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Despite PBOT data, opposition to Holgate bike lanes remains

Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on July 27th, 2010 at 8:40 am

SE Holgate bike lanes meeting-1
Bike lanes on SE Holgate.
(Photo © J. Maus)

Following a public meeting last week, Rick Bradford, the man behind a grassroots effort to get PBOT to remove the new buffered bike lanes on SE Holgate Blvd., remains unswayed in his opposition.

Bradford has posted an update on RestoreHolgate.com where he accuses PBOT of spinning the issues and facts at the Thursday night meeting that drew a standing room only crowd at Holgate Baptist Church. Saying the lanes are an "Adams sponsored blunder" (a reference to Portland Mayor Sam Adams) that have been "forced upon" their neighborhood, Bradford also calls into question the baseline data PBOT brought to the meeting.

Here's a snip from RestoreHolgate.com:

With facts and figures that they admitted weren't accurate, they told us of how much safer our street is now. A lot of bike riders as well as automobile drivers found that hard to swallow.

Speaking of hard to swallow, the city reports a bicycle traffic count of 196 bikes per day! Of course, they only counted one day. From my own un-scientific observations, I have never seen anything close to that, on any given day. There must have been a bike parade that day.

At the meeting, PBOT's head traffic safety staffer Mark Lear said their traffic count was done with video cameras. I don't recall which "facts and figures" were admittedly not accurate, but here is the data PBOT says they've collected so far (taken from handouts of PBOT's presentation at the meeting, which you can download here) .

Traffic Speeds (all data reflects change from 2008 to after bike lanes were installed)

    – 1,204 fewer cars per day 38-44 mph
    – 401 fewer cars per day 44-49 mph
    – 60 fewer cars per day 50+ mph
    - After controlling for volume changes, the percentage of speeders decreased by 19%.

Traffic Volumes (Daily motor vehicle trips on Holgate at 107th)

    - 2008: 15,305
    - 2010 (after bike lane installation): 12,762
    - 17% reduction

Traffic Crashes

Delay to Corridor Travel Time (using TriMet bus GPS data)

    - Travel times for buses both eastbound and westbound on Holgate between 92nd & 122nd increased between 15 to 20 seconds between April 2009 and April 2010.
    - Travel times for buses both eastbound and westbound on Powell between the Trimet garage and 122nd Ave increased by less than 15 seconds between April 2009 and April 2010.

PBOT will conduct an analysis of the project over the next six months. In addition the criteria above, PBOT will also evaluate the amount of time delay vehicles experience at a stop sign trying to enter Holgate from a side street. The safety of people on bicycles will also be evaluated based on how many crashes are reported, a survey of people riding in the bike lanes, and overall bike traffic volumes.

Since the stated purpose of this project was to reduce motor vehicle speeds and provide a higher level of comfort for people using bicycles, a reduction in speed will be seen as a key measure of "positive impact." As for motor vehicle volumes, if traffic is diverted from Holgate onto neighborhood streets, that would be seen as a "negative impact." The results of this evaluation will be presented in a neighborhood meeting scheduled for February 2011.

Regardless of the evaluations, for some residents the only solution is to return the street to its previous, four standard vehicle lane configuration. David Lentz, owner of the Lentz Automotive repair shop on the corner of Holgate and 104th, told me Thursday that he'll file a lawsuit against the city -- on the grounds of lost property value -- if the bike lanes remain.

As for Bradford, he's offering this solution:

"Eliminate on-street parking on SE Holgate for the entire length of the bike lane. Move the bike lanes to the shoulder... same width. This eliminates the riders fears of opening car doors, it restores Holgate to is [sic] previous lane configuration.... and we all go home happy."

See previous coverage of the Holgate bike lanes here.

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Comments
  • Matthew July 27, 2010 at 8:47 am

    Apart from the fact that the whole POINT of the project was to slow traffic down, and that restoring Holgate to a 4-lane configuration would have the opposite effect, wouldn't local businesses be MORE adversely affected (or at least think they would be) by the loss of on-street parking than by the loss of a lane of traffic?

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  • Kathleen McDade July 27, 2010 at 9:01 am

    They still only have 34 "signatures" on their petition.

