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On bikeways, paint matters when it’s all we’ve got

On bikeways, paint matters when it’s all we’ve got

NE Multnomah Bikeway

The bikeway on NE Multnomah is only as strong as the paint that protects it. In this photo, notice how people park in the bikeway buffer in the foreground where it lacks paint versus how people park in the background where the paint is more visible.
(Photos: J. Maus/BikePortland)

There are a lot of reasons why using only paint to separate bicycle operators from motor vehicle operators is problematic. Today I’ll share an example that speaks to the importance of maintenance.

On February 6th I rode on Northeast Multnomah through the Lloyd District. I don’t usually ride here but I wanted to check-in and see how one of Portland’s most important bikeways is holding up. I say most important, not because of the number of people who ride on it (it’s underused because the street has yet to fully transform into the residential/retail hub it will soon be); but because of its political and engineering context.

The Multnomah bikeway was created through a rare partnership between the City of Portland and business/real estate interests. And, as far as bikeway designs go in Portland, it’s one of the best we’ve got. It’s got more separation than the lanes on SW Stark and Oak, it’s longer than the parking-protected bikeway on Broadway near Portland State University, and it was a lot cheaper than the true “cycle tracks” on SW Moody, NE Cully, or SW Multnomah.





Because so much of Portland’s bikeway miles are created only with paint, upkeep and maintenance is critical. When paint and markings wear off, the bikeway literally vanishes. So for those of us who rely on them, paint is our infrastructure.

When I rolled through last week the bikeway had all but vansished on the block east of NE 7th. As a result of the “beeswax” yellow paint in the buffer zone wearing off almost completely, people parked right on top of the buffer zone — which is meant to provide separation of uses, not as a place to park cars.

multnomah bikeway

Half-and-half.

Compare these two images above with how this project was initially sold to us by the city (sort of like those images in McDonald’s ads versus what the burgers actually look like):

multlead

If only.
(Graphic: PBOT)

As I rode east toward NE 9th (where a new grocery story is coming soon) the buffer paint looked a lot better. And lo and behold, people didn’t park on it (well, not as blatantly)!

NE Multnomah Bikeway

NE Multnomah Bikeway

The visibility of paint alone gives bicycle riders an extra
2-3 feet of breathing room in the foreground versus the background.

This seemed like an excellent (albeit non-scientific) example of why maintaining bikeway markings and paint is so important. Of course, all this could be avoided if we improved these unprotected bikeways with real, physical objects to separate them. But that’s a post for another day.

UPDATE: A source in the Lloyd District sent us a photo showing that PBOT has just added a new white stripe and bike lane character in this location (see below). Not sure if they were spurred by our February 6th Tweet or what, but it’s good to see this. Also good to hear PBOT is working with Go Lloyd organization on a more sustainable maintenance plan. We’ll keep you posted:

0-9

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

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The post On bikeways, paint matters when it’s all we’ve got appeared first on BikePortland.org.

New Portland study says greenery is the preferred bikeway buffer

New Portland study says greenery is the preferred bikeway buffer

buffer type score

Slide from a recent PSU grad’s study of people’s comfort preferences. An “A” score represents the most comfortable biking.
(Image: TREC at PSU)

What’s the best way to separate bike and auto traffic?

Portland hasn’t built many protected bike lanes yet, but the ones it has include dabbles in every major separation method, from the mountable curbs on Northeast Cully to the plastic posts on the Hawthorne Bridge viaduct to the thick fence on the Morrison Bridge to the big round planters on Northeast Multnomah to the parked cars on Southwest Broadway.

As it aspires to make protected bike lanes its default bike lane design and prepares for a high-profile downtown project, here’s a recent bit of data that might inform the city’s choices: people seem to love planters.

A study presented at Portland State University last month by a recent grad is the latest to show that, for whatever reason, a giant flowerpot in the street seems to be pretty much the most popular way to protect a bike lane.

Policymakers Ride 2014-52

The planter-protected bike lane on NE Multnomah Street.
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

Here’s a clip of Northeast Multnomah Street that PSU grad Nick Foster, now working as a senior planner for the Boise office of Kittelson and Associates, filmed and shared with hundreds of people to ask how comfortable they’d feel biking in it. It was one of 23 clips from bike lanes in San Francisco, Chicago and Portland that Foster drew on to create the data in the chart above.

