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Vigil at ODOT headquarters draws attention to 409 deaths this year

Vigil at ODOT headquarters draws attention to 409 deaths this year

Put on by Livable Streets Action, an affiliate group of BikeLoudPDX. This vigil was held to remember the 409 people who have died on Oregon roads so far in 2015... and particularly Martin Greenough, who was killed five days ago while biking on NE Lombard.

The vigil was staged in front of ODOT’s Region 1 headquarters on NW Flanders street in downtown Portland.
(Photos © J. Maus/BikePortland)

Over two dozen people stood outside the headquarters of the Oregon Department of Transportation in downtown Portland on Thursday night. As rain pelted their jackets and umbrellas, a collection of activists and friends and families of people that have died while using Oregon roads demanded actions to improve safety.

The event was organized by Livable Streets Action, an affiliate group of BikeLoudPDX.

Candles were placed on rocks just outside the main entrance of ODOT’s Region 1 headquarters on NW Flanders and 2nd Avenue. A ghost bike was locked to a lamppost. Many of the people who showed up held signs that read “RIP” and had 409 stick figures — one to represent each death on Oregon roads so far this year (a 22 percent increase over last year). One of the signs was taped to the entry door of the building.

Put on by Livable Streets Action, an affiliate group of BikeLoudPDX. This vigil was held to remember the 409 people who have died on Oregon roads so far in 2015... and particularly Martin Greenough, who was killed five days ago while biking on NE Lombard.

Put on by Livable Streets Action, an affiliate group of BikeLoudPDX. This vigil was held to remember the 409 people who have died on Oregon roads so far in 2015... and particularly Martin Greenough, who was killed five days ago while biking on NE Lombard.

Put on by Livable Streets Action, an affiliate group of BikeLoudPDX. This vigil was held to remember the 409 people who have died on Oregon roads so far in 2015... and particularly Martin Greenough, who was killed five days ago while biking on NE Lombard.

While this vigil was aimed at drawing attention to traffic victims in general, it was also a memorial for Martin Greenough the man who was killed in a hit-and-run on NE Lombard on Saturday night.

Put on by Livable Streets Action, an affiliate group of BikeLoudPDX. This vigil was held to remember the 409 people who have died on Oregon roads so far in 2015... and particularly Martin Greenough, who was killed five days ago while biking on NE Lombard.

Dan Kaufman.

Grabbing the mic as everyone huddled together, Dan Kaufman, a volunteer with several traffic safety groups, said the 22 percent increase in deaths over last year is “unacceptable.” He said poor road design was to blame for most of the carnage and that they were all preventable. “Some might say these deaths are just a part of the system and we have to accept it. We are here today to demand change, and the first place we’re starting with is the agency that’s in charge of the roads,” he said.

Other speakers echoed Kaufman’s focus on road design and a desire to change the culture at ODOT. Chris Anderson, who launched a Vision Zero political action committee last spring, said the only solution is a change at the top. “If you want safer streets,” he told the crowd, “we need to make sure the governor knows that [ODOT Director] Matt Garrett and the rest of ODOT leadership aren’t cutting it and they do not represent Oregon’s interests.”

Specifically, Livable Streets Action is calling for ODOT to transfer jurisdictional oversight of Lombard and other state highways to the City of Portland. They also want ODOT to embrace and implement the Vision Zero approach to traffic safety.

Regardless of what happens at ODOT, Monica Maggio (Martin Greenough’s housemate), said change will only start when we hold ourselves accountable. “And that starts by having a conversation. Have a conversation with somebody you think it’s going to be hard to have that conversation with. We need to get these issues of street safety, bike safety, and car safety on the radar of a lot of pepole. Try to talk to someone every day.”

Activist Joe Rowe said roads should be designed with the expectation that everyone makes mistakes, similar to how air safety is regulated by the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB). “Instead, we design roads for faster trips times, and that’s not vision zero,” he said.

BikeLoudPDX Co-Chair Ted Buehler said the tragedies that brought people together today were the result of, “A long series of decisions made at all levels of government.” “It’s important,” he said, “That from this day forward we look at how we can influence our leaders and let them know this is not acceptable to us and we want these problems fixed. Not just deliberated. Not just politely consider.”

Buehler said the “bicycle constituency” needs representation and he hopes BikeLoudPDX can be the grassroots organization that Portland has been missing for the last 10-15 years.

Here are more photos from the event:

Put on by Livable Streets Action, an affiliate group of BikeLoudPDX. This vigil was held to remember the 409 people who have died on Oregon roads so far in 2015... and particularly Martin Greenough, who was killed five days ago while biking on NE Lombard.

This is ODOT Public Information Officer Don Hamilton. He was the only agency staffer who attended the event. Hamilton was asked to addressed the crowd, but declined. He did however, stay and talk to BikeLoudPDX volunteers, Families For Safe Streets leader Kristi Finney, and others.
Put on by Livable Streets Action, an affiliate group of BikeLoudPDX. This vigil was held to remember the 409 people who have died on Oregon roads so far in 2015... and particularly Martin Greenough, who was killed five days ago while biking on NE Lombard.

ODOT’s Don Hamilton watching the event.
Put on by Livable Streets Action, an affiliate group of BikeLoudPDX. This vigil was held to remember the 409 people who have died on Oregon roads so far in 2015... and particularly Martin Greenough, who was killed five days ago while biking on NE Lombard.

BikeLoudPDX volunteer Roberta Robles speaking to local TV news media.
Put on by Livable Streets Action, an affiliate group of BikeLoudPDX. This vigil was held to remember the 409 people who have died on Oregon roads so far in 2015... and particularly Martin Greenough, who was killed five days ago while biking on NE Lombard.


Put on by Livable Streets Action, an affiliate group of BikeLoudPDX. This vigil was held to remember the 409 people who have died on Oregon roads so far in 2015... and particularly Martin Greenough, who was killed five days ago while biking on NE Lombard.

