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Flanders crossing update: Shifting criticisms and a report from City Council

Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on April 30th, 2008 at 9:59 am

[Update: Download the presentation given by Commissioner Adams today at City Council (6MB, PDF)...or watch it on YouTube.]

Adams making his case to City Council.
(Bad phone photo)

City Council is poised to hear an ordinance this morning that will authorize PDOT to "enter into a contract with Max J. Kuney Construction, owner of the old Sauvie Island Bridge, to rehabilitate, relocate and acquire the old Sauvie Island Bridge center span for the purpose of moving it to NW Flanders St over I-405."

I'll start with a brief update on the project followed by some live reporting (below) once the proceedings begin.

Following the official announcement last week that Commissioners Sam Adams, Randy Leonard, and Dan Salztman had come to an agreement on how to move the project forward (and thus assuring a majority vote on Council), criticism about the project has continued from fronts old and new.

A slide from a presentation given by Commissioner Adams today
(Download full report here - 6MB, PDF)

Since it seems clear that the Sauvie span will be re-used (versus building a new bridge), arguments against the project have shifted to whether or not Portland needs a bridge at that location at all. The criticisms now seem to be focused on how this new bridge stacks up against other priorities.

Mayor Tom Potter has dug in with his opposition to the plan by releasing a statement on his website and penning an editorial in the Oregonian titled, It's not about bridges -- it's about fairness.

City Council hopeful Amanda Fritz -- who many would consider a bike-friendly candidate -- has also raised skepticisms about the project. In a blog post (and also in response to a question at the Candidates Gone Wild event) she has taken Mayor Potter's line of fiscal responsibility for questioning the idea. On her blog Fritz wrote, "I believe Portlanders who live in areas with few sidewalks, bike lanes, or paved streets, deserve basic urban services first."

Local blogger Jack Bogdanski has raised questions about how PDOT will manage the traffic engineering considerations (like new traffic signals at Flanders) raised by the installation of a new bridge. Read his post and take note of my comments in response at the end.

On the fundraising front, over 120 people showed up to the Pinot Pedal last weekend. NW Portland business owner Jeremy Saville helped put on the event as a fundraiser for the Flanders Crossing project and he said they raised $3,000 from the event. That would go with several other checks that have been written by other local businesses... More on the private fundraising situation later... the proceedings on the ordinance are starting right now...(refresh page for updates).

==========

Flanders Crossing Project at City Council

Commissioner Adams will present a powerpoint on the project (download Adam's presentation (6MB, PDF)). He's speaking now and several large posterboards have been set up.

Amy Ruiz from the Portland Mercury has put Adams' presentation on YouTube. Watch it below:

"I'm here with another non-controversial, low-profile project. [everyone laughs.] Since becoming Transportation Commissioner my pet project has been to save lives. The system is unsafe because it has been vastlu underfunded. There are some who object other project... based on fairness and equity... fairness and equity are things I have to deal with everyday.. it is a gruesome task for the City Council where we have to decide where to make investments not where people are being killed and injured, but hwere the most people are being killed or injured.

I assume the objections are made with good intentions and a desire to make fact-based spending decisions...

Based on statements I have read and/or watched in the media I would have objected to this project as well.

Adams is now giving a slide presentation. Download it here (6mb PDF).

The Frequently Asked Questions section of his presentation was interesting. Here are a few of them:

"Isn’t Council considering asking voters to approve a $450 million fee to pay for basic maintenance for our crumbling streets?"

•An important part of the Safe, Sound and Green Streets proposal are vital safety improvements. Like the Flanders Crossing Project, the SSGS proposal will save lives.
•Portland’s maintenance backlog is significant and grows by $9 million every year due to inflation alone.

====

“Don’t our transportation priorities start in East Portland?”

Most of PDOT’s One-Time General Fund Safety Projects are east of 72nd, Powell and Foster.

•76% of One-time funds for high crash locations
•73% of One-time funds for pedestrian safety projects 4 of 5
new red light cameras east of 82nd
•$1.5 million spent on signal safety project on 122nd
•100% of one-time funds for ADA curb ramps

===

Why do you spend so much money on bikes?

•0.7% of PDOT’s capital budget is for cycling improvements.
•6% of Portlanders use bikes as primary commute vehicle. Another 10% cycle as their secondary commute.
•The payoff is huge for public health, air quality, traffic congestion and the civic pocketbook.

===

“If crossing at Everett or Glisan isn’t good, why can’t cyclists and pedestrians just cross underneath the freeway at Johnson?”

For someone walking or bicycling on Glisan or Everett, using Johnson would mean traveling an extra six to ten blocks. They don’t do it now and they won’t do it in the future.

Crash data from Burnside, Everett and Glisan show that cyclists are more likely to stay on the high conflict streets rather than divert to other streets.

For cycling and walking to be effective modes of transportation, it has to be convenient, intuitive and safe.

===

Presentation is over and now questions are coming into Adams from Council.

Saltzman asks Adams about funding sources.
--Adams says PDC's $2 million will be decided by May 23rd and that "We won't be starting any work on this until all the money is in hand."

Potter asks about funding as well.
"At this point I see no private funding coming through"... and he says he thinks it's inaccurate that Adams has claimed the PDC money and the SDC money can't be spent in other places.
--Adams tells Potter that he approved twice a list of SDCs that had this project on it. As for PDC Urban Renewal funding, Adams says the Council would have .. As for private fundraising..."We've never relied on significant private fundraising in our thinking on our project...we will using private fundraising only to install lighting on the bridge." He mentioned how they've always considered the fact that the River District prioritized the project for funding as a sign of private fundraising.

=====
Now the public testimony has started.

Scott Bricker (BTA Exec. Director)
- He mentions that the Transportation Enhancement money ($1 million from ODOT) is from a special, discretionary pot that is only used for time-sensitive, historic, iconic projects like this one.

Patricia Gardner (NW Neighborhood Associaition).
-We've been voting for a crossing at Flanders since 2002...we're up to four votes for this in the past two years. We've been pushing really hard to get this to happen. It's a bigger vision. She says when people move to the Pearl people sell their cars and start biking and walking and "we need to make that experience better".

Catherine Ciarlo (former BTA head honcho -- was on Burnside-Couch committee when the Flanders Crossing was first promised)
- She is talking about how the bridge will connect the city. "The central city belongs to all of us... we'd like to visit it by foot and by bike."

Susie Kubota (Aunt of Tracey Sparling)
- She is directing her testimony directly to Mayor Tom Potter based on his editorial in the Oregonian. She drove out to NE Cully to see the infamous stretch of sidewalk that Potter has referred to. She said his comments in the Oregonian were misleading.

Nelson Abeels (NW Portland business owner for 16 years)
- He is testifying in support of the bridge. Says the idea came from the community. "We will raise money, we will raise funds once this project gets going. There are many businesses ready to give money to this project."

Jeanne Harrison (Willamette Pedestrian Coaltion)
-In support of the project

James Lee (running for Mayor)
- He opposes the project
- Requests that this ordinance be withdrawn because Kuney has given no warranty that the bridge is structurally safe. Says the bridge won't meet seismic standards... "You don't know what Kuney is giving us." Withdraw project until project plans have been laid out in a report so citizens can form a judgment on the project.

John Reinhold (SE Portland resident)
- In support of the project.
- There are thousands of children and schools, churches, and parks directly West of this location... He thinks it's "disingenuous" to say we shouldn't do this project to build sidewalks for East Portland

Terry Parker (citizen activist)
- Opposed to the project
- (He's talking very fast) "Using backroom deals for a special-interest transport frill." "Bicycle safety must start with the bicyclists themselves that should start with an attitude change"..."Pearl district developers want this bridge"... "Freeloading bicycle community should pay for it."

Chris Wirth (East Portland resident)
- He opposes the project. In theory he supports the idea, but worries that disparities will continue in East Portland.

Dorothy Gage (Community activist)
- She's opposed to the process.
- This is reminiscent to me of the Tram travesty. She wants Council to go back to the drawing board.

MaryAnne Fitzgerald (SW Portland resident)
- She is opposed to the project because SW has priorities too.

Mary Roberts (NW 10th and Johnson resident)
- In support of the project.

Jeremy Grand (SW resident)
- Opposes it...not because it's a bad project, but because there are other priorities he wants in SW Portland.

Rick Potestio (a biker, walker, founder of Cross Crusade cyclocross racing series and SW resident)
- He opposes the project.
- "Given, all we must do to build on our Platinum cycling rating... I question why this project has received such priority." He doesn't feel Flanders is a vital link between the neighborhoods. He brings up the traffic engineering implications of a new intersection at Flanders...Instead of Flanders, he wants improvements on Everett and Glisan.

Doug Strickler
- Supports the project.

SW Portland resident
- Opposes the project based on other needs in SW Portland.

===

Testimony is over. Now Leonard is making a comment:

Leonard says listened to the Platinum news on OPB today and thought it was sad because today is a day we should be celebrating making a statement about.

"I view this project as not an east Portland versus West Portland, or not an all-Portland vs. the Pearl, but rather a piece of a complicated, complex infrastrcuture that will create byways and throughways for bicyclists. No one can out East-Portland me...I grew up in East Portland. I knew what the transportation problems are in east Portland.

Some may accuse me for being cynical for this...but I suggest we're having this division [in our city] because of politics...I learned it is really easy to galvanize people by speaking to their fears and to their suspicions. It is not responsible in my view to do so. That is the context I have viewed this debate.

This debate should be a unifier in our community, not dividing East Portland and SE Portland from the Pearl in order to make political points. It's not fair, it's not right, and we all deserve better."

Saltzman is now speaking.
He is curious about the seismic warranty issue brought up a testifier. A PDOT engineer is testifying and reports that there are no structural flaws found in the bridge. The bridge is in "very good condition". "The seismic issue has been addressed as well."

Saltzman: Does that inspection equal a warranty?
PDOT engineer: "No it does not. We will look into that."

Adams closes:

"As Transportation commissioner I'm trying to instill a more disciplined approach to dealing with needs around the city. All of the investments are intended to make the system safer...when they do get safer we can move down the list. We will always have a list, we will always be working on it. When SW Portland needed something, I fought for it, when East Portland needed something I fought for it. You could point to any of those projects and argue that another part of town wasn't getting their fair share."

That's it for today.

This was the "first reading" of the ordinance and it will be voted on next week (5/7). Stay tuned.

