is also extremely difficult. There are many people enjoying this space in a leisurely way and it does not feel very safe for me or for them to use these paths for my bicycle commute where I am often riding very fast.

Having said that, I’ll leave you with a few more points for consideration

– The four permanent lanes of auto traffic on Naito have access to the road for 8760 hours a year. I’m sure traffic volume studies show that this road can certainly afford to permanent lose a lane. Let’s get real and give cyclists a piece of that 8760 hour pie.

– The distance we’re talking about is a mere 0.70 miles. In the grand scheme of trips via automobile on this road, that is like a drop of water in the ocean. For cycling commuters, that can be a much more significant percentage of their commute.

– I ride five days a week all year long. I see the volume of traffic every day on Naito during peak hours. Northbound traffic can certainly support the change. Congestion is not that bad.

– I’ve also ridden for the last eight years using the Esplanade. I can tell you having more cyclists on this pathway will NOT work. I’ve seen it from both perspectives – as a pedestrian trying to dodge cyclists and as a cyclist trying to go to and from work. If it were not for #BetterNaito, I would simply divert to another street (3rd Ave). Riding on the bike path on Naito now really sucks, as there are at least nine traffic lights that kill my trip.

– This would be a tremendous sign of support from the city about taking cycling seriously. You’ve already got some great momentum with Biketown, closing the Naito gap, Ankeny Plaza. Keep the transformations coming!

– I’m invested in my city and my community. I am a tax-paying homeowner in Portland that wants to see my city work for me

Thank you for your time,
Evan Reeves

From: Jared Lorz
Subject: You suck
I have had to walk on dirt sidewalks and unpaved dilapidated streets for 30 years because you bastards won’t improve southwest Portland. Screw downtown and your little initiatives.

Subject: Bike lanes vs cars. Naito Parkway and foster and holgate.

You guys are idiots. If you want people to come to the festivals, more parking for CARS and lanes for CARS are needed. I used to live in portland and now won’t come to any of your festivals nor will any of my friends of family because you have let the bicyclist take over the roads that we ALL pay for. And yes I still work in portland and still pay taxes there but have moved across the river to a state that is CAR friendly for commuters.

Jason Lind

Subject: Please Keep #BetterNaito!

Hello oh transportational powers that be!

I heard through Twitter that #BetterNaito is scheduled to end on 7/31. I think this a terrible idea and here is why:

1) BetterNaito has helped to reduce car/bike and bike/ped conflicts on Naito and the Waterfront Path.

2) We are all used to it already. I drive 60-70% and bike 30-40%, and Naito seems fine to me. I often have to visit hotels on the waterfront for my job, and I haven’t seen any unusual or commerce-ending congestion, just the typical rush hour stuff that passes if you just chill for a few minutes — as we all should.

3) We don’t want to backslide into a car-centric downtown. It doesn’t make sense to say Portland is committed to #VisionZero if we are going to take away something that creates bike/ped safety!

4) There isn’t another really good north-south bike path in downtown until 14th Ave.

5) There are so many upcoming events on the waterfront throughout the fall, winter, and spring — from Portland Marathon, to Jingle Bell Run, to Shamrock Run — it doesn’t make sense to make everyone unlearn BetterNaito when it’s just going to go back in again in the summer, and when we have so many downtown events that BetterNaito helps. Let’s keep our vibrant downtown a year-round vibrant downtown!

Please — make BetterNaito permanent and help make Portland, Oregon into the multimodal utopia we want to be.

Thank you!

