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Long-term plan for central-city bikeways moves toward council approval

Long-term plan for central-city bikeways moves toward council approval

downtown portland bikeway map

Future central-city bikeways in the city’s proposed Central City 2035 plan. Dark green lines are “major” city bikeways, light green are other city bikeways. Green shading indicates a “bicycle district.”
(source)

Some recent updates to a map of future bikeways in Portland’s central city have advocates talking.

The map of “city bikeways” and “major city bikeways” (the difference between the two is that on “major city bikeways,” biking is relatively more important compared to other modes) is the latest sign of which streets will be candidates for protected bike lanes in the $8.4 million Central City Multimodal Safety Project that’s supposed to begin public outreach this summer.

The central city bikeway map has been refined since we covered an earlier version of it in February, but it’s not yet finished. The current draft is the one being “proposed” by city staff, before approval by the Planning and Sustainability Commission or the City Council.

Feedback to the planning commission is due Aug. 9.

Among the notable details here:

• SW Alder Street, a useful connection between Northwest Portland and the Morrison Bridge, will be upgraded to a major city bikeway across Interstate 405, but only as far east as Broadway. Between Broadway and the river it would no longer be a designated bikeway.

• SW Washington Street would be upgraded to a major city bikeway between Broadway and I-405, so Alder/Washington would echo the existing Oak/Stark couplet closer to the river.

• SW Yamhill, where the westbound MAX tracks run, is no longer marked as a potential bikeway. Neither is Morrison, one block to its north, where the eastbound MAX tracks run. But Taylor, just south of Yamill, is now seen as a future bikeway. So is Salmon, the one-way eastbound street one block south of Taylor.

• As previously proposed, SW Jefferson and Columbia streets would become a major city bikeway couplet between SW 19th and Naito Parkway, making them major connections across Interstate 405 and almost to the Hawthorne Bridge.

• SW Harrison Street would be upgraded to major city bikeway as far west as the Park Blocks, creating a link between the South Waterfront (including Tilikum Crossing) and Portland State University.

• The city continues to pull back from the idea of Fourth Avenue, with its many garages, as a major northbound bike route through downtown. It’s no longer marked as a major city bikeway north of Madison.

• SW Second and Third avenues, both of which are getting bike lanes in the Old Town area already, are now a major city bikeway couplet between SW Market and NW Flanders. This sets up two future routes to bike north or east from the PSU area: the Park Blocks to the Broadway Bridge or Columbia/Second to the Morrison, Burnside and Steel bridges.

• East of the river, SE 11th and 12th Avenues have been upgraded to major city bikeways (a change that was “literally applauded” when city staffers mentioned it to the Bicycle Advisory Committee on Tuesday, according to Jessica Engelman of BikeLoudPDX). And the city now envisions a direct north-south biking-walking bridge across Interstate 84 at 7th Avenue rather than cutting the angle to 8th and then jogging back to 7th.







ODOT approves “multimodal mixed-use area,” giving downtown permission to evolve away from cars

Bike Advisory Committee rides downtown-8

More and more lanes: not a long-term solution for a downtown.
(Photo: J.Maus/BikePortland)

This is essentially a way of locking in the idea that as new buildings arrive in the area, the city will simply let nearby auto congestion increase.

Another significant change for the central city, embedded in the proposed Central City 2035 plan, is the fact that downtown is becoming the first “multimodal mixed-use area” in the city of Portland. This is essentially a way of locking in the idea that as new buildings arrive in the area, the city will simply let nearby auto congestion increase.

In many other cities, developers are required to pay to increase the automotive capacity of nearby intersections, an expensive requirement that effectively shuts down new development in denser areas. In central Portland, this will only be necessary if the additional congestion causes a safety problem — for example, traffic won’t be allowed to back up all the way onto a freeway offramp.

Because the Oregon Department of Transportation controls several freeway intersections in the area, it had to sign off on the city’s proposal. It did.

“The concept is that if you have downtown and you have other modes — bike as well as ped as well as transit — and you have a mix of land uses that makes it possible to get around by those modes — that’s good, that’s something the State of Oregon supports,” said Lidwien Rahman, a principal planner for ODOT’s Portland regional office. “So you shouldn’t have to worry about vehicle mobility because you can get around at those other modes.”

Rahman said ODOT’s only condition for signing off was that the city vet this plan with interest groups such as its freight committee and the Portland Business Alliance, which it has.

