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Commissioner Fritz floats another idea: Car-free streets

Posted by on February 26th, 2016 at 10:32 am

Commissioner Amanda Fritz.

The day after she drew criticism for suggesting that biking should be deemphasized compared to transit in city planning, Portland Commissioner Amanda Fritz went out of her way to put forth a different proposal.

It came Wednesday at the tail end of a report from Portland Streetcar Inc., the publicly chartered rail transit service that Fritz has become an enthusiastic supporter of. Discussion of one of Streetcar’s perennial problems — getting stuck behind cars, either in traffic or due to parking mishaps — seemed to prompt her to ask a question: do we really want cars to be able to use streetcar lanes at all?

And for that matter, she asked, do we really want cars to be able to use the major biking streets?

Here’s how Fritz put it:

I had some comments yesterday about Williams. I think we should be looking at should there be streets that are primarily for cyclists and transit and local access for cars only? Are there other streets that are mostly for automobiles and transit? The more we can keep everybody safe while getting everybody where they need to go, I think that would be a better system, and we’ve already started doing that with the Tilikum Crossing being just for bikes peds and transit. Maybe there are other streets we could look at, or maybe there are other lanes that — yes, cars can go in the streetcar lane. But do we really want them to be? Yes, cars can go on a street that a lot of cyclists use, but do we really want them to?

Here’s the video:

Fritz reiterated her position later that day on Twitter.

To that, safe-streets advocate Steve Bozzone pointed out that her exact proposal — designating a street like Williams for “cyclists and transit and local access for cars” while having other streets be mostly for cars and transit — basically describes Portland’s road system today.

Based on her two rounds of comments this week, it seems as if Fritz had a viscerally unpleasant reaction to the experience of driving north on a dark, rainy Williams Avenue, trying to figure out its unusual weave of lanes for the first time, and then turning left across its bike lane without running into someone pedaling toward her from behind.

Most people would probably be stressed out in that situation, as she was. It sounds as if her comments have in part been her puzzling through different ways to prevent such moments of stress.

One solution, beloved by people around the world who never ride a bicycle for transportation, would be to completely ban bicycles from certain streets. But Fritz realizes that wouldn’t work; some people would disobey, and in any case it would discourage an activity that most Portlanders agree is a good idea in principle.

So she’s touching at the edges of another solution: banning cars from certain streets, something that works well in downtowns around the world. Fritz doesn’t quite embrace that, either. And it’s true that car-free streets have been able to succeed economically in the U.S. only in some pretty specific situations.

But she is coming down on one of the big truths about bike infrastructure, whether it be a car-free street, a truly traffic-calmed shared street or a fully protected bike lane: infrastructure that makes biking less stressful also makes driving less stressful. Whatever you think about Fritz’s other takes on bikes, it’s nice to hear someone saying that out loud.

— Michael Andersen, (503) 333-7824 – michael@bikeportland.org

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  • Adam H. February 26, 2016 at 10:39 am

    Great idea, though it seems like she’s not explicitly calling for car-free streets. Start by making NW 13th in the Pearl car free by adding removable bollards at every block and only allowing deliveries early in the morning. This configuration already works once a month for First Thursdays. There’s already plenty of foot traffic to support the shops and restaurants there.

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    • Anne Hawley
      Anne Hawley February 26, 2016 at 11:59 am

      Just curious: how do the bollards work? Does a person have to go and move them on a schedule? I’d like to see the timed, retractable ones, but I bet they’re pretty expensive, too.

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      • Adam H. February 26, 2016 at 12:04 pm

        Bicycle Dutch has a good video demonstrating various types of automatic bollards. Typically, the person driving would have a transponder in their car/truck that they would activate to lower the bollards. This also allows emergency vehicles access. A lower-tech solution could just as easily work, though. Just have a city employee remove the bollards at a set time, then put them back at the end time.

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        • lop February 26, 2016 at 12:22 pm

          Here’s how the low tech solution works in Portland:


          “The bollards do remain out much of the time, probably due to the fact that they are very heavy and not easy to remove.”

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          • Eric Leifsdad February 26, 2016 at 2:39 pm

            City of Portland does not own a hand truck or other simple way to move heavy things. 🙁

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        • Middle of the Road guy February 29, 2016 at 1:51 pm

          I saw plenty of automated ones in Europe. They were quite cool, actually.