Emee Pumarega
Business Owner
Car Driver



I’m writing to ask that you strongly consider keeping Better Naito permanently. I’ve worked downtown for over a decade & often bike commuted from Milwaukie to downtown on a daily basis. Although the frequency of my commute has lessened I still commute using the same route every other week and often ride downtown for errands or shopping (Powell’s Books!). Riding my bike on Naito has been way too frightening so the majority of the time I’ve used waterfront park to connect from Hawthorne bridge to the US Bancorp Tower. Riding the sidewalks with pedestrians, which has become more crowded over the years, is not ideal and poses its own dangers to cyclists, pedestrians, and the wildlife (I’ve personally witnessed a goose getting caught in wheels of a passing cyclist in waterfront sidewalk)! Additionally, at lunch time I often walk down waterfront park & experience from a pedestrian standpoint the stress of having cyclists passing, especially when large groups of people are congested in particular spots. Riding waterfront park during any event is almost impossible with limited access to reach the streets, fence obstructions, and vendor trucks/cars on sidewalk.

I had actually forgotten Better Naito was set up this year when I commuted into downtown one morning. How refreshing to be able to safely ride down Naito all the way to work (while shaving several minutes from commute time)!! I have since been able to enjoy Better Naito with my 8yo son, with groups of friends riding to events at Powell’s Books, and many other regular commutes to/from work. I have twice helped lost strangers find & ride Better Naito with me as a better way to reach Hawthorne Bridge or the Tillikum Crossing. Their response has always been “this is great!” and my reply is always “yes, it is!”

I do own & sometimes commute into downtown by car. There’s always the “change pains” as people get used to anything different but people adjust quickly & I’ve experienced little change in my car commute due to Better Naito. Additionally, I have other options in my car but I don’t have many other options on my bike!

Keep the positive change momentum going for our city & allow Better Naito to stay. Safe streets & spaces for PEOPLE (not just people in cars) is important to me.

Thank you.

~Kelly Williams

Subject: Better Naito

Dear Portland,
I want to throw my support behind better naito, the expanded bike lanes and pedestrian access has been awesome.

Let me start by saying I am not a Portland resident. I am a frequent (monthly visitor to Portland because I LOVE what an amazing city the people of Portland have created.

Why do I come every month and stay downtown and spend money?
Do you realize that in the last 25 years Portland has transformed into one of the most unique and amazing North American Cities?
1. I can take MAX from PDX to downtown and then get around on public transit
2. I can now get bikeshare, but before rent bikes and get all over most of the central city without any hassles
3. I can walk to a lot of areas of downtown easily and without hassle.

Do you realize how UNIQUE that is in north America? Only New York City and Chicago offer those same options.. possibly San Francisco, but they’re Californians.

Please keep on being amazing and keep Naito with less cars.. it is an obstacle for bikes and pedestrians to get to the waterfront and yes that bike lane is an awesome North-South route between bridges.

Thanks for being awesome and please stay that way! Keep or reinstate better Naito!

Mike Cipriano

Subject: Naito Parkway Lane Closure

Dear City of Portland Officials,

I am a 21 year resident of the City, having lived in SW Portland (close-in) for the first 9 years, and in the Alameda neighborhood for the past 11 years. When my wife and I were looking for a home in close-in NE to raise our children, we chose to live on bike way – we are proud supporters of shared transportation resources, and appreciate the relatively new bike/ped-only arrangement the City constructed next to the Madeleine School. For years, I commuted to work by bike whenever possible. Now, I work in SW Portland close to Lake Oswego, and must commute by car.

Due partially (perhaps mostly) to people moving to the Portland area, my evening commute has, rather quickly, worsened from about 40 minutes (1 1/2 years ago) to about 50-55 minutes today. I select my route depending on the day, but find that the Interstates have become unbearable, particularly when I-5 is backed up from Barbur Blvd to the Washington border. One of the routes I take is North on Naito Pkwy, crossing the river at the Steel Bridge. Unfortunately, the summer lane closure on Naito Blvd has created traffic congestion that has worsened commutes even more.

I have been an ardent supporter of the City, and have never complained. However, the Naito Pkwy lane closure does not make good sense to me. I have read through the Better Naito materials, but can’t understand why closing one lane to vehicle traffic solves the problems that the closure is intended to solve. A wonderful bike/ped facility already exists along the river bank, very close to Naito Pkwy. Why do we need two North-South bike paths so close to one another? My experience has been that the bike lane next to me is rarely used. I believe that this is a poor use of a valuable and important transportation resource.

