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PBOT: Bike boulevards now known as “neighborhood greenways”

Posted by on April 12th, 2010 at 2:35 pm

BTA Bike Boulevard Ride
Riders on the Clinton St.
neighborhood greenway.
(Photo © J. Maus)

The City of Portland Bureau of Transportation plans to change how they refer to projects that calm residential streets and put an emphasis on non-motorized traffic. The term “neighborhood greenways” will soon replace “bicycle boulevards.”

I alluded to this new term in a story last month after noticing a new title on PBOT’s main website for these projects and have since confirmed the plans with PBOT project manager Kyle Chisek. He says they will make “neighborhood greenways” the public name for the projects but that bicycle boulevard will remain the technical term because that’s how they’re referenced nationally and in the 2030 Bike Plan.

“People have started asking for bike boulevards in their neighborhood because they want safer, more bike and pedestrian friendly streets — no matter what we call them.”
— Kyle Chisek, PBOT

At a recent bike boulevard open house in Northeast Portland, reader Steve Bozzone heard Chisek give further reasoning for the change. According to Bozzone, Chisek said, “We’re looking at changing the name since it’s not just cyclists who benefit from this.. it’s everyone.”

Expanding on that in an email today, Chisek wrote, “People have started asking for bike boulevards in their neighborhood because they want safer, more bike and pedestrian friendly streets — no matter what we call them.”

Chisek says the new name also reflects the Green Streets partnership between PBOT and the Bureau of Environmental Services: “Neighborhood greenways deliver on both the transportation and stormwater management goals of the city and reflect what happens to a street once the work is finished.”

For further reading, you might be interested to read an editorial I wrote last summer, Bike boulevards aren’t just for bikes.

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Comments
  • Scott Mizée April 12, 2010 at 2:40 pm

    ah ha….. that explains this

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  • maxadders April 12, 2010 at 2:59 pm

    Sounds like a handy way to shield the boulevards from kneejerk “$$$$ for more bike facilities while X is ignored?!?” criticism. Which is fine by me– they’re facilities that benefit more than just cyclists.

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  • Aaronf April 12, 2010 at 3:00 pm

    Look out!

    The Church Of Green is at it again!

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  • are April 12, 2010 at 3:37 pm

    everybody got a church, aaron. green no worse than yours.

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  • Oliver April 12, 2010 at 3:59 pm

    Gingrich’s 1996 GOPAC memo is as important as ever.

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  • Aaronf April 12, 2010 at 4:16 pm

    Jonah was swallowed by a bioswhale?

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  • are April 12, 2010 at 4:26 pm

    because he refused to prophesy against neighborhood greenways in nineveh

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  • Camp Bike Fun April 12, 2010 at 5:18 pm

    We need folks to come out to support the Holman street Neighborhood Greenway (PBOT meeting)- Tuesday May 4th 6pm-8pm at Concordia University 2811 NE Holman St.

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  • chad April 12, 2010 at 5:43 pm

    Name change good…shows the city is continuing to put thought and support behind the “calm street” way of getting bikes (and pedestrians) around the city.

    The only problem I’ve experienced so far is people who firmly believe bikes should only ride in bike lanes.

    I know it sounds silly to us who are regular commuters and/or recreational riders, but I still run into people who think bikes are only “legal” in bike lanes.

    I am hoping, as I have for some time, that the city puts a little outreach into educating the people who don’t really care to seek out the “right” way to drive around people on bicycles.

    I think a lot of the seeming dislike for bikes on these more residential roads (and yes, it exists) stems from drivers not knowing what to do when they get behind a bike. Show them what to do and you’ll have safer, happier road users which make everybody’s city more livable.

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  • jim April 12, 2010 at 6:01 pm

    This sounds like typical sneaky underhanded portland govt. No respect for those guys at all.

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  • Carmen April 12, 2010 at 7:15 pm

    Would sure love to see a network of greenways that exclude auto traffic entirely.. would be a great ‘next step’

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  • are April 12, 2010 at 8:54 pm

    what is “sneaky” about standing up and saying in exactly so many words, “we are going to start calling these ‘neighborhood greenways’ because (a) it more accurately describes what we are trying to accomplish in terms of traffic calming and creating an environment in which people can feel comfortable on their own streets, and (b) calling them ‘bike boulevards’ gives people the mistaken impression that these improvements benefit only bicyclists” and provides grist for people like whatshisname over there to constantly grouse and complain?

