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Reform school: PSU will host a free ‘Summer Transportation Institute’ for girls

Reform school: PSU will host a free ‘Summer Transportation Institute’ for girls

Sunday-Parkways-SE-2012-3

It’ll be an introduction to transportation careers.
(Photo: J.Maus/BikePortland)

If you’re a female high schooler with a yen for understanding how cities work and how to help them evolve, Portland State Unviersity has a deal for you.

PSU’s Transportation Research and Education Center is offering its first-ever Summer Transportation Institute, a two-week course designed to introduce young women (rising into grades 9-12) to the possibilities of a career in shaping streets. It’ll be divided between (a) guest lectures from prominent women in Portland’s transportation world and (b) “field tours of Portland’s transportation infrastructure and public spaces.”

Here’s how the course description puts it:

The transportation work force needs all types of personalities: analytical thinkers, social movers, and creative dreamers. …

The majority of the program will be taught by women working in transportation in the academic, public and private sectors. The objective is not only to expose high school girls to academic and career opportunities in transportation but also to provide them with a narrative of the road to success from each of the professional women.

Portland provides a living laboratory for the students to experience and study multiple modes of transportation in the field. Portland is unique in the United States for its breadth of high quality transportation facilities such as the light rail, streetcar and bicycle and pedestrian network.








psusummercamplogo

The course runs from Monday, July 11 to Friday, July 21. If you’d like to see whether it might be a good fit for you, PSU has prepared a transportation quiz to help test your “transportation aptitude.” (Note: after a couple trial runs, I strongly suspect that it is not actually possible to fail this quiz.)

If that’s not enough, the program is literally administered by a rock star.

Sarah Dougher (also a singer and rock musician whose day job happens to be at PSU) said in an interview Wednesday that the school hopes to make this the first of an annual tradition.

“There are these camps all over the country,” she said. “Depending on where it takes place, it looks very different in different communities. Ours is going to have a lot on biking and walking, though not exclusively that. Also, we’re interested in thinking about social justice in relation to transportation.”

Though the official deadline for the course is May 27, Dougher said they’re being processed on a rolling basis. So it may be OK to keep applying past the deadline, but the longer you wait the more competition you’ll be facing.

“As girls become interested and apply, then we’ll get back to them once their application is complete,” Dougher said.

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

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Even in suburban Oregon, drive-alone trips are a shrinking share of new commutes

Even in suburban Oregon, drive-alone trips are a shrinking share of new commutes

Beaverton to Tualatin ride-2

Bike commuter Jim Parsons in Washington County.
(Photo: J.Maus/BikePortland)

The Portland metro area seems to have already discovered how to slow the growth of traffic congestion, the city’s bicycle planning coordinator said Friday. But it’s not investing in it very quickly.

Between 2000 and 2014, the three Oregon counties in the metro area added 122,000 new commuters. And inside the Metro urban growth boundary, less than half of that net growth came from people driving alone in cars.

The “primary reason” rush-hour traffic hasn’t gotten worse twice as fast over the last 15 years, Portland Bicycle Planning Coordinator Roger Geller concluded in an exploration of Census data presented at Portland State University Friday, is “Portland’s significant growth in bicycling and working at home.”

Inspired in part by other Geller comments, we’ve written about this phenomenon before. But we haven’t written about just how much difference the decline in driving rates has made not only in Portland but in suburban areas.

