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Lloyd District bike projects take center stage at open house

Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on March 4th, 2011 at 4:48 pm

Justin Zeulner_
Stakeholder Advisory Committee member
Justin Zeulner explains the NE Holladay
project to an open house attendee.
(Photos © J. Maus)

Last night was the first public open house for the City of Portland's Lloyd District Bikeway Development Projects. Within this planning process, PBOT is taking a close look at three projects that could dramatically improve the bicycling experience in and around the Lloyd District. The projects include improved bikeways on N. Vancouver/Wheeler between Broadway and Multnomah (near Rose Garden), NE Holladay, and the NE 12th Ave overcrossing.

Working with a Stakeholder Advisory Committee (SAC), PBOT has come up with some initial options for how to move forward on these projects.

Bike traffic in The Vancouver Gap-6
Riding in the Vancouver Gap.

On southbound Vancouver Ave., PBOT wants to close the "Vancouver Gap", a one-block section between Broadway and Weidler where the bike lane unceremoniously drops. The two options on the table are 1) continue the bike/bus only lane or 2) install sharrows to indicate a shared roadway environment.

Another option that was proposed by the SAC was to turn the westernmost lane on Vancouver into a buffered bike lane. At the open house last night, it was explained that that option was taken off the table for two reasons: because that lane, "provides an opportunity for vehicles to pass vehicles waiting to enter I-5" and because ADA access would be compromised (there's a bus stop on the corner of the block).

Further south, PBOT is looking to improve the bikeway on Wheeler (the street adjacent/just east of the Rose Garden). The existing conditions are three standard travel lanes and a bike lane in the northbound direction. Three options were presented last night. They all come with one less standard travel lane and a buffered bike lane in both directions. They differ in how they handle the southbound intersection with Multnomah.

Option 1 is a straightforward bike box...

Wheeler Option 1

Option 2 would transition the bike lane into a shared lane with left-turning vehicles prior to the intersection...

Wheeler Ave options-2

Option 3 would transition the bike lane into a shared lane with right-turning vehicles prior to the intersection...

Wheeler Ave option 3

The next project begins just south of this intersection on NE Holladay.

One of the more exciting possibilities in this trio of Lloyd District projects is improving bike access on NE Holladay. If done right, Holladay (between the Rose Garden and NE 13th) could become a vital bikeway connection between Northeast neighborhoods, the many shops and offices in the Lloyd District, and downtown Portland (via the Eastbank Esplanade).

NE Holladay options close up
One option would make NE Holladay
carfree in some sections.

Currently, NE Holladay consists of one, 16-foot lane that is separated via a median from two sets of MAX light rail tracks. Back in May 2009, folks from the Lloyd District TMA proposed making Holladay completely carfree.

At the open house last night, PBOT displayed two options currently on the table (neither of them would make it completely carfree).

One option being considered is to simply install sharrows the length of the street in the eastbound direction and add a 6-foot bike lane going westbound. Another option would be similar, but would also throw in sections of the three that would be closed to motor vehicle traffic (such as between 1st and 2nd, MLK and Grand and 7th to 9th).

PBOT wants to open a section
of Holladay under the I-5 overpass
in order to connect it to
the N/S Rose Quarter bikeways.

Both options come with removal of about 48 on-street parking spaces. Both options would also utilize a currently unused portion of Holladay adjacent to the Rose Quarter Blue/Red Line MAX stop under the I-5 overpass. This space is owned by TriMet and they'd have to agree to let PBOT use it as public active right-of-way. Sources say TriMet is reluctant to give it up; but hopefully they do because it would make a crucial connection between Holladay and the existing Rose Quarter bikeway.

On posters displayed last night there were pros and cons listed below each potential section where motor vehicle access on Holladay would be prohibited. The pros were all related to keeping people safe and reducing conflicts between users — the cons were all about maintaining motor vehicle circulation and convenience. What decision do we want to make?

"We don't want this to become family-friendly with lots of little kids and their moms riding through here. Commuting cyclists aren't an issue."
— Doug Allred, Franz Bakery

The final project PBOT is looking at in this area is a revamp to the 12th Avenue overcrossing of I-84 (between NE Lloyd and Irving) We went into more depth on this project last week. At the open house last night, PBOT displayed an analysis of traffic in the corridor before and after the proposed solutions. Interestingly, even with the addition of bike lanes and other lane reconfigurations on 12th, there would be no significant change in delay. This is because PBOT is planning to improve traffic signal timing and hardware.

