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PBOT changes course, now says one lane on Williams Ave “unlikely”

Posted by on February 7th, 2012 at 2:50 pm

Aerial view of Williams and Failing.

During the monthly stakeholder advisory committee meeting for the North Williams Traffic Operations Safety Project today, PBOT announced that it’s “unlikely” they would be willing to redesign the street in the section between N Cook and Skidmore (known as Segment 4) into a one-lane configuration for auto traffic.

Segment 4 — which currently has two standard vehicle lanes, one bicycle lane and two auto parking lanes — is the highest traffic section of the project area with between 950 to 1,100 autos and 400 bicycles during peak hours.

PBOT’s announcement, made by project manager Ellen Vanderslice, is a shift from their previous position.

Back in May 2011, city traffic engineers concluded that reconfiguring this section of Williams to one lane for auto traffic could be done with no increase in congestion. PBOT also made that determination based on community feedback in favor of making Williams one lane for auto traffic in order to improve bike access. PBOT had hoped that signal timing changes could yield more “green time” on Williams and thus make up for the lane reduction.

A woman on a bike attempts to make a left turn onto Failing from Williams during the evening rush hour.
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

Today, Vanderslice went through a segment by segment tour of the project. On the slide for Segment 4, under the heading of “Constraints,” PBOT explained that “auto traffic is high enough that two travel lanes are likely needed during peak hour.” In the other four segments, PBOT says a one-lane configuration is still possible.

“Early on, we thought signal changes could get us more capacity; but with development occurring it’s unlikely we could ever go to one lane in this area.”
— Ellen Vanderslice, PBOT

In addition to auto traffic volumes, auto parking availability is also a major concern for PBOT and some stakeholders. This issue has been exacerbated with several new developments happening on the street (one apartment complex is nearing completion, another is on the way, and New Seasons will be built just to the south).

Addressing the committee today, Vanderslice said, “Early on, we thought signal changes could get us more capacity; but with development occurring it’s unlikely we could ever go to one lane in this area.”

Committee member Michelle DePass repeatedly brought up parking demand concerns. She said with two new apartment buildings and New Seasons on the horizon, more parking will be needed. “Keep in mind that many of the people moving into these places will probably have cars.”

It’s important to remember that PBOT initially approached this project with a reluctance to change Williams to one auto lane in Segment 4; but after they heard loud and clear from the public that a wider bikeway and a one auto lane configuration was preferred, they seemed poised to move forward with the one-lane solution. The Bicycle Transportation Alliance (BTA) was also ready to launch an advocacy campaign in favor of one lane on Williams.

That was mid-May of last year. Then, less than one month later, the project was put on hold due to concerns by some in the community that not everyone’s opinion was being heard.

At the SAC meeting today, Vanderslice didn’t completely rule out the possibility of one auto lane. “It doesn’t mean we couldn’t do one lane,” she said, “but it means if you did you’d likely be pushing people to other facilities or they’d be waiting in traffic.”

It was my sense from being on the sidelines of the SAC meeting today, that there remains a wide difference of opinion among committee members about this lane issue. It will be interesting to see how this discussion evolves (or if it does at all).

The SAC is still debating various design solutions for the project and their goal is to issue a resolution to City Council by March 6th.

— For more on this project, view our past coverage.

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Comments
  • Dave February 7, 2012 at 3:03 pm

    Right, everyone who moves in will have a car, and we’ll make sure it’s easy for them to keep it and use it as much as they like.

    I understand you don’t want to design cars OUT of the city, but seriously, why are we setting goals to reduce automobile usage, and then designing as if we expect everyone to use them all the time, while cutting services that would legitimately enable people to use them less?

    Because in places where they actually manage to curb car usage, it’s not done just through people talking on and on about how green bicycles are, or how healthy walking is. They actually make it expensive and difficult to own a car and use it often – and instead, they focus on making other means of transportation really feasible for ALL citizens.

    All the talk here gets really wearisome.

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    • craig harlow February 7, 2012 at 3:15 pm

      amen

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    • Mike February 7, 2012 at 8:18 pm

      Is it easier to spew all of this anti car society stuff if you don’t have kids?

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      • craig harlow February 7, 2012 at 8:31 pm

        Mike the answer is no.

        I am almost going nuts waiting for the city to live up to its promises and potential to make streets truly safe and accommodating for ALL modes–particularly for families–and that means that cars have to be aggressively DE-prioritized.

        I have four kids. I sold my minivan two years ago and have saved an average of $500/month ever since (depreciation, maintenance, fuel, repairs, parking, insurance averaged of the time I owned it). The raw figure is $800, but then I subract $$ because I pay to use Zipcar when needed, and I spend money updating, repairing, and maintaining transportation-worthy bikes for our family.

        We’re healthier, happier, and my three older kids (ages 11-16) know how to get themselves around town without an adult within a 1.5 mile radius of their house.