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  • bikeR April 12, 2010 at 9:52 pm

    I like are’s point. I think most in the city appreciate certain residential streets to be more ped/bike/kid/enviro friendly than yet just another a detour for arterial roads. The only downside I see is the name,”Neighborhood Greenway”, may devalue other Greenway efforts that are more off-road trails (e.g., NP Greenway). I can get past this downside. Neighborhood Greenway’s might be road modifications, while NP Greenway is a dedicated offroad trail from St. John’s bridge to downtown PDX. An awesome project.

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  • q`Tzal April 12, 2010 at 10:11 pm

    Even better name would be “Slow Roads”. Make it known, loudly with TV and Radio adverts, that these “bike boulevards”/“neighborhood greenways”/”Slow Roads” are optimized for pedestrian and bicycle travel. These roads are going to be slower by design so don’t expect to get to you destination fast on these roads
    If these routes are then known, anecdotally, to actually be slower then very quickly all but local auto traffic will divert.
    I think in this case just calling a bike boulevard a slow road often enough will make it true.

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  • GlowBoy April 12, 2010 at 10:16 pm

    To me “greenway” indicates a park or open space that is a refuge from the development around it.

    I fully support finding a more inclusive name than “bike boulevards”, but to me calling them “greenways” is misleading unless we are actually ripping out the development along them and turning them into parks.

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  • are April 12, 2010 at 10:21 pm

    part of the plan is to increase the number of street trees along these corridors

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  • Camp Bike Fun April 13, 2010 at 12:00 am

    street trees and bioswales

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  • jj April 13, 2010 at 2:57 am

    Are, because it is a bullshit spin-meister attempt to conceal why these roads are being altered.

    There is no “greenway” plan. There is no involvement of pedestrians, walkers, people with children, homeowners in an outreach effort to see what sort of “greenway” development should occur on their streets or in their neighborhood.

    An example of classic spin: “According to Bozzone, Chisek said, “We’re looking at changing the name since it’s not just cyclists who benefit from this.. it’s everyone.””

    Right … so if everyone benefits why do you need to change the name? Have you actually asked the folks on the streets where you’re doing this? Because I know a bunch of them and the new moisture in their basements as a result of poorly planned bioswales is making them pretty unpopular.

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  • beth h April 13, 2010 at 8:44 am

    I’m with JJ (#18) on this one, although not quite as angrily. Basically, this smells like just so much marketing to diffuse motorist and developer anger against bike-riders by coming up with terminology that feels more inclusive.

    Problem is, even this name makes car-drivers and developers feel shut out.
    Which means they’ll see right through the re-naming for what it is.

    JJ: “There is no “greenway” plan. There is no involvement of pedestrians, walkers, people with children, homeowners in an outreach effort to see what sort of “greenway” development should occur on their streets or in their neighborhood.”

    Let’s expand this discussion beyond bikes and look at just how much community input has been sought and how it has been used — not only to come up with a name but to come up with a plan.

    I remain skeptical.

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  • ecohuman April 13, 2010 at 8:44 am

    I wonder how many tons of pavement and resource extraction and fossil fuels it takes to make a “Greenway”?

    Let’s at least be honest in our assessment. The name was changed for marketing reasons, not for ethical ones or accuracy. It’s stunning, really, how transparent the effort is to obfuscate the political gymnastics going on–yet almost everyone seems to be projecting their own self-interest on it.

    Which means the effort might be working as planned.

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  • joe adamski April 13, 2010 at 10:01 am

    Kind of creates a bit of confusion for us at npGreenway.. our idea of a greenway includes,but is not limited to separated facilities for bikes/peds. The Citys’ greenway focuses on SHARED roadways. What is a greenway? Depends on who you ask….

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  • Barney April 13, 2010 at 10:06 am

    Changing from “Global Warming” to “Climate Change” didn’t help the cause either!

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  • Aaronf April 13, 2010 at 10:13 am

    Is there a better buzzword than “green” they could tag to it to make it even more popular?

    How about a Patriot Way, or a Freedom Way or something?

    PBoT should do some demographic target marketing so we can have the most disingenuous (and popular!) name possible.