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  • are July 27, 2010 at 9:05 am

    maybe the headline should read "opposition from one guy remains." doesn't look like his website gets any traffic.

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  • Brad July 27, 2010 at 9:05 am

    I get the feeling this is going to be a watershed event. The anti-bike resistance has now evolved beyond talk radio grousing and blogging. Now it has a very tangible rallying point. A successful lawsuit against the city or the city caving in will jeopardize the master plan.

    I'm pro-bike but PBOT really screwed up here and their lack of transparency and P.R. acumen could have some serious downstream implications.

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  • twilliam July 27, 2010 at 9:05 am

    Somewhat related article explaining how folks, particularly political partisans (and bike sure seem political these days), will not change their minds when presented with facts that contradict their beliefs:

    CLICKY

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  • Perry July 27, 2010 at 9:09 am

    I guess Lentz ain't fixin' MY dents...

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  • Malex July 27, 2010 at 9:12 am

    It's not clear to me that lower vehicle volumes on Holgate mean traffic has been diverted to neighborhood streets. Knowledgeable drivers will only divert to through streets. The closest through streets are Powell and Harold. Powell certainly can't be called a neighborhood street, and Harold is borderline.

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  • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) July 27, 2010 at 9:16 am

    are,

    i was at the meeting on Thursday and had conversations with five different groups of people, all of whom were adamantly opposed to the bike lanes. I'm aware of the perils of sourcing just one outlying person in opposition, but that's not the case here.

    That being said, there is also strong support for the project by many people in the area.

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  • Cora Potter July 27, 2010 at 9:17 am

    We also need to take into consideration that traffic volumes may be down on city streets overall, and that some auto traffic from nearby households may have shifted to MAX or biking.

    So - the 17% reduction in traffic may not be entirely precipitated by the change in the lane configuration. A lot of things have changed since August of 2009 - the economy, the opening of the MAX, people's habits overall etc.

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  • k. July 27, 2010 at 9:21 am

    Take away all the parking along Holgate, like Bradford suggests, and just see how happy all the business owners along there are. Bradford is only seeing things from his narrow point of view.

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  • Brian E July 27, 2010 at 9:49 am

    Take a look from the Google satellite and you will see that who uses the sidewalk for parking.
    link

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  • Anonymous July 27, 2010 at 9:55 am

    Bradford's suggestion to remove on-street parking shows his naivete as it comes to transportation issues. It's clear that he doesn't understand what PBOT planners know to respect when developing a project that they don't want blown out of the water by community opposition. Imagine if PBOT had implemented Bradford's "final plan" first... all hell would have broken loose.

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  • valkraider July 27, 2010 at 10:00 am

    "Despite global climate data, opposition to reduction in VMT remains"

    There, fixed it for you.

    Brad (#4): What grounds would there be for a "successful lawsuit" against the city? (not just a filed lawsuit - but a successful one)

    Wouldn't they have to prove some form of bodily or financial harm? If that is the case, then there is very little chance there is a real case. Anecdotal evidence does not make for successful lawsuits. I seriously doubt that there has been any physical or financial damage done to anyone in the neighborhood.

    And no, being cranky about a lane reconfiguration does not constitute "emotional distress".

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  • Nick Christensen July 27, 2010 at 10:03 am

    196 bicycles per day seems like an awful lot, but let's make an assumption and boil it down:

    Assume 80% of that traffic is from 6 am to 8 pm, leaving us about 160 bicycles.

    Now we're looking at a 14 hour time, or roughly 12 bicycles per hour -- two bicycles — one in each direction — every 10 minutes.

    The Restore Holgate supporters should have calmed down for a second and done the math. Where on the surface 196 bicycles in a day seems exorbitantly high, put it another way -- all this fuss over one bicycle every 10 minutes — on a street that was carrying (by those same assumptions) 16 cars a minute before the bike lanes went in?

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  • Ryan July 27, 2010 at 10:10 am

    One of the complaints of the project is that no one is using the bike lanes. Yet, in all of the photos I have seen have one or two cars.