Put on by Livable Streets Action, an affiliate group of BikeLoudPDX. This vigil was held to remember the 409 people who have died on Oregon roads so far in 2015... and particularly Martin Greenough, who was killed five days ago while biking on NE Lombard.

Put on by Livable Streets Action, an affiliate group of BikeLoudPDX. This vigil was held to remember the 409 people who have died on Oregon roads so far in 2015... and particularly Martin Greenough, who was killed five days ago while biking on NE Lombard.

Martin Greenough’s housemate Monica Maggio fought back tears during a brief speech.
Put on by Livable Streets Action, an affiliate group of BikeLoudPDX. This vigil was held to remember the 409 people who have died on Oregon roads so far in 2015... and particularly Martin Greenough, who was killed five days ago while biking on NE Lombard.

Put on by Livable Streets Action, an affiliate group of BikeLoudPDX. This vigil was held to remember the 409 people who have died on Oregon roads so far in 2015... and particularly Martin Greenough, who was killed five days ago while biking on NE Lombard.

BikeLoudPDX organizer Soren Impey.
Put on by Livable Streets Action, an affiliate group of BikeLoudPDX. This vigil was held to remember the 409 people who have died on Oregon roads so far in 2015... and particularly Martin Greenough, who was killed five days ago while biking on NE Lombard.

Put on by Livable Streets Action, an affiliate group of BikeLoudPDX. This vigil was held to remember the 409 people who have died on Oregon roads so far in 2015... and particularly Martin Greenough, who was killed five days ago while biking on NE Lombard.

One of Martin Greenough’s co-workers came to offer remembrances and place a bouquet on his ghost bike.
Put on by Livable Streets Action, an affiliate group of BikeLoudPDX. This vigil was held to remember the 409 people who have died on Oregon roads so far in 2015... and particularly Martin Greenough, who was killed five days ago while biking on NE Lombard.

Put on by Livable Streets Action, an affiliate group of BikeLoudPDX. This vigil was held to remember the 409 people who have died on Oregon roads so far in 2015... and particularly Martin Greenough, who was killed five days ago while biking on NE Lombard.

BikeLoudPDX Co-Chair Ted Buehler.
Put on by Livable Streets Action, an affiliate group of BikeLoudPDX. This vigil was held to remember the 409 people who have died on Oregon roads so far in 2015... and particularly Martin Greenough, who was killed five days ago while biking on NE Lombard.

Chris Anderson of Vision Zero USA and his daughter.

— Jonathan Maus, (503) 706-8804 – jonathan@bikeportland.org


The post Vigil at ODOT headquarters draws attention to 409 deaths this year appeared first on BikePortland.org.

City proposes traffic diverters on SE Clinton at 17th and 29th

City proposes traffic diverters on SE Clinton at 17th and 29th

Sharrows to Sparrows ride

The proposed median diverters, similar to those used elsewhere in the city, would allow local auto traffic on Clinton but render the street much less useful as a car commuting route by forcing east-west cars to turn. The goal is to make more people comfortable biking there by reducing auto counts on the street.
(Photo: J.Maus/BikePortland)

Citing fresh evidence that Clinton Street has accidentally become a significant route for rush-hour car traffic, the Portland Bureau of Transportation last week proposed two diverters designed to push the traffic to Powell Boulevard, Division Street and elsewhere.

Under its plan, PBOT would test median diverters at 17th and 29th to block east-west auto traffic on Clinton while allowing north-south traffic at those intersections. The barriers would be put on the ground this fall and tested for six months.

The city would also make the rules of Clinton’s neighborhood greenway more explicit to people in cars by adding “Bicycles May Use Full Lane” signs to the length of the street from 12th to 52nd avenues. That’d be a first for a Portland neighborhood greenway.

Between Cesar Chavez Boulevard and 52nd Avenue, the city would add speed bumps designed to bring motor traffic speeds closer to the city’s neighborhood-greenway target of 20 mph.

The plan would remove a freeway-style sign on Powell that directs northbound traffic onto 17th despite the official status of 17th as a local service road.

clinton traffic counts

City data shows a big jump from 2008 (blue) to 2015 (tan) in westbound rush-hour car traffic at Clinton and 25th.

And to further reduce auto traffic on Clinton, the city would follow the request of residents on SE 34th to convert it to a one-way northbound street between Clinton and Division, plus a southbound contraflow lane for people biking. Though this is a narrow local street, it has a traffic signal at Division that tends to lure people south to Clinton. (This change would also function like a semidiverter to reduce through traffic on 34th, which functions as an unofficial north-south bike route through the area.)

The improvements, if built as proposed, would be tested for six months, while the city collects data on how they effect travel patterns in the area. The city will also, no doubt, hear from constituents on all sides of the issue.

What do you think of the plan? You can share your opinion here with the city’s six-question multiple-choice survey.

clinton route

The heavily used neighborhood greenway on inner SE Clinton Street.
(Graphic: BikeLoudPDX)

For me, one of the most interesting details at last week’s open house was a set of new data gathered by the city that strongly suggested what Clinton users have been saying for more than a year: though Clinton is supposed to be functioning as a local-service street, it’s actually picking up lots of car traffic from outside the area.

“There is a significant amount of non-local auto traffic that uses Clinton as a cut-through route, particularly westbound traffic during the AM peak period,” the city said.

During the morning rush hour, for example, the city discovered that westbound car trips — towards downtown, that is — are five times likelier to be “long distance” than eastbound trips are. It gathered this with sensors that observed the unique Bluetooth signatures from cars as they passed by.

Another tidbit: the city grabbed photos of passing license plates and traced them to their registered home ZIP code. During both the morning and evening rush hours, more than half of auto traffic on Clinton comes from outside the ZIP code, mostly from the south.

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Portlanders who attended last week’s open house about the project had plenty to say about Clinton and the surrounding area:

clinton map

Locals use sticky notes to add suggestions and comments to a huge map of Clinton Street.