“As long as everybody knows that this is the choice you’re making, it’s all good,” Rahman said.

In a somewhat related change, most of the central city will also be designated as a “bicycle district.” This is another concept from the city’s Bike Plan for 2030, defined as an area “with a dense concentration of commercial, cultural, institutional and/or recreational destinations
where the City intends to make bicycle travel more attractive than driving.”

Analysis from BikeLoud’s Engelman

impey engleman

BikeLoudPDX co-chair Jessica Engelman, right, testifies at Portland City Council with Soren Impey in 2015.
(Photo: M.Andersen/BikePortland)

City transportation planners Mauricio LeClerc and Zef Wagner visited the Portland Bicycle Advisory Committee Tuesday to discuss the changes.

Engelman, who is a co-chair of advocacy group BikeLoudPDX, was one of those who attended. Below are passages from her report about the meeting.

On the “bicycle district” designation:

Does this mean putting sharrows and “bikes may use full lane” signs on every street? Re-time the lights to be at more of a bicycle pace? Minimum bicycle parking requirements? etc. These are the types of specifics that need to be determined for “bicycle district” to actually mean anything.

On reaction from the advisory committee:

A few BAC members had comments regarding specific streets: one thought was that SW 4th would be a better major city bikeway than SW 2nd because it could serve as a couplet with Broadway. There was also a call to attention regarding the lack of bike connections on the west side of the Morrison Bridge (considered an important issue because the Hawthorne Bridge is already over capacity during rush hour). There was support from a few members for a city bikeway designation on NE Davis east of 7th. And the room literally applauded the major city bikeway designation on SE 11th and 12th (something BikeLoudPDX strongly recommended in our testimony).

On the Central City Multimodal Safety Project:

The multimodal project is for ALL of Central City, not just downtown, although there is an expectation that most of the funds will go there, but with public support, a project or two from Lloyd or Central Eastside may also be able to draw from that pot of money.

And on the effectiveness of BikeLoud’s testimony so far:

Fortunately they incorporated so much of what BikeLoudPDX requested last time that there’s not as much to testify on this time around, except to again highlight which specific projects we think should be a priority, re-recommend the few things we didn’t get in this draft, and maybe comment on a few streets’ MCB vs CB classifications.

Correction 1:40 pm: An earlier version of this post confused Yamhill, Taylor and Morrison at one point, and gave the wrong name for a “multimodal mixed-use area.”

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

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Nowhere to park your bike at Pine Street Market? Help is on the way

Nowhere to park your bike at Pine Street Market? Help is on the way

A new market in downtown Portland without bike parking out front? The horror!(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

A new market in downtown Portland without bike parking out front? Say it ain’t so!
(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

Downtown Portland’s most interesting new meal spot could be described as an indoor food cart pod, or maybe a slightly upmarket food court.

But whatever you want to call Pine Street Market, one thing it’s clearly short of is bike parking.

A few weeks ago, when I met a friend there, I resorted to something I’ve never had to do since moving to Portland: locking my bike to the plumbing outside a nearby building.

This is such an odd situation in Portland, which usually excels at commercial bike parking above all else, that it’s been drawing attention:







So we asked the city’s bike parking team what was up. City spokesman John Brady replied on Thursday, saying that instead of adding their own on-site bike parking, Pine Street Market opted for the alternative in city code: paying into the city bike parking fund.

“Usually this would mean the installation of racks on the sidewalk,” Brady wrote in an email. “That didn’t happen in this case because we knew there would be a number of restaurants with café seating. So we are currently working with the building management to install a bike corral. There is also a BIKETOWN station slated for the area. Planning and phasing that mix of on-street bike storage is taking some time.”

So if you’ve got a yen for Israeli street food, bahn mi, fancy soft-serve ice cream, Mexican tapas, or Chicago-style hot dogs, grin and bear with the temporary parking problems. After all, this is what car drivers are choosing to deal with most of the time.

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

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City proposes shifting future downtown bikeway from Alder to Taylor/Salmon

City proposes shifting future downtown bikeway from Alder to Taylor/Salmon

nw to se change with yamhill

The city has proposed to change the future bikeway that would be the fastest dedicated biking route from the Northwest District to the Central Eastside. (People would be able to choose between a longer jog south to Salmon or a shorter one to a lane of Yamhill shared with cars, presumably with diverters to hold down traffic.)