I have witnessed many times pedestrians gingerly walking on the curb or in the painted bike lane during waterfront events. This is obviously a dangerous and unacceptable situation. But, the question is; why not move the barrier on the West side of the event venue farther to the East, creating a path in the park for pedestrians to safely travel to/from the event? Why does the event venue barrier have to abut the roadway? Bikes can continue to use the river side path. Further, the event venue can be reduced in size to accommodate a pedestrian path along side Naito Pkwy. A fence could even be erected to keep pedestrians from wandering into the roadway.

In light of the ever increasing gridlock around this City, closing important arterial streets to vehicle traffic should be avoided. In the case of the Naito Pkwy lane closure, a valuable and needed roadway is being blocked to address problems that could be addressed in other, more effective, ways. I request that the City reconsider this short-term and potentially, long term lane closure, and look at other options for addressing pedestrian and cyclist safety during summer events.

David Carter

Subject: Naito Pilot Feedback

I would like to provide feedback on the Naito pilot. While I respect and understand the concept of increasing the ease for bike commuters, it is not possible for all of us to bike to work. Even though I am a resident of Portland and Multnomah County, I need to drive to work due to job requirements (the ability to travel to meetings in Salem and other locations with little notice) as well as childcare restrictions/hours. The lane closure has nearly doubled my commute time and increased my carbon footprint notably. Alternative routes require me to backtrack and idle more than the commute I previously took via two open lanes on Naito.

I find it additionally frustrating that I have been run off the sidewalk twice and hit by one bicycle while jogging on the waterfront during the lunch hour in the past two weeks. Even with the loss of the lane and increased commute time to give the bicycles an alternative route, I do not see bikes using the lane when I do take Naito and I have not seen a decrease in bike traffic along the waterfront walkways.

Please consider what the convenience of even more bike lanes (there are already bike lanes on both sides of Naito and a bike/walkway through the park) is doing to hard working families who are already doing what they can within reason for the environment and attempts at reducing road time. I hear my shared frustrations regularly from coworkers and friends. – I beg you not to chase honest hard working people and families out of Portland.

Thank you for providing the opportunity to voice my concerns and frustrations as a Portland native, Multnomah County tax payer/homeowner, and participant in paying the increasing fuel tax.

Gail Hammer

Subject: Naito Parkway Improvements

Hi Commissioner Novick,

I am very excited to see the improvements made to Naito Parkway! Thank you and PBOT for your support on this project. I do think it is essential to make the Better Blocks project permanent as well, even if it is temporarily just paint and/or cones. I envision an easy to use bikeway for all ages starting from the S. Waterfront extending all the way to Naito and NW 17th. This would enable easy access from east of the Willamette to anywhere on the west, whether it be NW 21st/23rd, the Pearl, Downtown or the South Waterfront. Essentially, this would form the backbone of downtown’s protected bicycle network. Maybe this is your vision too. I’m excited for the many great things coming to Portland. Thanks for your leadership.

Alex Gerace

Subject: Stop the insanity!

Seriously……A group of PSU students come up with a concept plan which calls for the closing of ½ of one of our city’s major arterials. The arterial which allows drivers to bypass the city’s congested core. It is tested last summer during three weeks of generally lower traffic volume due to summer vacations and such. The “Better Naito Summary Report” indicates that north bound traffic is only affected by 45 seconds to 1 minutes with the heaviest delay between Clay and Main due to the merging traffic.

Well, I would like to share with someone my experience of yesterday and today since the closing of Northbound Naito. I work in the Koin Tower on Clay. I commute in my car via Barbour Blvd. I use Front/Naito and turn right onto Clay. Yesterday the traffic northbound was stopped and heavy just north of SW Sheridan at 8:02am. I was able to finally turn left onto Clay at 8:15am. 13 minutes. Today, same route, traffic stopped and heavy just south of SW Sheridan at 8:12. I turned left onto Clay at 8:27. 15 minutes. There is a very large amount of traffic now attempting to turn off of Naito onto Clay and the other westbound streets leading into the core area to apparently attempt to avoid the delay on Naito.