        THIS MUST HAPPEN.

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        • Mike February 7, 2012 at 8:50 pm

          Well, I am sure you are the vast minority. Do you think your lifestyle is appropriate for the masses? I doubt it. Also, did you do the car less thing with an infant on board? There are too many variables to make this practical. How about someone that commutes long distances and works long hours. Don’t think for a second that having no car is a good thing. Again, you are a minority except when it comes to everyone here

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          • Jack February 7, 2012 at 9:17 pm

            Obviously Craig’s lifestyle represents something only a minority of people have achieved, and I’m sure he’s well aware of that since he likely rides alongside hundreds of people driving cars every day.

            Is it physically easier to take a load of kids and a load of groceries across town in a car rather than on a cargo bike? Of course. But that’s thinking so small. As Craig has pointed out, the car-free life style is working for him. It’s not magic. He’s not a super hero (as far as I know). I’m sure there are challenges. But like he said, there are so many huge benefits.

            To answer your question, when I consider the countless ways in which over reliance on motor vehicles reduces quality of life for all of us, I think a car-limited lifestyle is extremely appropriate & necessary for the masses.

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          • 9watts February 7, 2012 at 9:51 pm

            “Don’t think for a second that having no car is a good thing.”

            Care to elaborate?
            Are you concerned that Craig et al. might be onto something? It seems like you are trying awfully hard to insist that it isn’t so, couldn’t possibly be true.

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          • Kerry February 7, 2012 at 9:59 pm

            When gas is $15/gallon, it sure will suck to have no other options. Good luck with that.

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          • craig harlow February 7, 2012 at 10:13 pm

            Mike, what you don’t seem to get is that the minority I’m in is growing slowly and irreversibly, and that this reality is by design in this city (bubble). It’s the product of a 20-year movement that’s only gaining traction, not fading, and which is now at the core of this city’s strategy for managing growth in the decades to come. You’re not on board, and that’s fine, but you’re also missing the boat.

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          • Greg February 7, 2012 at 10:58 pm

            Mike,
            Why are you so bothered by Dave and Craig?

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          • matt picio February 7, 2012 at 11:00 pm

            You sound very sure of a *lot* of things, Mike. Perhaps you should start by questioning your own assumptions. Frankly, “it isn’t practical” should read “it isn’t practical FOR YOU”. Which is ok. But it’s also not practical for most people to spend $7,000 – $10,000 a year to own and maintain a car – but the majority of Portlanders do anyway. The city has a responsibility to maintain access for all road users – those on bikes, those in cars, those on transit, and those on foot. To date, automobiles have been subsidized more than any other type of transportation – and that may have been justified, since most people were using them at that time. But times are changing, and a significant number of vehicles on Vancouver/Williams are now bicycles. A solution is going to be found which works for everyone, not just the people who happen to use cars to get around. Are you prepared to share? It’s going to happen – either you can accept that fact and work towards a solution that works for everyone, or reject it. But some compromise will happen – there’s just no way to make everyone happy in a project like this.

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        • middle of the road guy February 9, 2012 at 4:12 pm

          Craig,

          you seem to know what is best for all others because it worked for you.

          If you have the answer, run for mayor.

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          • craig harlow February 9, 2012 at 4:21 pm

            Thanks, MOTRG, for recognizing :^) You may be starting to get it.

            Yes, in this instance I KNOW that it is best for everybody–everybody–if motor traffic diminishes, and along with it crashes and related costs to individuals and society, bodily injury and death, noise and pollution, oil-dependence, non-local spending, physical inactivity and related health problems and costs (it just goes on and on)…

            It is best for everybody if cycling and walking trips that replace car trips increase, and along with them safety, physical activity and related health benefits (both physical and mental) and savings, exposure for local businesses, local economic vibrancy, and ultimately public planning that assumes that people would rather spend time out of their cars than in it.

            Do you know differently?

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            • craig harlow February 9, 2012 at 4:23 pm

              Darn. Hit “post” before reviewing and correcting for typos.

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      • 9watts February 7, 2012 at 8:35 pm

        Not sure whom you are addressing, but I’m hearing mostly ‘level the playing field stuff’ rather than anti-car society. But the ‘families with kids need cars’ is a tired and unhelpful trope. My neighbors tried that on us too. When our daughter was born we heard the long practiced and gleeful ‘now you’re going to have to get a car.’ After a few years and still no car, the subject came up again. This time it was ‘wait till you have two kids.’
        Why so unimaginative? Can you really not conceive of a life unfettered by automobility?

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        • Mike February 7, 2012 at 8:57 pm

          Well, since portland is the anti-LA where instead of how awesome your car is it is how car less I can be I guess you are king. But step out of the bike portland bubble and you will find yourself on a portlandia episode. Perhaps the smug factor will only get you so far.