“They look nice; you can see over them,” Foster said in his Nov. 21 presentation at PSU, summarizing the two biggest advantages of planters.

A 2014 study of bike users in Hangzhou, which is arguably the bike capital of China and has an extensive network of bike lanes protected by greenery, found that “beautiful surrounding environments” was a meaningful reason people enjoyed biking for transportation.

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Planters come in lots of shapes and sizes. In terms of appearance, the planters in downtown Vancouver BC make some of the nicest-looking bike lanes I’ve seen:

planters downtown

(Photo: M.Andersen)

…but they lack one of the big advantages of Portland’s planters, which is that it’s easy for a person on bike or foot to move between them, either to cross the street, to get ready for a left turn, or to get around an illegally parked car or other obstacle.

One big downside of Multnomah’s planters is that they take up so much of the road’s width. They probably wouldn’t be possible, for example, if the general travel lanes on the downtown transit mall were closed to cars in order to create north-south bike lanes. There’s not much room.

Foster’s finding about planters echoes an earlier one from his professor and co-author Chris Monsere, which used still images to ask people how comfortable they’d feel in various contexts:

barrier separation types

One notable difference is that plastic posts fared much more poorly as a separation method in the video than they did in the still image, which may not have conveyed how flimsy most bikeway posts are.

“Posts are a nice reminder,” Foster said in his presentation last month. “But everyone knows that a post goes down very easy.”

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


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Green Zebra Grocery’s second store coming to a protected bike lane in the Lloyd District

Green Zebra Grocery’s second store coming to a protected bike lane in the Lloyd District

GZG Mockup

Rendering of new Green Zebra Grocery on NE Multnomah.

Green Zebra Grocery, the company we’ve heralded as having the best bike parking in Portland, just announced the location of their long-awaited second store: It’s coming to the Lloyd District as the anchor tenant in the new Hassalo on Eighth development.

A rendering of the new 8,203 square-foot store shows that it will face directly onto NE Multnomah Street (between 7th and 9th), which just so happens to be home of Portland’s best protected bike lane. That fact, combined with Green Zebra’s stellar level of respect for bicycling customers in general, has led the company’s founder and CEO Lisa Sedlar to estimate that half of the store’s customers will show up by bike, on foot, or via public transportation.

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Green Zebra isn’t your typical grocery store. Think of a healthier version of the ubiquitous corner convenience store or mini-mart. Sedlar told us back in September 2013 before opening her first store that, “The model itself is built on the idea of a 20-minute neighborhood, so all your goods and services are built to be available within a 20-minute walk or bike.”

The announcement of a Lloyd District location comes amid a flurry of new development in the area. The redesign of NE Multnomah from auto-dominated thoroughfare to a calmer, more balanced street with a protected area for cycling has influenced a major redesign of the Lloyd Center Mall and has also become a selling point for the Hassalo on Eighth development. That development includes three separate buildings with over 650 apartments and the largest bike parking facility in North America with 1,200 spaces.

The new store is scheduled to open in early 2016.

— Stay tuned for more coverage later today when we wrap up The District, our in-depth three-part series about the past, present and future of the Lloyd District and what it means for how we get around.


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Three blocks of NE 15th/16th in Lloyd to get major walking and biking upgrade

Three blocks of NE 15th/16th in Lloyd to get major walking and biking upgrade

15th 16th near halsey

The 15th/16th curve before any changes.
(Image: Google Street View)

The divided four-lane street that runs between the Holladay Park Plaza senior-housing skyscraper and the Lloyd Center Mall is about to get a lot easier to cross.

For most of the distance between Northeast Multnomah and Halsey streets, two of the four current general travel lanes on Northeast 15th/16th will be converted to massive five-foot-wide cross-hatched buffers. The bike lanes, meanwhile, will be widened from five feet to seven. Finally, a zebra crosswalk and median refuge will also be added between the Holladay Park Plaza tower, just east of 15th/16th, and the mall parking lot, just west.

The link is significant to the city’s biking network because the rapidly developing Lloyd District currently offers no low-stress biking connections between the Multnomah Street protected bike lane and the neighborhoods to the north, including the commercial district on Broadway and Weidler.