I talked to several people who’ve been active with BikeLoudPDX, the year-old advocacy group that has focused strongly on getting diverters on Clinton, and they seemed guardedly supportive about the city proposal, which was broadly similar to BikeLoud’s own proposal.

Alan Kessler, a BikeLoud participant who also serves on the Richmond Neighborhood Association, said he was worried about the lack of diversion proposed east of Chavez, where he often rides with his young son. That stretch of Clinton didn’t show up as a problem in the city’s recent study of its neighborhood greenways, though it’s not clear whether the city gathered data there.

An exit-only diverter on Clinton at 50th, similar to the one at Chavez, was one of the BikeLoud recommendations for Clinton that the city didn’t include here. Another BikeLoud proposal, a pedestrian plaza at 26th similar to the one tested last year by Better Block PDX, was listed by the city as part of a possible (but as yet unfunded) “phase two” of changes to Clinton.

26th plaza

Here’s another intriguing concept mentioned as part of a possible second phase: “special pavement markings” that could increase the sense of place on Clinton and boost awareness of people walking there. I can assume that at least one local business would be in favor of the mockup suggested here.

clinton dots

Though this was just an open house, with attendees focusing on one-on-one conversations about the plan, there didn’t seem to be major fireworks about the proposal when I stopped by last Wednesday. Many people were clearly there to support the proposal; BikeLoud members designed a special flyer to promote the event and created an attractive Facebook event for an organized ride that ended there.

This “ready, fire, aim” approach to new infrastructure, where the city tests something on the street without a lot of preliminary fuss and then adjusts it based on how people respond to it, is growing in popularity around the country. This is PBOT’s first attempt at it, so it could create a new mold for enacting the goals of the city’s new action plan to fix the weak links in its neighborhood greenway network.

That’s why we’ll continue covering this closely over the coming months. Stay tuned.


The post City proposes traffic diverters on SE Clinton at 17th and 29th appeared first on BikePortland.org.

Council vote today would allow more diverters on neighborhood greenways

Council vote today would allow more diverters on neighborhood greenways

A family ride from NoPo to Sellwood-18

A traffic diverter allowing biking and walking traffic but blocking auto traffic.
(Photos: J.Maus and M.Andersen/BikePortland)

Traffic diverters: back by popular demand.

“If people are telling us ‘I don’t feel comfortable riding a bike on this street,’ then the greenway is not performing its intended function.”
— Roger Geller, PBOT bicycle planning coordinator

At their weekly meeting in City Hall this morning morning, Portland’s city council is poised to adopt a set of guidelines sweeping away an internal barrier that had led the city to avoid using diverters in many situations where they would improve a neighborhood greenway.

Neighborhood greenways are Portland’s name for the side streets that use sharrow decals, speed humps, signs and stoplights to make them comfortable for biking and other outdoor activity.

Traffic diverters are facilities like the ones at Northeast Tillamook and 16th or Southeast Clinton and Chavez that block cars from driving through certain intersections.

Wednesday’s council vote would be one of the biggest steps Portland has ever taken to enshrine neighborhood greenways as a higher priority than other side streets — and to acknowledge that the city must not only build new greenways but also tend to problems on the ones it has already built.

ngs map

“More people are traveling on Portland’s streets,” the city’s transportation staff explains in a new report on neighborhood greenways. “Increased residential and commercial development is requiring new strategies for managing the neighborhood greenway system.”

The report and guidelines come in response to a year of sustained activism from pro-bike Portlanders for the city to use diverters more often. New diverters on Southeast Clinton have been the No. 1 issue for the upstart group BikeLoudPDX, and were one of the main requests in a rally that group organized at City Hall in June.

City officials say that message has been heard.

“People are saying ‘This is not comfortable, this is not safe,’” Portland Bicycle Planning Coordinator Roger Geller said. “If people are telling us ‘I don’t feel comfortable riding a bike on this street,’ then the greenway is not performing its intended function.”

diverter not dirty word

A June rally by BikeLoudPDX included many calls for more diverters.

The guidelines proposed in the new Neighborhood Greenways Assessment Report would essentially direct city planners and engineers to install a diverter on any part of a neighborhood greenway that sees more than 2,000 cars per day.

That means Southeast Clinton, Southeast Lincoln, Northwest Johnson, Northwest 24th and Southeast 130th would all get diverters to reduce non-local auto traffic.

In all, the report’s recommendations would trigger an estimated $1 million in improvements to a handful of the city’s existing neighborhood greenways, said city active transportation manager Margi Bradway, who has been the driving force behind the report.

According to the city’s study of traffic speeds and volumes throughout its network, new diverters and/or speed humps are needed on these existing routes:

• NE Alameda
• SE Ankeny
• SE Clinton-Woodward
• SE Lincoln-Harrison-Ladd
• NW Greenways, which includes short sections of several streets throughout inner Northwest
• NE Tillamook-Hancock

The city’s goal with speed humps would be to slow traffic until less than 15 percent of people are driving faster than the 20 mph speed limit on greenways.

The $1 million is unfunded. Bradway hopes that Wednesday’s council vote on the new guidelines (expected around 10 a.m.) will lay the groundwork for that cash being included in the city’s 2016-2017 budget.

Mayor Charlie Hales has already called for a new experimental diverter on Clinton to be built in the current fiscal year.

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Earlier this year, we shared two advance tidbits from this report: a map showing traffic speeds on neighborhood greenways and another showing traffic volumes.

Of those two, the city feels that traffic speeds represent the bigger problem. Though the city is aiming for 20 mph speeds on its greenways, traffic moves faster than that on 84 percent of the system.

auto speeds

Traffic volumes are a smaller-scale problem. Only 9 percent of the system sees traffic volumes above 2,000 cars per day. But those trouble spots are concentrated in inner Northwest and Southeast Portland.

auto volumes

Both maps above also show major problems on the 130s neighborhood greenway in East Portland. That’s because the greenway doesn’t exist yet. It’s already scheduled to get speed humps, and the data suggests that it might need one or more diverters, too.

