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Council agenda doesn’t include Barbur; BTA will rally – UPDATED

Posted by on October 4th, 2013 at 3:16 pm

UPDATE, 10/8: The BTA is no longer holding a rally, but they still encourage folks to show up and testify. More on their blog here.

Next week’s Portland City Council agenda has been published and it doesn’t include a key amendment on the SW Corridor Plan resolution that the Bicycle Transportation Alliance (BTA) was hoping to see.

As we reported earlier this week, the BTA had made a very public request to Transportation Commissioner Steve Novick and the rest of City Council. They wanted a vote on a resolution supporting the SW Corridor Plan to be amended to include the following:

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, the Council directs staff to initiate a transparent and collaborative process with Metro and ODOT to study the Barbur lane diet option on SW Barbur Blvd. from Terwilliger to Hamilton. (SW Corridor Plan Projects #5006 & #1019)

But the SW Corridor Plan agenda item that was just published on the City’s website doesn’t include that language. In response, the BTA plans to hold a rally at City Hall prior to the vote on Wednesday. Here’s more from a BTA blog post that just went up:

“Unfortunately, the City of Portland is not planning to study safety of SW Barbur when they adopt the SW Corridor Plan on October 9th.

If ODOT is going to make safety improvements on SW Barbur, they need to know it’s a local priority. If Portland City Council won’t speak up for safety, it’s time for us to speak up for ourselves.”

The BTA is urging everyone who cares about this issue to show up and testify in support of the amendment. The rally is scheduled for City Hall at 1:30 pm on Wednesday October 9th. More details here.

In other Barbur road diet news, noted citizen activist and Portland Planning Commissioner Chris Smith published an ‘Open Letter to City Council’ about the issue. Smith is strongly in favor of the Barbur road diet and traffic study. “The proposed road diet,” he writes, “would be a great first step in the series of changes needed to make Barbur a place that delivers on the Portland Plan ‘healthy connected city’ promise.” Read Smith’s letter here.

Stay tuned. Next week is likely to bring some key developments.

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  • daisy October 4, 2013 at 4:40 pm

    How many emails does Amanda Fritz need if 464 doesn’t get it done?
    https://twitter.com/AmandaFritzRN/status/385611132108435456

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    • eli bishop October 5, 2013 at 12:18 am

      i hope she is not complaining about public input and responsive constituents who care strongly about things that affect them.

      Recommended Thumb up 6

    • Jeff M October 5, 2013 at 12:23 am

      A snarky tweet to her concerned constituents followed by no action is a strange way for an elected official to act.

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    • Peter W October 5, 2013 at 2:58 pm

      > How many emails does Amanda Fritz need if 464 doesn’t get it done?

      Commissioner Fritz most likely cannot be pressured into doing something she doesn’t support; to her credit, she’s not a typical politician (and doesn’t plan to run again). But hopefully, if people took time to personalize some of those emails (and take the time to show up at City Hall), she’ll see that this is a real issue that demands action despite the politics (much like Right 2 Dream Too).

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      • spare_wheel October 5, 2013 at 3:40 pm

        Maybe the way fact that she dismisses ~500 constituents has something to do with her bitterness.

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      • Jeff M October 5, 2013 at 8:16 pm

        I *did* personalize my email. So did my friends. So, I guess “nearly identical” actually just means the same subject.

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      • Chris I October 7, 2013 at 7:48 am

        She is a SW Portland resident. I went to high school with one of her kids, just a mile or so from the segment of Barbur in question. Maybe she believes it has to be 4 lanes because she hasn’t spent the time to look at this issue?

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      • wsbob October 7, 2013 at 10:27 am

        “…But hopefully, if people took time to personalize some of those emails…” Peter W

        And including their own opinions about the issue, relating their own experience riding or walking the road, rather than minimal input types of responses, such as ‘+1′, ‘I agree’, ‘what he/she said’.

        Putting officials or their staff in the position of having to sort through hundreds of duplicate copies of the same form letter, just to find the sender has made little effort to offer much in the way of relevant information, doesn’t seem a very productive use of anyone’s time.

        Having then, the gall to go and whine about officials publicly apologizing to other people having to wait for the official to go through an onslaught of form letters before they can proceed with their work, is a low blow.

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      • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) October 7, 2013 at 10:28 am

        Am I missing something? So far, Fritz hasn’t weighed in on this issue directly yet. So far this has only been Commissioner Novick’s issue (since he’s Transportation Commissioner and he decided to not include the Barbur amendment on the SW Corridor resolution). We’ll see what Fritz has to say on Wednesday.