15th and 16th is currently so “overbuilt” with excess traffic capacity, city traffic engineer Andrew Sullivan said Wednesday, that even if auto traffic on the street were to double, the planned restriping wouldn’t lead to any additional travel delay for people driving compared to what they see today.

15th 16th striping plan overhead

A city plan for striping 15th/16th, to be completed in July.
(Click here for full PDF, including the block between Halsey and Weidler.)

The crosswalks are being built now; the restriping will take place after the street comes up for regular repaving this July. The infrastructure budget of about $40,000 comes from the local business association, Go Lloyd, which receives about half of the district’s parking meter revenue to spend on projects that reduce the need for driving.

Sullivan and project manager Chris Armes said the restriping will improve walking safety by removing the “double threat” that occurs whenever a street has two lanes in the same direction. When one car yields to someone in a crosswalk, a second car sometimes won’t.

“He says, there’s no way. The mall’s not going to support this. And there’s a silence in the meeting, and we’re like, Oh shit, this is it.
— Kiel Johnson, local resident on project committee

The city had previously considered its standard treatment for such streets these days, a rapid-flash button-activated beacon, but discarded that concept because Go Lloyd couldn’t afford it.

But the one-lane design will actually be better than a beacon, Sullivan said.

“Rather than doing one small improvement with a really big price tag, it actually benefits people no matter where they decide to cross,” he said.

The design will essentially result in 12-foot-wide buffered bike lanes, maybe the widest such in the city. Sullivan said the city decided against physical protection to keep the project quick and simple.

“If it becomes a problem where people are driving in the bike lane, that kind of thing, we can always come in with operational funding and put in signs, striping, more planters,” he said.

Like on nearby Multnomah Street, the new southbound bike lane will end as it approaches the intersection, being replaced with a right-turn lane marked with a sharrow. Sullivan said this so-called “mixing zone” was installed because bikes will have to mix with motor traffic anyway because TriMet’s No. 8 bus, which uses this stretch, has a stop north of Multnomah on 16th.

“Portland State University’s ‘Lessons From the Green Lane Project’ study looked at mixing zones similar to those proposed on this project and found that they have a very good safety record in low-speed environments such as NE 15th/16th Ave,” Sullivan wrote. (On the other hand, the same study found that, actual safety aside, 25 percent of current bike users feel generally unsafe while pedaling through the mixing zones on Multnomah.)

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Neighborhood advocate: Redesign only got consensus because it wasn’t seen as a bike project

Multnomah Street, a nearby project that has drawn tens of millions of dollars in real estate investment since two of the four auto lanes were repurposed to add parking spaces and wider, protected bike lanes.

Kiel Johnson, a Lloyd District resident and biking advocate who took part in the meetings planning for this project, said he believes the plan nearly died when Dennis Henderson, the Lloyd Center Mall’s operations director, learned in a neighborhood meeting that it would reduce the number of auto lanes on a nearby street.

“He says, there’s no way. The mall’s not going to support this,” Johnson recalled. “And there’s a silence in the meeting, and we’re like, Oh shit, this is it. You could just see the panic in everyone’s face.”

But Johnson said the other people on the committee, all of whom favored the project, explained to him that it was the traffic signal, not the number of traffic lanes, that actually restricted the street’s capacity. Then the group walked outside to look at the street.

“There was already, like, a place where people had trampled the vegetation,” Johnson said. “You could see that there was a pedestrian island defacto there. … And by the time we’re outside, the guy from the mall is making suggestions and he’s on board. … I think maybe he just felt a little caught off guard.”

Johnson said it was a lesson for him in how to sell a project to skeptical neighbors.

“I think if the city had put on the meeting and said, ‘Okay, we’re going to put on this road diet,’ it wouldn’t have worked,” said Johnson. “I think the biggest thing was there’s already a community group there that was all on board with this project, and it was the community asking for it and not the city trying to make it happen.”

Another key factor in getting the mall’s approval, Johnson thought: no one mentioned bicycling.

“The whole meeting, it wasn’t about bikes at all; it didn’t talk about bikes or how this would make things better for bikes,” he said. “Which I think is so sad.”


The post Three blocks of NE 15th/16th in Lloyd to get major walking and biking upgrade appeared first on BikePortland.org.