Here’s a useful chart in the report that shows why traffic volumes matter so much to the biking experience: on a street like Clinton that carries 3,000 cars per day, about 21 cars will pass a bike during a 10-minute trip.

passed by a car times

In addition to the maximum of 2,000 cars per day, the report offers an “alternate guideline” that neighborhood greenways should never have more than 100 cars in a single direction over the course of an hour.

“The traffic volume during the rest of the day may be very low, but the significant increase in peak-period autos creates a high-stress environment for people biking during that time,” the report explains.

margi bradway

City active transportation manager Margi Bradway, left, kicked off the creation of today’s report and the new guidelines.

Understanding the significance of today’s report requires understanding a set of internal guidelines that few Portlanders have ever heard of.

It was created in the 1990s, when then-Transportation Commissioner Earl Blumenauer pioneered a program that let residents lobby the city to install diverters on their streets. The goal was simple: force car traffic to use arterial and collector streets instead.

But according to the rules written in those days, diverters couldn’t be used simply to swap large amounts of traffic from one local street to another.

If a proposed diverter on any local street would be expected to send a substantial number of cars per day to a different local street, the diverter couldn’t be built. The city saw no upside in merely moving the traffic problem around.

Today’s guidelines scrap that system. Even if a new diverter on a neighborhood greenway would send hundreds of cars onto other local streets, that would now be OK.

The new guidelines draw the line at 1,000 cars. Diverters still aren’t allowed to direct that many new cars to any single local street.

The rationale for the rule change is simple, Geller said: neighborhood greenways are more than just local streets.

“It may be a local street for automobile traffic,” he said. “But it’s an important street in the city’s classification system for bicycle transportation.”


The post Council vote today would allow more diverters on neighborhood greenways appeared first on BikePortland.org.

Council vote today would allow more diverters on neighborhood greenways

Council vote today would allow more diverters on neighborhood greenways

A family ride from NoPo to Sellwood-18

A traffic diverter allowing biking and walking traffic but blocking auto traffic.
(Photos: J.Maus and M.Andersen/BikePortland)

Traffic diverters: back by popular demand.

“If people are telling us ‘I don’t feel comfortable riding a bike on this street,’ then the greenway is not performing its intended function.”
— Roger Geller, PBOT bicycle planning coordinator

At their weekly meeting in City Hall this morning, Portland’s city council is poised to adopt a set of guidelines sweeping away an internal barrier that had led the city to avoid using diverters in many situations where they would improve a neighborhood greenway.

Neighborhood greenways are Portland’s name for the side streets that use sharrow decals, speed humps, signs and stoplights to make them comfortable for biking and other outdoor activity.

Traffic diverters are facilities like the ones at Northeast Tillamook and 16th or Southeast Clinton and Chavez that block cars from driving through certain intersections.

Wednesday’s council vote would be one of the biggest steps Portland has ever taken to enshrine neighborhood greenways as a higher priority than other side streets — and to acknowledge that the city must not only build new greenways but also tend to problems on the ones it has already built.

ngs map

“More people are traveling on Portland’s streets,” the city’s transportation staff explains in a new report on neighborhood greenways. “Increased residential and commercial development is requiring new strategies for managing the neighborhood greenway system.”

The report and guidelines come in response to a year of sustained activism from pro-bike Portlanders for the city to use diverters more often. New diverters on Southeast Clinton have been the No. 1 issue for the upstart group BikeLoudPDX, and were one of the main requests in a rally that group organized at City Hall in June.

City officials say that message has been heard.

“People are saying ‘This is not comfortable, this is not safe,’” Portland Bicycle Planning Coordinator Roger Geller said. “If people are telling us ‘I don’t feel comfortable riding a bike on this street,’ then the greenway is not performing its intended function.”

diverter not dirty word

A June rally by BikeLoudPDX included many calls for more diverters.

The guidelines proposed in the new Neighborhood Greenways Assessment Report would essentially direct city planners and engineers to install a diverter on any part of a neighborhood greenway that sees more than 2,000 cars per day.

That means Southeast Clinton, Southeast Lincoln, Northwest Johnson, Northwest 24th and Southeast 130th would all get diverters to reduce non-local auto traffic.

In all, the report’s recommendations would trigger an estimated $1 million in improvements to a handful of the city’s existing neighborhood greenways, said city active transportation manager Margi Bradway, who has been the driving force behind the report.

According to the city’s study of traffic speeds and volumes throughout its network, new diverters and/or speed humps are needed on these existing routes:

• NE Alameda
• SE Ankeny
• SE Clinton-Woodward
• SE Lincoln-Harrison-Ladd
• NW Greenways, which includes short sections of several streets throughout inner Northwest
• NE Tillamook-Hancock

The city’s goal with speed humps would be to slow traffic until less than 15 percent of people are driving faster than the 20 mph speed limit on greenways.

The $1 million is unfunded. Bradway hopes that Wednesday’s council vote on the new guidelines (expected around 10 a.m.) will lay the groundwork for that cash being included in the city’s 2016-2017 budget.

Mayor Charlie Hales has already called for a new experimental diverter on Clinton to be built in the current fiscal year.

– Advertisement –


Earlier this year, we shared two advance tidbits from this report: a map showing traffic speeds on neighborhood greenways and another showing traffic volumes.

Of those two, the city feels that traffic speeds represent the bigger problem. Though the city is aiming for 20 mph speeds on its greenways, traffic moves faster than that on 84 percent of the system.

auto speeds

Traffic volumes are a smaller-scale problem. Only 9 percent of the system sees traffic volumes above 2,000 cars per day. But those trouble spots are concentrated in inner Northwest and Southeast Portland.

auto volumes

Both maps above also show major problems on the 130s neighborhood greenway in East Portland. That’s because the greenway doesn’t exist yet. It’s already scheduled to get speed humps, and the data suggests that it might need one or more diverters, too.