The city says there’s no room for future bike lanes on the most direct street between Northwest Portland’s fast-growing residential area and the Central Eastside’s fast-growing job district.

Instead, inner Southwest Alder Street is slated to become a “trafficway” offering automobile and truck connections to the Morrison Bridge and interstate highways.

Alder might also get a bus line, the city says.

Today, Alder has a parking lane on each side and two lanes of mixed eastbound traffic. At many of its corners, traffic signal poles sit in the curb extensions, making it quite expensive to pull those extensions back to make room for bike lanes.

alder curb extensions

Alder east of SW 6th.

But as we mentioned in an article last week, Alder also offers a straight shot from the bikeways on Northwest 18th/19th to the underused bikeway on the Morrison Bridge:

alder to morrison

Alder between SW 2nd and 3rd, just before the Morrison Bridge.

Here’s a look at the central city biking network envisioned last year in the city’s West Quadrant Plan:

alder-westquadplanmap

But Morrison Street, though it is marked here as a bikeway, “would have to be a shared street” for both cars and bikes, city spokesman John Brady said Friday.

Alder’s convenient link between the two neighborhoods — the Northwest teens and 20s have 1,000 new residential units in recent or upcoming development, and the Central Eastside has added hundreds of jobs in the last decade — has caught the attention of some biking advocates. Here’s Iain Mackenzie of NextPortland in a comment on last week’s post:

A bidirectional protected bike lane on Alder would be fantastic. It could change the Morrison Bridge MUP from being one of the least used crossings of the river into one of the most used. On the West side the City is already looking at ways to better connect the NW 18th and 19th bike lanes to SW Alder. On the East Side the City is planning a Morrison-Belmont bikeway couplet, including using the roadway under the viaducts and making SE Morrison between Grand and 12th one way in order to add a bike lane. All these projects together would not only connect Northwest to the Central Eastside, as mentioned above, but would also provide a great new connection from inner SE into Downtown.

All of which is by way of saying that it’s very odd that in the Transportation System Plan section of the draft Central City 2035 plan (published yesterday) it is proposed to remove the “City Bikeway” designation from SW Alder between 2nd and 12th.





We thought that was odd too, so we asked the city about it. Spokesman John Brady’s response was prompt and thorough. The answer is that the city is proposing to jog part of the future Alder bikeway three blocks further south.

On Alder in particular, lane capacity is needed to serve motor vehicle traffic leading up to the Morrison Bridge.”
— PBOT

That’d create a six-block gap between the Oak/Stark and Salmon/Taylor bike lane couplets. However, people would also have the option of shortening this route by sharing the lane with cars on the Morrison/Yamhill couplet. My emphasis added:

The proposed street classification updates for the downtown portion of Central City 2035 are in large part reflective of the concept maps that were included in the adopted West Quadrant Plan. Those concept maps attempted to outline a more clear set of emphasized modes for each street, recognizing that with narrow right-of-ways in the Central City, we will not always be able to emphasize all modes equally. At the same time, we made every effort to respect the intent of the Bicycle Plan for 2030 to create a comprehensive network of bikeways in the Central City.

The West Quadrant Plan shows Alder and Washington from the Morrison Bridge to Broadway as “Freight & Motor Vehicle” streets. On Alder in particular, lane capacity is needed to serve motor vehicle traffic leading up to the Morrison Bridge, and freight loading zones are needed to serve retail uses along the street. Though Alder is not shown as a Transitway on the Transit map in the West Quadrant Plan, there is interest in introducing bus service to Alder in the future. We have proposed switching the Transit Access Street designation from Salmon to Alder to reflect the City’s interest in switching bus service from Salmon to Alder so that Salmon can more easily serve a City Bikeway function. In short, the proposal is that from roughly SW 2nd Ave to SW 12th Ave, Alder and Washington would emphasize Freight, Motor Vehicle, and Transit modes. West of 12th Ave, it would primarily emphasize the Bicycle and Transit modes.