I spoke with Doug Allred about his views on the 12th Avenue project. Allred is the distribution manager for Franz Bakery, whose headquarters are just a few blocks south of the overcrossing. He says the main concerns of Franz Bakery are the new lane configurations would impact their truck traffic.

Allred says NE Lloyd is the only exit his trucks are legally allowed to use to access their bread factory. By his estimate, about 400 trucks per day line up in the left-turn lane on NE Lloyd and then make the turn south on 12th. With some trucks as long as 105-feet, Allred is worried that proposed curb extensions, pavement markings, and lane reconfigurations might make it difficult and/or unsafe for his trucks to turn.

While Allred says the proposed changes are "not insurmountable problems," he hopes truck movements are kept in mind. He's also concerned that making 12th too bike-friendly might mean it becomes more popular with kids and families on bikes. "We don't want this to become family-friendly with lots of little kids and their moms riding through here. Commuting cyclists aren't an issue."

Allred's concern about kids and families on bikes raises an interesting issue. As PBOT works to improve bikeways for the 8-80 and the "interested but concerned" demographic, how will they balance the needs of motor vehicles in crowded commercial-industrial zones like this one?

Stay tuned for more coverage of these projects and please consider getting involved and sharing your concerns and opinions on the proposals as opportunities arise. There will be one more public open house on these projects before the designs are finalized. More details at the PBOT website.

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Comments
  • peejay March 4, 2011 at 7:21 pm

    Do you want to make it better for cars (and trucks), or people? That is the only decision, isn't it?

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  • Andrew N March 4, 2011 at 8:24 pm

    "We don't want this to become family-friendly with lots of little kids and their moms riding through here. Commuting cyclists aren't an issue."

    Exactly. So PBOT, what is your stance on the 7th Ave bike/ped bridge? Why is no one discussing this option? It is more costly, for sure, but the benefits are also much, much higher.

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    • matt picio March 7, 2011 at 12:22 pm

      More to the point, if Franz bakery doesn't want more bike traffic on 12th, does that mean they're willing to pony up some money to help make the 7th Ave overcrossing a reality?

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  • Vladislav Davidzon March 4, 2011 at 8:29 pm

    Local businesses are certainly legitimate stakeholders whose needs must be taken into account, and at the same time this comes down to our value system as a society.

    Is our top priority to maximize the speed and throughput or to maximize the quality of life? The idea that a street could be "too friendly" or "too safe" for human beings is utterly insane and reflects a royally screwed up value system.

    If our value system maximizes quality of life, then we can start asking questions like whether this bakery contributes in the maximum positive way to this neighborhood compared to another possible establishment that could take its place.

    The job of government is not to maximize benefits for businesses ultimately, but for its citizens. Smart value-driven urban design requires asking what kinds of businesses we want to attract -- and perhaps the kind that have 100+ foot trucks going in/out may not make sense. That's a very reasonable question to ask.

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    • Patrick March 4, 2011 at 10:16 pm

      To me though the Franz owner does have a point, and I think he is trying to put safety first by not wanting to encourage families and more vulnerable riders through a place where the largest and most dangerous vehicles on the road are concentrated. Separating the two uses is indeed the safest method, but the trucks have little to no real alternative where families on bikes could be much more easily facilitated a few blocks away.

      As to the proper location of the bakery, it has been there while things changed and grew around it. The zoning designation of that and a great many other inner east-side properties will have to be re-examined should this become a family friendly area. But neither the bakery nor the PBOT or Trimet have any authority in those issues, but I like what they're doing within their realms of influence in this instance.

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      • Alex Reed March 5, 2011 at 10:39 am

        Patrick, you contend that "families on bikes could be much more easily facilitated a few blocks away."

        A big issue is that there are not very many crossings of I-84. The nearest two crossings are at Grand/MLK and NE 20th. Grand/MLK is a non-starter under present conditions. And, my subjective impression is that NE 20th has at least as much traffic as 12th at present. As far as I know, no improvements have been proposed to 20th. If such improvements were on the table, we would probably get the same kind of pushback from commercial/industrial stakeholders near 20th (e.g. sunshine dairies).

        So we are left with NE 12th for now. My opinion is to make it as family-friendly as possible.

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  • Anne Hawley March 4, 2011 at 10:09 pm

    The fact that their trucks ARE very big doesn't necessarily mean that their trucks HAVE to be. When will we consider limiting the use of city surface streets for 100-foot-long big rigs?

