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At 20s Bikeway open houses, narrow support for bike lanes instead of auto parking

Posted by on April 10th, 2014 at 1:37 am

A ride with the family-6
Riding with traffic is currently the only safe option through the 28th Avenue commercial district.
(Photo by J.Maus/BikePortland)

“If parking is so valuable to business owners that our right of way can’t be used for traffic (bike traffic) flow, then that parking should be priced,”
— Open house attendee

Trying to summarize all the opinions of Portlanders who came to last month’s trio of open houses on the 20s Bikeway would be “like summarizing 250 essays on 25 or so different subjects,” project manager Rich Newlands wrote in an email Wednesday.

But on one high-profile issue, it’s actually not too hard to tally attendees’ opinions: should the west side of 28th Avenue between Stark Street and Interstate 84 have a buffered bike lane, or auto parking?

At its public open houses, the city got 90 direct comments on the subject. Of them, 48 supported at least one buffered bike lane, while 42 preferred to reserve the space for auto parking.

Tallied from comment cards at PBOT’s three open houses.
(Chart by BikePortland.)

“If parking is so valuable to business owners that our right of way can’t be used for traffic (bike traffic) flow, then that parking should be priced,” one attendee wrote on one of the comment cards that were available. “28th is on the bike master plan for a reason. People riding bikes want to patronize those businesses and 1 street crosses the highway.”

Other commenters, including a few who said they personally are “frequent” bike users, disagreed.

City bike planning coordinator Roger Geller, center,
at an open house last month.
(Photo by M.Andersen/BikePortland)

“I am very opposed to eliminating parking or any 1-way streets,” one comment said. “I am happy to drive 10 mph with speed bumps.”

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the results suggest that people who live or work very close to the 28th commercial district are closely split on the issue, with a slight preference for preserving parking. Attendees of the central open house preferred parking over bike lanes, 34 to 30. And the results also suggest that people elsewhere in the city feel less strongly about the 28th Avenue area but (if they have an opinion at all) clearly prefer to devote the space to bike access and mobility rather than auto storage. Comments about the central stretch of 28th from the north and south open houses favored bike lanes over auto parking, 18 to 8.

The vast majority of comments at the central open house (78 percent) included a clear opinion, one way or the other, about the parking question.

The city promoted the open houses with a postcard mailing to thousands of homes near the project area. KGW-TV also did an on-air report before the first open house, though the station inaccurately reported that the plan would “end street parking.”

Categorizing attendees’ 238 comments, which took me a few hours, required several judgment calls. For example, one person said they opposed having “no parking on 28th.” Because the city’s lead proposal is to remove parking from only one side of 28th, and only through the commercial district, I counted that comment in neither column. On the other hand, many comments said more generally that parking is essential on 28th. I assumed these comments meant that every parking space is essential, and chalked them up as opposing a buffered bike lane.

Also, many comments expressed general support for the city’s plan. I didn’t count these people in either camp, unless they seemed to be referring specifically to the city’s plan for the 28th business district.


Finally, here are some of the comments that jumped out to me as most interesting, on both sides of the issue.

I own the laundry at NE 28th & Glisan. I have had four parking spaces removed by the city of Portland in the winter and spring of 2011. They were replaced by bicycle parking and bioswales. This greatly improved business for the restaurant owner as he can now have serving tables on the curbside. It took 16% off the top of the laundry business as parking is key to a laundromat. People won’t carry loads of laundry a block or more, they will simply go elsewhere. Two of the corners at this intersection have been taken away, one for Zipcar, and one to make life easier for TriMet. I have talked to the city about this many times but to no avail. If the parking, as inadequate as it is, is taken away on the west side of 28th avenue, our business will be incapable of making a profit. I have worked hard for 37 years to provide a clean and dependable facility. I need more parking, not less. I know that many other businesses will face the same situation. I hope and pray that the city of Portland will support businesses that provide important services to their citizens.