The Bicycle concept map from the West Quadrant Plan shows Morrison and Salmon as a main bikeway couplet connecting the Morrison Bridge to SW 20th, with Alder as well from 18th to 12th to provide the necessary connection from the NW 18th/19th couplet. When PBOT staff considered this map, we recognized that a three-block-wide couplet may not be intuitive for bicycle travel, so our proposed classifications in the Central City 2035 Discussion Draft show Salmon, Taylor, Yamhill, and Morrison as City Bikeways. These two couplets would provide different experiences and may serve different rider types, since Salmon/Taylor would most likely be separated bike lanes whereas along the light rail lines on Yamhill/Morrison it would have to be shared street facilities.

With two parking lanes and two travel lanes, Alder is wide enough for two auto travel lanes (one of which could be a dedicated bus lane), plus a parking/loading lane on one side and a one-direction protected bike lane on the other. Or it could become a one-lane street for auto traffic with two parking lanes and a narrow bidirectional protected bike lane.

Another option would be for the city to convert the single auto lanes on Morrison and Yamhill to wide bike laness, a sort of east-west car-free transit mall.

Another option would be for the city to convert the single standard lanes on Morrison and Yamhill to wide bike-only lanes, a sort of east-west carfree transit mall. With one exception on Yamhill and 6th, inner Southwest Morrison/Yamhill are the rare downtown streets that don’t have a single parking garage or other curb cut facing them.

But despite its policy to generally prioritize public transit over auto traffic and bike traffic over both, the city isn’t planning to do any of those things.

Another option would be to improve Yamhill and Morrison for biking by adding one or more traffic diverters. This would reduce the number of cars on them without making them fully car-free. Except for its general neighborhood greenway standards, which arguably would require those diverters, the city hasn’t yet made explicit plans to do that, either.

The city is, however, encouraging people to submit comments on its Transportation System Plan through the end of this month.

“The easiest way to comment is to email cc2035@portlandoregon.gov,” Brady wrote on Friday. “City staff at BPS and PBOT will review public comments and revise the document to create the Proposed Draft in May 2016.”

It’s worth mentioning that there’s good news for biking in the city’s latest plans too. We’ll cover some of those in an upcoming post.

Update 2/16: We’ve added another route, on Yamhill, to the map at the top of this post to reflect the possibility that traffic diverters might make it function as an all-ages bikeway through downtown.

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

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Portland celebrates holiday shopping with free parking in downtown garages

Portland celebrates holiday shopping with free parking in downtown garages

outside target

Parking is always free for many shoppers.
(Photo: M.Andersen/BikePortland)

The latest piece of Portland’s ongoing effort to get people to realize that there are places to park cars downtown other than curbs is to offer free parking in its six public garages.

Here’s the word from tourism promotion group Travel Portland:

On three Sundays in December 2015 (Dec. 6, 13 and 20), parking at downtown SmartPark lots is free. Customers who park at SmartPark garages can visit the customer service kiosk at Pioneer Place (lower level near the Gap) or Boys’ Fort (902 S.W. Morrison St.) or PDX Pop-Up Shops (438 N.W. Broadway and 341 N.W. Fifth Ave.) any time between noon and 5 p.m. to show their eligible SmartPark ticket and receive one $5 parking voucher to cover parking for the day.

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There’s nothing inherently wrong with a special like this — it’s a little bit like a special on milk, beer or chicken that gets you to walk in the door of an unfamiliar grocer, or the free transit rides that TriMet offers each New Year’s Eve.

But it’s also a little ironic that an organization that works so hard to communicate that walking, biking and transit are major joys of Portland…

…still feels the need to promote the expectation of free parking (which only tends to interfere with the proximity that is needed for good biking, walking and transit) as a way to compete with suburban shopping malls. (Or at least with the idea of suburban shopping malls … actual malls are failing across the country.)

And it’s also a sign of one of the fundamental truths of parking: no matter how much off-street parking you build, you will never get people to use it unless it is cheaper than the nearby on-street parking.

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


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A backwards incentive in Portland, where bus rides cost more than parking spaces

A backwards incentive in Portland, where bus rides cost more than parking spaces

Bike-Bus leapfrog -1

We’ve made driving both cheap and convenient even though it causes a whole lot of problems.
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

Though lovers of bikes, transit and walking hate to admit it, driving a car is often the most convenient way to get around Portland. Until we start reconfiguring our roads to give more space to bicycling and dedicated transit lines, that will likely remain the case years into the future.

An odd thing about driving is that not only is it usually convenient; it’s also usually pretty cheap.

The question is, why are we also going out of our way to make driving so cheap?