City preps to cut speed limit on four mid-sized streets

City preps to cut speed limit on four mid-sized streets

First look at NE Multnomah project-4

Slower.
(Photo by J. Maus/BikePortland)

The Portland Bureau of Transportation is ordering slower traffic speeds on four streets, three of which have recently been redesigned to be more neighborhood-friendly.

The four are Southwest Vermont Street from Capitol Highway to SW 45th near Gabriel Park, which will go from 35 to 30 mph; SW Multnomah Boulevard from Interstate 5 to SW 31st, going from 45 to 35 mph; NE Glisan Street from 27th to 79th, going from 35 to 30 mph; and NE/SE 47th Avenue from NE Tillamook to SE Oak, going from 30 to 25 mph.

All four streets have bike lanes for some or all of those segments.

PBOT spokeswoman Diane Dulken said Wednesday that the Vermont project had been triggered by a recent sidewalk infill project. Multnomah was redesigned in 2014 to add raised bike lanes for a few blocks. Part of Glisan was restriped in 2014 to remove passing lanes and add street parking and a crosswalk refuge.

“When we do a project, whether it’s a road reconfiguration or a sidewalk infill project or some other project, then part of that work, part of what we do is we evaluate speed, whether those speeds are appropriate for the new design or the improvements that are going in,” Dulken said. “We then put in the recommendation to ODOT and go through that process.”

The speed limit changes are already complete on 47th and Glisan, both of which were marked with the new speeds late last month. Dulken said Vermont’s change is likely to take effect “early this year” and Multnomah’s is “planned for this year.”

We previously mentioned the Glisan speed limit change on Tuesday in a post that also called attention to a new character in the bike lane there.

Beneath that post, BikePortland reader Cory Poole wrote about the effect of the recent change on 47th to his family’s neighborhood.

“I live on 47th between burnside and stark,” wrote Poole. “The city reduced the speed limit to 25 and we have noticed a HUGE difference in traffic speed. Before it was routine to see cars go by at 40 mph. This on a road that is used heavily by bicycles and has no shoulder or bike lane. Thanks to whoever made this happen!”

Correction 2/5: A previous version of this story referred to a different quadrant of Multnomah. The one discussed here is in Southwest.

The post City preps to cut speed limit on four mid-sized streets appeared first on BikePortland.org.

City preps to cut speed limit on four mid-sized streets

City preps to cut speed limit on four mid-sized streets

First look at NE Multnomah project-4

Slower.
(Photo by J. Maus/BikePortland)

The Portland Bureau of Transportation is ordering slower traffic speeds on four streets, three of which have recently been redesigned to be more neighborhood-friendly.

The four are Southwest Vermont Street from Capitol Highway to SW 45th near Gabriel Park, which will go from 35 to 30 mph; SW Multnomah Boulevard from Interstate 5 to SW 31st, going from 45 to 35 mph; NE Glisan Street from 27th to 79th, going from 35 to 30 mph; and NE/SE 47th Avenue from NE Tillamook to SE Oak, going from 30 to 25 mph.

All four streets have bike lanes for some or all of those segments.

PBOT spokeswoman Diane Dulken said Wednesday that the Vermont project had been triggered by a recent sidewalk infill project. Multnomah was redesigned in 2014 to add raised bike lanes for a few blocks. Part of Glisan was restriped in 2014 to remove passing lanes and add street parking and a crosswalk refuge.

“When we do a project, whether it’s a road reconfiguration or a sidewalk infill project or some other project, then part of that work, part of what we do is we evaluate speed, whether those speeds are appropriate for the new design or the improvements that are going in,” Dulken said. “We then put in the recommendation to ODOT and go through that process.”

The speed limit changes are already complete on 47th and Glisan, both of which were marked with the new speeds late last month. Dulken said Vermont’s change is likely to take effect “early this year” and Multnomah’s is “planned for this year.”

We previously mentioned the Glisan speed limit change on Tuesday in a post that also called attention to a new character in the bike lane there.

Beneath that post, BikePortland reader Cory Poole wrote about the effect of the recent change on 47th to his family’s neighborhood.