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  • jim April 13, 2010 at 10:16 am

    are- It is sneaky because they don’t call it what it is. When there will be an article about a future project the word “bicycle” will be purposely left out, this is entirely missleading and deceptive. The person responsible should be repremanded.

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  • Danpdx April 13, 2010 at 10:51 am

    Wow when did this site become inundated with Oregonlive trolls? Did this story get a link from bojack or something?

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  • Lenny Anderson April 13, 2010 at 12:03 pm

    Since Portland has yet to build a real “Bike Boulevard,” I am glad to see that name dropped. “Greenway” also comes up a bit short when the real need is to slow motorized traffic on all residential streets to 20 mph max. PBOT should be working all the levers it can to get ODOT to allow this reduction. 30 kph (18 mph) is standard in Europe. The other key need is diverters and barriers that allow bicycles and pedestrians but discourage cut thru auto traffic which will show up as soon as a few stop signs are flipped. Speaking of which, the other task for PBOT is getting a “stop means yield for bicycles” amendment or just announcing that PBB will enforce along those lines on designated bike routes.

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  • jered April 13, 2010 at 12:06 pm

    Ironic Hipster Way.
    Angry Liberal Way.
    Semantic Crybaby Way.
    Grumpy Lefty Way
    Fixie Way.

    on and on.

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  • Aaronf April 13, 2010 at 12:30 pm

    Dan – I see a spectrum of opinions in the article… care to sort out who is a troll and who isn’t?

    Or is everyone who disagrees with you a troll?

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  • Brad April 13, 2010 at 12:52 pm

    I can still pedal my bicyc…err… Veloconveyance of Freedom and Social Justice on it, right?

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  • Jackattak April 13, 2010 at 1:13 pm

    My goodness. What’s happened to this place?

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  • are April 13, 2010 at 1:31 pm

    re comments 18 and 19. i do not know all the details, but from what this kyle chesik said at the klickitat open house the other night, i gathered that BES is involved and they are among other things trying to address existing stormwater drainage issues as part of this project — in other words, people who already have water problems in their basements should see their situation improve. and while, yes, there is an element of disingenuousness to the “public involvement” aspect of these meetings, and while, yes, there is an element of manipulation to naming it this or that, the bottom line is, do we end up with calmer streets and good stormwater drainage or not?

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  • ecohuman April 13, 2010 at 2:13 pm

    “in other words, people who already have water problems in their basements should see their situation improve”

    That bit of propoganda about narrow bioswales built out over many years is so innacurate as to be silly. It doesn’t work that way–and the fact that those moving the political handles would force such a claim is more telling than any effort to rename them “greenways”.

    “the bottom line is, do we end up with calmer streets and good stormwater drainage or not?”

    That’s only one question. Others might be:

    “Do we cancel existing critical sewer projects to build bike lanes, or not?”

    “Would the city please publish proof that the designed bioswales will meet the claims being made about them?

    “Why are ‘efficiencies’ in sewer budget not being used to fund basic infrastructure projects that already exist *and* benefit all modes of transport”

    And so on. The problem is, several people (including people in local government) have pointed out what City Council (and particularly Adams) is attempting to do politically–but few want to hear it. The worst part is, the real cost of poor leadership, priorities and management will take years to see. By then, those responsible will be long gone.

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  • jim April 13, 2010 at 2:14 pm

    Do you think a bike tax money would be available to help fix drainage/ sewer problems?

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  • rrandom rider April 13, 2010 at 3:07 pm

    It seems that most of the anger here is by people who do not and will not support these projects regardless of what the name is.

    Bike Boulevard is not very accurate- it implies that the route is only for bikes.

    Neighborhood Greenway, while also not perfect, is a more accurately descriptive term. It benefits the neighborhood as a whole by calming auto traffic and creating a safer, quieter, more pleasant and more accessible environment for people whether they are on their bikes or not. Would you rather take a walk, have your kids playing basketball in the street or even just sit out on your front porch if your street has multiple cars driving through at 35+ mph or if there is less auto traffic and a slower speed for those vehicles that are on it? True, not every individual will agree, but I bet the majority do.

    When the majority of the complaints on this thread include concerns unrelated to the name change, I think it is safe to assume that the terminology is not the issue.