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Comments
  • specialK April 30, 2008 at 10:43 am

    As supportive of bike infrastructure as I am, and normally I am supportive of all of the new bikey stuff that is proposed for Portland, I simply don\'t follow the logic of this proposal.

    1) There are 3 crossings, one very easy and away from highway traffic, on Johnson, within 4 blocks of this site.

    2) Putting a crossing, and therefore signal, in between the Couch/Everett on/off ramps will only increase traffic congestion in that area during rush hour.

    3) There are far more needed bikey things I can think of. As a NW resident, my biggest wish has always been better bike access to the waterfront from NW. Others have already brought up many other things that might be better usage of the money.

    Again, usually I am supportive of these proposals, but this one simply doesn\'t make sense to me.

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  • Andrew April 30, 2008 at 10:43 am

    The answer to the \"priorities\" is:
    Get serious about filling the gaps in bike & ped facilities throughout the area.

    The answer to the question about whether it\'s fair to use some city resources to help with the Flanders bridge, while the city is telling SW Portland residents that if they want sidewalks, they\'ll have to pay 100% of the cost out of their own pockets... is NOT to pit one group against the other, but to demand that every part of the city be brought up to minimum standards.

    Those who strongly support the Flanders bridge... and especially those who will directly benefit from it... can do the most good by re-doubling their efforts to help the neighborhoods that have so far seen little or no public investment in bike or ped facilities.

    Build alliances. Don\'t let those who oppose bike investments use the Flanders bridge to divide us.

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  • Jeremy April 30, 2008 at 10:50 am

    Thank you Andrew. Why not support this bike enhancement and continue to advocate for the other improvements that are so readily needed.

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  • jake April 30, 2008 at 10:53 am

    I\'m w/ specialK on this one. I\'m all for more bike related infrastructure and like the idea of reusing the bridge, but what about crossing I84 in NE? I feel like this has been fast-tracked and will sail through because it\'s bike related. Just because we can do something doesn\'t mean we should do something.

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  • jake April 30, 2008 at 10:56 am

    Oh, and it looks like I missed this post from Jack Bog\'s Blog. He\'s got a pretty good discussion of the flow of traffic in the area.

    http://bojack.org/2008/04/when_the_bikes_show_up_on_flan.html

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  • Matt Picio April 30, 2008 at 11:05 am

    specialK (#1) - it\'s interesting that you bring that up, since the Flanders bike boulevard will create a straight-shot almost all the way to the waterfront, on low-traffic streets. Since the Burnside/Couch Couplet project will eliminate Couch as a viable route, there are strong reasons why the Flanders corridor needs to be improved for casual, recreational, and inexperienced cyclists.

    As for congestion, how would improving the existing bridges at Everett and Glisan for pedestrians and bikes clear that up? The bridges cannot be widened (federal law), so any increase in bike/ped amenities requires the loss of an automotive lane, which (in theory) would increase congestion.

    Actually, in practice, congestion will be largely unaffected by any of these options - congestion in the urban core is almost solely dependent on population and density - the road network only becomes a factor when there are a limited number of \"nearby\" connections for traffic to divert onto.

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  • Matt Picio April 30, 2008 at 11:12 am

    jake (#4) What *about* crossing I-84 in NE? There\'s MLK, Grand, 11th, 20th, 28th, 33rd, 39th, Hollywood Overpass (41st), 47th, 53rd, 60th, Halsey, 74th, Halsey again, and 82nd. That\'s 15 crossings in 4 miles. Or did you mean outer NE I-84, which does need more connections?

    Most of inner NE has accessible crossings over I-84. Some need improvement. NE 7th may be getting a bike/ped bridge in the future. (and I\'m strongly advocating that one, on the pedestrian side)

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  • Russell April 30, 2008 at 11:15 am

    Jack Bog doesn\'t provide anything really informative in his discussion. In fact, his discussion is pretty short-sighted.

    First off, lets look at 16th. Traffic exiting I-405 onto 16th and Glisan are directed to go straight to Everett and circle the block to head west on Glisan NOT to rush across two lanes of traffic AND a bike lane to turn right onto Flanders. This could easily be re-engineered here by putting in a light for exiting freeway traffic that allows them to turn left on Glisan while holding 16th through traffic. A second light placed at Flanders, especially if it is controlled by pressure pads and a crosswalk button, won\'t affect traffic in a major way.

    At 14th there won\'t really be any issue if you put in a similar light to the one I suggest on 16th.

    Really the bulk of his article is about how drivers perform risky maneuvers \"It\'s a dangerous maneuver a lot of the time, particularly if the light at Glisan was green and merging cars are moving at a good clip.\" \"The light up ahead at Glisan is particularly obnoxious, and some drivers have been known to hustle through that stretch to try to catch it on the green:\" In the end he brings the whole debate to a basic one of \"cyclists want it there way, but motorists we want it our way.\"

    Jack Bog seems to be only concerned about making sure that drivers are able to travel quickly, dangerously, and without regard to other individuals. I ride this area a lot and drive it frequently as well (since the majority of my driving is to go out of town I\'m usually using one of these freeway on-/off-ramps). I see drivers constantly acting dangerously and disrespectfully in this area and a little bit more traffic calming is in order.

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  • GG April 30, 2008 at 11:23 am

    specialK - Indeed the biggest reason I\'d like to see the bridge happen, is that it would jumpstart the Flanders bike boulevard, which will eventually provide a safe convenient connection from NW to the waterfront.

    While it\'s easy to jog over to Johnson by bike, it\'s not as practical to walk 8 blocks out of the way. The crossing would re-connect a neighborhood divided by freeway - always a good thing.

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  • specialK April 30, 2008 at 11:43 am

    I\'m all for a Flanders bike boulevard, but feel like connecting to the river should be where it starts. And why can\'t we jog over to Johnson for some of the boulevard? It\'s really nicely suited for that. I like the idea of a straight shot, but don\'t see it as practical.

    A civil discussion on the interwebs. Whod\'a thunk.

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  • baheuh April 30, 2008 at 11:48 am

    I\'d be willing to be Terry Parker that I pay more in taxes than he does...

    misinformed to say the least...

    I still don\'t like the bridge project though..and I commute daily!!

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  • KG April 30, 2008 at 11:52 am

    No to the bridge

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  • a.O April 30, 2008 at 11:56 am

    What Russell said (#8).

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  • J-On-Bike April 30, 2008 at 12:07 pm

    #8 - Russell

    If drivers tend to be particularly heedless/reckless at these interesctions...should bicycles be added into the mix?

    Will the traffic calming measures be adequate to change driver behaviour and provide a level of safety to cyclists (who can also be reckless, at times)?

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  • kg April 30, 2008 at 12:09 pm

    I will happily pay for the Flanders crossing. Just take my share out of the CRC project.

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  • foote April 30, 2008 at 12:42 pm

    So, because drivers are particularly irresponsible around a couple of intersections, we should plan our transportation around them? Bikes should just avoid the whole mess?

    Shouldn\'t we be more interested in making the area a bit safer for cyclists? #8 and 14, and Jack\'s blog for that matter, make an excellent case for a major traffic redesign in this part of town. It\'s already dangerous for cyclists, pedestrians, and apparently drivers too. Clearly, these intersections are a high priority.

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  • Russell April 30, 2008 at 12:50 pm

    J-On-Bike #13 -

    I don\'t know if a light will be adequate, we might need a speed hump there or some other form of traffic calming. Maybe the other intersections require a little bit of re-engineering (as I stated in #8 and think would be quite effective along NW 16th). I\'m not 100% sure what will be needed. I do believe that, with some ingenuity and determination, traffic can be calmed in that area. I think that the argument \'drivers here are reckless do not build\' is ludicrous. Find a way to make people less reckless, whether through infrastructure, enforcement, or education.

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  • john April 30, 2008 at 12:54 pm

    I love how Randy says those opposed to the projects are divisive ... while he is supporting a project that did not need to be brought up under emergency provisions ... which is now being sold as a competitive contract even though 4 million is going to a non-competitive bid ... that will benefit an area of town that already receives the vast bulk of city attention and dollars.

    Randy may remember what East Portland was like 20 years ago, but he\'s no longer an East Portlander. He bought into the power structure years ago.

    Divisiveness is a complete red herring. They\'ve created the divisiveness.

    This is the wrong project, the wrong process, and at the wrong time.

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  • Kris April 30, 2008 at 1:26 pm

    #10 - specialK

    Why not shooting for both Flanders and Johnson? Over time, there could be plenty of cyclist/ped growth in the NW/Pearl to warrant two bike boulevards connecting the neighborhoods with each other and the waterfront.

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  • Russell April 30, 2008 at 1:31 pm

    john - do not confuse development of buildings with proper development of transportation infrastructure. There is a complete paucity of cycling and pedestrian development in NW Portland, especially west of 14th (cycling infrastructure is scarce throughout the NW, Pedestrian is better east of 15th). People seem to equate the NW as \"the Pearl.\" There are blocks between 14th and 23rd Ave where a much more economically diverse group of individuals live. Pedestrian and bicycling infrastructure greatly improves their lives, not just the Pearlites. To say that the NW \"receives the vast bulk of city attention and dollars\" is false. To say the Pearl has received too much attention may very well be true.

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  • Zaphod April 30, 2008 at 1:43 pm

    This project is a one in a million lucky deal where a bridge that will fit is available. A fair comparison for a similarly sized bridge is 7-9 million. A narrower bridge would be beyond capacity on day one. The urgency is because once it is gone, it\'s gone.

    This bridge will improve safety and do the things that Sam\'s presentation indicates.

    Investment is leveraged at the city core because of density. It seems that we\'re appropriately spending at the rivers versus the tributaries. And, as I understand it, we have spent money there too.

    We should improve facilities East of 82nd as well. This has been cast as an either/or & I think that\'s incorrect.

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  • J-On-Bike April 30, 2008 at 1:44 pm

    Russell:
    I think that the argument \'drivers here are reckless do not build\' is ludicrous.

    My questions (not an argument) are as follows: Will this project, even with the best of traffic engineering solutions in place, create safety/efficiency conditions that are unacceptable to cyclists/drivers? Why do we not know this information right now when a contract is about to be issued?

    #16. I don\'t ride on Burnside for that very reason. I\'d rather avoid the whole car mess. But if others choose to, that\'s fine.

    Does it make sense to BUILD a cyclist pedestrian bridge that has to deal with a car-mess on 14th and 16th? I don\'t think so..but that\'s just my opinion.