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    • Mark smith February 26, 2016 at 8:00 pm

      It’s obvious there should be no car traffic in streetcar lanes. There isn’t for max with perhaps one exceptions….why for streetcar? Because portland city council is weak.

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  • Eric February 26, 2016 at 10:40 am

    We should absolutely make the streetcar lane streetcar-only.

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  • m February 26, 2016 at 10:47 am

    Cars and bikes don’t mix, plain and simple. Paint is not protection. I think having some car free streets is a great idea.

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    • 9watts February 27, 2016 at 6:34 am

      Cars aren’t the problem. Speed differentials are the problem. In European citis where I’ve biked (and driven) with 20mph speed limits no one’s in a hurry and everything’s groovy.

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      • Middle of the Road guy February 29, 2016 at 1:52 pm

        Can’t believe I agree with this guy…but yeah, if you can manage 15-20 mph in a European city…you pretty much are simply a part of traffic.

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  • J. E. February 26, 2016 at 10:50 am

    Isn’t this *exactly* what greenways are supposed to be? Streets for bicycles and only local motor vehicle traffic? But then we try and enforce this by installing diverters and people start screaming bloody murder.

    Her words echo the sentiment of drivers who say “Clinton should be geared toward bikes and Division geared toward cars,” when what they really mean is “bikes should GTFO Division, but I have a right to drive on Clinton whenever I want.” Com. Fritz, if you think separation is so great, why haven’t you been fighting for better greenways?

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  • David Lewis February 26, 2016 at 10:54 am

    See, now this is when the diverter issue actually starts to make sense as policy instead of in very specific situations like Clinton. And that’s when I start to agree that they are effective.

    When the streets that would be designated specifically for automobile traffic are well designed with safe speeds that don’t cause traffic jams, then through traffic would have no need to go into the alternate routes. In theory, most residential streets could be closed to through traffic, and indeed many around the world are.

    We are generally missing the market square in our cities in the USA, and therefore the concept of pedestrians not on a sidewalk. Closing streets completely to cars makes sense West of the river, and in a few places elsewhere. I’d like to see that explored!

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    • Adam H. February 26, 2016 at 11:28 am

      Absolutely. The city is already not planning on diversion for the 70’s bikeway because they apparently haven’t learned anything from Clinton Street. Their reasoning – as always – is that current traffic volumes don’t warrant diversion. Bicycle priority streets needs diversion by default. We need to be proactively preventing drivers from rat-running though neighborhoods, not applying band-aids after the fact.

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      • Anne Hawley
        Anne Hawley February 26, 2016 at 11:44 am

        Particularly since the bandaid-after-the-fact enters the public consciousness as a whole second project, complete with new costs and new objections.

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      • paikiala February 26, 2016 at 1:09 pm

        How did you divine this nugget about the 70’s? Crystal ball?

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        • Adam H. February 26, 2016 at 1:11 pm

          No, it was presented at last Monday’s Wonk Night.

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    • soren February 26, 2016 at 12:44 pm

      When the streets that would be designated specifically for automobile traffic are well designed with safe speeds that don’t cause traffic jams

      The idea that a fast-growing city with limited street space can avoid traffic jams is fantasy. Unless we cajole people to stop driving and encourage people to use other modes traffic jams in this city will inevitably get much, much worse.

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      • Opus the Poet February 26, 2016 at 11:16 pm

        And you do that by providing inviting bike lanes that are protected from motor vehicles and having transit that is frequent and reliable and clean. You know, the way the Dutch do it.

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  • Joshua February 26, 2016 at 11:07 am

    Driving in the situation Fritz described on N. Williams *should* be unpleasant and stressful. She *should* be going slowly, hyper-aware of her surroundings. Especially since it sounds like it was the first time she drove that road.

    The problem with mixing cars and bikes is that drivers don’t pay enough attention to other road users. They drive too fast, they distract themselves, they don’t pay enough attention, all while operating a large, heavy, highly dangerous piece of equipment. Driving *should not* be leisurely, it should be work.