$1.5 in the Mayor’s budget to screw things up. Here is a concept. Spend the money on……wait for it……a sidewalk next to the roadway. Why have we always had grass right up to the curb? Don’t take the road away. Lose ten feet of the grass and make everyone happy.

I can appreciate the difficult job you folks at PDOT have trying to make everyone happy, while at the same time building and providing a system that functions well.
I am certain that your department is monitoring the situation. Please use my input as constructive criticism.

Neil Jaques
SW Portland Resident


Dear Mayor Hales and Commissioners Fish, Fritz, Novick, and Saltzman:

With only a week left before it is scheduled to be removed, Better Naito pilot project should be retained indefinitely. Further, I encourage you to find and allocate the funds to permanently transform as much of Naito Parkway as possible for safe use by non-motorized transportation modes (pedestrian, skateboard, roller skating, bicycling, etc).

Tom McCall Waterfront Park is emblematic of our City’s historic efforts to reclaim auto thoroughfares for non-motorized public use. Extending this into Naito Parkway today extends our commitment to Portland’s car-free future.

Making Better Naito permanent is also desirable for the following reasons:
• The existing multi-use path along the waterfront is increasingly overcrowded. An alternate pathway will prevent potentially dangerous collisions between pedestrians and more quickly moving skaters and cyclists.
• Naito Parkway eventually narrows to one-lane only 7/10 of mile further down the road; we’re not reducing congesting, only postponing it.
• This is a low-investment infrastructure project with immediate, high-visibility benefits.
• The economic impacts will undoubtedly be net positive for merchants on this street and connecting streets on the eastern edge of downtown. Very little freight passes through this corridor. • • Locals and tourists alike will enjoy Naito Parkway as a recreational promenade, which is far more lucrative for our city than a commuter thoroughfare.
• Our streets in the city center should be for people first, not cars. Single-occupancy vehicle driver preferences should no longer be prioritized in our city’s transportation decision-making.

This repurposing of Naito Parkways is in line with our Comprehensive and Climate Action Plans; please, let’s put our words into action.

Thank you for your service to our city and your consideration in the matter,
Sarah Iannarone

— Michael Andersen, (503) 333-7824 –

Our work is supported by subscribers. Please become one today.

The post Who’s mad and who’s glad about ‘Better Naito’? appeared first on

First look: The new public plaza on SW 3rd

First look: The new public plaza on SW 3rd

New public plaza on SW 3rd and Ankeny-7.jpg

Looking south north at Burnside from SW 3rd near Ankeny.
(Photos: J. Maus/BikePortland)

You know Portland is getting its groove back when the Bureau of Transportation creates a large new public plaza and it takes us nearly a week to get it up on the front page.

Rendering of final plaza design.(City of Portland)

Rendering of final plaza design.
(City of Portland)

Between the new lane design of Naito near the Steel Bridge, a few new traffic diverters on neighborhood greenways, and the launch of bike share, we haven’t had the chance to share this excellent news. So here you go: PBOT has taken another giant leap in the ongoing transformation of the wide expanse of pavement just outside Voodoo Doughnuts on SW 3rd at Ankeny.

The push for streets with fewer cars in this part of Old Town began over five years ago. From the start the political push has come from local business owners who understand that wide streets full of cars are not good for their bottom line (or the health of their city).

More recently, those business interests aligned with sophisticated activism from Better Block PDX, a grassroots group that specializes in temporarily re-imagining public space. Their 2014 demonstration of a new plaza and protected bike lane on SW 3rd and Burnside helped forge key alliances with the Old Town Chinatown Community Association, the Portland Bureau of Transportation, and Commissioner Steve Novick.

One year later the protected bike lanes were made permanent. And now here comes the plaza.