    A responsible planning approach would suggest that we (the public) know exactly what the trade-offs are before committing $4M+ to build. If this project has been proposed and on some project list for years...it would be great to see the data/info. Not just some powerpoint.

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  • Russell April 30, 2008 at 2:07 pm

    J-On-Bike - I agree that we should, at times, avoid the car mess. You will never catch me riding the vast majority of Burnside, although further out I might consider it. I also did not mean to say that you were arguing the above mentioned point, but that Jack Bog seemed to argue that.

    I strongly believe that the area can be redesigned to be safe for pedestrians and cyclists. In terms of why hasn\'t the research been done, my understanding is this: Before investing a few thousand into the full planning they want to make sure the project is a go. Once it has a green light they\'ll do the research, if it turns out that it absolutely will not work then they can still pull the plug. I don\'t think that once this is approved they\'ll just hand Kuney $3.9m and say if we actually don\'t do this, please, keep the money. Anyways, correct me if I\'m wrong.

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  • Lenny Anderson April 30, 2008 at 2:11 pm

    The best solution is to tear out all the freeways and restore all the destroyed neighborhoods...Goose Hollow, South Portland, Albina, East Portland waterfront. But until that happens, the more bridges over the monsters the better.
    Bike \"Boulevards\" are meaningless talk unless you address the gaps. Gaps are expensive or else they would not be there. A Platinum bike city can do no less than to fill the gaps.

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  • baheuh April 30, 2008 at 2:21 pm

    HAVE ANY CHEAPER BRIDGE ALTERNATIVES BEEN OFFERED?

    has anyone even bothered looking into that proposition, along with an entire redesign of traffic flow in that area?

    all I hear is that it is this particular chunk of steel or nothing and the sky is falling...seems a bit special \"interest-y\" to me...

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  • Daniel (teknotus) Johnson April 30, 2008 at 3:02 pm

    #25

    It actually is this particular chunck of steel, or nothing. Nearly 100% of the cost difference between this bridge, and a crappy concrete one is money that can only be spent to preserve historic structures. So because this bridge is old we get a bunch more money. Because this bridge needs to be moved soon we get it now instead of \"maybe eventually\". Because this bridge is already built we get a bridge that is twice as wide as the highway code currently specifies without a lot of hard work to get a waiver on the rules.

    There are a lot of wins, and the only honest concerns I have seen are the ones Dan Saltzman has brought up about risk of cost overruns, or lack of warrenty. Take care of that, and it\'s just good all around. Visit the sites, and watch how people nearly get hit by cars over, and over again. Read all the facts. Take time to understand them, and you will almost certainly be convinced.

    It took a while to convince me, but I\'m convinced completely now.

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  • Andrew April 30, 2008 at 3:05 pm

    It\'s sad that we\'re bickering about a project that would cost about one-tenth of one percent (0.001) of the ballpark (probably low-ball) guesstimate of the Columbia River Crossing.

    It\'s true that many neighborhoods, hungry for any scraps of bike/ped improvement, are screaming \"Why do they get a bridge, when can\'t even get a sidewalk?!\"

    But take a look at the big picture. Who is feasting... and who is fighting just to lick the spoon?

    It\'s a tried-and-true strategy for those who have it all to get those who don\'t to squabble amongst themselves.

    The framing needs to shift... away from Flanders vs. other neighborhoods... to a saner balance of spending that recognizes the vital needs for bike and ped infrastructure all over town.

    Did you know ODOT plans to spend $40-million dollars to re-work one I-5 exit ramp for the convenience of drivers going to South Waterfront?

    Go after the big piece of the budget pie... spending on motor vehicle lanes.

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  • a.O April 30, 2008 at 3:19 pm

    Excellent point, Andrew.

    I\'ve often wondered if those folks who (rightly) want their sidewalks are asking what the hell Mayor Potter has been doing for the last few years.

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  • Spencer April 30, 2008 at 3:53 pm

    Where did the projected use figures for a new bridge come from? (800 currently, up to 2400 to 4500) This is a big promise.

    Has anyone talked about the shape of the bike boulevard along flanders. Is thru traffic going to be restricted? How? Will there be limited traffic through the heart of the Pearl? How will cars and trucks be discouraged from being on these streets? What about vehicle parking along the boulevard. Will it be restricted?

    So mouch of the focus has been on the bridge and not the boulevard.

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  • Russell April 30, 2008 at 4:02 pm

    baheuh - yes, alternatives have been offered, but as it has been stated numerous times those alternatives would not be put into place for about 5 years. During the past 4 years construction costs increased 40%. Economists at the Association of General Contractors of America (AGC) speculate that we will see an even greater rise in construction costs over the next few years. If you run the past four years forward for 5 years (inflation rate of 8.7% per year) you\'ll find that you are quickly pay the same amount for a smaller bridge. This is a debate that has occurred ad nauseam.

    Excellent point Andrew #27, I agree with you wholeheartedly. Someone else made the point of talking about an expensive automobile bridge project that recently went in somewhere on the east side or an upgrade that cost a significant amount of money. I find even the new Sauvie Island bridge an interesting topic, which is costing over $30m and services a very select few individuals. I will, however, point out a few factors that you\'ll find people arguing against your point though (that I do not agree with):

    #1 - Classic Terry Parker: we\'re \"free-loading\" cyclists who don\'t pay for anything. Albeit this completely ignores the fact that registration/licensing fees are a tiny percentage of the roadway budget and that the gas tax is mainly for highways and freeways and still does not account for the lion\'s share of road creation/repairs.

    #2 - There are more motorists than bicyclists. This, however, ignores the fact that everyone is a pedestrian and many bicycle improvements can help pedestrians as well. This also ignores the fact that, even though motorists do make up a greater percentage of the mode share, they receive a disproportionately greater amount of funding.

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  • Ian Stude April 30, 2008 at 4:15 pm

    Good points, Andrew and Daniel. I see no point in bickering over the scraps, as it were. For what will be delivered, this project is a DEAL!

    We need to build this crossing. We need to build sidewalks. We need to improve infrastructure all over our city. And we will. Vote for Safe, Sound, and Green streets in November. We should stop bickering about who\'s project should be at the head of the line. They are all important and we should demand that they ALL happen. To do otherwise is to play into the hands of divisive politics that would likely leave us all with nothing better then when we started.

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  • 2GOAT April 30, 2008 at 4:38 pm

    Ah, Spencer thanks for the easy question
    PDOT has a page with a number of links for you to learn about Bike Boulevards.
    http://www.portlandonline.com/shared/cfm/image.cfm?id=186687
    I\'ve tried to find more specifics on the Safe, sound and Green streets site but they seem to have restricted access.

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  • John Reinhold April 30, 2008 at 6:46 pm

    Sidewalks are and have always been the responsibility of the property owners. The only reason there are areas without sidewalks is because the builders at the time were not required to put them in.

    The city does not just build sidewalks willy nilly. If the sidewalks in front of my house need repair, guess who pays to repair them? Yes. I do.

    The only time - as far as I know - that the city actually pays for sidewalk work is if the city itself initiates the modifications or work to meet city needs - but even in most of those situations, the property owners will be charged a percentage of the cost.

    And for the SW residents to complain is rather troublesome in some regards. It is very hard to compare SW to other neighborhoods because the topography of SW combined with federal regulations about ADA compliance for pedestrian facilities makes sidewalks and other improvements to SW roads extremely expensive. Extremely. The hills and creeks which make it so dangerous and difficult to walk of ride also make it extremely expensive to widen roads to add bike/ped facilities and reduce pedestrian grading...

    As Sam Adams pointed out, it is very difficult to decide where to spend money, and there are a lot of deserving projects. You have to to for bang-for-the buck. Where are the most people in the most need?

    Everyone thinks they can do better. Let me give you $20 and ask you to buy shoes for 40 people, while each person has a good reason why they need shoes the most. That is what we ask of government.

    Every critic here, and all of those SW residents too, should take the PSU Portland traffic and transportation class that is sponsored by the city. It is a great class, and helps teach people the what\'s why\'s and hows.

    Like Earl Blumenaeur said about why he created the class, \"everyone with a drivers license thinks they are a certified traffic engineer and that they can do better\".

    Well, go do better!

    Just remember when a project comes up in your neighborhood that there may be folks from other neighborhoods opposing it and with good intentions to boot!

    Jonathon, we need a \"preview\" button. Posting this from my phone, I am sure I have made tons of typing and grammar errors....

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  • Brad April 30, 2008 at 8:08 pm

    The links on bike boulevards are essentially useless. Lots of pretty pictures of traffic calming devices but nothing to really answer Spencer\'s question.

    I work in the Pearl, ride to it most days, and walk it frequently. I cannot picture how Flanders will be turned into a bike boulevard without serious disruptions to heavily traveled north-south streets. In business \"unfriendly\" Portland, I can\'t see the city council willing to anger Pearl business owners and condo dwellers by restricting their ability to travel as they please or drive to thir favorite hipster gallery or trendster eatery.

    Oh yes, the CRC arguments are of no relevance. The CRC is not just a new freeway bridge. It is a $4.2 billion dollar roadway improvement, commerce stimulator, union jobs creating, tax revenue producing public works juggernaut of pork. Both parties have vested interests and it will not be stopped. Hence, why you don\'t see Sideshow Sam or any other elected officials saying a word about it.

    It is obvious that most BikePortland posters are anti-car. Fair enough. I would venture however that cars are not going away in our lifetimes. When gas prices get higher the auto industy won\'t roll over and die. It will, out of necessity, produce a greater range of hybrid, electric, hydrogen, natural gas, and other fueled vehicles. The utopian dream of car free streets is just that - a dream. I also don\'t expect big oil to go quietly either. They will switch to altrnative fuels and coal gasification once those can be produced and sold at the same price as oil derived gasoline.

    So I ask, where is the proof that this $5 million dollar bridge will visibly improve traffic flow for cars and bikes, make biking safer beyond the span, and encourage thousands more commuters from th most affluent area of Portland to swap the Lexus for a Litespeed?

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  • 2GOAT April 30, 2008 at 8:53 pm

    Well Brad,
    Maybe you will accept this approach.

    Bridge or no bridge.

    I spend more time in my car than I do on a bike.

    With gasoline rapidly approaching $4.00 a gallon and no reason to believe it will ever decrease, I want to do everything and anything I can to keep from idling around in my car. This means getting other cars off the road so I can keep driving.

    The more cars drivers I can convince to ride a bike, take the bus, or even walk a little, the less space will be obstructed before my car and the car in front of me.