    Maybe if we made driving more onerous, if we focused on making driving more difficult, we’d have less people choosing to drive. And *that* would truly make our streets safer…

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    • Tom Hardy February 26, 2016 at 12:18 pm

      I have always wondered about the SUV, Minibuses priority for family or soccer mom transportation. It seems that there have been some skewered licensing concept changes made in the last 20 to 30 years. At one time a commercial driver’s license was required for any vehicle that carried over 6 people, or more than a certain weight. This included Limosines and commercial vans, either box or SUV sized vans with or without windows.
      Distractions were addressed then as radio’s except business communications, IE CB radios, were allowed. This was before cell phones or internet browsing via smart phones. Now out of state or government vehicles are driving around with blacked out windows with the drivers (non commercial driving licenses) in continuous communication while texting or communicating while following their GPS. What rules of the road was changed to allow this?

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    • Rob Chapman February 26, 2016 at 5:15 pm

      Having ridden my bike on the newest Williams alignment many times before driving it, I think it’s a breeze to drive on now. I know what to expect and I know not to be in a hurry.

      One of the under appreciated advantages of cycling is how well it allows us to learn how to get around in sometimes confusing transportation grids.

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  • maccoinnich February 26, 2016 at 11:08 am

    I’m am all for recognizing that we can’t prioritize every street for every use, given limited widths. However I think there’s a lack of recognition on her part that almost every street in Portland is prioritized for cars. N Williams is one of the few commercial streets in the whole city where a significant percentage of the the right of way is dedicated to cyclists. Most of the other bike infrastructure in inner Portland is neighborhood greenways, located away from the main destinations and where cars are still allowed to drive.

    During the Street Annual Report presentation there was discussion about revisiting the network expansions identified in the Streetcar System Concept Plan. In terms of the number of new riders two of the best performing options in that plan were lines along NE Sandy and/or Broadway to Hollywood Transit Center. Both of these streets are roughly parallel to I-84, a road designed for cars, where bikes are banned. If Fritz wants to take the position that we should rebuild Sandy or Broadway to prioritize transportation and bikes, with streetcar down the middle and wide protected bike lanes on the outside then she’ll have my full support.

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    • David Hampsten, now in Greensboro NC February 26, 2016 at 11:57 am

      It is good to see that others recognize that we already have traffic-ways that exclusive to one mode: Freeways & Tollways for motorized vehicles; Multi-Use Paths for bikes & peds; rivers for ships, ferries, and barges; and of course railways for “standard” freight and passenger rail, plus streetcar, MAX, and trolley lines. However, once you have created such exclusive byways, they tend to become serious barriers for all other modes. Freeways and rivers require bridges to cross; railroads have archaic right-of-way that excludes all other modes, except barges.

      However, arguments over exclusive rights-of-way sidestep the main issue of funding: Cars still get over 90% of public funds, while railroads make the lion’s share of private investment. As long as bike & ped continue to get only 1-2%, our exclusive pieces of right-of-way may be segregated, but far from “separate but equal.”

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    • Damon February 26, 2016 at 2:13 pm

      I agree with you, but I fear that she is referring to small segments measured in blocks, not miles, here and there for cyclists. I am not convinced that she understands the sophistication of a connected bicycle infrustructure that we all desire.

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    • Eric February 27, 2016 at 10:12 am

      I wouldn’t want to see any transit money being used for an expansion of the streetcar until and unless massive improvement in speed are made, especially on the east side. Almost no one rides the streetcar on the east side because it’s just too slow. It doesn’t have a dedicated lane, it doesn’t have priority signals, and the flying junction at OMSI just east of the Tilikum is HORRIBLE.

      The streetcar could be a good tool in the transit toolbox, but as it stands right now, it just doesn’t work that well.

      If we’re going to put new fixed-route transit on the east side, I’d much rather battle for Max on Powell. Or hell, how about closing Division to cars and making it a Max and bike only transit corridor?

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  • wsbob February 26, 2016 at 11:27 am

    Fritz’s observations shared from her personal experience driving Williams Ave, and her thoughts expressed about designation of certain streets for specific travel mode, according to greatest need, confirms to me, her insight and wisdom. She’s got good ideas, and can observe and understand situations well.

    If Fritz has ideas for car free or ‘low car’ streets somewhere in Portland, I’d like to hear where she thinks that might that would be workable, sufficiently meeting travel needs of the area. With someone like Fritz supporting the idea, Portland could be significantly closer to eventually creating a basic protected bike lane system for cross town travel.