As we reported in March the Ankeny Alley Association received a $80,850 grant from the Portland Development Commission to make the plaza a reality and the city shared their plans back in June.

I got the chance to see the new plaza myself a few days ago and it looks fantastic. Before I share more photos of what it looks like now, check out this before shot from Google Streetview:


Looking north on SW 3rd toward Burnside.

And here’s what it looks like today:

New public plaza on SW 3rd and Ankeny-4.jpg

New public plaza on SW 3rd and Ankeny-9.jpg

View north from SW Ash. The truck is loading supplies. To the right of the truck is the new floating parking lane. A car is passing by on the left.
New public plaza on SW 3rd and Ankeny-11.jpg

Looking south on SW 3rd.

New public plaza on SW 3rd and Ankeny-1.jpg

Looking north on SW 3rd from Ankeny.
New public plaza on SW 3rd and Ankeny-15.jpg

New public plaza on SW 3rd and Ankeny-8.jpg

There’s a buffer zone between the parking lane and the plaza. It gives people room to get out of their cars and gives truck operators a place to work.
New public plaza on SW 3rd and Ankeny-3.jpg

New public plaza on SW 3rd and Ankeny-10.jpg

New bike corral has been added in same area as the auto parking spaces.
New public plaza on SW 3rd and Ankeny-6.jpg

Humans being humans when they are given space to be humans.
New public plaza on SW 3rd and Ankeny-14.jpg

New public plaza on SW 3rd and Ankeny-13.jpg

From my observations so far the design works well. People have immediately taken to walking and hanging out in the space, people are parking in the right places, and there was even a busker playing guitar. All early signs of success! And keep in mind that PBOT has only done the striping and defined the outlines of the space. There will be more design elements added in the weeks to come.

There’s a ribbon-cutting planned for 12:00 to 1:00 pm on August 9th. Stay tuned for more developments.

— Jonathan Maus, (503) 706-8804 –

Our work is supported by subscribers. Please become one today.

The post First look: The new public plaza on SW 3rd appeared first on

Portland Underground Grad School class will cover tactical urbanism

Portland Underground Grad School class will cover tactical urbanism

NE 85th & Milton & Beech

An “intersection repair” at NE 85th Avenue, Milton and Beech.
(Photo: Greg Raisman)

A local organization that arranges for Portlanders to teach one another niche skills and information is offering a four-week introduction to do-it-yourself street transformation.

From Better Block’s temporary bike lanes to City Repair’s beloved intersection murals to Depave’s manually removed asphalt, Portland is rich with the spirit of “tactical urbanism,” an umbrella term for fast, flexible changes that make city streets better for people.

Now, Portlander Claire Vlach is offering a four-session crash course through the year-old Portland Underground Grad School. Cost: $99 for the eight-hour class.

“I feel like everyday people who aren’t planners… have some idea of what needs improving in the community.”
— Claire Vlach, Portland Underground Grad School

“I wanted to do this because I feel like everyday people who aren’t planners or whatnot professionally have some idea of what needs improving in the community, and I feel like this class could start to give people some tools so that they could start to work towards making these changes that they want to see happening,” said Vlach, who returned to Portland this year after 15 years away.

Most recently, she worked as a planner/designer for Bottomley Design and Planning in Oakland, where she created the permanent version of a successful temporary plaza.

Vlach said tactical urbanism can be a useful tool for quickly making change.

“You can try something out, and if it doesn’t work, it’s no big deal to change it around,” Vlach said. “You’re not moving curbs or tearing up concrete.”

Better Block 3rd Ave-4

Better Block’s one-weekend plaza on 3rd Avenue in 2013 built public consensus around the more permanent one that opened there this week.
(Photo: J.Maus/BikePortland)

Vlach said class participants will first spend some time learning what tactical urbanism is, then take on an assignment to identify a possible tactical urbanism project in a neighborhood they care about.