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          • 9watts February 7, 2012 at 9:53 pm

            Mike,

            you’ve not made a single argument in disagreement with what is being said about living carfree; you’re just jeering from the sidelines. What is your point?

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      • 9watts February 7, 2012 at 8:40 pm

        Mike,
        these kids don’t seem to share your pessimism…
        http://www.fastcoexist.com/1679248/dutch-kids-pedal-their-own-bus-to-school

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      • kj February 8, 2012 at 12:33 pm

        Why not go on a kiddical mass ride and talk to the families that are car free and lo-car and how they manage it. There are a bunch…

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  • Chris I February 7, 2012 at 3:10 pm

    Two lanes are only “needed” because they are available now. Remove the lane, congestion will increase a bit, and the cut-through traffic from I-5 will go away.

    What about other solutions? What about one auto lane, and one 10ft bike lane that could be used by Trimet to bypass traffic? This would improve conditions for both transit users and cyclists. The cars would only have one lane, but they wouldn’t have to stop behind the bus when they drop off/pick up passengers.

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    • BURR February 7, 2012 at 3:27 pm

      or one through auto lane and one bike-bus-right turn only lane.

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    • was carless February 8, 2012 at 10:12 pm

      Hmm. I’m not a big fan of sharing the lane with buses. They’re almost worse than cars.

      Of course, with the trimet cutbacks, you’ll probably never see a bus in NoPo again!

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  • craig harlow February 7, 2012 at 3:15 pm

    Doesn’t the single-lane solution help further the safety goals of the project, as a capacity control that deliberately makes driving on Williams less convenient during peak hours, making it less attractive as a rush-hour alternative to I-5 and to the one real nearby arterial, MLK?

    I would hope that the project team would see this as a good thing, fitting with the current wisdom around managing urban auto volumes, and that the smart people at PBOT would encourage the project team to consider that view.

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    • 9watts February 7, 2012 at 6:01 pm

      What is with the zero-sum logic sprinkled throughout this assertion?
      “It doesn’t mean we couldn’t do one lane,” she said, “but it means if you did you’d likely be pushing people to other facilities or they’d be waiting in traffic.”

      When are our civil servants and those who work with them going to realize that this too is a dynamic problem in a rapidly changing world? Why anticipate continued car dominance? Because that is what we’ve grown used to? That is a really sophisticated planning model. How about looking at cities in other places, other countries that make driving relatively expensive, inconvenient, and stick to their guns? Why so wishy-washy here?

      And since when are people on bikes not traffic, Ms. Vanderslice?

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      • Sigma February 7, 2012 at 7:49 pm

        Don’t blame Ellen. Look who she works for. Eventually, we’ll have a transportation commissioner who is capable of making a decision, and issues like this might actually reach a logical conclusion.

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  • John February 7, 2012 at 3:18 pm

    It reads like the BTA will need to resurrect the advocacy campaign, and quickly.

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  • Andrew Seger February 7, 2012 at 3:19 pm

    This is turning into quite the farce, isn’t it? My favorite part is learning the system development development charges are being directed to the Portland Milwaukie light rail and the much beloved east side street car. I feel like an outer east Portland resident.

    At this point it seems better to just stop the project, spend the tiny amount of money elsewhere, and wait for a person walking or in a bike to get killed so there’s an impetus to actually slow down traffic and make the street safer for everyone.

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  • Jeff TB February 7, 2012 at 3:19 pm

    Well it appears that capacity is more important than pedestrian (and others) safety along Williams. I wonder if the neighbors will be happy now.

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    • Jack February 7, 2012 at 8:04 pm

      I am a neighbor. Not happy.

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  • Andrew N February 7, 2012 at 3:21 pm

    Anyone want to start a campaign directed at the League of American Bicyclists to get Portland’s “platinum” status downgraded?

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  • BURR February 7, 2012 at 3:25 pm

    everything old is new again

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  • don arambula February 7, 2012 at 3:32 pm

    This discussion remind me of the one that took place when Interstate Avenue was reduced by one lane in each direction to accommodate MAX. Auto and truck advocates envisioned an end of the world scenario. Nearly ten years later there certainly is more congestion during peak hour, but it is manageable. I suspect you would see the same results along Williams. In the end it comes down to community values. Is Williams a street that should be designed by traffic plumbers who want to ‘ reeem-it-out’ in the name of reducing a mere 2 hours of congestion for those moving through the neighborhood or should it be designed as a destination where in fact congestion is expected and welcome? By the way, traffic models are notoriously ineffective in predicting congestion at the scale of this project. See the recent Project for Public Spaces article concerning LOS – http://bit.ly/y3lkXk

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    • craig harlow February 7, 2012 at 3:50 pm

      EXACTLY. Don’t the city and the neighborhood want to slow cars through here, making the entire environment safer, incenting local patronage along this emerging premier mixed-zone corridor, and deliberately displace a certain proportion of the rush-hour pass-through traffic?