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  • are April 13, 2010 at 4:02 pm

    i dunno, ecohuman. these references to “tons of pavement” and “build[ing] bike lanes” have nothing at all to do with the present conversation. so why are you raising them? also, how can a bioswale, no matter how narrow and no matter over how many years they are built out, possibly be worse than runoff from pavement? i am willing to be educated.

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  • Anonymous April 13, 2010 at 4:44 pm

    I think it’s what the City should have done in the first place. Making the projects sound like they cater to the special bicycle interest was a bad PR move.

    This stuff does a lot more than just make it easier to get around on a bicycle. it makes for a more livable, quieter, calmer place to live for everyone that reduces the dominance of the automobile.

    The Climate Change vs Global Warming comparison is accurate. How many idiots will point at the recent cold weather and say “See? It’s all a big lie!”. They won’t read the science either.

    Ecohuman, Google is still your friend and can point you in the direction of many publicly available, reputable, peer-reviewed publications on these and related topics that may not be accessible from the Fox News website.

    Now on deck, Jack Peek.

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  • Perry April 13, 2010 at 4:46 pm

    I think it’s what the City should have done in the first place. Making the projects sound like they cater to the special bicycle interest was a bad PR move.

    This stuff does a lot more than just make it easier to get around on a bicycle. it makes for a more livable, quieter, calmer place to live for everyone that reduces the dominance of the automobile.

    The Climate Change vs Global Warming terminology comparison is a good one. How many idiots will point at the recent cold weather and say “See? It’s all a big lie!”. They won’t read the science either…

    Ecohuman, Google is still your friend and can point you in the direction of many publicly available, reputable, peer-reviewed publications on these and related topics that may not be accessible from the Fox News website.

    Now on deck, Jack Peek.

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  • Scott Mizée April 13, 2010 at 4:53 pm

    If you’d like to provide some feedback through a public forum on this, perhaps you should attend the Portland Bicycle Advisory Committee Meeting tonight…

    Report from the Mayor’s Office Catherine Ciarlo, Transportation Director in the Mayor’s Office, will report on progress to date in developing neighborhood greenway (bicycle boulevard)projects as part of the cooperative efforts between BES and PBOT. She will also report on the creating of a committee to address both long- and short-term funding needs for implementing the Portland Bicycle Plan for 2030.

    Click here for image of the Agenda here.

    Click here for PBOT’s PBAC page (not sure why the agenda is not posted on this page.)

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  • Steve B. April 13, 2010 at 5:11 pm

    @jj & @bethh:

    New ‘neighborhood greenways’ have many components that make things better for peds & neighborhood residents. In fact, there was a lot of talk about how handling crossings at the collector streets–due to the neighborhood greenway designation–will actually really help out folks crossing the street on foot. PBOT could always go further to make streets better for pedestrians, in my opinion.

    If either of you feel your case isn’t being heard, you should make it a point to attend a future open house. This is where conditions are assessed and improvements are recommended, regardless if you ride a bike or not.

    The reason for the name change is simple. The realized potential of bike boulevards has grown in scope. They’re no longer just seen as transportation improvements for bikes, they’re now appreciated as neighborhood assets. Keeping a name that designates benefits for only one mode fails to describe the benefits for everyone, and is SO last decade.

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  • ecohuman April 13, 2010 at 5:57 pm

    “Ecohuman, Google is still your friend and can point you in the direction of many publicly available, reputable, peer-reviewed publications on these and related topics that may not be accessible from the Fox News website. ”

    Really? I’d be grateful if you could point me to *two* “peer-reviewed publications” that show that the quantitative benefits of the planned bioswales both outweight their environmental cost and provide equivalent stormwater management to those services whose funding their using.

    Seriously. You can post them here, of send them to blog@ecohuman.com. I’ll read them.

    And Fox News? Don’t watch it. I voted for both Obama *and* Sam Adams. And I own two bicycles, maintain a garden, and have a pretty sweet rainwater harvesting system.

    Uh oh! I blew the stereotype. Sorry about that.

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  • Perry April 13, 2010 at 8:50 pm

    OK, let’s type “Bioswale Cost” into Google and see what happens…

    1) http://buildgreen.ufl.edu/Fact_sheet_Bioswales_Vegetated_Swales.pdf
    - only a fact sheet to be sure, but let’s follow the citations in it to:

    2) Papers and articles by the Army Corps of Engineers (wow, the Beavers with Power Tools like the idea, and did a cost analysis to boot…)

    3) Papers published by the National Institute of Building Sciences, in which I can find references to many papers like these:

    Center for Watershed Protection (CWP). 1996. Design of Stormwater Filtering Systems. Prepared for the Chesapeake Research Consortium, Solomons, MD, and USEPA Region V, Chicago, IL, by the Center for Watershed Protection, Ellicott City, MD.