Here’s a useful chart in the report that shows why traffic volumes matter so much to the biking experience: on a street like Clinton that carries 3,000 cars per day, about 21 cars will pass a bike during a 10-minute trip.

passed by a car times

In addition to the maximum of 2,000 cars per day, the report offers an “alternate guideline” that neighborhood greenways should never have more than 100 cars in a single direction over the course of an hour.

“The traffic volume during the rest of the day may be very low, but the significant increase in peak-period autos creates a high-stress environment for people biking during that time,” the report explains.

margi bradway

City active transportation manager Margi Bradway, left, kicked off the creation of today’s report and the new guidelines.

Understanding the significance of today’s report requires understanding a set of internal guidelines that few Portlanders have ever heard of.

It was created in the 1990s, when then-Transportation Commissioner Earl Blumenauer pioneered a program that let residents lobby the city to install diverters on their streets. The goal was simple: force car traffic to use arterial and collector streets instead.

But according to the rules written in those days, diverters couldn’t be used simply to swap large amounts of traffic from one local street to another.

If a proposed diverter on any local street would be expected to send a substantial number of cars per day to a different local street, the diverter couldn’t be built. The city saw no upside in merely moving the traffic problem around.

Today’s guidelines scrap that system. Even if a new diverter on a neighborhood greenway would send hundreds of cars onto other local streets, that would now be OK.

The new guidelines draw the line at 1,000 cars. Diverters still aren’t allowed to direct so many new cars to any single local street that its traffic exceeds that level.

The rationale for the rule change is simple, Geller said: neighborhood greenways are more than just local streets.

“It may be a local street for automobile traffic,” he said. “But it’s an important street in the city’s classification system for bicycle transportation.”

Correction 3:20 pm: A previous version of this post misstated the maximum amount of auto traffic the new guidelines will allow on non-neighborhood-greenway local streets. They will allow post-diversion levels up to 1,000 cars per day, not up to 1,000 additional cars per day.


The post Council vote today would allow more diverters on neighborhood greenways appeared first on BikePortland.org.

City council will weigh new neighborhood greenway guidelines Wednesday

City council will weigh new neighborhood greenway guidelines Wednesday

clinton speed

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

Some biking advocates are planning to wear green to Wednesday’s Portland City Council meeting to welcome the arrival of a long-awaited city study of Portland’s neighborhood greenways.

The study, first reported on BikePortland in November, has since evolved to include a new set of recommended guidelines for what makes a comfortable greenway. The guidelines would, in some ways, enshrine modern neighborhood greenways into city practices for the first time.

Over the last year, many Portlanders have warned that some neighborhood greenways — the theoretically low-traffic, low-stress side streets that form the backbone of the bike network in most of inner east Portland and a major component of its city’s planned network — are uncomfortable and unwelcoming to bike on because of high car traffic and speeds.

The city data gathered for this report essentially confirmed those warnings.

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Most notably, city staff are proposing a formal target of 1,000 motor vehicles per day on neighborhood greenways, with 1,500 acceptable and city action required for levels over 2,000 cars per day.

For crossings of major streets, the city is proposing a target of at least 50 opportunities to cross per hour on bike or foot, with at least 100 crossings ideal.

Both of these guidelines would represent changes over the current benchmarks. Look for a more in-depth exploration of the proposed guidelines in the next couple days.

Advocacy group BikeLoudPDX is organizing Portlanders to testify in support of the staff recommendations, which are being submitted to the city council for formal review. The group is inviting supporters of neighborhood greenways to show up at Portland City Hall, 1220 SW 5th Ave., at 8:45 a.m. Wednesday.

The council’s agenda calls for the report to be presented at 9:45 a.m. and last 30 minutes.


The post City council will weigh new neighborhood greenway guidelines Wednesday appeared first on BikePortland.org.

With new ‘Livable Streets’ subgroup, BikeLoud will commemorate road deaths by all modes

With new ‘Livable Streets’ subgroup, BikeLoud will commemorate road deaths by all modes

livable streets fb

The Facebook page for the new “subgroup”
Livable Streets Action.

A new group called Livable Streets Action is taking the tactics that have won a string of victories for local biking this spring and summer and applying them to other modes, too.

Organizer Dan Kaufman, a videographer and longtime local social justice advocate who has helped organize demonstrations for transportation activism group BikeLoudPDX and the bike-based but non-transportation-focused group Bike Swarm, referred to Livable Streets Action as a “subgroup” of those other groups.

Livable Streets Action’s first event is tomorrow, a Friday afternoon commemoration for Marlene Popps, a woman who was hit by a car and left for dead on the evening of July 4 at the corner of SE 60th and Holgate. She died of her injuries July 21.

The event will begin at 4:30 p.m. at the corner of SE Holgate and Foster, about three blocks from the site of Popps’s collision. It’s seen 22 reported traffic injuries between 2004 and 2014. Foster Road, which is due for a safety redesign next year, is one of Portland’s 10 high-crash corridors. Here’s the event listing on the Shift calendar.

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“We will also take this last day of the month to remember the approximately 30 deaths on Oregon roads in July,” Kaufman wrote in his Facebook event description. “So far for the year we are 44% increase in road fatalities over 2014. Motorists account for the most deaths followed closely by pedestrians.”

Portland’s Vision Zero policy, adopted by the city council this year, aims to eliminate traffic deaths of people no matter how they are moving about the city. But in part because bicycling advocates have been particularly loud and well-organized, the issue of traffic safety has come to be closely associated with bicycling, with media reports regularly characterizing general traffic safety protests as being in support of bicycle safety. That’s prompted some discussion among BikeLoud organizers of how to better broaden their message and appeal in some situations.

In an email to the BikeLoudPDX listserv, Kaufman wrote that he hopes Livable Streets Action “can develop into a coalition of groups interested direct action in the support of liveable streets.”

Kaufman noted that Popps’ son Mike Neldon is working to raise $5000 for her memorial, and asked that people attending Friday’s action “bring a hat or bucket to help collect funds and a sign that indicates why you are there. We will be marching, collecting donations, and raising awareness at the crash site and around the intersection of SE Holgate and Foster.”