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    • BURR February 7, 2012 at 4:00 pm

      Excellent link, thank you.

      PDOT killed bike lanes on Hawthorne Blvd. by using traffic demand modeling and raising the LOS boogie man. The model they used didn’t even have a bicycling component to it.

      As far as I know, the simplistic traffic demand models PBOT is using still don’t incorporate a bicycling component, and PBOT still does not rate streets with any sort of LOS system for cycling or walking, only for motoring.

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      • Sigma February 7, 2012 at 7:58 pm

        3 words: Transportation Planning Rule. It’s a state regulation. The city can’t just invent its own mobility standards.

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        • Todd February 7, 2012 at 8:06 pm

          Actually, they can, and do. The TPR is a state regulation, it is part of the Oregon Administrative Rules (OAR), but references the performance standards established by local jurisdictions. Vancouver and Williams are City of Portland facilities.

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          • Sigma February 7, 2012 at 8:43 pm

            Can they and do they? Can you give me an example of a city that has a multimodal LOS? I understood that comp plan and zoning regulations are all subject to state approval (DLCD) and they are in turn regulated by the capacity of the road system (ODOT/TPR), which only considers car capacity. Given the complexities of the statewide planning system in Oregon, I’d be surprised if cities are given that much flexibiliy.

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            • Todd February 7, 2012 at 9:04 pm

              There aren’t any cities in Oregon that use a mutimodal LOS to my knowledge, but that doesn’t mean they can’t. Comprehensive plans have to be consistent with statewide planning goals, but those goals don’t mandate car-only performance standards. ODOT establishes those standards for state facilities, but not for County and City-owned streets and intersections. For what it’s worth, ODOT doesn’t use LOS at all, they use volume-to-capacity ratio, but it is still an auto-only measure.

              That said, the existence of a widely-accepted multimodal LOS methodology is a relatively new thing. Getting those methodologies codified at a local level is a slow process.

              The tools are out there, we just need to get them into the toolbox…

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          • Bill Holmstrom February 8, 2012 at 3:58 pm

            Exactly right. The TPR only makes reference to “performance standards,” it doesn’t prescribe what those standards have to be. On state highways, ODOT uses a v/c ratio. Most other jurisdictions use LOS or v/c. Nothing in the TPR stops any jurisdiction from using a multimodal level of service, or some other perfomance standard. And the TPR only applies these standards under certain circumstances anyway.

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  • bajo February 7, 2012 at 3:54 pm

    who is the traffic engineer, robert moses?

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  • Charley February 7, 2012 at 4:17 pm

    God forbid someone “wait in traffic”. And Lord knows, there are no other places in town where someone has to wait in traffic!

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  • Rol February 7, 2012 at 4:27 pm

    This street is between an interstate to the west and a 4-lane state highway to the east; it should not be handling high volumes of through traffic, or be designed to do so.

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    • dmc February 7, 2012 at 9:49 pm

      I don’t understand why we need another highway here either.

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  • Reza February 7, 2012 at 4:44 pm

    Time to think outside the box:

    How about removing a lane of parking and putting in a two-way cycle track on Vancouver?

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    • Jeff TB February 8, 2012 at 12:55 pm

      That would be great, but wouldn’t help pedestrians get across Williams. I think that’s the biggest mess. Someone is going to get maimed.

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  • dwainedibbly February 7, 2012 at 5:45 pm

    Wait. I was under the impression that this was a ‘world-class bicycling city”. Apparently I was misled.

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  • Charley February 7, 2012 at 6:05 pm

    And now this mystery about Marcus Griffith, too? What could he have done!?

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  • Todd February 7, 2012 at 7:17 pm

    Not even the City of Portland is immune to the perils of traditional auto-based level of service standards, although Portland is better than many of its suburban neighbors. Multi-modal LOS and “complete” transportation system planning is coming, but it can be a slow and frustrating process…

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  • daisy February 7, 2012 at 7:30 pm

    This is very disappointing. MLK is two lanes in each direction just a couple of blocks to the east, and I5 is right there as well. I really wish Williams would shrink and this through-traffic would get out of my neighborhood.

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  • Alain February 7, 2012 at 7:53 pm

    This is terrible news, just terrible. I hope there is still a chance to convince PBOT that one lane is preferred.

    I live on Williams, and feel that one lane is the best option for active transportation and for the people that live here. I’m tired of the dangerous, speeding motor vehicles. Only reducing the street to one motor vehicle lane is going to curb the present driving behavior on Williams.

    PBOT, thanks for nothing!

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  • Ted Buehler February 7, 2012 at 9:44 pm

    Jonathan — what about the other sections — did they talk about removing a lane from Broadway to Cook? And Skidmore to Killingsworth?