    If I can get just that one driver in front of me to think it’s safer and easier to ride his or her bike…that’s one less car for me to have to pass. It’s one less car using up my gas and driving up the price. It’s one less car taking up my parking space downtown so I don’t have to walk too far.

    I am going to do anything I can to get more people out of their cars so I can get around in mine.

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  • wsbob April 30, 2008 at 8:59 pm

    I like the fact that Spencer is, and hopefully everyone else will also, think about the boulevard as well as the bridge. A few other people have raised the question of how traffic will be dealt with on the west side of Flanders at I-405. How will a signal there effect bike-pedestrian flow from Flanders and motor traffic on 16th? There might even be a better way to deal with the MV traffic.

    Spencer\'s question: \"How will cars and trucks be discouraged from being on these streets? \" My own thought there, is that Flander\'s two-way configuration, and the lack of a bridge across the gut(I-405) inherently discourages motor vehicle traffic. Rather,MV\'s want to use Everett or Glisan to zip through that part of town. They\'ll use the other streets to navigate closer to their destination, but not so much as \'through streets\'.

    I\'m very supportive of this project. When other cyclists say it\'s a waste of money, that really makes me stop to think. I understand how it might seem to some people like a waste of money, but all things considered....no. I don\'t think it is a waste of money. It\'s important to look to the future, and in the future, that crossing at Flanders for pedestrians and bikes will probably be well appreciated.

    It\'s only the limited time availability of the Sauvie span that makes this decision about a Flander\'s crossing critical now. Give that up, and there\'s all the time in the world to look at all the cheaper, newer alternatives, or decide not to have a crossing at all for a Flander\'s. Nobody is trying to be unfair here, or waste a lot of money. A hard decision must be made, one way or another.

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  • Jim Labbe April 30, 2008 at 9:18 pm

    I am glad the equity and fairness concerns are getting raised. They are important in measuring the success of Portland in the long-run. However they are getting distorted in this debate.

    We cannot look at these fairness and equity in geographic terms alone (as politically appealing as this can be). The Flanders Bridge Crossing is going to serve pedestrians and bicyclists in two of the densest neighborhoods in the state and region. Ask yourself who bikes and walks. Research indicates automobile use measured in vehicle miles traveled increases with wealth and income. Ask yourself who will use this facility? It is as likely to be Chapman elementary school kids, PSU or PNCA college students, and service workers throughout NW Portland neighborhoods, as it is a few affluent residents.

    The City is already making investments to address the other dangerous corridors in the City located in East Portland: 82nd Avenue, Foster road, and 122nd Ave. We should continue to make these a high priority, but it is wrong to suggest Flanders Bridge Crossing which would also address safety in a dangerous corridor is an unfair or inequitable use of funds because where it is located. Who will use it is the real issue.

    Ultimately, it is an impoverished line of reasoning that pits neighborhoods against each other in making bike and pedestrian improvements because bike and pedestrian facilities are inherently egalitarian investments in our transportation system. The Flanders Bridge crossing is a facility that would be accessible to all including those young, old and disabled who cannot walk or drive.

    Jim Labbe

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  • gracie May 1, 2008 at 7:13 am

    Will someone who knows what they are talking about please explain why the $5.5 mil budgeted for this deal cannot be used for other projects? The proponents keep repeating this information as if it is the gospel truth but I have yet to learn why, and it kind of makes me wonder if it is just wishful thinking. Tom Potter doesn\'t seem to think so, yet whenever anyone makes a statement that this bridge deal might not be a great idea, the proponents get all defensive and state that the money can\'t be used for anything else. End of story. Well- why? Because Sam said so- or what?

    Also, in response to Jim (and others) who say that critics are being \"divisive\" and playing neighborhoods against each other - that sounds a lot like the Bush gang accusing its critics of \"class warfare\" when they discuss the impact of the Administrations disastrous economic policies. Just an observation.

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  • Jim Labbe May 1, 2008 at 7:39 am

    gracie,

    I am not accusing anyone of \"class warefare\" as you suggest. I am just pointing out that bike and pedestrian improvements serve under-served segments of the public almost anywhere they are installed (especially in dense and populous NW Portland). That\'s why I think pitting one improvement against another is distorting the valid concern for fairness. The way this valid concern for fairness is being invoked in this debate distracting from the real merits of the proposal in serving the under-served.

    I agree that the Bush \"administrations disastrous economic [and foreign] policies\" have contributed to the neglect of our transportation system- including our bike and pedestrian infrastructure at the local level. Its certainly plays a role in the shortage of resources to make badly needed safety and efficiency improvements throughout the entire system. We are fighting over crumbs compared to what this affluent society could bring to bear to improve the safety, livability, and affordability of our communities.

    Jim

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  • gracie May 1, 2008 at 7:55 am

    Jim. fair enough, but one does have to question the fairness of the Flanders St. proposal all the same. It pretty much came from nowhere; it was not designated a high priority until Sam and his backers decided to push it - in an election year. Its a nice idea, but not economically feasible in a recession. And one has to wonder about any project that attracts as much groupthink as this one. Even Randy Leonard has swallowed the Kool-Aid! Makes me wonder if he is capable be being an independent voice on the Council, or if he intends to be Sam\'s poodle for the next four years.

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  • jonno May 1, 2008 at 8:19 am

    @Gracie -

    To your funding question:

    Around $2m is TIF (tax increment financing) generated by the Pearl urban renewal area. Generally, these funds are spent only in the urban renewal area that they are allocated for, which means transferring them elsewhere is theoretically possible but not simple. I believe Erik Sten was able to do this by setting up a satellite URA for the David Douglas school district, an effort that has drawn much of its own criticism. It is not something that is easily done.

    Another $2m comes from SDC (system development charges) and are allocated every 10 years to a list of projects citywide. These funds can actually be spent elsewhere, but since the priorities are already drawn up and have been approved by a large group of agencies from all over the city, shifting the priority is, again, not easily done. Potter has had his whole term to move Cully sidewalks up in the SDC priority list but has not done so. Why?

    Another $1m comes from an ODOT grant specifically targeted at iconic redevelopment projects, called Transportation Enhancements. I doubt this can be reallocated for sidewalks, and it was intended for projects exactly like the Sauvie/Flanders bridge.

    The remaining $.5m will come from general funds and donated moneys from local businesses and citizens.

    So, to be fair, about $2.5m could be redirected elsewhere, at least as far as I understand it. However, it\'s not something that can just be done overnight or on any time frame meaningful to this debate. The SDC allocation groups would have to agree on the redistribution of the bulk of the funds, a process with an unknown outcome and one that Potter\'s had plenty of time to work on so far. But like Jim Labbe says above, to suggest that this bridge is preventing the fixing of Cully sidewalks is distorting the debate. We should not have to fight over the crumbs.

    Yes, Cully and other neighborhoods need sidewalks and other improvements. But stopping this bridge will not build them.

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  • Jonathan Maus (Editor) May 1, 2008 at 8:36 am

    \"It pretty much came from nowhere; it was not designated a high priority until Sam and his backers decided to push it - in an election year.\"

    that is simply not true.

    a crossing over Flanders was guaranteed to the community back in 2002 and has been voted on by a majority of Council several times since then.

    As for groupthink... I\'d say there\'s actually been a fair amount of opinions in the public discourse on both sides of this issue.

    The reason it gained urgency is because of the limited time frame to use the Sauvie Span.

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  • Boo Boo May 1, 2008 at 8:50 am

    #1--It\'s about the money folks.

    Or, as some have written, it\'s an election year and NW Portland has one hell of high per-capita income--probably many times more than Cully or other outer eastside neighborhoods.

    Sam, Randy, Dan and other politicians would sure LOVE some big campaign bucks from the upper class, recycled-bridge, feel-good, sustainability-do-da residents of NW Portland.

    I\'ve lived in Portland for almost 20 years and have seen the bike improvements and a corresponding increase in bike use.

    Think about this. If you lived in outer SE Portland with its unfair lack of funded bike and pedestrian improvements, would you be more likely to bike and walk??? Well, NW Portland may benefit from a bike/ped bridge, but it already has tons more bike-ped improvements than many, many other neighborhoods.

    So, please don\'t take the comments of Jim #37 as the gospel. Wouldn\'t you and your kids be more likely to bike/walk to school and the store if you had safe routes! Most outer eastside neighborhoods don\'t have the improvements and safe routes the NW Portland does.

    NW Portland and it\'s upper-income residents are getting this attention for a reason...Socio-economic status (MONEY). Sorry, as much as the politico\'s try to spin it otherwise, poorer, less politically-connected neighborhoods get screwed.

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  • Russell May 1, 2008 at 9:11 am

    boo boo - you just made a boo boo - NW Portland has virtually NO BICYCLE OR PEDESTRIAN IMPROVEMENTS! There are a few paltry bicycle lanes, but most of them are poorly placed (Lovejoy\'s squeezes cyclists between streetcar tracks and parked cars, the lane is maybe 2\' wide) or short-lived (glisan and everett run for 5 blocks). Secondly, don\'t forget that NW Portland and the Pearl are separate entities. The Pearl is primarily owners of condos. NW Portland as of the 2000 census (this is blocks west of 14th and east of 27th-ish) is 85% rental units, including 6 large-scale low-income housing units and a number of smaller special needs and low-income housing facilities. The blocks west of 14th are not part of the River District Urban Renewal Area and have not received any major redevelopment. No, the area is not crumbling, but also NO the Northwest neighborhood has not received some lion\'s share of funding nor is the Northwest neighborhood some hotbed for wealth. Do not confuse the Pearl with the Northwest Neighborhood.

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  • jonno May 1, 2008 at 9:29 am

    @Boo-Boo -

    I couldn\'t have written a better explanation of the divisive harm caused by the Cully-sidewalks-vs.-Flanders-bridge argument. Now it\'s not just eastside vs. west, it\'s class warfare!

    Thank you sir (or ma\'am).

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  • Chad May 1, 2008 at 10:15 am

    Boo boo,

    The spin here is definitely coming from those trying to beat proponents over the head with the latest fairness arguments, including these spurious claims that it is some kind of election year pandering to rich folks.

    In recent years, Sam and the BTA have actually led in advocating for and securing both one-time general funds and regional dollars for outer East Portland bike/ped improvements including funding for the 70s bike boulevards and SE Foster, the other high priority corridor:

    http://bikeportland.org/2007/01/26/portlands-bike-boulevard-bonanza/

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  • ralph May 1, 2008 at 10:34 am

    The use of the Sauvie span pretty much came out of nowhere because Kuney needed and answer as to the disposition of the bridge. Sell it to Portland for the 405 crossing or sell it for scrap.