I was “doored”while riding my bicycle at 28th & Davis several years ago. The incident resulted in a brain injury with vision / balance difficulties, inability to rotate my neck for months, car paint chips from the driver’s door embedded in my lips and gums, broken teeth, multiple plastic surgeries, job loss and extensive rehabilitative treatment. I have not used a bicycle since the accident. I do not want other cyclists on 28th Ave. to suffer the same fate. I am glad that you are taking steps to make this narrow, busy street safer for cyclists but I am concerned that the painted markings on the street may not draw enough attention from drivers who are not from Portland (the driver who doored me did not live here). Would encourage you to use the most vivid colors possible (neon or glow-in-the-dark paint?) to gain the attention of drivers and alert them to the presence of cyclists and the deadly “door zone.”

Cyclists need safe access to commerce, and routes that are intuitive! Please!, Please!, Please! use a 28th Ave option that gives bikes space / lanes in both directions, not just one!!!

It scares me to hear all the people here barking about parking. Their fear should be tested as we need to move forward with creating a great place to live that is unprecedented in the US. Caving into their fears turns Portland into anywhere USA. We can do far, far better.

Bike corral on SE 28th at Ankeny-10
Bike traffic at SE 28th and Ankeny in 2009.
(Photo by J.Maus/BikePortland)

I don’t go to businesses on 28th north of Burnside b/c it is so inconvenient & unsafe. I frequently go to businesses on 28th south of Burnside (N of Stark) b/c they are easier to access from Ankeny & there are corrals for me to lock up to.

As a homeowner on 28th I can’t begin to express my serious concerns regarding the possibilities of removing parking on 28th from Stark to Broadway and replacing them with bike lanes. Just on my block from Stark to Oak there are two 4 plexes without parking, a duplex without parking and 2 single family homes without parking. My house and two others facing 28th have driveways. Because of the many businesses within a block of my house, it is nearly impossible to find parking near my house when my bridge club comes on a Friday night – many people have to park near Central Catholic. Street parking begins filling up around 4 in the afternoon. There is some parking during the day after 9 AM and before 4 PM. It is true that bicycles need a clear pathway to go north and south, but why on a street filled with locally owned businesses?

The city’s lead proposal for 28th, facing south. A new neighborhood greenway, mostly on 30th, would provide a side-street alternative for northbound traffic.

I agree with you. I really like the idea because it goes right next to my house on 28th and Alder and we will have a lot better time riding bikes to school and other bike rides.

I run a General Contracting business by bicycle, and my business name is Builder by Bike. I use SE 28th frequently to access the north and NE neighborhoods. Safety, calm streets, and direct routes, are important to me as a business owner, and I might add that routes with slight grades are preferable. I know businesses along this corridor are given “sacred cow” treatment, and I ask the same treatment be extended to business owners who are dependent on SE 28th for transit.

I would prefer to see 28th Ave either all on-street parking removed and replaced with buffered bike lanes and a rebranding campaign for the businesses or no on-street parking removed and a shared street environment created w/ enhanced sharrows, fire friendly speed humps, and raised pedestrian crosswalks.

(Because that last person was open to removing parking from both sides, I counted him or her in the “bike lanes” column.)

I’ll close with one of the comments I didn’t categorize either way on the parking issue, from a commenter who reported that they “never” ride a bicycle:

Looks well thought out – limited impact on neighborhoods. Might make me more likely to get on my bike!

More info on the 20s Bikeway Project:
- Past coverage on BikePortland
- PBOT’s official project page

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Comments
  • davemess April 10, 2014 at 7:22 am

    RE: the laundromat.
    I feel for them, but if your business is as dependent on close parking as they say, why would they choose a location where they had no privately owned lot? Relying on street parking seems like a bad idea, as you are at the “whims” of the city.