    It would still be a very good project if they:
    * made dual bike lanes (side by side) from Broadway to Cook, and then from Skidmore to Killingsworth. (Arguably, the passing lane is needed most on hills, and it’s pretty flat the whole way from Cook to Skidmore).
    * turned Rodney into a Bike Boulevard from Morris to Going, providing crossing improvements at Fremont.

    Thanks for reporting on this,
    Ted Buehler

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    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) February 7, 2012 at 9:57 pm

      Thanks for asking Ted. In all the other segments, PBOT says it would be possible to go to one lane without impacted peak traffic capacity. I’ll add a note about that to the story.

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  • Kerry February 7, 2012 at 9:56 pm

    If the present dry-day traffic is any indicator, this summer the fast riders will #occupywilliams, turning the right lane into a de facto bus-bike lane regardless of what PBOT does. It’s already happening coming off the light at Broadway.

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  • Ted Buehler February 7, 2012 at 10:01 pm

    Also, note that there are now six proposed developments along N Williams between Cook and Skidmore:

    1) Williams, west side, Cook to Ivy, 4 story apartment building
    2) Williams, west side, Ivy to Fremont, New Seasons
    3 and 4) Williams, east side, Ivy to Fremont, 4 and 6 story tall apartment buildings
    5) Williams at Beech, NW corner, 5 story apartment building, 20 apartments (4 are live-work)
    6) Williams, east side, Mason to Skidmore, 4 story mixed use building, 84 apartments and 5 retail spaces.

    And a few more coming online
    * Williams and Fremont, NW corner, rumored apartment building plans. Probably 5 stories.
    * OAMI building (long pink and grey building from Mason to Skidmore) is rumored to be for sale. space for nearly 200 apartments.

    The face of Williams will change dramatically in the next 24 months.

    Ted Buehler
    Co-Chair, Boise Neighborhood

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    • matt picio February 7, 2012 at 11:05 pm

      And those developments will likely change the neighborhood far more than anything having to do with bicycles.

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  • Ted Buehler February 7, 2012 at 10:02 pm

    If we want to remove a car lane and get dual bike lanes, it will take some serious effort, but I think it can be done with a plan, some strategy, and dedication.

    Any takers? I’m interested. Two ways to start:

    1) Stand at Russell and Williams and hand out “contact the city to support N Williams Bicycle Improvements” fliers. We’d have to make the fliers up, hand them out. I did this two years ago for the 2030 Bike Plan and got great responses from bicyclists. In the dark, in the rain.

    2) Contact each of the 6 developers now proposing buildings on N Williams. Sit down with them in a meeting, get a couple of young bicyclists (who will be renting their apartments) and some respectable folk like BTA Board Members, show them the numbers, ask them to support the street as a bicycle thoroughfare.

    Other ideas?

    Ted Buehler

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    • Ted Buehler February 7, 2012 at 10:05 pm

      And, 3) get buy-in from the 4 neighborhoods along the corridor — Eliot, Boise, King and Humboldt. Eliot and Boise are in, and I suspect if we reach out to the others with a basic plan that they will sign on.

      Ted Buehler

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      • Andrew N February 8, 2012 at 1:33 am

        As a member of King and an occasional attendee at the neighborhood meetings I can just about guarantee a letter of support.

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    • 9watts February 7, 2012 at 10:09 pm

      I like your approach, Ted.
      One statistic you might find useful in this effort is that one in seven Multnomah Co. households doesn’t own a car (last numbers I have 2000 ACS – happy to share the spreadsheet). We tend to forget/ignore/not know this and certainly none of our transportation planning is based on this fact.
      The City of Portland prides itself on the fact that since ~1990 VMT has stayed roughly constant. Yet what I read between the lines in Ellen Vanderslice’s comments above was the assumption that this would not be true for Williams going forward, with or without taking a lane and giving it to modes other than cars. Obviously all streets are a bit different, but it still doesn’t point to much vision.

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  • Alain February 8, 2012 at 6:38 am

    Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)
    Thanks for asking Ted. In all the other segments, PBOT says it would be possible to go to one lane without impacted peak traffic capacity. I’ll add a note about that to the story.
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    Thanks for the clarification, I hope it’s true what Ted says about Broadway-Cook and Skidmore-Killingsworth, though why leave the middle section as two lanes, seems like a parking accommodation issue?

    I’ll never understand why people have to park right in front of the business they want to visit, unless of course it’s a handicap issue. One can simply go around the corner to park. I wonder if the perception is one of fear, that is fear of parking around the corner where one’s car might be broken into.

    Otherwise, why deal with the hassle of jamming up car and bicycle traffic just to squeeze into a tight parking space on Williams and not have to walk a few hundred additional feet. Seems like all that Williams frontage should be for deliveries and handicap and more bicycle parking.