    The big issue for me is that we are using Kuney\'s timetable for this project. They are getting a no-bid contract for this job.

    The city has not made this an open decision and a single contractor will get the benefit of the lack of a bidding process. We don\'t know if we could get an alternative bridge for less or even if someone else could install the Sauvie span for less.

    On top of this the project has been split into two different projects, the bridge installation and the site preparation. One has a locked in cost the other doesn\'t so regardless of what people are quoting on the price of this project we don\'t know the final cost because the site prep project has not been bid or awarded.

    This is a recipe for overspending once again. It has been pushed to the front of the line and due diligence has not been applied to the entire process.

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  • Boo Boo May 1, 2008 at 10:38 am

    Russell #44. Sorry bud, but I\'m not drawing a line of NW vs Pearl. Who cares about rentals versus owners. Perhaps I could/should have written bike/ped facilities versus improvments. NW Portland and Pearl are MUCH more easy to get around by bike/walking. For one, there are acutally sidewalks! (compare that to much of SW, Outer and S/SE neighborhoods without even basic sidewalks. There are more controlled intersections, stop signs, cross walks and traffic lights. Traffic generally moves at a slower pace in NW/Pearl than outer SE (Thus the need for better bike/ped improvements in outer SE).

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  • Boo Boo May 1, 2008 at 10:49 am

    Jonno #45. Whoa...class warfare? Where did that come from? I pointed out that neighborhoods with a higher socio-economic status get the ear of politicians and $$ more than poorer parts of the city. I\'m not advocating class warfare, just a reality check that funding for city projects is far from fair and equitable.

    Sorry to rain on your kumbaya fest, but take a look at our public schools as another example (or even read Kozol\'s \"Savage Inequalities\"). Take a look at access to healthcare, crime, access to parks and more.

    Improvements to bike and ped facilities is no exception. One somewhat-helpful, advocacy office in Portland is ONI (office of neighborhood involvement) that at least gives each neighborhood some formal voice in city hall. Some, but by no means equal.

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  • Boo Boo May 1, 2008 at 11:00 am

    Chad #46. Thanks for the link about past BTA and Sam advocacy. However, I think there is no question that the level of adovocacy and spin to drop a no-bid-contract bridge in the Pearl is FAR FAR more than the blip on the radar BTA and Sam put in for the projets you referenced. Yes, I appreciate their voice of support for past projects.

    But, let\'s be clear, there\'s a freakin\' orgy going on over the sauvie bride \"recycling\". I\'m afraid BTA and other bike-ped advocates have joined into the hype and should really take some time to reflect on the best use of $$ for this project.

    Peace.

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  • wsbob May 1, 2008 at 11:31 am

    Ralph, those are good points. I support use of the Sauvie span, but hope that Adams does everything he can to resolve questions raised by those points.

    Seriously, I imagine there must be a lot of people besides Kuney that could have ventured professional, informal estimates of how much it would cost to do this job or build and install an alternative bridge. I\'m curious as to why they haven\'t come forward, but I think I know the answer: more politics, just in a slightly different realm.

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  • Boo Boo May 1, 2008 at 11:52 am

    I\'ll second a thanks to Ralph #47\'s comment.

    Even if you LOVE this possible project, can\'t you support spending our tax money wisely?

    I can\'t believe we will get a fair price on a non-bid agreement. Do you?

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  • Roger Geller May 1, 2008 at 12:07 pm

    To boo-boo #43 and others:

    East Portland has more miles of bikeways than any other part of the city. You can see a graphic we showed at our bicycle master plan open houses last summer here. Northwest has the fewest miles of developed bikeways.

    Even if you look at it on a per-area basis, East Portland comes out ahead, at 2.2 miles of developed bikeways per acre compared to 1.1 miles of developed bikeways per acre for NW Portland. The city-wide average (as of February 2007) was 1.9 miles of developed bikeways per acre.

    Of course, this is skewed because of the portion of NW Portland that extends beyond the densely developed urban areas, but this situation is generally the opposite of what you see in the world\'s best bicycle cities, where the bikeway network gets more dense the closer one gets to the central city. This increasing density reflects the multiple destinations people have the closer one gets to the central city.

    Currently we only have one decent, family-friendly crossing of I-405 between Alder Street and Overton, and that is Johnson Street.

    Because of that density of residences and trips closer to the central city you get a bigger bang for your buck investing closer in than further out, at least in terms of ridership. If you\'re criteria is \"return on investment\" then developing bikeways in areas of higher population density and destinations provides that in spades.

    The truth is, we try to invest everywhere in the city as we can. We\'ve been able to stripe so many bike lanes in East Portland because we essentially followed our paving trucks and striped new bike lanes on fresh asphalt (much less expensive than \"erasing\" existing lines). As for SW Portland, we\'re finalizing a grant application this week seeking almost $4 million to fill a bike lane (and sidewalk) gap on SW Vermont street between 30th & 37th (which will cost more than $1 million by itself), to rebuild Hoot Owl Corner to square off that intersection (making it much safer), to provide median refuges to make it easier to cross Vermont into Gabriel Park, and to stripe uphill bike lanes on the hilliest (but relatively low-volume) portions of Vermont east of Gabriel Park.

    When you have available only 0.7% of PDOT\'s capital budget for bicycle improvements ($2.7 million between 2000-2007) you need to seek all available outside funding sources and pounce on opportunities as they arise.

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  • Boo Boo May 1, 2008 at 12:10 pm

    Roger #53, thanks for your fair explanation of bikeways.

    When are opportunities \"pounced-on\" to fix the most dangerous intersections in Portland?

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  • Brad Ross May 1, 2008 at 5:15 pm

    Roger,

    I in no way want to diminish what you have done for the cycling community in Portland. You were one of the key players in Portlands Platinum Award and I congratulate you and thank you for all of the work you put in.

    That being said, I continue to dissent on this particular project. No one
    has been able to convince me that the Everett and Glisan bridges are dangerous. The accident numbers that are being given out by city hall are for the entire Burnside corridor which include intersections all the way to Naito Pkwy. The majority of those incidents take place on the much more heavily travelled intersections of Burnside and 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th. The 405 crossing has no relationship to those intersections.

    Recently a bike box was installed on Everett and 15th, along with other bike boxes around the city. An advisory group from PSU is going to study the success of those bike boxes to determine whether they\'re working or not. Can\'t we at least wait and see what their finding is before we proceed with this bridge?

    My biggest concern with this project is that it has not been properly vetted out. Sam\'s office told me personally that they do not know how the traffic light situation is going to work and that they are concerned about added congestion and even back ups onto I-405.

    One reason PDX just won the platinum award is that there has been very good planning. This project is moving forward too hastily and has not been planned out well enough. Present me with pertinent statistics and a plan for how this bridge will fit with all of the other issues cyclists and motorists are facing in that area, and I will convert. I promise.

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  • Roger Geller May 1, 2008 at 7:30 pm

    Brad #55:

    I like the Dutch design principles for bikeways, which state that bikeways must be safe, comfortable, attractive, direct and cohesive with other bikeways. Everett and Glisan fail on safety, comfort, and cohesiveness. In fact, much of the bikeway network in NW Portland fails--primarily because it\'s not particularly cohesive. It\'s really not that easy for NW Portlanders to ride into the downtown area because the network has big gaps in it.

    Of course, you may feel comfortable on Everett & Glisan. You\'re probably a skilled rider. But most people are not. Check out this link for a discussion about the different types of cyclists we\'re working to serve.

    Currently, Everett and Glisan have bike lanes just on the segments that are proximate to and cross I-405. There is not room elsewhere on those streets to stripe bike lanes without removing either a travel lane or on-street parking. Because of our inability to create a continuous corridor, we turned to Flanders Street back in the late 1990s when we undertook the \"NW Bikeways Project\" (which striped bike lanes on 18th/19th/Alder, 14th & 16th, these portions of Everett & Glisan, and made improvements to Raleigh, Overton, Johnson and Flanders west of I-405). Of course, the biggest problem with Flanders Street is that it stops at I-405.

    As we\'ve continued to develop bikeways around town and seen the number of people riding for transportation rise we began to consider ways to make bicycling accessible to more people. Again, we come back to comfort, safety and attractiveness.

    Most of the population of any city is just not going to get on a bicycle to serve their daily transportation unless they feel comfortable doing it. It\'s not as if the Dutch or Danes or Germans or Japanese or Chinese are born with special bicycling genes. What their countries have done is--in one way or another--created comfortable conditions for cycling. That\'s the idea behind the Flanders Street Bicycle Boulevard.

    Our approach to making bicycling more of a legitimate choice for more Portlanders is to create more of these bicycle boulevards as we currently have in SE Portland and in some parts of NW Portland. Flanders Street is nicely situated to address a lot of the deficiencies that exist in NW Portland.

    That\'s why we identified it as a priority bicycle boulevard street in the Safe, Sound and Green initiative, that, in addition to addressing Portland\'s maintenance backlog on major streets, also provides enough funding to develop 110 miles of bicycle boulevards throughout the city. It\'s why the Burnside Couch project identified Flanders as an alternative to striping bicycle lanes on Burnside and Couch (again, because parking would have to be removed essentially the entire length of Couch--Flanders was the trade-off). It\'s why we incorporated Flanders Street into the city\'s Transportation System Plan, included it on our System Development Charge project list (which only has 43 capacity-increasing projects on it--this one increases bicycle and pedestrian capacity), and it\'s why we developed design concepts and estimated costs for developing the entire length of Flanders (from 24th to the Waterfront) several years ago.

    What\'s nice about Flanders is that it does connect directly to the Waterfront (we\'ve also been trying for years to get a signalized crossing of Naito at Glisan--with a direct connection to Flanders--that\'s another part we\'ll have to work on), it does run through the Pearl, it does connect up into the NW neighborhoods, it will provide safe and comfortable riding conditions, it will be direct, it is attractive, and it will connect well with other bikeways (18th, 19th, 24th, Broadway, Naito, Waterfront Park, Steel Bridge, 14th, 16th). In short, it meets all the design criteria we look to for developing a bikeway. It\'s also a nice low-volume street that will appeal to many more riders than are currently willing to ride Everett & Glisan.

    We have thought about this, long and hard. It is very consistent with our planning efforts and, now that we have this opportunity to deliver a key missing element in the corridor, we would be poorly served to let it pass.