“I live on 47th between burnside and stark,” wrote Poole. “The city reduced the speed limit to 25 and we have noticed a HUGE difference in traffic speed. Before it was routine to see cars go by at 40 mph. This on a road that is used heavily by bicycles and has no shoulder or bike lane. Thanks to whoever made this happen!”

Correction 2/5: A previous version of this story referred to a different quadrant of Multnomah. The one discussed here is in Southwest.

The post City preps to cut speed limit on four mid-sized streets appeared first on BikePortland.org.

Proposed changes to Lloyd Center Mall entrance will face protected bike lane

Proposed changes to Lloyd Center Mall entrance will face protected bike lane

lloyd center entrance rendering

Plans for the new south-facing mall entrance also include a row of sidewalk-facing storefronts and 34 covered bike parking spaces just inside the garage.
(Images: Waterleaf Architecture via City of Portland. Click to enlarge.)

After decades of keeping its shops (and Portland’s most famous skating rink) behind the bars of its parking garage, the Lloyd Center is planning a change.

As we reported last winter, the new owners of the mall have planned a new “grand entrance” that will slice away part of the rarely crowded garage in order to welcome foot and bike traffic from Multnomah Street, Holladay Park and the Lloyd Center MAX station.

The city published the first detailed architectural renderings last week, part of preparations for a public hearing about the new design.

According to the documents, the new mall entrance would create a 10,825-square-foot plaza with stormwater and landscape planters, outdoor seating areas and a “green wall” screening the garage with covered bike parking just behind it.

entrance rendering wider

A wider view of the new south-facing mall entrance shows that the garage will still dominate the streetscape west of Holladay Park, but get a new sign.
lloyd entrance schematic

An overhead schematic of the plans. (North is to the right.) Click to enlarge, or see the full city document.

The mall also hopes to build a row of several aluminum storefronts stretching to the east of the entrance, turning the mostly dead row of pillars that currently faces Multnomah into sidewalk-facing retail.

storefront renderings eastward

Southeast of the mall, looking west toward Macy’s.

The remodel is a change of course for Portland’s largest shopping mall, which was purchased for $148 million in June 2013 by Dallas-based Cypress Equities. A few months later, Nordstrom announced that it would close its anchor store. Malls are struggling across the country amid retail competition from Amazon and other discounters.

In that environment, Cypress’ investment in the Multnomah entrance seems to be a vote of confidence in the mall itself and in Multnomah Street, which was redesigned in 2012 to include protected bike lanes. Local property owners supported the redesign, saying it would calm auto traffic, make the street more pleasant to spend time on and lead to street retail development.

Last January, former city Transportation Director Tom Miller, who helped strike the deal to change Multnomah, said he believed redeveloping the area’s many surface parking lots could create “one of America’s truly great streets.”

mall entrance today

The mall’s southern entrance today. This area would eventually become storefronts under the phased plan.

In a tour of the nearby Hassalo on Eighth retail/apartment development on Monday, American Assets Trust CEO John Chamberlain cited the mall remodel as one of several reasons he was willing to bet on the rising appeal of the Lloyd District as a residential and street retail hub.

The rapidly advancing plans for the area are not unlike the “second downtown” that California oil millionaire Ralph Lloyd envisioned in 1923 when he bought the huge tracts of land north of Sullivan’s Gulch.

After Lloyd failed (despite extensive lobbying) to convince governments to kickstart his vision by moving their offices to his property, he and his children had decided to develop the biggest slice of their property as an innovative new use of urban real estate in the 1950s: a shopping mall.

The post Proposed changes to Lloyd Center Mall entrance will face protected bike lane appeared first on BikePortland.org.

A Labor Day treat: the lovely new bike-walk-run mural at the Doubletree

A Labor Day treat: the lovely new bike-walk-run mural at the Doubletree

mural wide

The new mural on the south side of Multnomah Street in the Lloyd District, one in a string of investments in the streetscape that have been made since the installation of a protected bike lane on the street.
(Photo: Craig Harlow)

Both Jonathan and I are out of town until tonight, so your regularly scheduled news roundup will be published on Tuesday this week.

For now, take a moment to celebrate a gift workers at the Doubletree Hotel gave the city last Thursday. It’s a beautiful celebration of Portlanders’ love of physical activity.