    Brown, W., and T. Schueler. 1997. The Economics of Stormwater BMPs in the Mid-Atlantic Region. Prepared for the Chesapeake Research Consortium, Edgewater, MD, by the Center for Watershed Protection, Ellicott City, MD.

    Dorman, M.E., J. Hartigan, R.F. Steg, and T. Quasebarth. 1989. Retention, Detention and Overland Flow for Pollutant Removal From Highway Stormwater Runoff. Vol. 1. FHWA/RD 89/202. Federal Highway Administration, Washington, DC.

    Goldberg. 1993. Dayton Avenue Swale Biofiltration Study. Seattle Engineering Department, Seattle, WA.

    Harper, H. 1988. Effects of Stormwater Management Systems on Groundwater Quality. Prepared for Florida Department of Environmental Regulation, Tallahassee, FL, by Environmental Research and Design, Inc., Orlando, FL.

    It would appear that there’s some consensus that the cost of the bioswale approach is approximately 50% of that of the traditional storm drain and treatment system.

    That took about six minutes.

    I don’t see a lot of contrary positions out there, perhaps you can share some of yours with us? The available data does not support your position, in my opinion. I’ll be glad when Avel Gordly and the Portland Future PAC fail in their second attempt at recalling Sam Adams in a few days, and hope that they will accept a reiteration of the opinion of the electorate on the issue this time, and let the man do his job.

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  • Zaphod April 13, 2010 at 9:16 pm

    Wow, people are wound up on this. I like the re-branding of it. Say what you will but every idea, every story needs to be properly marketed. “Neighborhood Greenway” feels like an appropriate name for a route that de-prioritizes automobiles.

    Taming the auto helps everyone, not just cyclists. While we Americans love our freedom there is a right and wrong way to use our streets in a car. You’re supposed to go from residential to arterial. So often I see drivers using residential routes *as* arterials. Sure it’s legal but it’s against the design intent and purpose of residential streets. Plus it’s a drag if you live on one of these streets to have people driving through, usually significantly above the speed limit. I’d like to see a huge number of “Neighborhood Greenways”

    The name change is a good one.

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  • AaronF April 13, 2010 at 10:57 pm

    You folks that claim we’re “taming the auto” for everyone’s good.

    One question.

    If it’s for “everyone’s good” then why don’t they do it on my street? Why is it just for bicycle routes? Why not plant trees on my street and install speed bumps and whatever else?

    I’d love it, don’t get me wrong… but I think the reason (besides price of course) is that it’s just a way to kill two birds with one stone, it’s politically convenient and cost effective.

    The bioswales are just being tagged onto the bike routes from the bicycle plan for bikeways (hence the name!). Those must be in the parts of the city than benefit the most from reduced runoff I guess…?

    I guess it irks me a little extra because I still feel it was a poor move to divert money from sewer projects that should have probably come before this one.. pissing people off with frustratingly accurate headlines of “Extra money spent on bikeways” and all while $580 million short of our $600 million bike plan. I think we would have seen more money in the long run without making this quick, relatively unpopular money grab.

    This seems like an extra measure to cover tracks on the fallout of that by telling people “uhm, the money is for “Greenways” not bike paths… don’t worry. Just because the money is being used to incidentally make bike paths at the same time…”

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  • Zaphod April 13, 2010 at 11:21 pm

    AaronF #43
    If it’s for “everyone’s good” then why don’t they do it on my street? Why is it just for bicycle routes? Why not plant trees on my street and install speed bumps and whatever else?

    I think what you are implying is something worth talking about. Residential streets… all of them, could benefit from traffic calming like the ones you mention. People drive too fast on them as a rule. Supposing drivers actually went 25 (which is a rare event) that’s above the threshold that causes serious injury & death for those not in a cage. This means kids playing, citizens crossing streets and people biking.

    I’d like to see an enforced 15 mph speed limit for residential. Looking at google maps, it appears that the longest distance a a motorist would drive at this speed is ~1/3 mile or less than a minute and a half at 15mph.