Looking at the region as a whole, these blue bars in Geller’s presentation show the number of new commuters (including telecommuters and other work-at-home folks) by mode from 2000 to 2014:

regional commuters actual

And the orange bars here show what this would have looked like if metro-area transportation behavior hadn’t changed since 2000:

regional commuters hypothetical

Fortunately for the area, those patterns did change. In Multnomah County, the biggest factor was biking, with work-at-home a close second. (Again, the orange bars show what would have happened without a change in people’s transportation behavior and the blue bars show what actually happened, so it’s useful to look at the difference between the two bars.) The rate of mass transit use, unfortunately, declined a bit despite the Yellow, Red and Green MAX lines all opening during this period.

multco commuting trend

In Washington County (that’s Hillsboro, Beaverton, Tigard and points west), transit, biking and work-at-home were approximately equal factors in defraying the growth of driving:

washco commuting trend

And in Clackamas County (that’s Milwaukie, Clackamas, Lake Oswego and points south), the big change was work-at-home, with an assist from bicycling and to a somewhat lesser extent the other modes:

clackaco commuting trend





Geller is, of course, proud of the role bicycling has played in keeping the region moving despite so many new residents and jobs. But he’s also frustrated by the amount of driving that’s still happening.

“Clearly, not enough people are choosing to use transit,” Geller, who noted that he is “not a transit expert,” said in his presentation. “Driving is very easy in this city, and once you own a car it doesn’t cost very much.”

As the Portland region continues to grow, the stakes are high. This is the scariest slide in Geller’s presentation: a projection of new commute trips created in the next 19 years if the region remains at 2014 driving rates.

Screenshot 2016-05-17 at 12.19.39 PM

Geller has pointed out that unless Portland can reduce driving, this number of additional car trips would require “23 Powell Boulevards” to lace through the City of Portland alone.

Another thing Geller seems understandably frustrated by: the fact that even though biking has been such a huge factor in reducing drive-alone trips over the last 15 years, the region is investing almost nothing in it. He shared this chart, pointing out that even though the region’s biking-walking infrastructure plan is far cheaper than its driving and transit plans (and even though it’s been delivering such high returns on investment so far) the bike infrastructure plan isn’t on track to be funded until the year 2209.

2209

This Thursday, Metro’s regional JPACT committee will make a key vote over how to divvy up $17.4 million created by the new federal transportation bill among biking/walking infrastructure, transit infrastructure or road widening. The Bicycle Transportation Alliance is currently fighting to try to persuade to at the very least not spend this money on road widening.

Here’s Geller’s full slideshow from last Friday, which you can also download as a PDF.

And here’s the video of his presentation, with questions at the end:

Correction 1:30 pm: An earlier version of this post overstated the amount of non-car driving in suburban areas.

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

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Free webinar Thursday will explore the potential of e-bikes

Free webinar Thursday will explore the potential of e-bikes

The Ohm electric-assist bicycle-6.jpg

Electron-powered.
(Photo: J.Maus/BikePortland)

As electric-assist bikes take over more and more of the global bicycle market, they’re growing in the United States and Portland too.

Last year, Portland snagged its third and fourth e-bike specialty stores. Next month, we’ll host the Electric Bike Expo for the first time. And this week, Portland State University is sharing some of the only modern academic research on the domestic e-bike market.







It’ll be presented in a free online presentation by John MacArthur of the Transportation Research and Education Center at PSU. Back in 2013, PSU scored funding for a pilot project that connected local commuters with folding e-bikes.

The results of that and related research has been gradually trickling out of MacArthur’s office. Thursday’s seminar will offer the latest insights on how e-bikes fit (or are currently failing to fit) into the lives of real commuters.

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

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

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‘When you have it, it’s priceless’: Nine questions for Seleta Reynolds

‘When you have it, it’s priceless’: Nine questions for Seleta Reynolds

Seleta Reynolds

Los Angeles transportation director Seleta Reynolds.
(Photo via TREC at PSU)

Seleta Reynolds gets results.

As we reported last week, the city whose livable streets program she led for three years, San Francisco, has subsequently delivered the nation’s most consistent string of boosts in bike commuting.

She’s now one year into a vastly larger gig: transportation director for the City of Los Angeles, which turned millions of heads last month when it rolled out a citywide plan to gradually reallocate numerous auto lanes to create dedicated bus lanes and 300 miles of protected bike lanes.