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    • Chris I April 10, 2014 at 7:55 am

      Bingo. This business is subsidized by below-market pricing for street parking. The restaurant next door is extremely popular, and the space is more economically productive as tables that bring in hundreds of dollars every day, than as a parking spot for someone that spends $5 on a load of laundry. If their business is dependent on parking, they should lease some space across the street in the strip mall. There are so many apartments in that neighborhood, I fail to see how they can’t run a successful business there.

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      • dan April 10, 2014 at 11:07 am

        This. I hate to see them getting squeezed, but there was never a guarantee that they would always have street parking in front of their business. Seems like it might be worth their while to consider a laundry pick up / delivery service, no?

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        • dan April 10, 2014 at 11:11 am

          Or maybe they should be lobbying for a 15-minute spot in front of the business so people can stop in, start their laundry, and then leave the spot for the next customer.

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          • Spiffy April 10, 2014 at 3:26 pm

            do people actually leave their laundry at laundromats? if I drove there I’d be parked there for the entire 1-1.5 hours it took to do my laundry…

            and I’d only have spent about $5 in that time…

            so the parking is only needed so that I can spend 90% of my time idle inside the building while my clothes launder… I wouldn’t consider that critical to any business… my vehicle is held captive while all I do is wait…

            we should not be reserving street parking just so that people can wait… it should be for activities…

            if your business requires people to wait then you should supply those waiting facilities…

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    • Charley April 10, 2014 at 8:00 am

      Yup. It’s not like nothing ever changes and businesses never move or go under. There’s even a name for it: creative destruction. Welcome to capitalism 101.

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    • Pete April 10, 2014 at 9:45 am

      If I was that owner, I’d be inspired to create the area’s first “Curbside”, “Drive-Thru”, or “Mobile” laundromat, where a patron could (quickly) drop garments off with their order tag filled out and their account on file. I recognize that people won’t carry their laundry more than a block, but in my experience dropping dry cleaning off at my local laundromat, it takes longer to park than to walk in, hang stuff up, and charge my credit card. In fact, several companies I’ve worked for offer pickup from the workplace as an option.

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      • Red Dawg April 10, 2014 at 10:00 am

        tons of dry cleaners already run out to your car and do curbside service. Adapt.

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      • Spiffy April 10, 2014 at 3:27 pm

        then they would have to hire staff… I think it’s totally coin-op right now…

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        • Randall Sewell April 13, 2014 at 7:45 pm

          So then eliminating the public funded parking would also be creating jobs. Sounds like a win-win.

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    • spare_wheel April 14, 2014 at 8:32 am

      sorry but after having read through selections of the AR5 UN climate report i have zero sympathy for businesses dependent on lov parking. portland has an opportunity to be at forefront of low-impact urban design and these dinosaur juice dependent businesses need to go extinct.

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  • Spiffy April 10, 2014 at 8:06 am

    I have had four parking spaces removed by the city of Portland in the winter and spring of 2011.

    no, you had maybe 1 parking space removed… the other parking spaces weren’t in front of your business, they were in front of the neighbor’s business… with the small curb-front of your store you could have 2.5 spots at most in front of your business… you only lost 1 spot…

    I was “doored”while riding my bicycle at 28th & Davis several years ago.

    every riding guide tells you to stay out of the door zone… don’t let motor vehicles intimidate you into riding in the right side of that narrow lane…

    it is nearly impossible to find parking near my house when my bridge club comes on a Friday night

    then why are they still driving? and on one of the highest traffic evenings? have you tried doing it a different night? that area is ripe with transit…

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    • CaptainKarma April 10, 2014 at 2:14 pm

      :-) haha. “Rife”. Ripe is more like my garbage can. Good points, though.

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      • Spiffy April 10, 2014 at 3:28 pm

        ha! well, it still sorta makes sense… the transit in that area is “mature”…

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    • Greg April 11, 2014 at 10:55 pm

      They’ve had no parking spaces removed, as they don’t own any parking.