    We can quibble about the cost, but, our experience in Portland has been that our investments in bicycling pay off well and quickly.

    Hope that helps to answer some of your questions.

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  • John Reinhold May 1, 2008 at 8:24 pm

    The big issue for me is that we are using Kuney\'s timetable for this project.
    -ralph #47

    Actually, it is my understanding that the \"timetable\" was set by the Army Corp of Engineers and other federal agencies which restrict when major construction and demolition can occur over and on waterways.

    Does anyone have any more information here?

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  • Jim Labbe May 1, 2008 at 9:08 pm

    I think PDOT has done a good job at illustrating that the safety problems on Burnside, Everett, and Glisan are a high priority. I have ridden Burnside and Everett regularly for years and they are almost as perilous now as they were in the mid-1980s. They have not kept with the bikeability of the rest of the City. We need a safe and sane route through these dense Portland neighborhoods from the river to NW 23rd and beyond. It will be key in encouraging that large number of cautious but willing Portlanders interested in getting on their bikes.

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  • Tom Miller May 1, 2008 at 11:02 pm

    Brad Ross-

    Not an accurate portrayal of our conversation in two key areas. As the slide attached in Jonathan\'s original post reflects, I referenced in our phone conversation crash data in the West Burnside corridor to West 8th, not \"the entire Burnside corridor.\"

    Second, I did not say I was concerned about how a signal at Flanders would impact 405. I told you ODOT was concerned. I don\'t share that concern. I have faith in PDOT and ODOT traffic engineers that they will ensure the light at Flanders will not result in traffic backing up on to 405.

    More soon as time permits. I\'m fascinated with the reasons people generate to oppose this project. I\'ll share some thoughts on that when I can.

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  • Beefa May 2, 2008 at 12:02 am

    So I\'was rollin through that hood today, trying to decide what impact a new bridge would have on how I would route myself through that sector.

    I came to the conclusion that I am in no position to really recommend a yes or no position on this topic. I like, and am used to the set up as it is now, In all honesty. There is NO faster(car or bike) west/east route through central city than a big chain ring pull down Everett or up Glisan.

    Bottom line is ( be honest with yourselfs) It would be pretty rad to just have THAT span on that road, but not really imperative.

    There needs to be a traffic light that would coincide with E and G on both 14 and 16. I.E. Seattle styled timing in which E,F and G all turn green at the same time. I always thought this style eliminated congestion on On/Off Freeway areas with highly congested cross traffic. Kind of an \"you go, I go \" theory.

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  • ralph May 2, 2008 at 4:30 am

    John Reinhold,

    The timetable is still Kuney\'s, whether dictated by the Army Corps of Engineers or not. It is Kuney\'s project to replace the Suavie span. The bridge is coming down and they have to dispose of it one way or the other. Yes we are playing by their timetable.

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  • peejay May 2, 2008 at 6:36 am

    1. Johnson is no alternative to Flanders. If you know your ABC\'s, J is a long way from A. Even if Johnson is turned into a boulevard, you\'d still need one between it and Alder. Convenience is the key to getting Roger Geller\'s 60% of casual riders to use their bikes more.

    2. E & G are not for any but the most hard-core vehicular cyclists. I consider myself pretty hard-core, but I\'m only a VC most of the time, and most of my friends ride VC almost none of the time. That rules out Everett & Glisan for them.

    3. I fully concur that in the dense core of the city, there needs to be more infrastructure - bike or otherwise - because it serves as a locus for more than just the proximate neighborhood. I would use the Flanders bridge to travel from my SE home to Cinema 21, for instance, and my friend on Glisan & 20th would use that bridge to get down to the Esplanande.

    4. Access to the river needs to be better from the Pearl/Old Town, true, but an increase in bike traffic into the Pearl/Old Town will add to the pressure to do so. If we need to do two things to make the connection, we shouldn\'t cancel one of those things because the other one isn\'t done yet. Getting one done will make it more likely the other is done, especially as ridership goes up in the area.

    5. Don\'t forget that however much money this costs, it still will not bridge the equity gap in bike spending in Portland. We are anywhere from 3.5% (at the very lowest) to over 10% of traffic in Portland, and we get less than 1% of the budget.

    6. This is not \"cars vs. bikes\", or \"Eastside vs. Westside\" unless we let the Potters and Dozonos make it that. Take their power away, and see how everyone benefits from this bridge.

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  • Brad May 2, 2008 at 8:54 am

    The \"casual cyclist\" is what bothers me about this project. I have no objections to folks enjoying time in the saddle but as a VC type rider, my objection is money being spent to entice people to ride on perfect sunny weekend afternoons only.

    I have always had reservations about Portland\'s bike ambitions being built around casual riders. I just don\'t believe that many more commuters will be created beyond the current hard corps of VC riders. With our eight months of wet weather each year, I doubt that the casual rider will be converted to VC rider. Year-round commuting takes planning, waterproof gear, superior handling skills, courage, and a hearty resolve. I fear we are going to spend a large sum of money and the return is a small handful of casual riders using the bridge to attend First Thursday, Whole Foods, etc. only on nice weekend days in the summer when traffic is much lighter to begin with. Monday through Friday, the same amount of cars will be on the streets and some casual riders will be behind the wheel.

    Yes, I am being somewhat selfish but I want money for infrastructure spent on VC riding and riders. I interpret \"Interested but Concerned\" to means not only a fear of cars but also a dislike of inclement weather, not wanting to get clothes messy or sweaty, worried about acceptence from peers, etc. I question whether or not these respondents can be converted in any meaningful numbers? How many are already using Tri-Met services instead of personal vehicles? Perhaps Roger Geller can shed some light on the survey replies and how deep they were?

    In any event, I agree that we should see more spending on bike infrastructure citywide. I\'m still not convinced that a Flanders span gives any real bang for the buck nor will take many cars of the roads.

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  • steve May 2, 2008 at 9:07 am

    I agree Brad.

    When polled, who is going to respond with, \"I am lazy\", or \"It is too cold, too wet\"?

    Nope, they say, \"It just doesn\'t seem safe to me\".

    The big secret, is that they will never feel safe. That is why they drive. And of course, it is easier and drier!

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  • Brad Ross May 2, 2008 at 9:11 am

    Roger and Tom,

    OK you guys win. I\'ll stop bitching about this bridge. I\'ll even sign on as a supporter on one condition; you paint it Cross Crusade orange. Maybe even put a \"cross bikes only\" lane on it.

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  • jonno May 2, 2008 at 9:28 am

    @Brad # 63 -

    All due respect, but...

    hahahahahahahahahaha!

    You wrote:

    \"I fear we are going to spend a large sum of money and the return is a small handful of casual riders using the bridge to attend First Thursday, Whole Foods, etc. only on nice weekend days in the summer when traffic is much lighter to begin with.\"

    Come on over to this side of town this Sunday. 70 degree temps and sunshine in the forecast means that we will be overrun with visitors like a picnic basket on an anthill. Then come back on Monday and you\'ll see the difference in traffic. Come back on a rainy, cold weekend and you\'ll see the difference in traffic. Try a First Thursday -- it\'s insane! These are precisely the conditions when casual riders on bikes instead of cars will make a difference.

    We\'re a core destination neighborhood and that means heavy weekend traffic. I groan when I have to move my car on a sunny Saturday, since it means I\'ll have to park halfway to Beaverton if I come back before 8 pm. This is exactly the group of road users that should be targeted with improved infrastructure. A reduction in their numbers will mean a clear and obvious reduction in traffic volume on precisely the days when it is worst, if they can be persuaded onto bikes by a pleasant boulevard.

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  • Russell May 2, 2008 at 9:34 am

    @Brad #63 - I would argue that even getting people out during the summer, using bikes rather than cars, is a great place to start. The summer months are some of the heaviest months for vehicle usage; people want to go places due to the nice whether and they use their cars to get there. If we can cut into those trips, even a little bit, it is progress. And maybe, just maybe, people will say, \"Sh*t, I enjoyed that, maybe I should try doing it more often?\" (Like the nurse who did the bike/car switch) The problem with VC is that not everyone can do it. I am a radical centrist (to use a political term in bikey context) in my riding style. I sometimes ride VC, sometimes I don\'t. My riding style depends on the situation. I can do so because I can snap my bike into the big chain ring and hammer it at the speed of cars. My girlfriend cannot do that. The elderly cannot do that. A young child cannot do that. Should we, as a society, preclude those people from the ability to cycle, even if only during the summer, simply because they cannot ride like most vehicular cyclists?

    @Brad Ross #65 - Welcome to the support wagon. I am not a \'cross rider (have considered it though), so I don\'t support the \"cross bikes only\" (I know you were probably joking), however I do support painting it Cross Crusade orange, because that would just be bitchin\' (or if we really wanted to be really loud, we could candy-stripe it Crusade orange and green). It might not be the greatest color ever (I really like it), but it would definitely scream \"Dude, look at what we built, ain\'t it cool?\"

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  • steve May 2, 2008 at 9:36 am

    So your point Jonno is that we need this bridge mainly on weekends, 3-4 months per year?

    Seems reasonable.

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  • jonno May 2, 2008 at 10:03 am

    @Steve -

    Not that your occasional swipes actually build towards anything resembling a point, but...

    Is your point that we should only build infrastructure that\'s going to be heavily used 7 days a week all the year round?

    Then why build anything?

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  • Roger Geller May 2, 2008 at 10:57 am

    Brad #63:

    Not \"casual rider,\" \"interested but concerned rider\". These are people interested in using their bicycles for transportation but who are not willing to do so under existing traffic conditions. These are the same type of people the Dutch, Danes, Germans, Japanese, Chinese have been so successful at attracting to using their bicycles as a part of their daily lives.

    It\'s not as if the Dutch are born waterproof. I\'m sure that bicycle riding drops off in poor weather in Amsterdam and Copenhagen, just as it does here.

    However, I can tell you that our most recent inclement weather counts were conducted in March 2007 on the Broadway and Hawthorne Bridges. Total average daily trips during that time was 5,027 on those two bridges, down quite a bit from the summertime 2007 counts of 10,295 on those same two bridges. However, those 5,027 rainy weather trips were more than the summertime trips on those two bridges in 2000 (when we recorded 4,530 daily bike trips).

    What\'s the point?

    That poor weather trips today are higher than summertime trips from several years previously. That once you get people out riding they find a way to continue to ride in inclement weather. Once people start riding they find that riding in the winter in Portland really isn\'t that bad. That you can find rain gear, lights, etc to make it a not very difficult or unpleasant experience at all.