She’s also one of the most reflective transportation leaders in the country, as the interview below makes clear. Ahead of her free Oct. 6 talk at Ecotrust, we caught up with Reynolds to discuss her advice for Portland’s advocates and bureaucrats, the arguments for biking that work best and whether Portland is still cool.

How did you get into this stuff?

Sort of by accident. when I graduated from college, I didn’t have any idea what I wanted to do. I just started cold-calling people that I found just randomly. Through a friend, I got an internship at the City of Oakland.

“When I spray-painted my first dot and then went back to see there was not only a bike rack there but a bike was parked at it, it was love at first sight.”

All the folks that I talked to, they were smart, they were generous, and they were all engaged in what they were doing. And I thought, that’s interesting, you don’t see that every day. When I spray-painted my first dot and then went back to see there was not only a bike rack there but a bike was parked at it, it was love at first sight.

So you’re part of the secret cabal of liberal arts students who run the country’s active transportation movement?

As a history major, it’s very similar to history. You can I can see the same event and have a vigorous debate about it. Transportation is the same. We’re going to look at the same 80 feet of asphalt and think about who it’s for, why it’s there, how it’s going to be organized.

It’s as much art as it is science. I think that’s the trick of it. Although I have electrical engineers who build my signals, this not really about structural engineering. It’s not really about how much load the pylon will bear. It’s about how moving a stripe six inches to the left will impact human behavior.

How is your new hometown different than your last one?

Obviously it’s bigger. I think you can fit seven or eight San Franciscos into Los Angeles.

Los Angeles has extremely low voter turnout. Nine percent of the city’s population voted in the last mayoral election. in northern California, they vote at higher levels and I think that reflects a belief that you can actually affect government.

There is a much stronger equity streak in the bicycle and pedestrian advocacy here than there is in northern California, on social justice. Which I think is a legacy of the riots in Los Angeles, which really burned the city to the ground. The city had to have a really honest conversation with itself about the reasons that happened.

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What do people misunderstand about Los Angeles?

It’s a highly urban place. I live work and play in a city the size of Boston, because downtown is strong and getting stronger every day. It’s extremely walkable and bikable. A third of the people that live in and around downtown are zero-vehicle households. So I don’t experience the same kind of crushing traffic that I think is so associated with Los Angeles.

Street art at Hill and 4th-2-3

Street art at Hill and 4th, Los Angeles.
(Photos: J.Maus/BikePortland)

Earlier this year, Paul Steely White of TransAlt in NYC told us that “livable streets” arguments are turning out to be less powerful than “safe streets” arguments. “Livable streets” was your job title in San Francisco — what’s your take?

“Safety does not resonate with people as an argument for bike infrastructure. Because people perceive that bicyclists are poorly behaved.”

I have a lot of admiration and respect for him, but I would respectfully disagree, and say that’s a false choice. At least in Los Angeles, the idea of inviting people into the streets has been so powerful and revolutionary. We have the largest open-streets events in the country, the cicLAvia. People were afraid that nobody was going to show up. and it’s been such a tremendous success.

What safety is is above reproach. Safety is not a philosophical conversation. When you bring safety into it, you’re talking about something that really can’t be argued.

The problem is that you cannot use safety — and this is based on real focus group work that we did — safety does not resonate with people as an argument for bike infrastructure. Because people perceive that bicyclists are poorly behaved. People say that it’s bicyclists’ own fault that they get in these crashes. What good is a bike lane going to do? I would not agree, when it comes to bike infrastructure, that safety is persuasive. Pedestrian infrastructure is different.

What do you think of the argument that with so many problems in our cities, there’s no way to justify biking as a top priority?

The underlying assumption is that you have a fixed amount of political capital. I would really hope that you don’t have to choose between those things.

In Oakland, right before I left, people were talking about schools, they were talking about crime, they were talking about jobs. Nobody was talking about transportation. Transportation is about all of those things! I like to say, if you want to work on big-city problems, you should be in transportation. Because it’s about everything else.