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  • ecohuman April 14, 2010 at 7:15 am

    “OK, let’s type “Bioswale Cost” into Google and see what happens…”

    Yes indeed, let’s do that.

    Then, let’s actually read some of the papers provided, with a critical mind, and with the intention that I spelled out above.

    Not “are bioswales cheap”, or “do bioswales capture stormwater”, or even “are bioswales a best management practice to mitigate impervious flow”. The issue isn’t (and has never been) can a swale capture and filtrate water at a low cost. They can.

    But something tells me that the bigger picture here might be lost on you, and maybe several others. You’re hung up on a political metaphor of “left and right” and “cars vs. bicycles” so much that you’ve lost (or never had) the ability to see that criticism can be something other than a “rant” or a “troll” or even “a Fox News watcher”.

    And that might be the most deprressing irony of the whole issue.

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  • spare_wheel April 14, 2010 at 8:20 am

    “let’s actually read some of the papers provided, with a critical mind, ”

    let’s sidestep the fact that someone showed you up with citations.

    “The issue isn’t (and has never been) can a swale capture and filtrate water at a low cost. They can. But something tells me that the bigger picture here might be lost on you, and maybe several others.”

    let’s backtrack and write vague political metaphors.

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  • Aaronf April 14, 2010 at 9:39 am

    Spare Wheel – I don’t see how reading the papers is a sidestep and responding based on their content is a sidestep…

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  • Jackattak April 14, 2010 at 10:52 am

    ecohuman -

    Enlighten us. Just what is the “bigger picture”? Quid pro quo and all that. Peer-reviewed citations were made and you’ve refuted them but not explained your refutation. Mind doing that so we can understand your point a little better?

    I know I, for one, am lost as to what your point is, but would love to hear it.

    If it’s not about “”are bioswales cheap”, or “do bioswales capture stormwater”, or even “are bioswales a best management practice to mitigate impervious flow”. The issue isn’t (and has never been) can a swale capture and filtrate water at a low cost then what is your argument against them about?

    Thanks, Jackattak

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  • jim April 14, 2010 at 12:29 pm

    It seams like a lot of confusion on bioswales. Pretty simple idea- it is cheaper to build bioswales and keap the water there (onsight) than to spend a lot of money to make more sewer lines leading to an overburdened system. If they had started this a long time ago we would never would have needed the billion dollar big pipe (that would have been a lot of greenways)

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  • ecohuman April 14, 2010 at 12:58 pm

    “Enlighten us. Just what is the “bigger picture”?”

    I’ve already done that. I’ll do it here again. The “bigger picture” is threefold: how the project is being funded, the ecological impact of the project, and the lack of any critical thinking on how a bioswale along a bike path will serve in place of, for example, sewer pipe (not stormwater conveyance, but wastewater) that’s badly in need of repair/replacement and was scheduled (and funded) for doing so.

    Those three issues are, of course, interrelated. Already the “savings”–that Adams characterized as “extra” money hiding in the sewer budget due to “efficiencies”–has been proven not to really be there.

    Notice that Adams hasn’t claimed that the bioswales are alternative means of managing the problems that funding is being removed from–that’s being done by proponents of the Bicycle Plan.

    I’ll sum it up, for the sound bite lovers in the crowd:
    (1) sewer infrastructure is crumbling.(2)the impervious surface our bicycles require is just as harmful no matter what mode of transport goes over them, and they’re increasing, not decreasing.
    (3)bioswales are small scale, location-specific stormwater management practices that can’t (and won’t) be built ubiquitously–which is the only way they’d make a significant impact and deal meaningfully with the overwhelming stormwater problem. Bioswales also don’t automatically filtrate well wherever you place them.
    (4) The city’s in debt, and going further into debt, leveraging itself with risky bond maneuvers to keep itself afloat–and its financial situation worsens every year.
    (5) Growth, development and overconsumption are unaffected by bicycle paths. Despite the farcical “green” reputation that Portland has, the number and severity of its ecological problems continue to grow, its poverty continues to grow, its soil, water and air continue to decline in quality (in some cases to very dangerous levels), its consumption levels of materials shipped from abroad continue to grow, its power consumption continues to grow, and its “footprint” of eco-destruction continues to grow.