At least, that’s the question asked Sunday by Tony Jordan, a member of the committee that’s currently advising the city on whether it should raise its downtown parking rates from $1.60 to $2 per hour.

When something is more convenient, Jordan points out, we usually have to pay more for it — and we usually agree that this is fair. An odd thing about driving is that not only is it usually convenient; it’s also usually pretty cheap. But an even odder thing, as Jordan explains, is that we’ve made driving both cheap and convenient even though it causes a whole lot of problems.

Here’s how Jordan explains it:

We are doing it wrong.

Global CO2 concentrations are regularly above 400 parts per million. Drought and famine caused by climate change are destabilizing our political environment as well as displacing and killing millions. Driving directly kills more than 30,000 Americans a year (just barely less than firearms). According to MIT, air pollution from driving kills more than 50,000 additional Americans every year.

Financially, the toll of automobile dependency is no less severe. In 2014, federal, state, and local governments spent $165,000,000,000 (165 billion) on roads, with much of that money being spent on construction of new roadways while our existing roads decay.

In the face of these (and many, many other) downsides, we should be using every tool available to discourage unnecessary driving. but we’re not. In fact, not only does the underlying policy of the federal government not discourage driving (even alone), it encourages it. Locally, Portland is trying harder than many cities, but we still maintain a bevy of policies that subsidize and prioritize the most wasteful and dangerous mode of transportation over the rest.

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Given that problem, Jordan then imagines a hypothetical trip downtown, maybe a couple going on a date. He looks at the cost of each option.

transit costs

Chart: BikePortland. Scenario: Tony Jordan of PDX Shoupistas.

I’ve added boldface for emphasis:

The Pyramid of Convenience

Being driven in a private-for-hire vehicle from your location to your destination is the most convenient and, likely, pleasant way to travel in the city. As such it’s quite expensive. To take a taxi or a Lyft from inner SE Portland (4 miles out) to downtown will cost upwards of $12 to $15 each way. A two way trip for a dinner and a movie will cost a single traveller $30 in transportation. Additional travelers add to the economy, however, and taking a friend along doesn’t double the charge. Nevertheless, the cost is rather high and reflects the convenience.

The second most convenient (and therefore valuable) mode is driving yourself or being driven with a friend and parking on street near your destination. The same 4 mile round trip will cost roughly $1.16 cents in vehicle wear, gas, etc. Street parking in downtown Portland for a 3 hour stay will range anywhere from $0.00 (after 7PM) to $4.80. Additional passengers add negligible cost. A couple going on a date from 6-9PM will spend ~$5.96 on transportation.

Slightly less convenient is driving yourself and parking in a city operated Smart Park. You may spend a little less time driving around, but you will have to travel farther to your destination. Things get a little interesting here, however, because Smart Park charges 24 hours, with a maximum $5 rate for nights and weekends. The same person or couple mentioned above will pay $5 for a 3 hour trip, regardless of whether it is during meter enforcement. Total cost ~$6.16, twenty cents more than a three hour stay at a parking meter before 7.

Public transportation is next on our list. It has its benefits, no concerns about driving drunk, you can, legally, read or text en route, you don’t have to look for parking. But you need to walk to the transit center or bus stop. You need to allow extra time for catching the line and for possible delays. You have to share space with other people and potentially stand. You will probably have to walk to your destination and all the same things apply to your return trip (assuming TriMet is still operating that late). Bus schedules are rarely aligned with social schedules, so you will likely have to arrive early or arrive late and you may spend some time waiting for a transfer. TriMet fees are charged at all hours of the day. A single person going downtown for a movie and meal will need to buy a day pass for $5. Additional travelers pay full fare, so date night will cost a couple $10 in public transportation fares (and they’ll have to leave for home around midnight).

Person power is, by some measures, the least convenient way to travel. You must contend with the weather and with distracted drivers. Bike parking can be, at times, more frustrating than car parking and rates of theft are higher. A cyclist has no secure location to store bags or coats. Transit time is likely longer. Walking takes even longer and may be impractical for most trips. The cost, however, is (currently) free and you can leave whenever you want and arrive very close to your destination.

Of course there are some costs of biking such as new tubes and tires now and then, and of course there are lots of factors this calculation doesn’t capture such as physical health, the risk of a traffic ticket and so on.