    Brad Ross #65: Thanks for being open-minded. Does it absolutely have to be orange?

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  • Tom Miller May 2, 2008 at 12:08 pm

    I appreciate Brad\'s (#63) honesty that he doubts Portland\'s ridership can meaningfully expand with new types of tools and investments. If the City shared that view, we wouldn\'t pursue this project.

    Fortunately, the facts suggest otherwise, as Roger noted.

    Some of you have been in my office, Above my desk sits the 2005 bike map for the City of Amsterdam. You should see the dense network of cycle tracks, boxes, hyper bike-friendly bridges, etc.

    Amsterdam is at 40% bike mode split and the City is still aggressively funding new infrastructure and new innovations. Todd Boulanger just shared a relatively new innovation: traffic lights with mirrors built into the bottom so truck drivers can more easily see riders.

    I think part of the challenge here is that many folks in Portland may not have experienced a city more bike-friendly. But if you\'ve been to a place like Amsterdam, you\'re in awe of how much more Portland has to do. I know Sam, Roger, and I returned from Amsterdam in 2005 with a new attitude.

    The bottom line is that if we want to be more sustainable, more responsible in the face of global warming and peak oil, more livable, and more efficient on transportation expenditures (public and private) we have to invest more aggressively in bikes, and new strategies to get more people on bikes. You can\'t achieve those goals without the investments and the innovation.

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  • Brad Ross May 2, 2008 at 12:28 pm

    Orange also happens to be the official color all things Dutch. Seriously.

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  • Brad May 2, 2008 at 12:33 pm

    Roger, you correct that the Dutch are not waterproof. But the Dutch (Danes, Japanese, etc.) do differ from Americans in the sense that their societies are not based on the assumption that your God given birthright is to travel comfortably in a four wheeled box that is affordable to all but the very impoverished. Plus, the nations that you mention also have a much deeper sense of collective good vs. individual expression via the possession of expensive toys. You\'ll need a generation of high gas prices, congested traffic, and greener thinking to pry Americans from their cars. I suspect that will be akin to convincing the NRA to hand over their guns.

    Kudos to PDOT for their efforts to improve cycling. I am just of the mind that $5 million buys lots of traffic calmers and roadway improvements for many rather than a bridge that serves relatively few.

    Jonno - as a taxpayer I do expect my governments to serve the greatest number of people by building things that will get used by heavily and often. That\'s just expecting good value for your money. If you had billions of dollars to spend on roads and you asked taxpayers (and motorists), \"How should we spend this money? Should we fix bridges, potholes, and create safer highways throughout the state or should we spend it all on a special autobahn with no exits between Portland and Eugene so that UO fans can get to home games at Autzen without the hassles of I-5 traffic? That new highway will eliminate five or six traffic jams each autumn south of Salem and may just inspire a few more season ticket requests!

    How do you think most would want the money spent?

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  • peejay May 2, 2008 at 12:46 pm

    Brad #63:

    Perhaps you have some proof that demonstrates nobody converts from casual sunny day riding to year-round hard core commuting. My personal experience is living proof that you\'re wrong.

    As a VC- rider, you should be satisfied that all roads are already set up for you. In fact, after the bridge goes in, you\'re still welcome to use Glisan and Everett all you want. Since you and I are about 1% of the riding population, you might consider that some money be spent on the other types of riders out there. One or two of them, after a few years of experience, might join you on a mad dash down Burnside on a rainy January evening.

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  • jonno May 2, 2008 at 1:11 pm

    Brad #73 -

    You wrote:

    \"Jonno - as a taxpayer I do expect my governments to serve the greatest number of people by building things that will get used by heavily and often.\"

    Do you not think the bridge will see frequent use on any non-sunny, non-weekend day? I brought up the sunny weekend traffic subject because that\'s the edge case when an impact to car traffic will be most noticeable. If heavy use is your significant metric, I assume you support the CRC since it will be used very heavily and very often.

    NW and the Pearl are the densest neighborhoods in Portland, yet see some of the lowest bike mode share numbers. We just don\'t have the infrastructure for the average rider. The bike room in my building currently contains 17 bikes. Of those, 3 are mine and only one other person rides theirs regularly. So that leaves 13 possible new riders who have a bike but for some reason choose to leave it at home.

    Like peejay and others have been saying, getting people on their bikes on sunny days will translate to a certain continuing percentage of frequent riders. If 1/3 of the non-riding bike owners in my building choose to ride regularly (well within the numbers predicted by Roger Geller\'s \"interested but concerned\" demographic), that\'s 4 new riders + two existing riders in one small 22-unit building alone. They all have cars too, so that\'s 4 fewer cars that won\'t be clogging up the roads elsewhere in the city when they choose to ride. And thus incremental growth of mode share yields its benefits.

    Your reducto-ad-absurdum Autzen Autobahn example leaves one question open -- if all the UO traffic is on a separate road, won\'t that leave I-5 open for all the trucks, commuters, day trippers, etc. who aren\'t going to the game? It\'s the same deal with bike infrastructure.

    Do you think the bridge is only going to benefit sunny-day bikers? And if it does show most impact on perfect days, does that mean that it is unnecessary because it does not have that same effect at all other times?

    I\'m a VC rider too, and I support the bridge because not everyone else is.

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  • wsbob May 2, 2008 at 1:23 pm

    When, I\'m downtown, I\'m amazed at what people will ride; single speed cruisers, old 3 speed english tour style bikes, bikes that to me appear to be more \'junk\' than not, dragged out of granny\'s garage after sitting around for 40 years gathering dust and rust.

    And yet, with a little attention here and there, they\'re all are working as reliable transportation, every day, rain or shine, it would seem(and the people riding them aren\'t all homeless people or crackheads). Lots of people apparently want to ride these kinds of bikes rather than something more performance oriented that can cut it on a VC level. I think it\'s exactly those kinds of people that will take to the bike boulevards and the Sauvie Island span on Flanders.

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  • Brad May 2, 2008 at 2:07 pm

    Jonno - I created the absurd autobahn idea to illustrate that spending money and a narrowly focused project is foolish. I propose that more riders of all types would benefit from having the $5 million spent creating safer, better, more bike friendly links. Why not use the money to create a safer St.John\'s crossing and link on Hwy.30? How about a bike boulevard connecting Industrial NW to Residential NW to The Pearl to The Waterfront on existing streets? I am not 100% opposed to the bridge but I do wish to hear about the feasibility and costs of other alternatives that would achieve the same aims but for more riders. Spread the wealth throughout the NW quadrant.

    I respect your argument about population density. My doubts about conversion are based on the older, more affluent demographic of The Pearl and NW coupled with the fact that many residents of those areas use cars to commute to their jobs in Washington County (Intel, Nike, etc.)and those habits will not change due to geography and distance.

    As for the CRC, I see the big picture. While it does need streamlining and fails to solve other traffic issues along I-5, I also see it as a much needed economic shot in the arm for Portland that will produce many living wage jobs and tax revenues in a city where most job growth over the past decade has been low paid service sector employment filled by college grads with no other local options.

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  • brettoo May 2, 2008 at 2:24 pm

    Roger, thanks so much for providing the history and facts this discussion has heretofore so desperately lacked -- not so much on bikeportland but on the Tribune and other blogs. I hope you\'ll consider posting it elsewhere. There\'s a lot of mis (or dis-)information out there, much of it sown by scheming politicians.

    On one hand, we have facts -- build safe bike infrastructure (preferably separated cycle tracks, but bike blvds can also work) that goes where people need it to go, and people will use it. The numbers prove it, not just in Holland and Copenhagen and Tokyo but also in Portland. On the other we have unsupported opinions that Americans won\'t bike even if bike-friendly conditions are present. Let\'s trust facts and history.
    I\'ve biked in Utrecht on chilly rainy days and warm sunny days, and riders don\'t seem to be deterred by weather. The Dutch are like Oregonians -- we\'re all used to the rain. But the main reason they bike is: for relatively short trips, it\'s just more convenient than driving. Gas and car maintenance are expensive, parking is hard to find, getting stuck in traffic is no fun ... all conditions we\'re going to be experiencing here even more than we are now. On the other hand, when you have safe, welcoming bike and pedestrian facilities, biking or (or walking augmented by public transport) to work or for errands is just fun or at least tolerable, even in the drizzle.

    The safe, wide, car-free Sauvie bridge, as the keystone of a Flanders central city bikeway that knits our city closer together, will be a major step toward that kind of bike/walk-friendly environment. We\'re lucky the bridge is available and works so well just where we need it. In five years, when gas is up to $6/gal, you\'ll see a steady stream of happy bike riders and pedestrians crossing it.

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  • jonno May 2, 2008 at 2:42 pm

    Brad -

    I guess I disagree that this is a narrowly focused project. That criticism could be aimed at most any project, including the examples you list.

    I also disagree with your assessment that the Pearl and NW are mostly older and more affluent -- my building is mostly young and middle class, a few fit older people, several students, no Washington County commuters that I know of. The neighborhood as a whole is a mix of ages, incomes, occupations and fitness levels. The demographics suggest that there are plenty of potential riders over here but the facilities are subpar.

    And the bridge won\'t benefit just NW residents -- with a pleasant boulevard to the river path, now we\'ve created a link that can get you most anywhere in the city, or get someone from most anywhere to NW. The other options (existing E&G, Johnson, etc.) don\'t share the ideal location and low traffic density of Flanders to act as this link. The current lack of a bridge is, obviously, the largest obstacle in making Flanders into the link that it can be.

    I believe most of this is covered in the CoP\'s bicycle master plan, if you want to look at some more material by the planners. This current Sauvie bridge ruckus is absolutely not the first time anyone has considered bike issues in NW Portland.

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  • Beefa May 2, 2008 at 9:51 pm

    Brad #63
    I Understand your point. But you and your hardcore VC friends do miss the point of what Portland,Seattle,S.F. and other cities are trying to acomplish.

    My guess is you want to keep cycling,or should I say, urban cycling to a certain select group.

    The world is changing (rapidly), and your arguments are already dated.

    I could not give a damn about bike boxes/lanes Ect, personally. But I do want my 3 year old to have the bike infrastructure in place when she does decide to commute to school on her pink Trek with red tassels in a few years. And I can feel secure in the knowledge that she will be O.K. if she follows the rules of the road.