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  • peejay July 27, 2010 at 10:22 am

    Check out the restoreholgate forums. It's a total of four threads, one of which was started by the esteemed Vance, and only two actual replies, both representing an opposition to the aims of the site (thanks, Spiffy). I plan to post something there during my free time, and I suggest we all do. I think we can contribute respectfully to this debate. Let Mr Bradford know that we're not alien beings who wish to destroy his way of life, that our only goal is to restore equity and balance to the public streets, and it will result in more freedom and safety for all.

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  • Peter Smith July 27, 2010 at 10:52 am

    The lawsuit would fail outright. I suspect property values have already been strengthened, relatively speaking, with the addition of the bike lanes, but the court case would be summarily dismissed before it even got to that kind of stuff. (The 'strengthened' terminology is important because property values are probably still falling everywhere right now.) I'd be curious what real estate folks think about the changes.

    I do like the idea of protecting cyclists with the car storage flipped out away from the curb, though. But the street cannot go back to four lanes -- too dangerous, and it kills the life of the street (and property values).

    If the number of bikes traversing any particular road is relatively low, then the road needs to be fixed so that it better accommodates bikes. So, the 'not enough bikes using it' argument is an argument for more and better bike infrastructure, not less.

    So let's start by flipping the car storage out into traffic -- no additional auto traffic lane, though. This treatment will protect cyclists better from moving motorized traffic.

    Also, the number of bikes using this stretch of road will continue to increase as word gets around that the road now has buffered bike lanes -- an insufficient treatment for bikes, to be sure, but still better than nothing.

    If you flip the car parking out into traffic and protect bikers with a curbside bike lane, then you might actually allow local residents to start riding their bikes, too -- and that could help turn the opinions of some. I don't blame them, or anyone, for not riding in the current bike lanes -- too scary and uncomfortable.

    There might be a lesson here for future fixes -- go big or go home. Small streetscape changes, while useful, might not deliver the high-impact ROI we want to see. Instead of a small change that will allow 10% of the population to bike (the current state of the road), go ahead and do it right -- with a cycletrack -- and allow 50% of the population to bike. Instead of 'better', you get 'wow!'. And if you're concerned about the number of bikers using the new facility, you'll get to see those numbers rise higher and much more quickly with a full-on bicycle facility instead of a compromised solution, like the existing facility. Cycletracks will also allow '_really_ normal' people to ride -- mothers and fathers with kids, etc. -- folks that look good politically.

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  • suburban July 27, 2010 at 10:54 am

    I can't wait to see the pleadings in David Lentz's imminent case.

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  • Brad July 27, 2010 at 11:13 am

    valkraider@13,

    Success is a big "IF" but he will get quite a bit of publicity by filing (Lars, The Oregonian, Tribune, etc.)against the city. Tht will bring out sympathetic supporters who don't care about this particular neighborhood but see this as government overreaching, bicyclists having too much clout, or "see how Sam is ruining Portland!!!".

    I never underestimate these things either as civil suits are easier to "prove". If he can reasonably prove his business and property value is down since the lane went in and the city cannot absolutely refute that, then a jury could rule in his favor. Having been called for jury duty in the past year, I don't like our chances with a panel of 12 people who likely don't ride a bike. The city also has a history of settling these things which would be construed as a victory against cyclists.

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  • cycler July 27, 2010 at 11:21 am

    Do not underestimate the ability of a pissed off person to cause all kinds of problems to what seems like a completely reasonable improvement. Just ask the folks in San Francisco. A gadfly, plus an unreasonable judge can equal major setbacks to progressive street design.

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  • Pete July 27, 2010 at 11:31 am

    Brian E (#11): Maybe he should make a license plate frame that says "Here's a thought... use the sidewalk (for parking)"

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  • isaac harris July 27, 2010 at 12:36 pm

    1. Is there a way to hire an independent consultant to verify the PBOT survey's or perform new independent surveys? If so, is there some way to have those opposed to re-striping shoulder some of the financial burden of recount?

    2. Assuming that those opposed are correct in their claims, are there any compromises to be made to provide parking and bike lanes and "throughput"?

    3. This should definitely come down to an issue about the numbers. As hard as it is to do, emotions must be removed from the equation.