But generally speaking, Jordan is describing the way most Portlanders think about these decisions. And though he doesn’t get into it here, these costs have been shifting. In the last 10 years, central-city transit fares have become a worse and worse deal compared to driving:

fare comparison

Portland says that because it isn’t willing to start knocking its buildings down to build wider roads, the only way to grow is to double its residents’ use of public transit and halve their use of cars.

If that’s the plan, maybe a good place to start would be to make it more expensive to drive than to catch a bus.

(Note: I adjusted two numbers in Jordan’s calculations: according to the latest estimates, each additional mile driven in a small sedan costs about 14.54 cents. He estimated 50 cents, but that includes fixed costs such as insurance, which most Portlanders pay whether or not they chose to drive for a given trip. The gist of his argument is the same; the driving couple saves money either way.)

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


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City hires project manager for high-profile downtown protected bike lane project

City hires project manager for high-profile downtown protected bike lane project

The project management gig that one local planning pro has referred to as the “job of the year” has been filled.

Rick Browning, an architect and urban designer with a long history in Portland, will start work May 28 on a federally funded project that’s widely expected to implement the first substantial protected bike lanes in downtown Portland — indeed, some of the only low-stress bike infrastructure in downtown, which has by far the city’s highest concentration of bike commuters.

The $6.6 million Central City Multimodal Safety Project might also look for ways to improve the awkward bike connections to bridges like the Burnside, Steel and Hawthorne or even crossings of Interstate 405 to the west.

As it has been in other U.S. cities over the last few years, the downtown protected bike lanes would be a companion project to a planned bike sharing system that the city continues to say will launch in 2016.

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Browning, a graduate of the University of Oregon in Eugene, spent 15 years as a partner for Browning Shono Architects in Portland and while there also represented the Portland Bicycle Advisory Committee on the advisory team for the city’s 1996 Bicycle Master Plan. (At the tail end of his time there, we covered his work on the bike oasis at Southeast Hawthorne and 36th.) He then spent several years at consulting firms Parson Brinckerhoff and DKA and more recently served as project director for a new state office building in Olympia.

Browning is also car-free in his personal life and no stranger to standing up for the interests of bike users. Last February, he contacted us to draw attention to a problem in which Amtrak was unable to predict whether its buses would be able to carry a bicycle.

Back in Portland, there will certainly be a lot of eyes on this project — many of them, presumably, supportive. The Bicycle Transportation Alliance has spent years preparing for this project, which it sees as an opportunity for a “world class” bike facility that could reboot local growth in bicycle use and demonstrate to more people how pleasant and attractive bicycle transportation on a first-rate facility can be.

Every north-south route between Broadway and 2nd Avenue has been discussed as a possible route, but where the conversation will lead is anyone’s guess.


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Proposed plaza outside Voodoo Doughnut could be permanent by year’s end

Proposed plaza outside Voodoo Doughnut could be permanent by year’s end

ankeny alley rendering

Removable bollards would pedestrianize the road bed on 3rd Avenue outside Voodoo Doughnut.
(Image: Ankeny Alley Association grant application)

One of Portland’s top tourist attractions seems poised to become dramatically less car-oriented by the start of 2016.

An $80,850 grant last month from the Portland Development Commission to the Ankeny Alley Association will provide most of the money required to extend the sidewalk on Southwest 3rd Avenue in front of Voodoo Doughnut in Old Town, creating a plaza in place of an unusually wide traffic lane and substantially narrowing the road bed.

“Either we’ll get it done before summertime 2015 or we’ll postpone it to have the work done end of 2015,” Rob Cross, general manager of Dan and Louis Oyster Bar, said Monday.

PDC project manager Sarah Harpole called Cross’s faster timeline “optimistic.”

“The design is of their creation, I guess it’s fair to say, and it’ll be subject to whatever permits are deemed required by the city,” she said. “In particular I would say the Bureau of Transportation, since it’s their right of way.”

The news comes six months after a much-praised weekend demo project by Better Block PDX created such a plaza and also reduced 3rd Avenue from three travel lanes with auto parking and a loading zone to a single travel lane plus a protected bike lane and wider sidewalks between Northwest Davis and Southwest Ash.

voodoo doughnut

The current design of the potential plaza area.
(Photo: M.Andersen/BikePortland)
3rd Avenue Better Block PDX

People enjoy a demonstration plaza on 3rd Avenue in October.
(Photo: Greg Raisman)

“The idea of having this closed pedestrian way is something that’s been in a lot of prior master plans focusing on this area,” Harpole said. “The businesses themselves were the ones that brought it to fruition.”