The trouble isn’t choosing between schools and biking. The trouble is focusing on one mode as the transportation agenda. It can’t just be about biking. Biking is a tremendously important foundation, but it has to be about the broader array of transportation choices.

My California Adventure-29

Chinatown, Los Angeles.

As someone with lots of experience in city government, what advice do you have for advocates?

“In the best partnership, the advocates have clearly decided I’m going to work inside the building or I’m going to work outside the building.”

In the best partnership, first and foremost, the advocates have clearly decided I’m going to work inside the building or I’m going to work outside the building.

The second rule is that when things get tough, there is more communication instead of less communication. The tendency is that when things get difficult, both sides get super opaque.

The third thing I would say about that sort of successful collaboration is that there has to be space for real honesty. It’s okay in my experience when an advocacy organization comes in and say “Hey, we really hate what you’re doing with this project.” And the city can say “here are the challenges we were dealing with.” And the advocates can say, “We understand, we’re still going to go hard on you in the press.” Then we’ve both respected each other as equals.

Any advice for city officials?

I’ve always said: listen, the political will. When you have it, it’s priceless, and you don’t know when it’s going to be there tomorrow. When you have it, you need to jump on it.

Have you been to Portland before?

I lived there for a couple summers. It was in between my sophomore and junior and junior and senior years. It was the whole reason I came to the West Coast, because I loved Portland so much. I worked at the Noah’s Bagels on Hawthorne and then on Northwest 23rd. I did catering at the Rose Garden.

A lot of folks who work in the mayor’s office here, they’re under 30. I was talking to one of them about Portland. And he was like, “was that in the 90s?” He was like, “Oh yeah, back when it was really cool.” I was like, “Hey, it’s still pretty cool.”

Qs & As were edited. Reynolds returns to Portland Oct. 6 to deliver this year’s Ann Niles Transportation Lecture, an address about transportation issues from an out-of-town perspective hosted by the Transportation Research and Education Center. The event is free but it’s half-booked so far, and an RSVP is required for guaranteed seating. Update 6 pm: TREC now says the event is down to 20 seats out of 150.


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Event will spotlight “fearless” transportation ideas

Event will spotlight “fearless” transportation ideas

bigidea

Stagnation got you down?

Tired of over-compromised projects that don’t move the needle?

Looking for exciting transportation projects you can really sink your teeth into?

Than we’ve got an event for you!

The Oregon Transportation Research and Education Consortium (OTREC) is hosting Let’s be Fearless: Big Ideas for our Transportation Future on October 27th.

Here’s what it’s all about:

Portland is often considered the leader in progressive multi-modal transportation systems but we’re being rapidly outpaced by competitors such as Minneapolis, Chicago and New York City. Now is the time to think big and get creative if we’re going to continue our place as a transportation leader.

[Sort of reminds me of the Big Ideas contest we did back in 2010.]

The event will be held on Portland State University’s campus and will feature 15 of “Portland’s brightest minds and engaging personalities,” who will compete for your attention by selling their big idea for the future of Portland’s transportation system in three minutes or less.

Event organizer Susan Peithman is assembling an intriguing list of presenters. The list so far includes: urban planner Nick Falbo, the man behind the “protected intersection” design (and much more); Kelly Clifton, the researcher who has helped us understand the connection between mode choice and shopping habits; Sarah Mirk, the former Portland Mercury reporter turned author and online editor of Bitch Magazine; Chris Distefano, a veteran bicycle industry PR and marketing expert who now works for Rapha Performance Roadwear; and others.

Peithman says the goal of the event is to, “Get people out of their comfort zone of what is and get them thinking about what can be.”

The event will be emceed by Steph Routh, a non-profit technology and communications consultant who wrote the book on moving-by-bike.

OTREC also plans to unveil a new name and rebranding that Peithman says will, “reflect OTREC’s evolution as Portland State’s transportation research and education center.”

If you have a big idea, Peithman is happy to consider adding you to the event. Just send a short paragraph about it to peithman@pdx.edu.