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    • Anne Hawley
      Anne Hawley February 26, 2016 at 1:12 pm

      If Fritz has ideas for car free or ‘low car’ streets somewhere in Portland, I’d like to hear where she thinks that might that would be workable

      I’d like her to hear from this community where WE think that might be workable. I’ll take her support for the concept, but I won’t value her opinion on specifics until she’s a regular bike rider, or has shown that she will listen to people who are.

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    • Eric Leifsdad February 26, 2016 at 2:52 pm

      I’m looking forward to some car-free/light streets in SW. There are plenty of places for traffic to go sit and wait at a red light instead of cutting-through every neighborhood street to save a minute and then tailgating someone on a bike and fuming because they’re losing 20s by driving the speed limit.

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    • dwk February 28, 2016 at 7:15 am

      I don’t think they come much dumber than Fritz, sorry…..

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  • brock February 26, 2016 at 11:30 am

    I don’t know if it’s ever been proposed but I always thought that we should make our bike boulevards one-way for cars and dedicate the other late to 2-way bike traffic.

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    • brock February 26, 2016 at 11:31 am

      “other lane”

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    • JeffSnavely February 26, 2016 at 3:00 pm

      Sounds like a horrible idea from here.

      We rode 60ish blocks on Clinton and Salmon today and not once did I ever wish to be on the wrong side of the road.

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  • Adam February 26, 2016 at 11:35 am

    This idea is closer in line with what I think a lot of cyclists would like to see, but it just goes to show that Fritz doesn’t know anything about transportation planning and is just making things up as she goes.

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    • David Hampsten, now in Greensboro NC February 26, 2016 at 11:44 am

      To be fair, most other politicians are exactly the same as Fritz on that front, as are many city planners.

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    • Anne Hawley
      Anne Hawley February 26, 2016 at 11:58 am

      One more argument for geographic representation in City Council: then our electeds have to pay attention to ALL the layers in the part of town they represent, not just parks.

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      • Adam H. February 26, 2016 at 12:08 pm

        Agreed. It’s hard to gain a perspective on transportation needs when you live in the car-dependent West Hills. Although, Steve Novick seems to have figured it out…

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        • wsbob February 26, 2016 at 12:40 pm

          I don’t live in the West Hills, but I spend a fair amount of time there, and know some people living there. They seem to be aware of the city’s transportation needs. And some of them bike too. Sorry, but your remark seem to be rather gratuitous, unsubstantiated sniping.

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          • Adam H. February 27, 2016 at 12:18 am

            Sure, perhaps I was a bit harsh. However, I was trying to drive home the point that we need commissioners elected by district instead of at large. Elected neighborhood representation is paramount for a well-functioning city.

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        • Middle of the Road guy February 29, 2016 at 1:55 pm

          But somehow the narrow views of cycling advocates are more objective and valuable?

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  • SD February 26, 2016 at 11:38 am

    Did Fritz just start thinking about local transportation, mode share, cycling/ pedestrian infrastructure and vulnerable road users over the past week?

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    • Anne Hawley
      Anne Hawley February 26, 2016 at 11:56 am

      I’ve lost count of the number of times a politician has introduced legislation or policy based on some kind of personally harrowing experience with the infrastructure in their region.

      Sometimes it’s complete crap, and sometimes their “come to Jesus” moment actually acquaints them with real community problems they’ve been insulated from. Or in denial of.

      I’d like to think this is the latter case.

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    • Tom Hardy February 26, 2016 at 2:02 pm

      I think that this bit was something her staff came up with since she is starting her run for re-election. Probably be all for it but gets dropped like a hot potato when re-elected or a sponsor suggests a reversal.

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  • Anne Hawley
    Anne Hawley February 26, 2016 at 11:42 am

    Since the day Google first introduced the bike layer on its maps, I’ve been saying wouldn’t it be cool if, along with preferences like “avoid highways”, “avoid tolls” and “avoid ferries”, there was also a “fewest bikes” option for car drivers?

    Then the impatient engine-gunners and entitled truck-driving snowflakes who feel “unsafe” (meaning their sense of privilege is threatened) driving near bikes could go their way, and I could go mine. There would be less hate and angst in the world and it would be paradise.