Cross said the local businesses will share the costs of keeping the plaza clean.

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It’s not yet clear how much of the space will end up being allocated to clearly public seating and how much will be treated as commercial seating, in design if not by the letter of the law.

“There might be some common seating, but more than likely they’ll just expand plaza seating from the businesses out to those spaces,” Cross predicted.

Here’s an overhead view of the Ankeny Alley Association’s proposal for the space, which clears a pedestrian channel through the current alley as well as moving more seating around the corner onto the widened 3rd Avenue sidewalk.

ankeny alley overhead

The dimensions of the proposed plaza depend on PBOT plans to restripe 3rd Avenue, which aren’t currently clear.
(Image: Ankeny Alley Association grant application)

Another open question: the fate of 3rd Avenue’s travel and parking lanes, including whether travel or parking lanes will be repurposed into bike facilities, wider sidewalks or anything else.

“Many people are hopeful that there will be continued funding or experimentation there, but no formal commitments are in place,” Harpole said.

In an interview Monday, mayoral project manager Chad Stover said Mayor Charlie Hales is “committed to working with the community in this area” to make 3rd Avenue a more pleasant place for both weekend evening and daytime commerce both north and south of Burnside.

“Just me personally, I think that two lanes is probably the right number to go all the way through,” Stover said. “It shouldn’t only be in the name of promoting a nighttime entertainment district, as we want a 24-hour neighborhood.”

Better Block

October’s demo converted one general travel lane on 3rd to a protected bike lane.
(Photo: Greg Raisman)

One development shaking up the politics of Old Town is the semi-retirement of Howard Weiner, owner of the Cal Skate shop and the chair until this spring of the Old Town Community Association. Weiner has been a major advocate for continuing Old Town’s police-supervised street closure on weekend evenings.

“I believe the street closure on the weekends will continue as long as we have the number of folks coming down to party,” Weiner wrote this week. “In the end it is a matter of public safety … I believe the bars have to own this closure and find ways to make the area more appealing.”

Stover, the mayoral staffer, phrased things differently.

“I think there are some larger systemic changes that need to happen,” he said. “I don’t think anybody sees the street closure as a permanent solution to what’s going on in that area.”

Ryan Hashagen, owner of the Portland Pedals pedicab business, a member of the Old Town Hospitality Group and a volunteer with Better Block, predicted that more 3rd Avenue changes are on the way.

“We have made great recent progress and are on track for doing another Better Block this summer or spring,” Hashagen said. “Howard will be missed as he retires, but there is too much momentum and potential for success to stop this project and group.”

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Proposed plaza outside Voodoo Doughnut could be permanent by year’s end

Proposed plaza outside Voodoo Doughnut could be permanent by year’s end

ankeny alley rendering

Removable bollards would pedestrianize the road bed on 3rd Avenue outside Voodoo Doughnut.
(Image: Ankeny Alley Association grant application)

One of Portland’s top tourist attractions seems poised to become dramatically less car-oriented by the start of 2016.

An $80,850 grant last month from the Portland Development Commission to the Ankeny Alley Association will provide most of the money required to extend the sidewalk on Southwest 3rd Avenue in front of Voodoo Doughnut in Old Town, creating a plaza in place of an unusually wide traffic lane and substantially narrowing the road bed.

“Either we’ll get it done before summertime 2015 or we’ll postpone it to have the work done end of 2015,” Rob Cross, general manager of Dan and Louis Oyster Bar, said Monday.

PDC project manager Sarah Harpole called Cross’s faster timeline “optimistic.”

“The design is of their creation, I guess it’s fair to say, and it’ll be subject to whatever permits are deemed required by the city,” she said. “In particular I would say the Bureau of Transportation, since it’s their right of way.”

The news comes six months after a much-praised weekend demo project by Better Block PDX created such a plaza and also reduced 3rd Avenue from three travel lanes with auto parking and a loading zone to a single travel lane plus a protected bike lane and wider sidewalks between Northwest Davis and Southwest Ash.

voodoo doughnut

The current design of the potential plaza area.
(Photo: M.Andersen/BikePortland)
3rd Avenue Better Block PDX

People enjoy a demonstration plaza on 3rd Avenue in October.
(Photo: Greg Raisman)

“The idea of having this closed pedestrian way is something that’s been in a lot of prior master plans focusing on this area,” Harpole said. “The businesses themselves were the ones that brought it to fruition.”