The post With new ‘Livable Streets’ subgroup, BikeLoud will commemorate road deaths by all modes appeared first on BikePortland.org.

Traffic diversion debate shifts to north Portland with open house tonight

Traffic diversion debate shifts to north Portland with open house tonight

rodney2

Existing diverter on Rodney at Ivy prevents through auto traffic from all directions.
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

Portland’s ongoing struggle to tame motorized traffic on neighborhood streets will get a serious test tonight.

“While I agree the diagonal diverter is a good functional design for that context, success is still measured by public support as well. Unfortunately residents on Ivy have raised serious concerns…
— Rich Newlands, PBOT project manager

While the recent focus has been on SE Clinton street, where activists have finally pushed the Bureau of Transportation to address the issue, tonight the city is poised to consider the rare step of removing an existing diverter in favor of a new diverter design that is more palatable to local residents.

NE Rodney Avenue is just one block east of N Williams and it’s a popular north-south alternative for people on bikes and in cars. When PBOT updated Williams they turned Rodney into a neighborhood greenway. Unfortunately a lot of people who drive on Williams were using Rodney as a cut-through, which made for an unpleasant and unsafe cycling environment.

To help reduce cut-through auto traffic on Rodney PBOT installed a diagonal diverter at NE Ivy (map) that prohibits people from driving north-to-south and east-to-west. At first, people simply ignored the diverter and drove right through it. Now, with continued complaints from some residents PBOT is proposing a new design that would allow driving in the southbound direction and would completely open up travel in the east-west direction.

rodney

Detail of PBOT’s new proposal for Rodney and Ivy.
Click to enlarge

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This change has spurred concerns from some people who see it as a step backwards for safety.

Alan Kessler emailed PBOT project manager Rich Newlands to voice his support for the existing diverter. Kessler shared Newlands’ response on the BikeLoudPDX email list:

“Thank you for your comments. While I agree the diagonal diverter is a good functional design for that context, success is still measured by public support as well. Unfortunately residents on Ivy have raised serious concerns (access impacts) with the Eliot Neighborhood Assoc, whose support we need, along with other neighborhood and business associations if we are going to make significant progress with implementing diversion on greenways. Please stay involved, and I hope you are able to attend Monday’s meeting.”

Another person active with BikeLoudPDX, Ted Buehler, is encouraging people to email Newlands with their feedback. Buehler think it’s, “imperative to keep motorized vehicles off the street as much as possible. And that the intersection should be protected from cut-through motor traffic in all for directions, not just one.”

To settle the issue, PBOT is hosting a Rodney Diverter Open House event tonight from 6:30 to 8:00 pm (with a presentation at 7:00) at St. Phillips Church (at NE Knott and Rodney). If Newlands doesn’t hear any objections to his new design, the existing diverter will be removed and PBOT will install the new traffic control scheme later this summer.

— Read more about neighborhood traffic diversion in our archives.


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City says diverters possible on SE Clinton Street this summer

City says diverters possible on SE Clinton Street this summer

clinton traffic

Some relief is coming.
(Photo © M.Andersen/BikePortland)

(Jonathan Maus contributed reporting to this story.)

After more than a year of focused activism that included guerrilla installations, a month-long celebration and numerous rush-hour rides, one of Portland’s highest-traffic neighborhood greenways has been chosen as the site of a traffic calming pilot project.

The announcement is a significant victory for BikeLoudPDX, an upstart group that has focused much of its activism around its perception that Clinton Street has become too thick with fast-moving motor traffic.

In an email to BikePortland last week, city spokesman Dylan Rivera said the city has chosen Clinton Street as the site for a project that “may involve some diverters, speed bumps and signage.”

The announcement comes after an internal city study found that inner Clinton has some of the higher auto traffic volumes and speeds in the neighborhood greenway system. In June, after a series of dramatic bike-related collisions led to an emergency summit with safety groups, a new program to install temporary, experimental diverters was the single most substantive promise announced by Mayor Charlie Hales.

The changes to Clinton would take effect just before the Tilikum Crossing bridge opens on September 12. The new bridge will further boost the importance of inner Clinton as a bike route.

Diverters are already used on many neighborhood greenways to allow foot and bike traffic while blocking car traffic at certain intersections, preventing it from being useful to non-local car traffic.

Some people argue that diverters tend to reduce car speeds as well as traffic volumes, though there’s no established evidence about their effect on speed.

New traffic diverter at Rodney and Ivy-2

This diverter on N Rodney restricts driving but allows bicycling.
(Photo © M.Andersen/BikePortland)

Rivera said in his Thursday email that the city has tasked Rich Newlands to be the Clinton Street project manager, “but the internal project team needs to do more work before we have a proposed design. We intend to involve the public in finalizing the plan before implementing a pilot project on Clinton Street this summer.”

The announcement is a significant victory for BikeLoudPDX, an upstart group that has focused much of its activism around its perception that Clinton Street has become too thick with fast-moving motor traffic in the last few years. Some people say this is preventing the street from serving as the all-ages bikeway it’s supposed to be.

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Even before BikeLoudPDX began to focus on the issue, locals starting a monthly social ride that aimed to, “raise awareness that Clinton is a Bike Blvd [sic] and not a cut through for rush hour traffic.”

It’s not yet clear whether the city is considering diverters at more than one intersection.

“Personally I think we need two: I would look at putting a diverter at SE 21st, or possibly 20th, to help protect the inner-most part of Clinton from cut-through traffic from Powell trying to avoid the traffic/train issues closer in,” wrote Christopher Eykamp a board member of the Hosford-Abernethy Neighborhood District Association. “A second one should be put at either 26th, or possibly a bit higher up, to make the section from 39th to 26th less attractive for driving.”

The Bicycle Transportation Alliance joined BikeLoud in calling for diverters. So did the adjoining Hosford-Abernethy Neighborhood District Association, specifying that they should be part of an experiment to divert traffic onto Division rather than other neighborhood streets. Last month, Richmond neighborhood residents turned out in unusually high numbers and elected at least two new pro-diverter candidates to their neighborhood assocation, too.