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  • q'Tzal July 27, 2010 at 12:55 pm

    Lentz's Property Value:
    Portland maps shows 10402 SE Holgate property assesment history (http://www.portlandmaps.com/detail.cfm?action=Assessor&propertyid=R220108&state_id=1S2E15BB%20%201900&address_id=712849&intersection_id=&dynamic_point=0&x=7675037.241&y=671275.957&place=10402%20SE%20HOLGATE%20BLVD&city=PORTLAND&neighborhood=LENTS%2FPOWELLHURST%2DGILBERT&seg_id=124711) as having held steady from 2008 to 2009 while all prior years show an increase. A similar commercial property on 112th & Powell actually showed a decrease in the 08-09 time frame (http://www.portlandmaps.com/detail.cfm?action=Assessor&propertyid=R254526&state_id=1S2E10DB%20%2012600&address_id=686131&intersection_id=&dynamic_point=0&x=7677109.265&y=673702.314&place=11214%20SE%20POWELL%20BLVD&city=PORTLAND&neighborhood=POWELLHURST%2DGILBERT&seg_id=122650).
    Checked on Zillow.com and found this property is for sale now for $650,000; far below the listed value for improvements or land value seperately.

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  • are July 27, 2010 at 1:41 pm

    re comment 4, i agree the pushback is becoming slightly more sophisticated, which is a good thing, because it shows citizen involvement in decisionmaking, albeit in this case after the fact. something similar happened during the conversations on the klickitat bike boulevard, http://taking-the-lane.blogspot.com/2010/06/pushback.html, which actually did result in PBoT withdrawing its proposal to extend the median at 33rd to prevent left turns onto klickitat, not necessarily a good result, but again, the result of actual citizen involvement. bicyclists gonna have to get similarly engaged, after enjoying what seemed like a free ride for some years (which has left us with inappropriately striped bike lanes and no sharrows where they are needed).

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  • q'Tzal July 27, 2010 at 2:01 pm

    #23 oops
    $650,000 is far ABOVE listed tax value.
    Perhaps he wants to sue his way back to pre-November 2008 real estate prices.
    You can't sue the economy but you can sue your local scapegoat for your lack of fiscal planning.
    We are to Portland what witches were to Salem, MA amd they want to se us burn.

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  • KWW July 27, 2010 at 4:35 pm

    These people clearly want a Mount Hood Freeway through their front yard.

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  • Todd July 27, 2010 at 5:06 pm

    cycler(#20): As mentioned by you, the injunction in SF called for a full environmental review on their bike plan in 1999 (which effectively prevented the city from installing any permanent bicycle features such as parking removal and lane re-allocation or even U-rack bike parking racks). That SF injunction was brought to fruition by a blogger/political activist/political candidate. I also wouldn't discount the power of one person if they know which strings to pull.

    That said, I've ridden down the Holgate lanes (and driven down the road). I support the bike lanes.

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  • Jim Labbe July 27, 2010 at 6:10 pm

    It would help if the traffic crash bar charts above were scaled the same.

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  • Red Five July 27, 2010 at 7:49 pm

    yeah to hell with what the majority wants.

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  • Kevin Wagoner July 27, 2010 at 8:23 pm

    "60 fewer cars per day 50+ mph"...ouch...how many cars per day are still doing 50+ mph.

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  • Paul Johnson July 27, 2010 at 10:36 pm

    Just make Holgate a toll road. Worked for the Oklahoma Turnpikes. And Yellowstone National Park.

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  • adam July 27, 2010 at 10:57 pm

    I don't like that mr. bradford is getting a bad rap here. while i don't know him, it would seem that he just wants a say in what is happening to his neighborhood/business. agree or disagree, hard to find fault in that.

    after looking at the handouts that were linked from this meeting, seems like the project is "working". While I am in favor of cool bike lanes like this, I wish we would put them where they are needed for bicycles and not where they are needed to slow down cars(yikes). Seems like PBOT could have thrown some speed cameras or traps there and raised a TON of money the old fashioned way. If I read the numbers correctly, there were nearly 2000 speeders per day going through this area?!

    also, please tell me that PBOT has better data than this and are just dumbing it down for public consumption. one 2hour measurement period would not be significant even under the most generous assumptions. maybe you should do a story on PBOT's data gathering and public involvement processes. seems like there is alot to be learned.