    My parents started me at a young age and I eventually became a really good cyclist.
    And I thank them. Yet they would never expected me to ride on NW/NE/SW Broadway @ 10 years old as a VC cyclist.

    What I gather from the VC opinion is \" Go fast or Go home\". I do GO faster than you Brad, Every day, ALL day, for the past seventeen years. Yet I still have a perspective in how cycling (in every form) has myriad benefits to this society. Arrogance/ Narrow mindedness does no good. (That last sentence Is specificly directed at my co-workers.You know who you are)

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  • East Portlander May 3, 2008 at 3:55 am

    I\'ve been arguing with the Mayor\'s office over this project all week. They are on some pedestal of good intentions and can\'t listen to anyone speaking from solid earth. This project is one of many that work to improve the bike environment in our city. I find it divisive for them to argue that this is an East Portland vs. NW Portland project. Shame on the Mayor\'s office. This isn\'t an \"either this or that\" situation. Sidewalk and other safety improvements are important to me as well. This is why I continue to support the Safe, Sound and Green Streets program. I wish we hadn\'t wasted money on the Mayor\'s Vision PDX \"project\" which resulted in not a single physical improvement in our city. Meanwhile, this is an improvement that WILL be used by thousands of people daily. This is a small price to pay for such a high quality enabler of human-powered transportation.

    On a side note, for a Mayor so interested in public comment, I got very rude responses from his staff for voicing my opinion. It\'s no wonder they are misinformed and divisive. They are so bent on Sam they can\'t see clearly.

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  • john May 3, 2008 at 12:21 pm

    I grow weary of the PDOT Amsterdam wet dream.

    1) Amsterdam is pancake FLAT. Anyone can propel a bike around without much effort. Portland is hilly.

    2) Amsterdam is a dense city in dense country, and that density is about a millennium old. Portland is a city of single family homes, and increased density is about two decades old.

    3) Amsterdam is in Denmark which is in Europe, both of which have very different traditions of government planning and government mandates. Doesn\'t mean we can\'t make similar things work in US cities, but it will be very hard.

    All of this makes Amsterdam a great city, but some sort of future vision of Portland, highly suspect.

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  • wsbob May 3, 2008 at 8:38 pm

    Dude....Amsterdam is in Holland. Otherwise known as the Netherlands. Not Denmark. Denmark is a little island country of its own with rolling terrain and a 170 metre high point.

    Downtown Portland, N.E., S.E., N.W. S.W. has moderately rising and falling terrain with a few hills between some point to point destinations. A little more work than in Amsterdam or Denmark I suppose, but not out of the question for people in generally good physical shape.

    Amsterdam, Denmark, and China are examples of what cycling for the people can be, but I don\'t think anyone\'e saying they\'re models for exactly what Portland should be. Those places have some good ideas. It\'s smart to adapt and use those ideas in ways that will improve things in Portland from what they have been.

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  • brettoo May 3, 2008 at 10:42 pm

    I grow weary of the repeated uninformed claim that people bike more in Europe because the cities are flat. The facts show that flatness of terrain, within reason, doesn\'t seem to affect cycling rates in Europe much. Check out the study cited here: http://www.copenhagenize.com/2007/11/debunking-flat-countrybike-country-myth.html

    Plenty of cities in Italy and elsewhere that are hillier than Portland still boast much higher cycling rates. Our temperate climate helps, too.

    I think we can aspire to Amsterdam / Copenhagen bike culture. Unlike so many neandersprawl cities in the unenlightened parts of the US, Portland already has a lot of assets that make bike culture easier to adopt: compact growth planning laws, rapdily increasing infill development and density, government agencies that are smart and pro-bike (thanks, Mia, Roger, et al), pro recreation attitudes, etc.

    No one is advocating \"government mandates\" of bike use. We\'re just demanding infrastructure that makes transport choices possible and safe. And the experience of other countries that have provided that infrastructure conclusively demonstrates that when given safe, bike friendly infrastructure, many, many more people will freely choose to replace many of their

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  • brettoo May 3, 2008 at 10:47 pm

    sorry, part of the last post didn\'t take. Here\'s the rest.

    The experience of other countries that have provided that infrastructure conclusively demonstrates that when given safe, bike friendly infrastructure, many, many more people will freely choose to replace many of their

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  • brettoo May 3, 2008 at 10:50 pm

    The experience of other countries that have provided that infrastructure conclusively demonstrates that when given safe, bike friendly infrastructure, many, many more people will freely choose to replace many of their under-5 mile drives with bike trips.
    Right now, thanks to the political and financial clout of pro-car interests (big oil etc), most of the US suffers from government policies that essentially mandate car use via various hidden and blatant subsidies, zoning laws, traffic policies and so on. Which is why the uproar over this bridge project and the relative pittance spent on bike infrastructure, even here in bike-vana, is ludicrous compared to the country\'s (and even the city\'s) massive, disproportionate government support of car culture. Here in Portland, at least, we\'re starting to change direction. It\'s true that we\'re no Amsterdam, but the Platinum award suggests that we\'re closer than any other major US city, and there\'s really nothing that can stop us from reaching those levels of bike use except lack of political will. And every time gas prices go up, our job gets a little easier.

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  • zilfondel May 4, 2008 at 10:55 am

    This debate is getting rather ridiculous.

    I\'m going to do a little comparison... dollar-wise, for those of you who think that a $5 million bridge, that has been planned for years and years, to be paid for with dedicated funding, is an extravagant waste of money:

    The I-5 replacement bridge is estimated to cost $4.2 billion. That is almost ONE THOUSAND times more expensive! Imagine 1,000 bicycle improvements all over the city. Or, rather, the 1,000 bike improvements all over the city that will not happen because we are going to shoot all of our money on one colossal monument to the automobile.

    I also find it disingenuous for those of you who claim that there is far more \"bike infrastructure\" in the rest of the city (SE Portland? That is one part of the city). What constitutes \"bike infrastructure?\" Painted stripes on the road? Some green bike boxes? Those, and bike boulevards - aka low auto traffic streets - should be done in every neighborhood.

    Interestingly, SE Portland benefits from a 1,382 foot long bridge (the Hawthorne), which reveived a $21 million renovation, which added new and expanded bicycle+pedestrian paths (on both sides!), linked to waterfront park and the eastbank esplanade.

    No wonder people on the eastside - they have had almost $50 million worth of bicycle-only investments by the city of Portland. For the eastside.

    I think its totally fair and warranted to spend an extra $1.7 million over the original cost estimate for a cheap, narrow, plain concrete ped bridge linking the city\'s two most affluent and densest neighborhoods.

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  • zilfondel May 4, 2008 at 11:11 am

    ^ That is, \"I also find it disingenuous for those of you who claim that there is far more \"bike infrastructure\" in the rest of the city (SE Portland? That is one part of the city).\" I really meant:

    Living in the eastside, I don\'t see a lot of \"infrastructure\" in the neighborhoods. Or, at least compared to my experiences in Amsterdam, what we have here is so much more limited and primitive by comparison that a \"bike boulevard\" - simply a low car traffic street - doesn\'t really mean much. I mean, you can still drive on them, so...

    But I digress. NW Portland and the Pearl, the two densest neighborhoods - and centrally located - have the greatest potential for getting people to bike. Yes, those neighborhoods need bike boulevards, they need easy connections to downtown and the waterfront park (to link to the eastside), and so on.

    If we want to make the city better - and all of our lives better - then we must stop being so selfish, and strive to improve people\'s lives everywhere, for everyone.

    Next on the agenda, of course, will be the city\'s new expanded bike platinum plan - all of the non-central city neighborhoods admittedly need a lot of love, too.

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  • john May 4, 2008 at 8:48 pm

    zinfondel

    you\'re right, that is a silly comparision.

    The I-5 crossing addresses the major transportation chokepoint on the whole West Coast. It is one of the most important transportation corridors in the nation.

    Imagine 1000 bike improvements? honestly I can\'t think of 1000 5 million dollar bike projects.

    But I do know that maintaining highway infrastructure is really expensive and really important.

    However we are moving good and services around for the next 50 years, whatever we\'re putting into our transportation vehicles, it\'s almost certain that they\'ll be moving on highways.

    you can\'t transport many gross tonnage of fruit, vegetables, furniture, etc etc on a bike.

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  • john May 4, 2008 at 8:49 pm

    wsbob, sorry. holland. flat, flat, flat.

    not saying we can\'t learn from other countries, but claiming we can turn into Amsterdam is silly.

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  • wsbob May 4, 2008 at 9:20 pm

    People get excited about cycling conditions in Amsterdam, but I doubt that at the same time, they imagine Portland is going to turn into Amsterdam with the addition of a lot of new bike infrastructure. Portland can get better though, can\'t it?

    One of my latest crazy ideas: Some ski resorts have used tow ropes and such to ascend the ski runs. I was thinking...hey...now that would be nice on 26 from Goose Hollow to Sylvan....just think of all the bike commuters that would happily grab onto that!

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  • peejay May 5, 2008 at 5:21 am

    john:

    How much of the traffic going through that \"chokepoint\" is comprised of single occupancy vehicles, and how much is freight? Here\'s my solution: make people who live in Vancouver work in Vancouver, move to Portland, or take some form of public transport. Put the freight on existing rail lines. Chokepoint solved. That was easy.

    Just as spending money on bike infrastructure causes more people to bike, spending more money on highways causes more automobile traffic. Your chokepoint solution will need to be solved again, because you are not really solving it.

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  • ralph May 5, 2008 at 10:06 am

    Peejay,

    Why shouldn\'t people who live in Vancouver and work in Portland not drive and use the infrastructure.

    Did you know that if you live in Washington and work in Oregon, you pay Oregon income tax?

    So they\'re paying for the infrastructure and much more, without receiving the benefits.

    A pretty good case of taxation without representation.

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  • a.O May 5, 2008 at 10:12 am

    No ralph, taxation without representation is when you don\'t have an opportunity to be represented on taxation decisions, but the Washingtonians working in Oregon *could* also choose to live in Oregon. So then they get to complain about their own choice? Don\'t think so.

    Also, if you want to discuss what the Washingtonians working in Oregon do and don\'t pay for, let\'s talk about the immense cost of all the greenhouse gasses and hazardous air pollutants they\'re putting into our atmosphere that they don\'t pay for. They put in far, far more than me, but they are asking me to share the cost of their pollution.

    Fortunately, I am represented and I\'m going to do everything I can to get my representatives to TAX those people for the costs of the choices that they\'re attempting to impose on the rest of us.

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