      Recommended Thumb up 4

  • Todd Hudson April 10, 2014 at 9:32 am

    These people would have a meltdown if they ever drove in San Francisco or Boston, where you pay for parking (and at a premium) and THEN have to walk a long distance to your destination.

    Walking four blocks from where you parked….OH THE HUMANITY

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    • Red Dawg April 10, 2014 at 10:06 am

      or several other parts of Portland itself.

      look, i used to live on Burnside and 28th place in like 1999 – 2000 in the Thriftway days. I can totally see how any long term home owners may be miffed at the changes that have been taking place in that neighborhood. But seriously, they have had 14 years to adapt to the fact that they went from a neighborhood who’s showcase was a blood plasma donation center to a neighborhood brimming with activity.

      Sell your house for a huge profit and move to Mt. Scott. You live in the middle of a city.

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      • davemess April 10, 2014 at 10:22 am

        They shouldn’t be miffed at the tripling of their property value. With increases in “trendiness” come some inconveniences.

        They can always move out with us in outer SE, we’ve got plenty of street parking!

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      • davemess April 10, 2014 at 10:23 am

        Ha, I didn’t read your mt. Scott comment until after I posted. Great minds think alike I guess.

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  • lyle w. April 10, 2014 at 9:49 am

    Every time I’m going N/S or S/N thinking I’m about to be hit/doored or t-boned, I’m thinking how insane it is that there are no safe bikeways after we’ve spent this much time/energy/$$ on biking infrastructure. At a certain point you just lose your ability to be bothered by the absurdity.

    Maybe all the trolls who shuffled papers during the CRC debate could get together in an empty office space and shuffle their fingers and stare into their iphones as a Powerpoint slideshow of 28th Avenue is projected onto a blank wall. I’d feel soo much better.

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    • Rob Chapman April 10, 2014 at 11:52 am

      I like your style Lyle.

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  • John Lascurettes April 10, 2014 at 10:01 am

    Once again, tell me why the city can’t just proceed. It’s lines of paint. Easy enough to reverse in 9 months to a year if the businesses can collectively show actual hardship (pst, business will probably go up for most).

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  • Huey Lewis April 10, 2014 at 10:19 am

    It’s not your right to park immediately in front of your house, the shop you’re visiting, etc.

    **Remaining two lines of this comment have been deleted. Please keep it clean and kind Huey! Thanks — Jonathan**

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  • Adam April 10, 2014 at 1:47 pm

    The bridge club comment had me cracking up! Awwwww… Your friends had to walk a couple short, Portland blocks to play bridge at your house? Oh, my heart bleeds for them!!

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    • Dan April 11, 2014 at 8:50 am

      WPP.

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  • Nick Falbo April 10, 2014 at 2:41 pm

    Conventional bikeway planning puts the cutoff for a comfortable shared roadway environment at about 3,000 cars per day (for reference, this is where Clinton St is at today). 28th has ~8,000 cars per day.

    The reason for the limit has to do with the number of times a rider is passed by a car, which is related to both volume and speed. But what if people drove so that you were never passed? But what if the speeds were so crazy slow that drivers didn’t mind driving behind you because it’s not like they were going any faster anyway?

    Would this work? Would this meet the needs of the interested but concerned? I’m not really sure.

    Our closest example in Portland would be downtown. These streets carry higher volumes of cars at relatively slow speeds. While many people are comfortable here, there is also a perception that the situation we have downtown today isn’t good enough, and that a separated facility is warranted.

    Could PBOT design a “Slow Shared Roadway” option that uses chicanes, medians, cobblestones, raised intersections to create a street that has ridiculously slow travel speed, maintains most parking, adds curb extensions for pedestrians and creates a better place for everyone?

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    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) April 10, 2014 at 2:49 pm

      I’m starting to like this concept more and more for this situation. It could be the way out of the divisive and often zero-sum debate about “car parking OR bike lanes”. .. Not only that but I keep thinking of my experience in Rotterdam (the NL) where they had that street signed and designed for “Cars as guests”.