“After the results of the neighborhood greenways report become public in August, that could lead us to look at some other pilot projects involving diverters or other engineering tools.”
— Dylan Rivera, PBOT

Calls like these found receptive ears within city government, prompting Active Transportation Division Manager Margi Bradway to order a major study of the city’s neighborhood greenway system. Hales cited that study in his announcement of the forthcoming diverter program.

So did Rivera, in last week’s email.

“After the results of the neighborhood greenways report become public in August, that could lead us to look at some other pilot projects involving diverters or other engineering tools,” Rivera said.

A year ago, in an interview about the future of neighborhood greenways, PBOT staffer Greg Raisman told us that the city must weigh improvements to Clinton against biking improvements elsewhere in the city, and said that in the absence of political will and widespread consensus over diverters on Clinton, there wasn’t enough money to prioritize improvements there.

Now, thanks in large part to the concerted advocacy efforts, the will — and the money — appears to have been found.

CORRECTION, 3:54pm: The original headline of this story said the City “confirmed” diverters would be coming to Clinton. To be clear, the City said the project “may involve some diverters.” The ultimate outcome is still up in the air pending a planning process. Sorry for any confusion — Jonathan


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Commissioner Novick responds to ‘Day of Protests’ with diverter promise

Commissioner Novick responds to ‘Day of Protests’ with diverter promise

Safe Streets Rally Part 2 at City Hall -19.jpg

BikeLoudPDX volunteer Jessica Engelman
at a protest rally in front of City Hall
yesterday.
(Photos © J. Maus)

An unprecedented day of protests yesterday have yielded their first results.

BikeLoudPDX, Portland’s upstart bike advocacy group that has made lots of headlines in the past few months, started the day with a big rally in front of City Hall followed by several of the group’s leaders giving impassioned testimony in front of City Council. After that, they helped organize several rides and then held another rally on City Hall’s steps last night.

BikeLoud leaders and the people they have inspired to show up to these events share a similar feeling: frustration and anger that city leaders sit idly by while Portlanders risk their lives on unsafe streets. “It’s bullshit!” and “It’s unacceptable!” were just two of the phrases chanted at last night’s rally.

And now it appears those voices are having an impact on City Hall.

Last night City Commissioner Steve Novick, the man in charge of the Bureau of Transportation, penned a lengthy blog post in direct response to the protests. He titled it, “Working together to build safer streets.” (He also shared thoughts about biking and the Climate Action Plan in a separate post.)

Safe Streets Rally Part 2 at City Hall -26.jpg

Soren Impey with BikeLoudPDX being interviewed by KGW-TV.

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After sharing that recent tragedies weigh heavily on him personally and create an “emotional burden” on the entire city, Novick reviewed the city’s current work on speed limits and legislative efforts in Salem.

And then, the most important sentence in the entire statement:

In reference to Neighborhood Greenways, I hear you.

“I have asked PBOT work with the community and neighborhood businesses to test temporary diversions around Neighborhood Greenways this summer.”
— Commissioner Novick

This has to feel good for activists that have spent months riding and rallying to draw attention to the uncomfortable and dangerous conditions on many of Portland’s “bicycle boulevards” that have become cut-throughs for people seeking a faster way through neighborhoods.

Then Novick shared a specific action he will take to address the problem. “I have asked PBOT work with the community and neighborhood businesses to test temporary diversions around Neighborhood Greenways this summer.” This statement makes good on a promise Mayor Charlie Hales made following a meeting on street safety earlier this month.

Novick’s statement comes just a week after a senior PBOT planner told the Portland Tribune that “the advocacy we’re hearing… is very helpful” and that it’s “being heard at City Hall.”

And yesterday morning as he walked into his office, Mayor Charlie Hales grabbed the mic and addressed the rallying crowd: “We have the bike system we have because of activism out of the community,” he said, “Now we need more of that… So keep it up… When we feel the heat we see the light.”

Now that the lights are on and City Hall sees the problem, let’s hope there’s more concrete action to report soon.


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At City Hall rally, demonstrators demand action for safer streets

At City Hall rally, demonstrators demand action for safer streets

aaron brown wide angle

City Council members heard calls for safer streets loud and clear this morning.
(Photos: M.Andersen/BikePortland)

Brittany Gratreak

If the 75 or so Portlanders who came to City Hall this morning to kick off a full day of protests could be said to be speaking for any single person, it might as well have been one of the people there: Brittany Gratreak.

On April 8, the 22-year-old Portland State University student was riding her bike to school in Northeast Broadway’s bike lane when a man driving to work accelerated across Broadway from the south, seizing a gap in auto traffic but not considering the fact that he might run into something more fragile than metal. He did.

Gratreak was hit at a 90-degree angle, thrown from her bicycle and knocked unconscious. Once she woke up and received insurance information from the man who’d hit her, she decided to save money by calling a friend, rather than an ambulance, for a ride to the hospital.

She didn’t know at the time that by not paying for an ambulance ride, she was avoiding Portland’s little-known trigger for a police investigation. Two months later, Gratreak remains in physical therapy.

“I am not a special interest. Safe roads are a human right.”
— Soren Impey, BikeLoudPDX volunteer in official testimony to Portland City Council

“When I sit down I sit like an old guy,” she said in a Wednesday interview outside City Hall. “I’ve still got lots of pain.”

Gratreak is hoping the man’s insurance money comes through. In the meantime, she’s one of hundreds of supporters of the upstart advocacy group BikeLoudPDX who signed postcards or attended Wednesday’s rally to ask Portland’s city council why a city that has staked its future on being able to quadruple bike use in the next 15 years would tolerate a constant stream of similar stories.