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  • Spiffy July 28, 2010 at 7:50 am

    just with the reduction in the amount of people speeding on this road I say it's a success... I don't even care about the bike late as much anymore now that it's helped calm the street down to normal...

    19% fewer speeders and 17% fewer cars? AWESOME! they just engineered the speeders off the road! why are businesses complaining that there are no more speeders? speeders aren't stopping to spend money, they're in a hurry to get somewhere else... businesses have lost nothing... they just haven't realized what they've gained, or how to use it... maybe PBOT would do well to give them a manual on how to thrive your business in a bike-centric neighborhood... and install bike parking!

    on our walk home that night from the meeting, from 112th to 99th, we saw about 8 bikes using the bike lanes that weren't coming from the meeting... regular people going to the store, families with kids, sightseers... I didn't even see the usual scruffy person towing a trailer of recycling, just the average joes out riding their bikes...

    the only facts and figures I remember PBOT saying weren't accurate were in regards to the limited surveys they've done... they weren't wrong, they just weren't that broad... they gathered figures from a couple of intersections, to which every resident opposed said they didn't use those streets and they wanted their own streets measured, to which PBOT told them to please sent them their street info so that they can survey it... just because the stats don't come from your street at the same time you're standing there doesn't mean they're wrong, it just means you're seeing a different result...

    and watching so many people struggle to come up with a reason that a video count of bikes could be wrong was just saddening... yes it was a one-day count, during the weekday, during commute... but it's much more firm evidence than the resident that's "out in his yard all day and only sees a couple of bikes"... just because YOU don't see them doesn't mean they aren't there...

    Matthew #1 is right in that businesses would probably be harmed more by the removal of the parking than the removal of the lanes...

    Brian E #11 is spot on!!! I lived on 105th just a block away from Lentz Auto and I hated that place for their daily inconsideration to sidewalk users... it's hard to push a stroller around all those cars, especially when there's 40 mph cars going by on the street that you're forced to use to get around the blockage...

    and I said it at the bike lane meeting and I'll say it again: curb extensions!

    there's just no way the street is going back to 4 lanes... there are too many positive impacts and not enough negative ones...

    society will continue to have improvements forced upon them for the greater good...

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  • Steve B. July 29, 2010 at 10:04 am

    We need to keep this road at 2 lanes. 4 lanes is completely unnecessary. Everyone does *not* go home happy with a 4 lane Holgate. It's much more pleasant and safe to cross a 2 lane road.

    I know it's unrealistic, but wouldn't it be snazzy to give everyone along the corridor a bike and have a few educationals about using the new bike lanes, explore bike routes to school and shopping spots. To me, this is an education/outreach issue. How do we turn these lemons into lemonade?

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  • CaptainKarma July 30, 2010 at 12:57 am

    "Shift to Bikes" blogsite calendar

    http://shifttobikes.org/cal/#29-1821

    is advertising a ride to Powell Butte, Monday Aug 9 @ 7PM.

    "Ride to Powell Butte (3.5 miles), enjoying the new 10 foot wide bike lane."

    This ride actually starts elsewhere and utilizes the Green Line Max Holgate Station as a jumping off point. The real deal is, there will be group riding on the infamous pathological Holgate path! Something I hope will happen repeatedly to show utilization.
    I have to work, will someone go in my place?

    As the ghosts said to Kevin Kostener in "Field of Dreams":

    "...If you build it, they will come..."

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  • Paul Johnson July 30, 2010 at 10:24 pm

    The old Holgate was five lanes, the new Holgate is five lanes. Bicycle lanes are lanes, too!

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  • Eileen July 31, 2010 at 1:01 pm

    I think we should expect many more of these types of issues. There are many people who will never accept the inevitable changes we need to make in the name of sustainability. Like all major societal changes, it will be another generation before these types of changes are the norm and 2 or 3 generations before people stop grousing about it.

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