    I hope it does work out to have the other segments reduced to one lane for motor vehicle traffic, though it seems foolish, even from PBOT’s stand point, not to to reduce to one motor vehicle lane all the way through on Williams. It’s an opportunity to exercise some vision and put some theories to the test. And it would be what Mississippi, Killingsworth, Alberta, Hawthorne and Division are not, a true active transportation corridor. Imagine that?!

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    • Chris I February 8, 2012 at 7:49 am

      People are lazy. Have you ever experienced people hunting for spots right next to the entrance to Costco or Fred Meyer when they would actually save time by just parking 50ft further away?

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  • CharlieB February 8, 2012 at 8:03 am

    BURR
    everything old is new again
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    Critical Mass anyone?

    How about regular Friday evening rush-hour rides up Williams and down Vancouver? A perpetual serpent of bike riders looping back down Vancouver to Fargo then back up to Skidmore. Repeat. Have fast riders in the right “Car” lane continuously passing slower riders in the bike lane.

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    • Jack February 8, 2012 at 8:46 am

      I think what Williams needs is a Critical Pedestrian Mass at rush hour. The many new businesses in the area are already increasing foot traffic, which is great. Imagine if every road user had to stop at nearly every intersection due to peds crossing every 30 seconds. Wouldn’t be long before pass-through traffic found MLK to be a more efficient option.

      Is it against some law to get a bunch of loosely organized people to walk up and down Williams for a couple hours, crossing at every intersection?

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      • Andyc February 8, 2012 at 10:40 am

        We should just do this at every place around the city where it’s dangerous/difficult to get around other than by car. Every week, or as needed. Something akin to a transportation movement action. Critical mass for the Pedestrians, the bus users, the bicycle riders, etc.

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      • NF February 8, 2012 at 3:22 pm

        How about a sit-in? Literally stand in the auto lane, blocking access to it along Segment 4 during rush hour? It would be best if the majority of the participants lived or worked nearby, but not necessarily.

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  • RH February 8, 2012 at 9:53 am

    Come on PBOT…make it one lane. Some of the vehicle traffic will just adjust to using the 5, MLK, Interstate Ave,etc.. It’s not like it’s the only North/South route in the city. The reason developers are building apartments is because people want to be able to walk around the neighborhood and enjoy the liveability….while not playing frogger with a cars.

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  • Joe Rowe February 8, 2012 at 10:37 am

    As MLK said, we need to build consensus. The only people who really need 2 lanes are
    a) PBOT engineers
    b) Commuters and developers from Vancouver

    I think everyone else could be recruited to join the consensus that one lane has many benefits for
    1) Churches
    2) Neighbors
    3) Developers in North Portland
    4) Cyclists
    5) Shop owners

    That’s a lot of work, and Ted needs help.

    One lane means more safety, more parking, slower and more steady throughput of traffic.

    Shop owners on Valencia St in SF fought for extra lanes, then switched teams to argue for less lanes. A few year later they even took out the median lane to widen sidewalks.

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    • Kirk February 8, 2012 at 5:47 pm

      6) Pedestrians

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    • Kirk February 8, 2012 at 5:52 pm

      Most people that drive cars do not own 7 bikes. Most people that ride bikes do not own 7 bikes. You are a special case.

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      • Todd February 8, 2012 at 5:59 pm

        I would guess that a lot of families in Portland have seven bikes. Our suburban family of six has two cars and 10 bikes, if you include the two unicycles. Most of my cycling friends have a higher “bikes per capita” number for their household than we do…

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      • Kirk February 8, 2012 at 6:42 pm

        This second ‘reply’ was supposed to be further down the discussion…oh mobile phones :( (Sorry about the spamming)

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  • Andyc February 8, 2012 at 10:53 am

    I came across this article, which I think is the kind of thinking behind PBOT and our roads through neighborhoods and elsewhere:http://dc.streetsblog.org/2012/02/07/los-and-travel-projections-the-wrong-tools-for-planning-our-streets/

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  • Andyc February 8, 2012 at 10:57 am

    That’s linked in DON ARAMBULA’s comment. Sorry for the redundancy.

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  • fredlf February 8, 2012 at 11:40 am

    I think a critical mass will happen on Williams organically. I already find myself having to take the lane more and more to get around slower bike traffic and especially to avoid dooring, delivery vehicles, people parking, etc. And during rush hour it’s very easy to go the speed of traffic.
    I don’t see this trend going anywhere but up, and I encourage all other “fearless” riders to take the lane on Williams whenever needed. We can make our own “bike lanes” if the city won’t.

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  • pdxpaul February 8, 2012 at 11:53 am

    Another vote for direct action – let’s take the lane and cross on every block on alternating days 5 – 6pm. I can do this every week from now until I retire in 25 years.

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    • Joe Rowe February 8, 2012 at 12:31 pm

      A critical walking mass would need only 100 people and legally slow down Williams for an hour. It would draw the attention. But like a bus boycott we need to make the message very clear so the press does not distort it.