    Perhaps I exaggerate. But add diverters to the “most bikes” streets, and Waze will quickly learn not to route rush-hour traffic there, and it might start to be the Portland Portland imagines itself to be.

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  • Todd Hudson February 26, 2016 at 11:48 am

    This smells like more pandering.

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    • Anne Hawley
      Anne Hawley February 26, 2016 at 11:51 am

      It does, I agree, but I’ll take it. Pandering or not, she seems to be groping her way to a pretty sound concept, one I fully support.

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      • alankessler February 26, 2016 at 4:25 pm

        I support the direction, but color me unconvinced until I hear her say: “we should divert traffic every 5-10 blocks on Neighborhood Greenways.”

        Otherwise it sounds just like the standard “I support density, but just where it makes sense” anti-growth line.

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    • wsbob February 26, 2016 at 12:47 pm

      Pandering? To whom, or what? And for what purpose?

      The word ‘pander’ seems to be one some people posting comments here have come to use without really understanding its meaning or how it could possibly relate to the person they attempt to use it against. I’d like to hope at least one person here, using that word to accuse somebody of something, would be willing to support what they’re saying with something to back it up.

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    • El Biciclero February 29, 2016 at 9:29 pm

      I think what you really mean is more like “appeasement”, or “lip service”. “Pandering” means that you are granting an inappropriate desire or demand, or facilitating improper gratification of desires.

      I’ve used this term to refer to build-outs of car-oriented infrastructure because it just seems like that’s the wrong solution to traffic problems, and it facilitates laziness, pollution, entitlement, and gambling with other people’s lives. I don’t think that’s the same as “giving in” to the demands of those who want safer conditions for non-motorized travel.

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  • Brad February 26, 2016 at 12:12 pm

    Take the bike lane off Vancouver and make it a two-way street for cars and then ban cars and buses from Williams. Give a commercial street over to bikes for a change and put cars on a parallel street.

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    • paikiala February 26, 2016 at 1:11 pm

      Williams has more space than Vancouver. Maybe you mean the other way around?

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      • ethan February 26, 2016 at 1:21 pm

        Buses are bigger than cars.

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        • ethan February 26, 2016 at 1:22 pm

          Oops, I misread what the person above you said.

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    • ethan February 26, 2016 at 1:26 pm

      That’s an idea I never thought of. Instead of doing that, would it be better to make Williams bus and bike only (one lane per direction per mode) and leave Vancouver for the cars? Vancouver connects to I5 and I405. Williams has a lot of space that’s currently used for parking. I’m thinking that it could be made a two-way busway, two bike lanes and expanded sidewalks.

      Of course, Vancouver would probably have to remain similar to its current state North of Killingsworth to allow people biking to connect to places North of there easily.

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  • Terry D-M February 26, 2016 at 12:32 pm

    North Tabor is park poor, so we want to make our greenway system as Car free as possible. This year we were doing a demonstration project on one short stretch. This would be a good opportunity to build a linear park in an underserved node, and showing the concept works.

    Put some money behind the rhetoric.

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    • paikiala February 26, 2016 at 1:14 pm

      There are few blocks in Portland that don’t have driveways (NW?) that also have to be accessed by the same street to be shut down to cars. The two pocket parks (N Holman; SE Klickitat) both have short driveway stubs. These two examples show PBOT is willing to close street segments to cars, as do the diverter installations throughout the city.

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      • Terry D-M February 27, 2016 at 12:08 am

        Don’t even start about Pbot willing to put in Diversion without a drop down drag out fight. The 20s shows where PBOTs current priorities lie and it is NOT on the side of Diversion.

        North Tabor did a safari ride to both those Street closure locations last summer, our local plans are pretty advanced as we have been talking about this for a few years. By the time the 2016 sewer replacement is done, we should be ready to look for grant money.

        I am of little faith however in our requests being granted since we are not inner gentrified or outer infrastructure deficient, so even though we are the only neighborhood without a playground…..

        Our Diversion request as far as I can tell was not even taken seriously, hence my cynical side is currently winning.

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  • Eric February 26, 2016 at 1:09 pm

    I would like the talk of removing bike lanes nipped in the bud. We should be designing multi-modal streets that work for a variety of transportation–walking, cycling, transit, and yes, even driving. Making every other street a cars-only zone will only invite more driver entitlement and traffic violence.