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    • was carless March 6, 2011 at 12:54 pm

      They aren't that big. Typical big-rigs are 40-footers. I recall the trucks of Europe, which have forward cabs (flat frontends), lots of mirrors, and pedestrian guards on the sides to prevent running over people around corners.

      http://bikeportland.org/2008/06/30/trucks-now-rolling-with-side-underrun-guards-8077

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      • matt picio March 7, 2011 at 12:25 pm

        The *ARE* that big - Franz runs triple trailer trucks, which are as long as 105'. If you don't believe it, take a run down to NE 11th & Glisan and look for yourself. Triple trailers are illegal in many states because of the difficulty maintaining sight lines, and their propensity for rollovers. They're legal in Oregon, however, and both Franz Bread and UPS make extensive use of them. (To be fair, rollovers do not appear to be an issue with the trucks of either company)

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    • matt picio March 7, 2011 at 12:27 pm

      Anne - we already do. There are established truck routes through the city, and big rigs are prohibited from using streets outside that network except in specific circumstances.

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  • resopmok March 5, 2011 at 12:31 pm

    Close the Vancouver gap with a bike lane. That's what is on the north side, and it only makes sense to have it be uniform to avoid mergings and confusions. I see the logic of subsequently improving Wheeler, but southbound traffic never seems very heavy once you're past the merging madness of people trying to get to I-5. Not sure why they need to be so fussy about it, seems like a standard bike lane would probably work just fine.

    Having Holladay open would provide a good connection, assuming it can be improved all the way out to 11th. It would definitely be shorter, faster and safer than being on NE Lloyd and connecting through the rose quarter. Just doing the underpass though would be something of a connector to nowhere..

    And to qualm Mr Allred's fears.. the improvements to the 12th overpass aim to resolve the disappearing bike lane that sticks out like a sore thumb and ease the conflicts created by it. The surrounding infrastructure is all bike lanes on the road, and I don't think the improvement will encourage anyone to ride in the area that isn't already comfortable with those conditions.

    Just as an endnote, 11th and 12th south of Burnside could really use some facilities as well. There needs to be a good N/S corridor to the SE neighborhoods, and 20th is really just too narrow for the purpose without removing parking on both sides. 11th/12th from Burnside up to the Lloyd would be a huge win and great boon for bike transit on the east side.

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    • Tim w March 5, 2011 at 2:03 pm

      Have you tried 16th? Once you get over the 12th St bridge, turn east on Irving and hop onto 16th. It's a great bike boulevard that intersects with the Ankeny, Salmon, and Harrison BB's, then connects to Ladd which can lead to Clinton.

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  • John Russell (jr98664) March 7, 2011 at 7:46 am

    As for Wheeler at the SE corner of the Rose Garden, I would prefer either of the latter two options, as they more clearly avoid the dreaded right-hook.

    Considering our concerns with leapfrogging buses on the rest of the Vancouver/Williams corridor however, why not reconfigure both streets by removing parking on the LEFT side and turning it into a buffered bike lane/cycletrack? Then, when both streets converge at the Rose Garden, the bikeway could come together into a two-way bike way in the middle of the road, which would ease the transition into the Rose Quarter Transit Center.

    Sounds like that would solve almost every major issue in question here. The only real issue would be the additional costs to re-stripe such a long stretch of Vancouver and Williams, but isn't that in the works anyway?

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  • Whyat March 7, 2011 at 10:58 am

    The owner of Franz Bakery is clearly trying to ensure that public safety is taken into account with the 12th street revision. In many ways his hands are tied in terms of how trucks can legally enter and leave the bakery (a bakery that has been around since 1906 btw). The insinuations that this bakery isn't 'important enough' when compared to biker's needs reek of smugness and utter removal from reality. I bike over this bridge every day, and if adding new bike infrastructure can't be done without hurting a local business like Franz than in my mind an alternative location would need to be found.

    Public safety is important, critical even. With that said, it must be done in a way that won't endanger the existence of long time local businesses and employees.

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  • Bob March 7, 2011 at 1:19 pm

    Continue the bike/bus only lane through the Vancouver gap is an easy first step. It may be all that's needed. It would also be nice to lengthen the time the light at Broadway stays green. Currently it's approx. 6-7 seconds. When there's a bus at that light, any bikes behind the bus miss the light.

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