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      • Jack February 8, 2012 at 12:36 pm

        I think this should be done with no message. This would not be a demonstration or a protest. It would be a true action that would immediately make Williams less appealing as a through-street.

        If press shows up and starts asking questions, participants should just say they’re on their way to the local shop/restaurant and are also surprised at how awful traffic is today.

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  • davemess February 8, 2012 at 12:54 pm

    anyone else feel like this is starting to fee like a mini-version of the CRC?

    Also, I think you can easily own a car for under $7k a year, I know I do. I also own 7 bikes and they usually get more use than the car (at least when I don’t have a broken collar bone). Using the “cars are just so expensive” argument is really not very effective.

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    • NF February 8, 2012 at 3:24 pm

      Cars are not expensive if you don’t use them. The $5,000-10,000 number includes gasoline and maintenance, both of which are reduced significantly if you ride your bike all the time.

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    • Chris I February 9, 2012 at 5:59 am

      It is possible to own a car for under $7k a year, but most people don’t achieve that. Even if you buy a car with cash up front, you have to amortize that cost over the life of the car. You also need to add in repair costs, and wear and tear items like tires. This is all in addition to insurance and gas, which is what most people think about when they own a car.

      The reality is that car costs vary greatly from month to month. A typical month can be just a few hundred dollars, or a thousand if you have a major repair. People get irritated when their car needs to be repaired at great cost. They really should be irritated at themselves for not setting aside a reasonable amount of money each month, reflecting the true cost of ownership.

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  • are February 8, 2012 at 1:45 pm

    jonathan,
    this was the first williams SAC meeting since pretty much forever that i was unable to make. in the e-mail that went around beforehand, michelle attached a draft report from the outcomes working group, listing ten objectives they wanted to see this project achieve. not one had anything at all to do with level of service for automobiles. this was supposed to be taken up rather early in the agenda. can you tell us what the outcome was? thanks.

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    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) February 8, 2012 at 1:48 pm

      the outcomes were adopted.

      It’s important to keep in mind that PBOT saying one lane is “unlikely” doesn’t mean one lane won’t happen. Some sources I’ve spoken with sat they heard her statement as it meaning the stakeholders would be unlikely to agree to one lane. But regardless of the interpretation, there is a lot more to be done before this issue is decided. And I agree with you that the adopted outcomes would seem to support one lane.

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      • are February 8, 2012 at 4:26 pm

        if the stakeholders have approved a list of ten desired outcomes, all having to do with pedestrian and bicycle safety, reducing speeds, etc., and none having to do with preserving existing levels of service, i don’t readily see how they are going to square that with insisting on keeping two lanes through zone four.

        but of course anything is possible, people may have voted yes on this list without thinking it through. i note that preserving the supply of onstreet parking is also not listed.

        in the end, PBoT has to take their proposal to the city council, and they either will or will not have the SAC endorsement for whatever their plan is. i think they would much rather have the endorsement.

        my recollection is that the SAC has decided on a two-thirds vote mechanism, which means eight people could prevent a decision.

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  • shoemaker February 8, 2012 at 3:52 pm

    Parking and Congestion.
    The two biggest problems not in need of solving on Williams. Solve them at the peril of the economic and environmental health of the neigborhood.

    For the number of businesses opening up on Williams no amount of street parking will be enough. In fact, those businesses will die if what they depend on is street parking. For each new business that opens, the ability for any one business to grow becomes constrained by the very success of the others.

    The business owners will want the street marked for “their” customers only. “Your customers are oppressing my customers” will be the new rallying cry.

    How can these new businesses possibly grow their customer base and build on each other’s success? By encouraging the modes of transportation that can bring in the most people. By the square foot, we know that’s not the single occupancy vehicle.

    How about a big sheltered bus stop right at the front door of New Seasons instead of a parking lot? Ooops, sure seems lame to drop their customers off on the wrong side of the street and make them block traffic twice. Once for the bus to stop and once again to cross the street. Great idea, no?

    Maybe you’ve seen the paltry bike parking at the New Seasons on Interstate. Even Fred Meyer provides more bike parking. Check out their facility at 39th and Hawthorne.

    Clear out the street parking, bring on serious covered bike parking and sheltered bus stops. Watch the congestion during peak hours fade away.

    One block away, Vancouver, Williams’ mirror image survives on one lane just fine. It doesn’t take a lot of imagination or modeling to see that.

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  • avoidemailspam February 8, 2012 at 6:27 pm

    This is Great news!

    I was once a proponent of bicyclists in Portland, until their immature behavior and antics were found to be in the majority of the bicyclist community.

    You all need to look at yourselves in the mirror and can blame this on yourself. You have lost a lot of support and the funding is speaking HUGE volumes to it.

    You will continue to regress until you behave, act less selfish, consider other road users and SHARE the road.. not TAKE the road.

