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South Waterfront plans ignore cyclists

Posted by on November 10th, 2005 at 10:18 am

PDOT and Portland Streetcar, Inc. are embarking on a major project in the South Waterfront district. This new area will be like another Pearl District; complete with a streetcar line, tons of retail shops, and high-density, super expensive condos. Sounds great right?

Unfortunately, from plans I saw and heard discussed at the recent Portland Bicycle Advisory Committee meeting, the options on the table make it painfully clear that bikes were an afterthought in the design process.

The current “best option” for bikes has us riding down the middle of a street on a narrow strip with streetcar and auto traffic running in both ways on either side of us! And it includes very dangerous transitions through intersections.

How can this be? We are supposed to be a bicycle friendly city and here we have a clean slate to develop an area and bikes are treated like second class citizens. How did the process get this far without acceptable bike facilities? Am I missing something here?

What really blows me away is that to my understanding the major players in the bike community were not made aware of this situation until a month ago, giving them no time to weigh in on the plans.

Tuesday night was the first I’d heard about this so I will post more when I know more. There’s a City Council meeting scheduled for next Wednesday, 9:30 AM at City Hall (1221 SW Fourth Ave.) where this issue will be discussed. We need to get as many cyclists as possible to attend and make our voices heard. (**see my comment on this below)

City planners and engineers in PDOT, ODOT and Portland Streetcar Inc. must realize that it is not acceptable for a project like this to move forward without making safe accommodations for cyclists.

Please direct your comments and concerns about these plans to Tom Miller, Chief of Staff and Transportation policy guy in Commissioner Adam’s office. Email – tommiller@ci.portland.or.us or call 503-823-1121. And you might as well CC your emails to Sam – commissionersam@ci.portland.or.us.

NOTE: At BikePortland, we love your comments. We love them so much that we devote many hours every week to read them and make sure they are productive, inclusive, and supportive. That doesn't mean you can't disagree with someone. It means you must do it with tact and respect. If you see an inconsiderate or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Thank you — Jonathan and Michael

  • Anonymous November 10, 2005 at 10:44 am

    do you know and could you post the time/location of the city council meeting?

    much appreciated.

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  • Jonathan Maus November 10, 2005 at 10:51 am

    I’m still trying to find out when and where there will be an opportunity to express our concern for this issue. Believe it or not, I don’t think there has been a forum for this yet.

    Stay tuned…

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  • Anonymous November 10, 2005 at 1:03 pm

    Maybe PDOT is just looking for a way to put their remaining supply of yellow “light rail endo” signs (like the one at NW Lovejoy NW 16th Ave) to good use…

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  • Dan November 10, 2005 at 1:35 pm

    A correction…Portland Streetcar is NOT an organization within ODOT.

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  • tim November 10, 2005 at 1:59 pm

    portland some times dose seem to bike friendly. do you know if the gondal will alow bikes

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  • Jonathan Maus November 10, 2005 at 2:10 pm

    Tim, yes the tram will definitely allow bikes. It will have bike facilities on-board and there will be bike parking at each station. I’ll post more about bikes on the tram soon.

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  • Portland Transport November 11, 2005 at 8:48 am

    A Painful Conflict

    Over at BikePortland.org, Jonathan reports on a conflict brewing between streetcars and bikes in the new South Waterfront development. As a multimodal alternative transportation advocate, it pains me greatly to see two modes that I love in conflict wit…

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  • Chris Smith November 11, 2005 at 8:53 am

    I’ve posted at length over at Portland Transport about this.

    I’ll just take a moment here to clarify some organization issues. Portland Streetcar, Inc. is a private non-profit that builds and operates the streetcar under contract with the City of Portland. It has no relationship to ODOT.

    I both serve on the board of Portland Streetcar, Inc. and serve as chair of the Portland Streecar Citizens Advisory Committee, a group that advises the Transportation Commissioner and City Council on issues related to the streetcar and the community (somewhat analagous to the Bicycle Advisory Committee).

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  • Chris Smith November 11, 2005 at 8:54 am

    Oh – and the City Council meeting on the 16th was cancelled for lack of a quorum – too many Commissioners are out of town.

    My understanding is that this will come up on the 23rd.

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  • Lenny Anderson November 11, 2005 at 11:36 am

    It does not surprise me that PDOT has failed to adequately plan for bicycles in South Waterfront.
    *there are bike lanes in the Rose Quarter only because of the threat of a lawsuit.
    *bikelanes were removed from Interstate at two MAX stations in order to provide more on street parking, but at last count PDOT could deliver only two parking slots on a 200 foot block face at Killingsworth.
    *the proposed Burnside/Couch couplet has no bikelanes…just a “separate but hardly equal” unfunded bridge over I-5 for Flanders.
    Is there a pattern here? Yes,
    Under the lack of leadership of the former Transportation Commissioner, PDOT staff defaulted to its old habit accommodating motorized traffic and lost sight of Portland’s multi-modal vision. Let’s hope that Mr. Adams can correct that, but it needs to be more than “we want to be Platinum.” It has to be…
    *finish the bike network! fill the gaps! everyday on my commute, I ride a nasty stretch of NE 7th Avenue where wide parking strips and on-street parking are judged more important than a bike rider’s health and safety.
    *initiate a landmark bikeway project like North Portland Greenway…comparable to the Eastbank Esplanade.
    *get the damn bike network signs up…I’ve been waiting 10 years for signs on NE Tillamook.
    *put bikes at the top of the list with transit as the desired mode in transportation and development projects in Portland, especially on Main Streets corridors, centers, close in neighborhoods, etc.
    Some like to beat their chests about Portland being a great bike city, but of late this has had a hollow ring. Where is the civic leadership’s response to the recent media assault on bicyclists? Where is the clear direction to PDOT engineers that bikes will be accommodated? Where are the signature projects that close the gaps and make a clear statement that this is a bike town? Platinum, my eye!

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  • […] As I reported earlier, initial designs for the South Waterfront development project were unsafe for cyclists. Several movers and shakers at City Hall put their heads together and got City Council to approve a more acceptable design in a resolution that passed this morning. […]

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