BikePortland readers may remember the Doubletree as the Lloyd District establishment that volunteered to host one of the biggest off-street public bike parking areas in the city, and the one that once dumped an event vendor that illegally parked a truck in the Multnomah Street protected bike lane.

Now, reader Craig Harlow writes to note that the hotel added this mural to its windows on the south side if Multnomah along the protected lane, “giving a little life to what’s been a mostly dead wall for years.”

That’s work we can believe in. Happy holiday, Portland, and see you tomorrow.

mural closeup

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Seeing business upsides, Old Town retailers propose protected bike lanes on 2nd, 3rd

Seeing business upsides, Old Town retailers propose protected bike lanes on 2nd, 3rd

Old Town Chinatown-2

Inspired by the changes on NE Multnomah in the Lloyd District, a new proposal would transform SW 2nd and 3rd avenues.
(Photo by J. Maus/BikePortland)

A coalition of 30 Old Town bars, restaurants and entertainment venues is proposing adding a quarter-mile of planter-protected bike lanes and street cafe seating to 2nd and/or 3rd avenues.

Inspired by nearby projects on SW Ankeny and NE Multnomah, the six-month-old Old Town Hospitality Group sees their experimental road diet concept, which could narrow the streets’ car-oriented area from three travel lanes to one or two and might remove some on-street auto parking, as a way to make the neighborhood safer, more comfortable and better to do business in.

Dan Lenzen, owner of the Dixie Tavern at NW Couch and 3rd (“Downtown’s biggest party every Fri & Sat night”), said the recently redesigned Multnomah Street, which converted two general travel lanes to planter-protected bike lanes, is “our model.”

“I love that thing,” Lenzen said. “When I ran into that I was like, ‘Wow, this is an awesome multi-use street.’”

The proposal (see it below) is one of a buffet of proposed changes motivated by the anticipated end, this fall, of a different program that has closed Old Town’s entertainment district to all vehicle traffic late on weekend nights. If successful, the new plan could create a comfortable new bike route that might one day link the Steel and Hawthorne bridges. It’d also be consistent with early versions of the city’s West Quadrant Plan, which has discussed designating both 2nd and 3rd avenues as all-ages bike routes through Old Town.

3rd ave concepts

Above and below: three concept sketches by the Old Town Hospitality Group for a redesigned NW 3rd Avenue near Couch Street. On these maps, south is up. Click to enlarge.
3rd ave concept 3

Howard Weiner, chair of the Old Town Chinatown Community Association, supports the idea, which is seen as stretching from NW Glisan to SW Pine. He, too, thinks making the area less car-oriented could be good for business.

“I remember when they said they were closing down Ankeny and I was like, ‘Who cares? It’s an alley,’” said Weiner, who also owns Cal Skate Skateboards at NW 6th and Davis. “Now look at it. It’s thriving.”

Howard Weiner in Old Town-1

Howard Weiner on SW 3rd earlier today.

Weiner said the concept is in “very, very preliminary conversations” with the city and others. But he’s enthusiastic.

“We will be turning in recommendations in September or October” to Mayor Charlie Hales’ office, Weiner said.

Both the new hospitality group that Lenzen helps organize and the broader community association that Weiner leads are somewhat dissatisfied with the current situation in Old Town every weekend: police-enforced barricades on Friday and Saturday nights that block all car and bike traffic in a six-block area that includes eight late-night clubs, bars and event spaces.

Both Lenzen and Weiner said that operation has successfully reduced conflicts between people walking and driving, but that patrons have complained about the heavy police presence, the frequent need to tow cars from the area and the difficulty of navigating the barricades.

Instead, businesses are looking for a “24-hour solution” that would calm traffic permanently rather than banning it two nights a week.

vancouver planters

A planter-protected bike lane in Vancouver BC might have some similar elements to the concept floated by the Old Town Hospitality Group.
(Photo: M.Andersen)

Lenzen thinks that using protected bike lanes and street seating to narrow the wide pavement on 2nd and 3rd streets would do the trick. Meanwhile, the bike lanes would make it easier for people to get north and south across Burnside, a longtime goal of local businesses, and converting auto parking spaces to street seating would let more restaurants offer outdoor cafe seating.

He thinks businesses would be happy to cover the maintenance cost for planters that might separate bike and car traffic.