Along the way, she said, she’ll urge them to check out city-sanctioned tactical urbanist projects such as an “intersection repair” mural or Better Block’s temporary Better Naito installation.

The class will meet at Taborspace, 5441 SE Belmont St., from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. on Thursdays, Aug. 4-25.

That means it’ll overlap with the International Open Streets Summit, a conference that will bring experts in tactical urbanism from around the world to Portland Aug. 18-21.

PUGS is a creation of Douglas Tsoi, who was inspired by his late father’s advice and his friend Sarah Mirk, a Portland journalist whose Summer of Science series invites people to her backyard to talk about their scientific obsessions. Tsoi attends every PUGS class and recruits teachers constantly, often from among the students.

That’s how Vlach decided to lead the tactical urbanism course, she said. She was taking a previous PUGS class about privilege and joining one of the after-class happy hours that Tsoi typically organizes when he asked what course she’d like to teach.

After some thought, she decided this would be an appropriately narrow subject.

“I want people to be able to start to think about not just what’s wrong with the city, but how to fix what’s wrong,” she said. “I think that some people who are plugged into urbanism and whatnot maybe have some ideas of what the channels might be, but maybe some people don’t realize that there are things you can do beyond maybe going to community meetings and giving your input.”

— Michael Andersen, (503) 333-7824 –

Our work is supported by subscribers. Please become one today.

The post Portland Underground Grad School class will cover tactical urbanism appeared first on

Discount ends tomorrow for the International Open Streets Summit in Portland

Discount ends tomorrow for the International Open Streets Summit in Portland

Sunday Parkways northeast 2014-28

Northeast Portland Sunday Parkways, 2014.
(Photo: J.Maus/BikePortland)

The biggest conference about open-streets events (like Sunday Parkways) and tactical urbanism (like Better Block) is coming to Portland next month.

The International Open Streets Summit will bring many people who work to humanize street space to Portland State University from Thursday, Aug. 18 to Saturday, Aug. 20. The draft program includes speakers from Philadelphia; Dallas; Los Angeles; Missoula; Toronto; Cape Town, South Africa; and Santiago, Chile, among others.

The “tactical urbanism” thread is newly added to this conference, reflecting the fact that fast, flexible changes and demos on city streets are a growing trend among community groups and city governments alike. Mike Lydon, a planning consultant helping produce this conference, literally wrote the book on that subject.


We reported last fall that Portland won its bid to host this year’s conference.

This is the event’s third year. The first was in Los Angeles in 2014 and last year’s was in Atlanta. (It drew about 125 people.) Portland’s Sunday Parkways program and Better Block PDX have both been national innovators in these areas, so it’s great for our city to show off the wealth of local expertise.

Early-bird registration is available until tomorrow; it’s $295 and includes off-site tours. Starting Saturday, the price goes up to $350 without tours or $375 with them. There’s also a service fee of $11 to $14. The fee includes lunch on Thursday through Saturday.

— Michael Andersen, (503) 333-7824 –

Our work is supported by subscribers. Please become one today.

The post Discount ends tomorrow for the International Open Streets Summit in Portland appeared first on

Coming soon: A new protected bike lane on 2nd Ave and a plaza near Voodoo Doughnuts

Coming soon: A new protected bike lane on 2nd Ave and a plaza near Voodoo Doughnuts

Mock-up of what 2nd Avenue will look like by the end of July.(Images: City of Portland)

Mock-up of what 2nd Avenue will look like by the end of July.
(Images: City of Portland)

The City of Portland Bureau of Transportation will make significant changes to 2nd and 3rd Avenues in downtown Portland this summer.

2nd, which is one-way northbound, will be re-striped with a parking-protected bike lane from SW Stark to NW Everett and there’s a new public plaza coming to the intersection of SW Ankeny and 3rd.

The changes come as a direct follow-up and complement to last year’s buffered bike lanes and new crosswalks on 3rd Avenue. The project will complete a north-south couplet on two streets that were previously striped without dedicated space for cycling.