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  • RJ October 4, 2013 at 4:45 pm

    Chris Smith’s letter nails it. The city is spending ungodly staff time updating the comp plan and the TSP, and paying all kinds of lip service to the Green Transportation Hierarchy, Healthy Connected City, etc. What better time is there to show that these aren’t just words on paper — that we actually mean what we say?

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  • Eastsider October 4, 2013 at 10:36 pm

    So let me get this straight — city council just spent $200k installing 12′ black chainlink fence on the Vista Bridge to prevent jumpers from committing suicide.

    The rationale is that the bridge is a poorly designed piece of infrastructure because it does not protect users from possible death. These fences may not be a permanent solution, but they were put up quickly in reaction to what was deemed to be an unsafe environment.

    Using the same rationale, how is Barbur not an obvious example of unsafe infrastructure that fails to protect its users on the most basic levels? Moreover, the users are embarking on an activity that improves health for them and the environment and are often have less financial resources than their motored counterparts that are able to afford driving and parking in downtown.

    Fortunately, this piece of ill designed infrastructure can be fixed quite easily — with road paint.

    The commissioners (especially Amanda Fritz) are not representing their constituents and fail to realize the most basic trends in transportation. The future will not be about an ever increasing number of single passenger vehicles streaming into downtown to use it as a suburban car depository while they’re at work.

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    • q`Tzal October 4, 2013 at 11:12 pm

      Eastsider
      So let me get this straight — city council just spent $200k installing 12′ black chainlink fence on the Vista Bridge to prevent jumpers from committing suicide.

      I’ll be the cold heartless b/tard: it isn’t to prevent jumping suicides, it’s to prevent those inconsiderate jumpers from shutting down our city’s vital light rail lines.
      Only the second time I ever took the MAX from Westside to downtown we had to unload at the zoo station because an investigation was going on from what turned out to be a suicide; probably to be followed by an even slower clean up.

      It is curious that in a city of so many bridge that this one would be the prime suicide destination. On the scale of suicide techniques from sleeping pill overdose to bomb vest jumping from Vista Bridge lies somewhere in the middle: not technically violent but still a big final F-U to society at large.

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      • AndyC of Linnton October 6, 2013 at 6:11 pm

        q’Tzal: That is absolutely the reason for the fix to the Vista bridge. Thanks for saying so.

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        • q`Tzal October 7, 2013 at 10:07 pm

          I’ve only lived in Portland since 2003 but in retrospect I think the suicide preference for the Vista Bridge is that in the Metro area it is the highest bridge with designed/normal pedestrian access over a hard solid surface.
          If I’m wrong y`all let me know.

          Naturally I’d expect those suicide attempts to simply go elsewhere; a fence is not suicide prevention, it is attempt to redirect the resultant mess out of the flow of the life of everyone still living.

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      • wsbob October 7, 2013 at 10:55 am

        q`Tzal and AndyC of Linnton…both your responses to Eastsider’s comment, are off-topic, pathetic, self indulgent, expressing a lack of sympathy and compassion for the plight of people finding themselves compelled to bring about their own death.

        The view Eastsider expresses, suggesting that personal injuries sustained from collisions occurring in part due the road use configuration of Barbur Blvd are somehow comparable to those resulting from people deliberately jumping off a bridge, is off the mark as a rationale for correcting configuration deficiencies of Barbur’s lanes.

        On Barbur, people riding and biking haven’t deliberately been bringing about their deaths by moving into the path of motor vehicles. The road is unsafe for biking and walking, because the provisions Barbur currently offers for walking and biking, is not sufficient for ordinary use of the road. Provisions offered for ordinary safe walking and biking across Vista Bridge are generally good.

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        • q`Tzal October 7, 2013 at 10:00 pm

          Ah yes, the game of character assassination: sometimes the only way to win is not to play the game.

          Off topic: This series of comments is regarding this statement “ city council just spent $200k installing 12′ black chainlink fence on the Vista Bridge to prevent jumpers from committing suicide.” I’d prefer to have a psychologist version of ST Voyager’s EMH stationed on the bridge 24/7/365 to provide just the sort of compassionate mental health care that desperate people need but we have to relie on humans and that is orders of magnitude more expensive than the fence.

          Sometimes “the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few” but not always. This is where compassion comes in but compassion goes both ways. Should we show compassion for someone deeply depressed that decides that their method of killing themselves will be a high speed sports car plowing in to a train, fire in a dense neighborhood or a bomb vest in a crowded area? There are pills, foods, herbs, blades, single shot firearms and much more. Somewhere this person makes a choice to use their final act to at the very least inconvenience or intentionally main and kill others.
          In these cases my sense of compassion lies with the general public and not with the selfish depressed person.

          I’ve known and been personally touched by suicide as a tangible problem so this is not merely academic for me.