      It worked great there as you can see by those photos. Why not try it on 28th? And it could open up possibilities for other commercial streets like Mississippi, Alberta, and so on.

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      • davemess April 10, 2014 at 8:36 pm

        I imagine this would be too radical for most in portland (definitely including PBOT). I would guess both drivers and cyclists alike would have issues with it. I imagine it would also lead to major diversion (which wouldn’t be entirely horrible).

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    • Spiffy April 10, 2014 at 3:34 pm

      20 is plenty!

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      • Buzz April 11, 2014 at 12:01 am

        posting a speed limit and enforcing it are two entirely different things. How many people actually drive 25 on SE Hawthorne and SE Division since these two arterials have been reposted?

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      • Pete April 11, 2014 at 8:47 pm

        While I definitely agree with you, it’s actually fairly difficult to drive very slowly in most modern, quiet, powerful cars. I don’t bring this up as an excuse, mind you, but seriously even the lightest touch on the gas can put you near 25 these days, and something as heavy as a car can carry momentum over that easily (even slight downhills). I say this because when I drive in school zones or on roads that are 25 MPH I notice that it takes a bit of concentration to (and I tend to tick people off for actually driving at or below the speed limit). I was also thinking this when the guy said he’d be happy driving at 10 MPH (yeah right… I’m not happy biking that slow! ;).

        Unfortunately I think people have become so accustomed to this that they feel they aren’t wrong for driving slightly (5-10 MPH) over speed limits.

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    • Steve B April 10, 2014 at 3:56 pm

      Considering the difficulty of removing parking on both sides, this too is my preferred alternative.

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    • OnTheRoad April 10, 2014 at 7:12 pm

      No one has really mentioned that a good stretch of 28th between between Glisan and burnside is in a school zone. Twenty miles an hour is posted for the hours between 7:00 and 5:00.

      Why not make that whole stretch 20mph the whole day and night, slap down some sharrows and keep the parking. The parking and narrow lanes makes drivers go slower than they might if there was a bike lane that made the car lane feel wider.

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    • El Biciclero April 11, 2014 at 9:05 am

      Chicanes, split speed “humps”, “neck-downs”, raised intersections and crosswalks… but I would hate cobblestones.

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      • Pete April 11, 2014 at 8:51 pm

        My friend says with the coming era of chip-seal we’ll someday all be riding ‘gravel’ bikes… ;)

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  • dwainedibbly April 10, 2014 at 5:26 pm

    Where did I see the story with the “dashed” bike lane down the middle of the traffic lane? Let them keep the parking, but put in those dashed line bike lanes. Make that the compromise.

    When I’m walking downtown, I’m very fearless about stepping into traffic in front of cars. When you’re downtown, you’re in my house. My rules. Cars don’t really belong and they certainly aren’t a priority so I make them wait for me (or even slam on the brakes once in a while). There are a LOT of places in town that should be for people on bikes. Make the cars wait. Take the lane and make it clear to everyone (like the legislature did with the crosswalk law) that bikes belong.

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  • Dante April 10, 2014 at 7:35 pm

    I say they should just build it, let them complain but then they will come to terms with it. We try to stay so liberal in this great city but sometimes, especially when it comes to making the streets safer for everyone, they (PBOT) need to get a backbone and just do it. No Nike pun intended. People will always complain, it’s life and you’ll never make everyone happy.

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    • OnTheRoad April 10, 2014 at 7:58 pm

      When Mia Birk was the bike person at the city, SE Seventh Ave was resealed and they had to restripe. It had been two lanes in both directions. She told them to restripe with bike lanes, one lane each way and with a center turn lane. They did this over the course of a weekend.

      She told me afterwards it was easier to deal with the fallout afterwards than to have to deal with the opposition upfront trying to derail any possible change.