— Full event details at OTREC.us

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Q&A: How Minnesota saves lives by spreading safety money thinly

Q&A: How Minnesota saves lives by spreading safety money thinly

27-tzd-groth400

Sue Groth, director of traffic, safety and technology
for the Minnesota Department of Transportation,
has been nationally recognized for overseeing rapid
drops in traffic fatalities.
(Photos: MnDOT)

Sue Groth’s job: use math and millions of dollars to stop injuries before they happen.

The team Groth leads at the Minnesota Department of Transportation has probably saved a few hundred lives over the last 10 years. In that time they’ve reinvented “highway safety” spending and seen traffic fatalities fall almost twice as fast as they have in Oregon and the rest of the country.

Groth is the plenary speaker at the Sept. 15 Oregon Transportation Summit hosted by OTREC at Portland State University. I caught her by phone last week to talk about MnDOT’s daring decision to give up some of the “gobs of money” it gets for highway safety and hand it to local agencies instead.

What’s the nature of your work on the safety movement called Vision Zero, also known as Toward Zero Deaths?
My state happened to be one of the first to adopt it. We have had a program for over 10 years now and have had some pretty good success. We don’t have to accept the fact that 400 people a year die on the roads in Minnesota, or 33,000 nationally.

“In the past, MnDOT would have just spent that money ourselves, because we have gobs of money to spend on safety. Now we would say, ‘No, we’re going to give that to the local level.’”
— Sue Groth, Vision Zero pioneer for MnDOT

400?
Oh, I’d better give you a precise number: 387. Minnesota’s had great success. One year we actually got down to 368.

(Editor’s note: 387, it turns out, is seven deaths per 100,000 Minnesotans, down 38 percent since 2002. The national rate is 11 per 100,000; Oregon’s rate is nine per 100,000. Both of those rates are down a little over 20 percent since 2002.)

Wow. Is it just that Swedish people are good drivers?
(laughs) No, it’s more than that. We’ve got good people but we’ve also got good laws and have really made this a priority. When we started this program and started to look at where these were happening, we realized that a lot of the crashes were happening on our local system.

The majority of our fatal and serious crashes happen in rural areas. But in rural areas you don’t have a particular type of intersection or curve that is deadly. These types of crashes tend to happen somewhat randomly. You might not have a “dead man’s curve.” But you could take this money and spread it over a lot of little intersections: lower-cost strategies like pavement markings and lights and signing.

In the past, MnDOT would have just spent that money ourselves, because we have gobs of money to spend on safety. Now we would say, ‘No, we’re going to give that to the local level.’

Who is doing all the calculations you mention? State staff?
We used federal safety dollars and consulting staff to work with the county engineers. We wanted to make sure that the counties could embrace it. And it’s not just the infrastructure. Ninety-three percent of crashes include human error, something that a driver does wrong. You’ve got to address not only the roadway, but the human too.

My impression had been that in Sweden, where Vision Zero was developed, they assume people will always do dumb things, so they focus entirely on the roadway and don’t bother trying to educate users.
I think in the United States we still have a lot we can do with the human side. Thirty percent of our fatal crashes involve drunk driving. (Editor’s note: In Sweden the ratio is between 15 and 20 percent.)

The main knock I’ve heard against Vision Zero comes from street-safety advocates who think it’s just the latest buzzword, that we’re going to clap ourselves on the back and keep doing the same thing.
That’s interesting. To me, it is so not a buzzword. Because we are doing so much differently than we did 10 years ago that it’s incredible.

Why is safety such a powerful argument in the transportation world?
You can look at the sheer numbers of people and the economic cost. But that is nothing compared to anybody who’s ever lost somebody in a traffic death. It’s so personal and it’s so widespread. You never really get over it. That I think is very compelling for lawmakers and public policy people.

25-mediancable2

Cable median barriers in Minnesota.