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          • wsbob October 7, 2013 at 10:31 pm

            q`Tzal, yes you’ve made it quite clear you don’t give a hang about people beset with depression on a scale that can become fatal to them, but that condition is still off-topic, relative to the road use configuration of Barbur Blvd that makes it insufficient for safe walking and biking. It bears no relationship to the circumstances that are prompting efforts to have Barbur Blvd reconfigured for safer use of the road, on foot and on bike.

            People seeking to walk or bike on Barbur, don’t intentionally bring injury upon themselves. Were the road’s design and accompanying infrastructure safe for normal walking and biking, people most likely wouldn’t be hurt by collisions that periodically occur.

            Changes to Barbur aren’t being sought to avert suicides resulting from people deliberately walking or biking in front of motor vehicles…because it seems that reason is not why deaths and injuries have been occurring on the road; changes are being sought because people/vulnerable road users, are being hurt despite efforts they make in using the road, to avoid danger to themselves.

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            • Eastsider October 8, 2013 at 12:57 am

              That’s exactly my point. I was highlighting how the city council moved relatively fast to address the problem of suicides on Vista (and it was done quickly to addresses an immediate problem, while a long-term solution can be evaluated) but then expresses indifference towards Barbur, which affects people that have no intention of harming themselves. Preventing people from harming themselves is a complicated challenge; preventing people from harming vulnerable road users by studying the possibility of repainting stripes on a road is not that complicated.

              Recommended Thumb up 1

              • wsbob October 8, 2013 at 10:11 am

                Eastsider…considering that the bridge has occupied its location over the canyon for going on 90 years, and city council has only just recently decided to add some kind of physical barrier to the bridge to keep people from deliberately jumping off to bring about their deaths, ‘relatively fast’ in this case, represents decades.

                At any rate, the Vista Bridge situation is the wrong kind rationale to attempt to use as a means of strengthening arguments for changes to be made to Barbur Blvd for safer use of the road by people riding and walking.

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            • q`Tzal October 8, 2013 at 12:10 pm

              I apologize for my inability to effectively communicate my real empathy for those individuals with mental health issues, myself included.
              The apparent fact that you are interpreting my position of public mental health as diametrically opposite of what it actually is is my fault.

              Therefore I give up.
              You win.
              I lose.
              Are you happy now?

              Recommended Thumb up 1

              • wsbob October 8, 2013 at 5:44 pm

                “I apologize for my inability to effectively communicate my real empathy for those individuals with mental health issues, myself included.
                The apparent fact that you are interpreting my position of public mental health as diametrically opposite of what it actually is is my fault. …” q`Tzal

                If you had something different in mind than what you allowed your words to convey, yes, it is your fault your fault they left an impression you subsequently have decided you don’t like. Check your words before you post them, to make sure they don’t say something other than what you mean.

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            • q`Tzal October 8, 2013 at 12:26 pm

              BTW: until you are appointed by Bikeportland.org as a comments moderator you really have NO CONTROL over how off topic the Internet goes
              Deal with it.

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    • Art Fuldodger October 7, 2013 at 9:44 am

      “…suburban car depository…” That’s a sad & all-too-true image of downtown, but a happy turn of phrase!

      Recommended Thumb up 2

  • Anonymous October 5, 2013 at 7:18 am

    So, bikeportland commenters: this is your opportunity to put your money where your mouths are. Take next Wednesday afternoon off from work. Show up at City Hall. Let the City Council know that you want better conditions on Barbur and that the first step toward achieving that is forcing ODOT to participate in a legitimate analysis of what will happen with a lane removed from the roadway. Council will notice if you show up. ODOT will notice if you show up. The Oregonian will notice if you show up.

    If instead, you complain without action, then move to Amsterdam or Copenhagen where things are already good and actionless complaining won’t matter.

    Because here it will matter.

    If there’s not a big turnout at City Hall next week then Council and ODOT will have judged correctly that people who value and understand the benefit of bicycling don’t care enough about Portland to make their voices publicly heard in the one forum where they can actually effect change.

    But, that’s not you, is it? You do care, don’t you?

    Show up.

    Recommended Thumb up 14

  • Ted Buehler October 8, 2013 at 1:55 am

    “The BTA is urging everyone who cares about this issue to show up and testify in support of the amendment. The rally is scheduled for City Hall at 1:30 pm on Wednesday October 9th.”

    Lets pack the place, folks! Tell your friends, bring your friends.

    For all of us blog rats that are always happy to take the time to complain about things on Bike Portland, this is your chance to get involved in the more direct side of shaping public opinion.

    Never been to a City Council meeting? Consider it part of your civic education.

    Make a sign. Come. Come early. Bring your peeps.

    Thanks to the BTA for putting together the rally!

    Ted Buehler

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