“I think we’ve got a heck of an opportunity to beautify that area,” he said. “I would buy a planter myself.”

Lenzen said he’s proud of the amount of consensus that’s emerged for the idea so far among Old Town hospitality businesses.

“It’s a start, and we’re going to keep on fine-tuning this thing,” he said. “And I’m going to lead the charge and try to manage the speeding train.”

The post Seeing business upsides, Old Town retailers propose protected bike lanes on 2nd, 3rd appeared first on BikePortland.org.

Task force agrees: Make NE Multnomah protected bike lanes permanent

Task force agrees: Make NE Multnomah protected bike lanes permanent

People parking cars in the bikeway is a major
issue that needs to be addressed in a
permanent design.
(Photo sent in by reader Brian M.)

The private task force that developed the NE Multnomah Street Pilot Project met last week and decided that Portland’s marquee protected bikeway project should be a permanent fixture in the Lloyd District.

According to Lindsay Walker, head of the bicycle program for transportation management association Go Lloyd, “The stakeholders were all in agreement that we’d like to see the pilot project transition to something permanent.”

The task force is made up of PBOT staff, Lloyd District real estate developers, representatives from the Lloyd Center Mall (who are planning a new “grand entrance” on Multnomah), the Rose Quarter/Portland Trail Blazers, the Portland Development Commission, and a citizen activist who works in the Lloyd.

Walker says that they spent most of the meeting discussing what’s working, what’s not (and how to fix the problems), and listening to feedback from adjacent property owners. While some significant “operational issues” remain (the biggest one being vehicles blocking the bikeway), there have been enough observed benefits of the new bikeway that it’s not going anywhere.

First look at NE Multnomah project-12

These plastic wands will likely be
replaced in a permanent design.
(Photo J. Maus/BikePortland)

Now it’ll be up to a public process from PBOT to decide what design changes will make the bikeway work even better. Since it was installed about 16 months ago, the bikeway is already showing significant signs of wear and tear. Many of the plastic bollards have been run over, large concrete planters have been moved, the yellow paint in the buffer zone is faded, and so on. A permanent facility would need more separation provided by concrete (not just paint) in order to keep people from parking cars in the bikeway.

Craig Harlow, a citizen representative on the task force, told us he’s “cautiously optimistic” about the future of NE Multnomah. “I’ll be looking forward to plenty of future discussion about a possible ‘world-class bikeway’ design, as was heralded by PBOT staff when the pilot project was being planned.”

Harlow hopes that some of the upcoming discussion will include the topic of a new bicycling and walking bridge over I-84 on NE 7th Avenue. The time might be right to talk about that project, given the dramatic changes the Lloyd District has seen with the addition of the new streetcar line, this new bikeway on NE Multnomah, the current construction of the 657 unit Hassalo on Eighth project, and so on. “It’s all speculation,” Harlow wrote via email about a new I-84 bridge, “but all very germane to the discussion of how a world-class remake of NE Multnomah will address the evolving and growing demand of low-car residents and other users of the Lloyd District in the future.”

“Portland is now playing catch-up when it comes to implementing separated bikeways. We have a chance with this project to get back into the game.”
— Craig Harlow, task force member

Another new wrinkle in this project is a Bureau of Environmental Services project that will include major sewer pipe work in the middle of NE Multnomah. Walker said the potential of that project puts any plans for Multnomah in “a bit of a holding pattern.” If BES does indeed tear up Multnomah it could be an opportunity to build a new, high-quality bikeway from a clean slate. But on the other hand, it could delay any improvements indefinitely.

Regardless of a future BES project, Walker says in the immediate short-term we can expect to see the paint and plastic wands “spruced up or replaced since they already look much older than their age. In the longer-term, there seems to be support from property owners along the corridor to replace the plastic wands entirely — perhaps with more planter barriers the entire length of the street.

With its proximity to major commercial destinations, housing, transit, and hotels, NE Multnomah can retain its position as Portland’s marquee protected bikeway; but to keep up with other leading cycling cities, it sorely needs a facelift. Or, as Harlow puts it, “With precedents already being set in many other US cities, Portland is now playing catch-up when it comes to implementing separated bikeways. We have a chance with this project to get back into the game.”

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