When we wanted to start installing cable barrier along our highways there was big pushback from certain parts of our orgnaization, because it was a new thing that they weren’t already doing: When it got hit, we would have to go out and fix it. But today, some of our workers say “This is the best thing we’ve ever done. We used to be the people who used to sit out here and close the road for six hours while they did a reconstruction of a fatal crash. We no longer are responding to those calls, because we have eliminated our fatal crashes.”

We did a study – and this was a pretty good study – we figured we’d saved 80 lives since we started installing this. 80 lives! That’s a lot of people who are going home at night. We don’t even know what life would have been like without those 80 people. I think that’s pretty compelling.

Registration for next month’s Oregon Transportation Summit is now open. Groth’s address, which will be joined by Leah Treat of Portland and Troy Costales of the Oregon Department of Transportation, will begin the event.

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‘Transit on Tap’ event will highlight Kaiser’s folding e-bike loan program

‘Transit on Tap’ event will highlight Kaiser’s folding e-bike loan program

ebikelead

A few employers own bicycles that they can loan to their workers as an introduction to bike commuting, but a Kaiser Permanente Northwest pilot program this year is taking that to the next level.

The health company is loaning folding e-bikes to 180 of its employees.

The goal is, in part, to increase active commutes by introducing more commuters to the transit-friendly vehicles that can address one of the biggest reasons workers neither bike or bus to work: they live too far away to bike, and too far from a bus stop to take transit.

Folding bikes with an electric assist, though, make it easy to pump up suburban hills to a bus stop a mile or two away.

Supporting the program is a $148,000 Metro grant that will also help monitor and analyze the behavior of the 180+ people who receive one of the 30 loaner bikes for cycles of three months each. We first wrote about the program last year.

“The plan is to create a replicable model for deployment within Kaiser as well as other area employers,” according to the Oregon Transportation Research and Education Consortium’s description of the project.

Curious about how Kaiser’s loaner program is working so far? We certainly are. You can find out more in two weeks at TriMet’s next “Transit on Tap” event on Tuesday, July 29, from 5 to 7 p.m. It’ll cover “Bikes and transit in the Portland area.” TriMet active transportation planner Jeff Owen and Kaiser consultant Lauren Whyte will be the featured guests, discussing this program and other bike/transit crossover issues.

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Researchers launch online survey for feedback on NE Multnomah cycle path

Researchers launch online survey for feedback on NE Multnomah cycle path

Screenshot from the web survey.

Last month, we reported that local academics were polling people in Portland’s newest protected bike lane to learn who likes it, who doesn’t, and if or how it’s changing people’s behavior.

Now, it’s the Internet’s turn. You, too, can now take the 20-minute online survey about NE Multnomah Street between Wheeler and 16th avenues.

“After conducting targeted ‘intercepts’ of bicyclists on NE Multnomah (you may have received a postcard invitation from us already), we are now opening the survey up to get as much feedback as possible,” Portland State University’s Chris Monsere writes on the survey page. “Hearing from bicyclists like yourself is a very important part of this study, and we hope you will participate. We will share our findings with the Portland Bureau of Transportation and hope that the results will help in future plans for improving bicycling in cities around the United States.”

This survey, dubbed the “Neighborhood Street Study” asks detailed questions about how people use NE Multnomah, what they think about it, and how it compares to other types of bikeway facilities.

The city has already been gathering traffic information, finding that bike traffic on Multnomah is up 15 percent in the protected lanes’ first year. But traffic isn’t everything. It’s useful for the study to find out more about who’s riding and why.

Separated from autos by a wide strip of beeswax yellow paint, a few parking spots, some plastic bollards and a set of concrete planters, Multnomah Street’s protected bikeway was the signature bike project from former Sam Adams staffer Tom Miller’s brief stint running the Portland Bureau of Transportation. It’s now part of a six-city study of how protected bike lanes are working.

The research is funded by People For Bikes’ Green Lane Project (full disclosure: I also work for People For Bikes; but we cover them only at Jonathan’s request) and by the Oregon Transportation Research and Education Consortium.