    (6) Auto dependence is not at the root of our problems, despite their high level of pollution. What I said in (5) is. If all auto traffic were to cease tomorrow, and we replaced it with human-powered transport, all of the problems above would still be present–and we’d still have an overwhelming ecological problem.

    (7) Bicycle infrastructure is *dependent* on auto infrastructure.

    In brief, that’s the bigger picture. Portland as a whole has a problem, in other words, and while the clownish, self-indulgent priorities of Adams and most of City Council might appeal to you, much of what they’re doing is systematically harmful–with an impact of decades and centuries–and represents not a concerted effort to deal with the actual ecological problems, but rather serve the interests of monied power.

    I’m sure that few want even come near the big picture, though. It’s easier to say “more bicycles make us eco-friendly”, while all of this is actually happeninhg, really, truly happening, just outside your door.

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  • Perry April 15, 2010 at 1:20 pm

    So the Big Picture seems to be that the City of Portland is in dire financial trouble, the City Council is at worst corrupt, or at best not acting in the interest of their constituency, the infrastructure is crumbling, the City isn’t prioritizing as it should on the various maintenance projects while they march clownishly toward the creation of Bicycle Nirvana?

    Funny, the 2009 City Auditors Report (available on – gasp! portlandonline) doesn’t tell he story quite that way at all. Seems revenue is up (and yes, so are bond obligations), spending proportions are about the same as they have been for years and the City’s bond rating is about as good as they get.

    Ecohuman, you’ve said nothing substantive on any of your three points, other than to state that you don’t like it. Let’s see some facts that support your claims and then maybe we can be pursuaded. Until then, you aren’t making the sale.

    Nobody has ever claimed this project was the cure-all to any of the long-standiing problems you mention – does it have to be? I’m pleased that it’s a step in the right direction that costs comparatively little and gives long-lasting benefits.

    Perhaps it might be more constructive if you took some time to compose your thoughts about what should be done instead? What should the priorities be, in your opinion? Why? How would you fund them?

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  • jj April 16, 2010 at 5:03 pm

    RRandom Rider and Zaphod: I’d be with you if you told me that the City did a careful analysis of traffic patterns and speed on the streets, then installed the swales or speedbumps. But no analysis was done. These traffic calming effects are just after the fact claims on something that is being installed for other reasons. This is what angers me about the renaming–it’s just phony spin and you’re all buying it hook line and sinker. If the swales can be defended, they should be defended on their original justification and merit, not on “facts” made up on the fly.

    SteveB, same point, do you have EVIDENCE that bikeways are “appreciated as neighborhood assets,” that the residents of the streets on which the swales are being installed support the installation? I know of at least two cases where no one was asked and the neighbors are very unhappy.

    Jim–this is true IF the neighborhood does not have water retention problems. However, at least on 46th south of Hawthorne, wet/flooded basements are already a problem. The soil there is heavy clay. Holding the water in the swales is going to be a disaster in that neighborhood.

    Scott M: Why would I subject myself to that? The swales are NOT a bike project, they’ve just be repackaged that way. Besides, I looked up the committee on Portland Online–it is a handpicked set of bike advocates, like so many of the so-called advisory boards in this city.

    Let me be clear, I love the green street modifications done in Westmoreland, which are environmentally sound and really work. The swales along Spokane which were planned, vetted, announced, debated, and installed as part of a larger bikeway, are great.

    But now this project has spun out of control because the Mayor has a pet idea, a pet plan he wants to promote, and “found” $20,000,000 to spend on it at the same time we’re close fire stations, and increasing our water bills 7%.

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  • Steve B. April 17, 2010 at 1:02 pm

    jj: sure, I’d be happy to ride with you to some of the existing boulevards and speak to the residents. I think we’d find ample evidence, particularly by those who have to deal with tough crossings or too much cut through traffic.

    Visit 16th and Tillamook. That traffic diverter, which really is the anchor of the bike boulevard, was actually first installed by residents to calm traffic and keep cut through traffic out. That’s just one of the sort of improvements you get with a neighborhood greenway. Now, the solution includes even more assets like street trees, storm water management, crosswalks, street dieting, extensions of parks, etc.

    We could also talk about appreciated real estate values. If you need more evidence that bike infrastructure is a cheap investment that pays back major dividends, you can find a bunch here:
    http://intersection911.org/investinbikes2.pdf

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