PBOT hasn’t made any official statements about the 2nd Avenue or the Ankeny Alley plaza projects. Details were quietly released on their website yesterday.

According to the site, which calls this the “2nd Avenue Road Reconfiguration Project,” PBOT explains that the impetus comes from the same place as the 3rd Avenue changes: The Old Town Chinatown Community Association. After new bike lanes and crosswalks went in on 3rd, they wanted a similar treatment for 2nd. When PBOT did a traffic analysis on 2nd they felt a bike lane could be created with “no significant increase in delay for motor vehicle operators.” (Why they feel the need to justify these projects with that framing is beyond me. A city where people can drive without delay is not a goal stated in any adopted plans.)

Striping plan for NW 2nd between Burnside and Couch.

Striping plan for NW 2nd between Burnside and Couch.

Striping plan for SW 2nd between Ankeny and Burnside.

Striping plan for SW 2nd between Ankeny and Burnside.

The existing cross-section on 2nd is typical of downtown Portland: three conventional travel lanes and two lanes for on-street parking. The new cross-section will include two conventional lanes, one bike-only lane (on the left side of the street), and two parking lanes. One of the parking lanes (on the right side) will remain with the parking lane on the west side of the street will become a “floating” lane that will separate the new curbside bike lane from the conventional lane. This parking-protected bike lane is the exact same design that was successfully piloted by Better Block PDX on their Better Broadway project one month ago.

Keep in mind it was Better Block that started this momentum. They first transformed 3rd Avenue with temporary barricades and hay bales in October of 2014 and PBOT has been capitalizing on the success of that project ever since.

In addition to the new lane configuration, the 2nd Avenue project will prohibit auto parking adjacent to some intersections in order to make them safer to cross. Because the City feels the need to do these projects without reducing any parking capacity (similar to how they prefer to not reduce auto travel times), PBOT will maintain the overall number of parking spaces by fitting more cars onto other parts of the street.

PBOT says the project will improve safety for everyone thanks to lower driving speeds and upgraded spaces for people on foot and on bikes.

And to add to this new 2nd and 3rd Avenue couplet, PBOT is working with business owners through the Ankeny Alley Association to create a new public plaza on 3rd between Burnside and Ash. The plaza will extend out from the popular destination of Voodoo Doughnuts and will line up wit the existing carfree street that was created on Ankeny in 2011. Last March we shared some initial designs of what the plaza might look like.

Design for plaza on 3rd and Ankeny.

Design for plaza on 3rd and Ankeny.

These projects are expected to be completed by mid-to-late July.

To share feedback on this project and/or to get involved in future planning efforts in this area, email the Old Town Chinatown Community Association Transportation & Mobility Committee at

— Jonathan Maus, (503) 706-8804 –

Our work is supported by subscribers. Please become one today.

The post Coming soon: A new protected bike lane on 2nd Ave and a plaza near Voodoo Doughnuts appeared first on

Lovers of great streets: Better Broadway needs our help

Lovers of great streets: Better Broadway needs our help

This is worth fighting for. Please take the survey and email the mayor and Commissioner Novick about it. (Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

This is worth fighting for. Please take the survey and email the mayor and Commissioner Novick about it.
(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

I’ve been out on NE Broadway several times this week. And I love what Better Block has done with the place. The transformation of the street from auto-centric thoroughfare to a pleasant street that welcomes a mix of uses has been nothing short of amazing.

But I’m here to let you in on a secret: Not everyone is pleased. I’ve heard from several sources that the project is coming under fire by people whose hate equals my love.

Much of the anger is apparently coming from people think Broadway should remain a fast, crowded arterial mostly for driving on. While people out on the street are supportive and Better Block PDX has many fantastic neighborhood partners, there are some (who just so happen to have very powerful voices) who see this temporary street transformation as evil incarnate.

I feel their pain. Better Broadway isn’t perfect. The project looks like a construction zone and it can be confusing when things that have been the same for decades suddenly change overnight.

