Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on May 23rd, 2012 at 11:30 am
[Publisher's note: As we shared on May 16th, PBOT has unveiled plans for the Multnomah Street Main Street Pilot Project. The road this project has taken to this point has raised many concerned eyebrows. One of them is Craig Harlow. Harlow was chair of the stakeholder advisory committee for the NE Holladay Street project (which is — whether PBOT wants us to remember or not — closely tied to the Multnomah project) and he sat on the "task force" for the NE Multnomah project. Below, I've shared a letter from Harlow to PBOT project manager Ross Swanson - JM]
Dear Mr. Swanson:
"I am gravely concerned about the priorities of the Multnomah project."
— Craig Harlow, member of project task force and former chair of Holladay Street project advisory committee
I primarily represent the interests of others like myself, parents who travel by bicycle with their kids in, through, and around the Lloyd District. I live in the Irvington neighborhood just 1 mile north of the Lloyd District, and commute to work by bike daily to my job in the Lloyd District. My sons walk and bike to meet me at work each day after school. I ride through the Lloyd District very often with all four of my kids, ages 4 through 17, on our way to downtown, the waterfront, and to SE Portland.
Today when I ride with my kids through the Lloyd District, we stick to the sidewalks exclusively, due to the lack of safe and comfortable facilities for families on bikes.
I was and am hopeful that this project on Multnomah will improve conditions for my family when we travel into the Lloyd District in the future.
I was a member of the task force that met this winter and spring to form the Lloyd TMA Board’s recommendation to the city for a road diet on NE Multnomah. I was previously the chair of the stakeholder advisory committee that oversaw the process for developing a plan to introduce a new bikeway on NE Holladay, which from its outset was repeatedly sabotaged by representatives of major Lloyd District property holder Ashforth-Pacific (now Langley), and was in its final hour effectively sunk by a single "nay" vote from Ashforth with support from the TMA, in what was otherwise a 12-to-1 vote in favor of implementing the Holladay project. That project was set aside by PBOT in order to pursue this project on Multnomah.
I am gravely concerned about the priorities of the Multnomah project. Priority #1 seems to be to reintroduce on-street parking along Multnomah, whether or not conditions improve for people on bikes, on foot, or on transit. Why is added parking the first priority and a non-negotiable component of this proposal, in a neighborhood already literally paved over by massive parking density?
PBOT’s participation in the Multnomah task force was accompanied by promise of a “truly world class bikeway”. A road diet and the associated traffic calming can be achieved without the addition of on-street parking. Why isn’t this being considered?
How is the Green Transportation Hierarchy (which appears on page 21 of the City Council adopted Bike Plan for 2030) being addressed by this PBOT project? Or rather, why is it not being considered?
I am deeply concerned that this project is being used by property holders to misdirect the public’s attention from the outcome of the Holladay project’s S.A.C. process, which was 1 vote shy (Ashforth) of unanimous approval for transforming NE Holladay into a new east-west bikeway through the Lloyd District. What is the fate of that project today?
I am also concerned because I see conditions for people on bikes worsening as an outcome of this proposal, rather than improving, on at least two counts:
(1) This proposal introduces a hazard that doesn't exist today on Multnomah: the door zone. Whether parking is to the left or to the right of the bike lane, wherever there is on-street parking bikes will be in the door zone unless an adequate three-foot or four-foot painted buffer is used.
The proposal describes the parking as buffered in spots, but the described one-foot buffer is nominal at best, when a truly functioning door buffer would be three feet at a minimum (four would be better) to keep bikes out of range of opening car doors.
The proposed increase of bike lane width to 7-feet is an illusion, if riders are expected to ride in such a way that they must cede three feet of it to the un-buffered portion of the door zone — exactly the inadequate conditions that are being addressed today as part of the project to improve safety along North Williams Avenue.
Further, the use of an inadequately narrow painted buffer endangers all road users by luring bikes in closer to parked cars where they will be struck by opening car doors.
For myself, as a father riding through the Lloyd District regularly with four kids on bikes, this proposal makes an already risky Multnomah much less safe, and less comfortable than the status quo. I provided this input during the TMA's Multnomah task force meetings this winter.
(2) A design which has the bike lane moving from left to right and back again along its length seems to create more dynamic movement, and therefore greater likelihood of unpredictable interactions between bikes, cars, transit, and people on foot. How is this an improvement over current conditions? Why isn’t a primarily straight-through bike lane among the options proposed?
Lastly, and most importantly to me, I will be a very vocal opponent to the implementation of any design which isn’t strongly —and demonstrably — guided by public input from those whose interests are not tied to Lloyd District property values nor to Lloyd District auto parking strategies.
Thanks much for considering my input,
As made clear by Craig's letter, there remain a lot of questions around this project. For more background and to share your feedback with PBOT, see our post from last week. Stay tuned for more coverage.