    At this point, I am supporting all council members to stop all funding for bicylists unti l see a shift in behavior….There are many, many… rather the majority with me behind this. You are 7% of the community… of the 93% that drive, maybe only 20% are supportive of you now. Majority will rule this.

    Think of your actions……

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    • Dave February 8, 2012 at 8:04 pm

      I do, thanks. I take my behavior on the road very seriously. I’m tired of being lumped in with some imaginary gang of miscreants who supposedly want nothing more than to piss everyone else off. All I want is to be able to go where I need to go by the means I choose and feel safe doing it. In that, I’m the same as EVERYONE.

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    • are February 9, 2012 at 7:19 pm

      and yet the relentlessly immature behavior of motorists is constantly rewarded. why does that not also upset you? and ask some of your ninety-three percent what they think the phrase “share the road” means. most will tell you it means cyclists belong way over there on the edge. they are mistaken, but they have the horsepower and the tonnage to enforce their ignorance on the rest of us. the city did not embark on this project to build some kind of playground for bikes. they wanted to address serious concerns about safety, not just for cyclists but also for pedestrians and for bus riders and for disabled people getting in and out of vans. what they are backing down on is some imagined concern about moving volumes of motorists through. but the safety issues they are supposed to be addressing are for the most part caused by those very motorists, many hundreds of whom are using williams as a shortcut between freeway exits.

      look in the sideview mirror, where stuff is not as small as it seems.

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  • Peter W February 9, 2012 at 1:02 am

    How safe is it to have parking on Williams? I’m constantly worried that I or someone else will get doored or hit by someone trying to park.

    Someone should make the case to businesses that a) people can park on sidestreets and b) dead pedestrians or cyclists won’t help business.

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  • Ted Buehler February 9, 2012 at 5:25 pm

    re: “Walking Crossing Mass” —

    I imagine it’s perfectly legal, no problem with it. People have the right to wander back and forth across the street whenever they please. Just like people driving riceburners and riding crotchrockets have the right to cruise the freeways and residential streets all day and all night.

    I walk across MLK and Williams all the time on errands. I find most cars stop pretty willingly. (This is in the Fremont-Shaver area). Also MLK at the Jarrett/Jessup area.

    Other areas are tougher, like between Broadway and Russell.

    I think a walking mass could be successful. Here’s a variation, though. Instead of calling it a “walking mass” call it a “walking tour of Williams” where you have a little guide-sheet listing the buildings and their historic significance, for instance, but the route requires you to cross the street every block. Then we can all don our umbrellas and take a nice respectable stroll up the street. It wouldn’t be as “in your face” and so it would be less antagonistic to drivers.

    I’m all in favor of a walking mass/walking tour. Put it on the Shift Calender and I’ll be there.

    Or, show up at Project Grow (Williams and Thompson) on Feb 17 and see the presentation on Historic Williams, and start a walking tour from there.
    http://www.growinginalldirections.org/event/celebrate-the-history-of-jazz-on-williams-avenue-story-telling-with-sydney-thompson/

    Ted Buehler

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      • Ted Buehler February 10, 2012 at 12:17 am

        From the link..

        “the idea was to start into the crosswalk just an instant before the gesture would seem political, but when the effect would still be to cause the motorist to slow down…”

        Personally, I think this still sends along an antagonistic vibe. And for me, it would totally mess with my walk if I was out to maximize the number of drivers I could “educate.”

        I prefer to just go on a walk, cross streets, and if there’s no cars when I want to cross, I’ll cross anyway :^)

        Ted Buehler

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  • spare_wheel February 10, 2012 at 11:25 am

    The hawthorne bridge has some of the highest cyclist traffic in PDX and yet there is no bike lane on Hawthorne. Instead cyclists are fed into a collection of greenways. Although I personally do not like this arrangement, I have to admit its quite “safe”. So why is it that so many williams commuters are clamoring for expensive infrastructure to fix a “safety” problem when there is a cheaper solution with a track record of success. I think the answer has to do with tidal wave of demographic change and the concomitant a sense of entitlement. IMO, far too much money is spent on expensive inner city projects when there is so much more need in the periphery and at truly dangerous intersections. I am not aware of a single death on williams. Foster on the other hand…

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    • BURR February 10, 2012 at 1:19 pm

      Plenty of cyclists wanted bike lanes on Hawthorne and turned out in large numbers to say so at public forums in the late 90s and early 00s. The existing greenway system is ultimately the result of the city caving in to business interests and using their TDM/LOS models (which didn’t even account for or incorporate cyclists) to justify not altering the existing four-lane cross section of Hawthorne.

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  • Lenny Anderson February 10, 2012 at 11:59 am

    To make Williams Avenue safe for all users, especially with all the new development, motorized traffic must be slowed down. The most cost effective way to do that is a single lane for motorized vehicles. Everybody knows this, including PBOT.
    My guess is NS let it be known that they want two lanes on this stretch…end of discussion.

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