I also know that when the project was first installed on Monday morning the design still needed some tweaks. Thankfully those tweaks were made Wednesday night when volunteers shortened the project from 17 blocks to just five blocks. They’ve opted for quality over quantity. Now the project is even stronger as all the remaining blocks — from NE 11th to 16th — have the auto parking in the street instead of at the curb. This means the entire right side of the roadway is open — for comfortable biking, walking, playing eating, or enjoying a meal.

Remember the entire idea behind Better Broadway is to try something new. To see what works and what doesn’t. To learn and move forward. It’s a quick sketch, not a masterpiece. It’s a work of art we all get to help create — but if the City doesn’t hear more positive support for the project we’ll never get to see the final product.

Volunteers have condensed the project and now the entire thing has a functioning parking-protected bikeway.

Volunteers have condensed the project and now the entire thing has a functioning parking-protected bikeway.

As we’ve said all week, Better Broadway is a big deal. It’s the first major commercial corridor that Better Block has been given permission to transform. It’s also exactly the type of street where we have to created protected biking space if we want our city to thrive in the future. And that’s not just a passionate activist talking. Did you see Steve Duin’s article in The Oregonian this morning? The one where he opines about Portland’s growth struggles and looks for lessons from Manhattan? When he thought about Better Broadway and even the traffic diverters on Clinton Street, he came back with a shocking take (emphases mine):

Yet change is more necessary and less intimidating than some might think.

If we want to strike the right balance in the daily commute, we may not need that inbound passing lane on Northeast Broadway. We may need the traffic dividers on Southeast Clinton, even if they simply divert auto traffic a block or two south onto Woodward.

If we hope to see our parents and children age gloriously in the neighborhoods where we live, we may need zoning changes that support new triplexes and duplexes in Buckman. We may not be able to afford the three-car garage.

Like the planet, we may thrive if we walk to work with our neighbors, seek our community on the sidewalk rather than our laptop, and consider change an opportunity, not an affront.

The tide is turning folks. Portland has embarked on a new open streets era (more on that later) and it’s very exciting. But change is not easy and political momentum can shift in an instant. We need to make sure our friends at City Hall and in the City of Portland building hear loud and clear that we appreciate their willingness to try new things.

Please take a few seconds and share your feedback on this Better Broadway survey.

Also please send an email to Transportation Commissioner Steve Novick (, Mayor Charlie Hales (, and the Better Block PDX crew (

If you haven’t been over their to experience it, you’ve still got a few days. You can check it out and then come back to this post to take the survey and send those emails.

If you want a guided tour, take a walk from Better Naito to Better Broadway tonight. The event is hosted by Better Block volunteer Gwen Shaw and it’ll end on Broadway for Karaoke at Chen’s Dynasty — one of the many businesses on Broadway that has stepped up to support the project.

— Jonathan Maus, (503) 706-8804 –

Our work is supported by subscribers. Please become one today.

The post Lovers of great streets: Better Broadway needs our help appeared first on

Dispatch from Better Broadway: More bike parking, better auto parking, a transit island video and more

Dispatch from Better Broadway: More bike parking, better auto parking, a transit island video and more

Thanks OnPoint!

Thanks OnPoint! One of the new bike parking corrals that went up last night.
(Photos: J. Maus/BikePortland)

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 view of the floating parking lane with new striping. If only this could be done for the entire length of the project.

The floating parking lane. If only this could be done for the entire length of the project!

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

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!

The sign cautions bicycle riders to stop for people on foot.

The sign cautions bicycle riders to stop for people on foot.

Waiting for the bus on the new island.

Waiting for the bus on the new island.

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.

Bi-directional could work.

Bi-directional could work.


Taking the lane!

Taking the lane!

Going east against traffic.

Going east against traffic.

Sharing the lane.

Sharing the lane.

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 –

Our work is supported by subscribers. Please become one today.

The post Dispatch from Better Broadway: More bike parking, better auto parking, a transit island video and more appeared first on