“Vision Zero is not installing door-zone bike lanes on Foster Road,” BikeLoud event organizer Jessica Engelman told the crowd Wednesday, to applause. “Vision Zero is not ignoring the residents of Buckman who are pleading for diverters on Ankeny. Vision Zero is not failing to fix apathy and ignorance in the Police Bureau and the Department of Justice.”

who has been hit

Gerald Fittipaldi, an organizer of the new advocacy group Bike PSU, asked participants at the rally to raise their hands if they’d been hit by a car. More than half said they had.

zrust

Amanda Zrust, who with her partner sold her car and moved to North Portland for a job four months ago, said they were shocked when they arrived in the city they’d heard so much about.

“I was like, cool, I’m going to move to a city. We’re going to ride bikes. It’s going to be sweet,” she said. “But when we got here we were like, How is this different from any other city? I’m going to dodge traffic. There’s not protected bike lanes all over the place. The way Portland describes itself it’s like, it’s going to be so easy.

sarah hobbs

Sarah Hobbs of Northwest Portland came to Wednesday’s rally though a medical condition prevents her from riding a bicycle herself. She said she is haunted by the death, eight years ago, of her friend Brett Jerolimik on Interstate Avenue.

“Back then the city was like, oh, we’ve got a problem,” she said. “But now we’re right back where we were. You’ve got to address this every day, not just the crisis management that City Hall seems so notorious for.”

Hobbs says she now walks for most trips, and continues to feel unsafe.

“I’m a pedestrian; I have no car,” she said. “I swear the most unsafe spaces for me are crosswalks.”

sadowsky speaks

A long line of speakers Wednesday called Portlanders to action on the issue. Bicycle Transportation Alliance Executive Director Rob Sadowsky spoke out against Oregon’s state legislature, which he said seemed to have decided in the last few days to abandon a low-carbon fuel standard in the name of a gas tax hike that would direct most of its new money into road expansion rather than safety improvements.

“What’s winning out is not safety, it’s getting people places they want to go 13 seconds sooner,” Sadowsky said.

Sadowsky offered advice for the new advocacy group that had organized Portland’s first bike-related City Hall rally in five years.

“Don’t be afraid to ask,” he said. “If they don’t give you what you want, let’s find candidates to run.”

rowe with cards

Joe Rowe, a BikeLoud member, urged those present to do more than just call their political representatives in support of street safety improvements and bills like HB 2621, which would allow Portland to install up to 20 anti-speeding radar cameras on the city’s most dangerous streets.

“Don’t just call those numbers, save those numbers in your address book like they’re your mother or your uncle,” he said. “We are here and we are here to stay. So keep involved with BikeLoud, please.”

Rowe presented a stack of 500 cards signed by people in support of the rally’s five demands:

– Shifting funds away from car throughput and toward safety
– Divert cars off neighborhood greenways
– Enforce existing laws about speed, phone usage, safe passing
– Investigate all collisions involving vulnerable road users
– Stop repeat traffic violence offenders

roberta robles

Roberta Robles spoke, she said, in support of the many people who couldn’t attend a Wednesday morning event downtown, which had been scheduled because it’s the only time the Portland City Council takes open public testimony.

“They can’t be here because they’re riding two hours across town to get to their second job,” Robles said.

Dan Kaufman, who MC’d the event, acknowledged the large number of white men on the day’s speaker list, and also the emphasis of those present on Portland’s relatively safer inner neighborhoods.

“The thing is that it’s not fair that only certain neighborhoods that were built in the 1920s or earlier are accessible,” Kafuman said.

mayor speaks

The event drew two speakers from the city government itself: Mayor Charlie Hales and Timur Ender, a transportation policy aide for Transportation Commissioner Steve Novick.

Hales urged people to call the city’s traffic hotline, 503-823-SAFE, to request enforcement of traffic laws in any locations where people were breaking traffic laws. (In reply, several people shouted “everywhere.”)

Hales said the police bureau’s traffic division captain was very willing to dispatch police to enforce traffic laws. “They’ll go out,” he said. “They’re interested in traffic safety.”

Hales also urged people to call their legislators in support of the gas tax hike that Sadowsky had just spoken against, saying it would increase the city’s transportation revenue, which would free up more money for safety improvements. He also urged support for HB 2621, the safety camera bill.

“We have the bike system we have because of activism in the community,” Hales said. “And we need more activism to build a safer system. … When we feel the heat, we see the light.”

Ender detailed various actions the city is already pursuing to improve its streets.

“I’ve seen the look on PBOT staff’s faces when someone dies on our roadways,” he said. “It’s a personal loss.”

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Many rally participants had made their own signs; some borrowed them from others.

more bikes more kids slower cars

 

fewer cars lower speeds

vz action

not enough better

none of routes are safe

cycletracks downtown

diverter not dirty word

vz for drivers too

should feel safe

fittipaldi speaks

road diet

safe 4  everyone rowe

reckless driving kills

more clean air

engleman speaks

hales sign

After the outdoor rally, many members filed into the city council chambers in support of two BikeLoud speakers and two Bike PSU speakers who called on the council to prioritize street safety.

“As I sit here asking you to make safe routes a priority, I am not a special interest,” said Soren Impey, BikeLoud’s direct action organizer. Vision Zero, he said, “is not a series of commmunity meetings. It is an ethical duty.”

impey engleman

Marissa Trujillo-DeMull of Bike PSU expressed dismay at the lack of any northbound bicycle route away from the campus, which she said is related to the decline in campus biking rates from 13 percent of students in 2010 to 7 percent in 2013.

“We really want portland to remain a platinum city, but right now most of us are afraid of their ride home,” she said.

Fittipaldi echoed her.

“Some of my friends bike to campus,” he said. “The ones who don’t all say the same thing: I’m afraid I’m going to get hit.

The protests continue all day today with the Downgrade Portland ride meeting at 4:30 at NW Park and Couch followed by a big, encore rally back on City Hall steps at 5:00 pm. Follow the action at #SafeStreetsRally and @BikeLoudPDX on Twitter.

Correction 1:15 pm: A previous version of this post referred incorrectly to Engelman’s role with BikeLoud.


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