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  • Buzz April 10, 2014 at 11:58 pm

    Whatever the final compromise ends up being, it’s probably going to end up screwing cyclists.

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  • Tim Ervin April 11, 2014 at 11:13 am

    I ride on NE/SE 28th all the time. I’ve been doing it for seventeen years now. I’ve never had a problem because I ride like I know cars exist. Because there are a lot of alternative routes around the neighborhood, I see absolutely no reason to remove parking to accommodate bicycles. I love the businesses along 28th, and I know that if you remove half of the parking along that corridor, it will not only have a negative affect on the businesses, but it will create a more hazardous situation in the surrounding neighborhood. Just take the lane and ride like you have respect for all forms of transportation (it’s not a pedestrian/bike path, pick it up a bit), and leave it as is. If you need a languid ride, turn up to 29th and take your time.

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    • Jeff April 13, 2014 at 9:14 am

      That may be good for you or me but it doesn’t get More people riding…also there is no clear evidence that a reduction in parking to accommodate bikes will lead to a loss of business and there is some indications from examples in other cities where the opposite happens

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  • Tim Ervin April 11, 2014 at 11:23 am

    Also, regarding “subsidized parking” for cars, isn’t bike parking free as well? I hate taking the stance of the car-centric person (because a bicycle is my primary mode of transport) but you need to think of every argument from both sides. Yes, automobile parking is “subsidized.” So is bike parking.

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    • davemess April 11, 2014 at 1:28 pm

      And take up about 1/16th of the space, and is often on the sidewalk. If the day comes that we have such a high rate of pedestrians that bike racks are getting in the way, I will gladly give them up, as that is technically the public right of way.

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      • Tim Ervin April 11, 2014 at 2:08 pm

        The day already came when we had a high rate of pedestrian traffic coupled with an overwhelming need for bike parking, and the result are those fantastic bike corrals such as the one outside of Beulahland, in what was previously 1/5 parking spaces. I love that. It’s clever use of public space. Portland does quite a bit to accommodate bicyclists already. It shouldn’t have to come at the expense of a thriving business district. Also, if you look at the images included, you’re talking about accommodating one direction of bike travel. So we’re talking about a 50% benefit for maybe 15% of the traveling population. In a neighborhood that’s already short on parking. No way that pencils out.

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  • Tim Ervin April 11, 2014 at 2:09 pm

    1.5 parking spaces.

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    • Jeff April 13, 2014 at 9:22 am

      I’m confused are you against that corral because anytime you see more the 4 bikes there it means its a more efficient use of the space. Does anyone have numbers indicating that the rack has hurt business around it because I’ve been out there at various times during the day and week and there are always a fair amount of bikes parked all over that block and I’m sure now that the weather is better its even more so

      Isn’t that proof enough that making it safer and easier for cyclists will encourage more folks to ride out there

      Also consider that its going to become one of the major north/south routes so tourists looking up how to get places on Google maps will be routed through there and the safer it is the higher the traffic especially in the summer

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      • Tim Ervin April 14, 2014 at 9:07 am

        Wait, my two sentences where I wrote “I love that. It’s a great use of public space” didn’t sound positive enough? The corrals are fantastic. Routing a N/S bikeway along 28th is not fantastic. In fact, I don’t understand why they’ve chosen that route. Though 20th is busier, it’s a more complete route N/S. 28th has too much commercial, too much confusion, and shouldn’t be the place you send a bunch of tourists on bikes (unless you want to invite liability). Most E/W bikeways are through neighborhoods. Did that experiment somehow fail? Should Portland have put bikes on Division instead of Clinton? Absolutely not. Place bikeways in neighborhoods, not busy business districts.

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  • Champs April 13, 2014 at 5:59 pm

    Option 1: Lowered speeds, sharrows, keep all the parking
    Option 2: Higher speeds, buffered lanes, no parking

    In between I see only the paradox of speedy traffic on a 2 lane street unimpeded by ample parking.

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