Is the new Multnomah Street working? Research could resonate nationally

Is the new Multnomah Street working? Research could resonate nationally

The new NE Multnomah -7

A few feet and a few objects to separate the traffic.
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

Local academics hit the curbs of the Lloyd District Friday to gather data that’ll examine Portlanders’ attitudes toward the neighborhood’s newest protected bike lane.

Separated from autos by a wide strip of beeswax yellow paint, a few parking spots, some plastic bollards and a set of concrete planters, Multnomah Street’s protected bikeway was the signature bike project from former Sam Adams staffer Tom Miller’s brief stint running the Portland Bureau of Transportation. It’s now part of a six-city study of how protected bike lanes are working.

The study’s leaders are Chris Monsere, Jennifer Dill, Kelly Clifton and Nathan McNeil, all of Portland State University. At the Oregon Transportation Summit last month, Monsere and Dill presented results from San Francisco, Austin and Washington DC suggesting that the protected bike lanes studied tend to be better-liked than unprotected ones among people using both cars and bikes. But they also found that the lanes didn’t lead to immediate spikes in the number of people biking on the street.

The study is happening even as the Federal Highway Administration prepares to gather information assessing whether the new designs are safe enough for a full-throated federal endorsement. With this data emerging at almost the same time, these results are likely to be closely watched by whichever professionals end up preparing the federal study.

The research is funded by PeopleForBikes’ Green Lane Project (full disclosure: my other gig; but we cover them only at Jonathan’s request) and by the Oregon Transportation Research and Education Consortium.

Separation like Multnomah’s is modeled after similar designs in use around the world and increasingly common in U.S. cities. (Canadian ones, too — the first North American city to use them widely was Montreal.)

Before installing it last year, the City of Portland described Northeast Multnomah’s design as a low-budget draft of what the street would eventually look like. With one of the city’s biggest apartment projects ever going up on this street (and offering fewer residential auto parking spaces than it’ll offer apartments) we’ll be interested to see what further changes might be in store.

Is the new Multnomah Street working? Research could resonate nationally

Is the new Multnomah Street working? Research could resonate nationally

The new NE Multnomah -7

A few feet and a few objects to separate the traffic.
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

Local academics hit the curbs of the Lloyd District Friday to gather data that’ll examine Portlanders’ attitudes toward the neighborhood’s newest protected bike lane.

Separated from autos by a wide strip of beeswax yellow paint, a few parking spots, some plastic bollards and a set of concrete planters, Multnomah Street’s protected bikeway was the signature bike project from former Sam Adams staffer Tom Miller’s brief stint running the Portland Bureau of Transportation. It’s now part of a six-city study of how protected bike lanes are working.

The study’s leaders are Chris Monsere, Jennifer Dill, Kelly Clifton and Nathan McNeil, all of Portland State University. At the Oregon Transportation Summit last month, Monsere and Dill presented results from San Francisco, Austin and Washington DC suggesting that the protected bike lanes studied tend to be better-liked than unprotected ones among people using both cars and bikes. But they also found that the lanes didn’t lead to immediate spikes in the number of people biking on the street.

The study is happening even as the Federal Highway Administration prepares to gather information assessing whether the new designs are safe enough for a full-throated federal endorsement. With this data emerging at almost the same time, these results are likely to be closely watched by whichever professionals end up preparing the federal study.

The research is funded by PeopleForBikes’ Green Lane Project (full disclosure: my other gig; but we cover them only at Jonathan’s request) and by the Oregon Transportation Research and Education Consortium.

Separation like Multnomah’s is modeled after similar designs in use around the world and increasingly common in U.S. cities. (Canadian ones, too — the first North American city to use them widely was Montreal.)

Before installing it last year, the City of Portland described Northeast Multnomah’s design as a low-budget draft of what the street would eventually look like. With one of the city’s biggest apartment projects ever going up on this street (and offering fewer residential auto parking spaces than it’ll offer apartments) we’ll be interested to see what further changes might be in store.