Cross said the local businesses will share the costs of keeping the plaza clean.

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It’s not yet clear how much of the space will end up being allocated to clearly public seating and how much will be treated as commercial seating, in design if not by the letter of the law.

“There might be some common seating, but more than likely they’ll just expand plaza seating from the businesses out to those spaces,” Cross predicted.

Here’s an overhead view of the Ankeny Alley Association’s proposal for the space, which clears a pedestrian channel through the current alley as well as moving more seating around the corner onto the widened 3rd Avenue sidewalk.

ankeny alley overhead

The dimensions of the proposed plaza depend on PBOT plans to restripe 3rd Avenue, which aren’t currently clear.
(Image: Ankeny Alley Association grant application)

Another open question: the fate of 3rd Avenue’s travel and parking lanes, including whether travel or parking lanes will be repurposed into bike facilities, wider sidewalks or anything else.

“Many people are hopeful that there will be continued funding or experimentation there, but no formal commitments are in place,” Harpole said.

In an interview Monday, mayoral project manager Chad Stover said Mayor Charlie Hales is “committed to working with the community in this area” to make 3rd Avenue a more pleasant place for both weekend evening and daytime commerce both north and south of Burnside.

“Just me personally, I think that two lanes is probably the right number to go all the way through,” Stover said. “It shouldn’t only be in the name of promoting a nighttime entertainment district, as we want a 24-hour neighborhood.”

Better Block

October’s demo converted one general travel lane on 3rd to a protected bike lane.
(Photo: Greg Raisman)

One development shaking up the politics of Old Town is the semi-retirement of Howard Weiner, owner of the Cal Skate shop and the chair until this spring of the Old Town Community Association. Weiner has been a major advocate for continuing Old Town’s police-supervised street closure on weekend evenings.

“I believe the street closure on the weekends will continue as long as we have the number of folks coming down to party,” Weiner wrote this week. “In the end it is a matter of public safety … I believe the bars have to own this closure and find ways to make the area more appealing.”

Stover, the mayoral staffer, phrased things differently.

“I think there are some larger systemic changes that need to happen,” he said. “I don’t think anybody sees the street closure as a permanent solution to what’s going on in that area.”

Ryan Hashagen, owner of Portland Pedicabs, a member of the Old Town Hospitality Group and a volunteer with Better Block, predicted that more 3rd Avenue changes are on the way.

“We have made great recent progress and are on track for doing another Better Block this summer or spring,” Hashagen said. “Howard will be missed as he retires, but there is too much momentum and potential for success to stop this project and group.”

The post Proposed plaza outside Voodoo Doughnut could be permanent by year’s end appeared first on BikePortland.org.

Meetup Thursday kicks off new push for land bridge over I-405

Meetup Thursday kicks off new push for land bridge over I-405

freeway cap

(Image via ProspectPDX)

A downtown consulting firm is hosting a conversation tomorrow morning about one of Portland’s most persistent ideas: a cap over the Interstate 405 freeway.

The concept is intended to restitch the urban fabric that was destroyed by the freeway’s construction in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

The host of Thursday’s 8-9 a.m. event is ProspectPDX, a local business consulting firm that presents a series of “future focused” ideas about civic life in Portland. Local writers Brian Libby and Dan Friedman, who have written about the concept twice on Libby’s Portland Architecture blog, are scheduled to speak.

City planning officials are expected to be on hand too to talk about how the concept fits into Portland’s West Quadrant Plan. As we reported in 2013 (see item 6), freeway caps are a formal part of this long-term vision for the future of downtown.

The goal here might be to create something like this street in Columbus, Ohio, which believe it or not is on top of an urban freeway:

And the larger goal, of course, is to come as close as possible to recreating the continuous grid that downtown Portland had in 1955:

(City of Portland archive photo via Vintage Portland)

And let us not forget former Mayor Sam Adams’ plan to connect NW Flanders with a biking/walking bridge. Maybe these projects could become one and the same.

Does the idea appeal to you? Tomorrow’s event, at 434 NW 6th Ave Suite 302, is free.

The post Meetup Thursday kicks off new push for land bridge over I-405 appeared first on BikePortland.org.