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  • charlietso February 26, 2016 at 1:29 pm

    “infrastructure that makes biking less stressful also makes driving less stressful.”- thank you Michael for making a great point. There is research in the Bay Area that shows that drivers have stronger preference for separated bike facilities over just a painted sharrow on the road. The reason is mostly higher predictability and less stress for drivers. Bike infrastructure improvements can actually make driving easier too!

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    • Eric Leifsdad February 26, 2016 at 2:43 pm

      The infrastructure we’ve built seems to focus on getting bikes out of the way rather than making biking safe and convenient. The key is to make driving less stressful even if making it less convenient.

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  • BJCefola February 26, 2016 at 1:50 pm

    I’d like to see more investment in bike infrastructure and it’s great if Commissioner Fritz supports that. I’m not sure how lowering cycling as a prority relative to public transit serves that purpose though…

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  • Damon February 26, 2016 at 2:02 pm

    Really Commissioner Fritz? We don’t even have one protected cycle track that goes anywhere of consequence in this city and you magically want to kick out all motor vehicles from certain streets? How exactly are you going to accomplish this? My other concern is that her idea of such streets would be fragmented sections of streets and not the dedicated stretches of streets that could actually constitute viable transportation routes for cyclists.

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  • Beeblebrox February 26, 2016 at 2:43 pm

    What an interesting set of reactions! Fritz is correct that we should be more clear about which modes get emphasized on each street. What she didn’t seem to realize when going up Williams is that Williams has been very intentionally redesigned to emphasize Bikes and Transit at the expense of Automobiles. Now that she has experienced how bad it is to drive on Williams, perhaps she will use MLK or Interstate or I-5, which are clearly designed more for Automobiles.

    For bike advocates, I would challenge you to consider this same approach of going for complete networks instead of complete streets. The reaction about Alder last week suggests that many bike advocates still want narrow streets to somehow emphasize every mode, or don’t recognize the need to have at least a few streets still emphasize Automobile travel. A better approach would choose two or three modes (including Pedestrian) to emphasize per street or couplet, especially when they are narrow. Only huge wide roads can really be “complete” streets that are amazing for every mode.

    Note that all modes can often be “accommodated”. I’m just saying not all modes can be “emphasized” on most streets, since there are basic tradeoffs. For example, pedestrians should always be accommodated on busy streets with basic sidewalks, but on certain streets we might emphasize them by building curb extensions or wider sidewalks that take space away from parking or bike lanes or travel lanes.

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    • wsbob February 26, 2016 at 8:31 pm

      “… Williams has been very intentionally redesigned to emphasize Bikes and Transit at the expense of Automobiles. …” beeblebrox

      I think Williams was reconfigured to enable better, safer use of the road for travel by people on bikes and mass transit. Doing so hasn’t cost people that drive, anymore than it has anyone else. The road use experience for all road users of the street, regardless of their mode of travel, has changed.

      Can that experience be further changed for the better? Fritz’s comments based on her first hand experience driving the street, suggest she may have some ideas about how road use experience can be improved on key travel route streets.

      Through the many meetings that were conducted, and the plans on paper, it’s really very hard to believe that Fritz is not well aware of how Williams Ave has been designed. Experiencing the finished product in a ‘seat of the pants’ manner, is a different animal entirely. She’s done it.

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  • Mike Sanders February 26, 2016 at 2:51 pm

    And how do we deal with the I-5 on and off ramps around the Rose Qtr.? The one northbound on B’way & Williams handles a lot of auto traffic. One lane for the onramp, one for auto traffic and one for bikes, plus a wider sidewalk for peds and a better bus stop setup on the north side of the intersection on Williams would make sense. A ped / bike only corridor between the RQ and Lloyd Center would be a vast improvement!

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  • JeffSnavely February 26, 2016 at 3:31 pm

    Count me among those who don’t think she really said anything.

    The follow-up tweet makes it seem all the more like a planned sound-bite. She clearly hasn’t given any of this much thought. Until she has, I’d recommend saying nothing.

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    • Chris I February 26, 2016 at 3:41 pm

      Exactly. Fritz is really uninformed on transportation issues. That should be obvious at this point.

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    • Robert Burchett February 26, 2016 at 6:25 pm

      Well, take her at her word and start asking for some specifics! It’s her idea, right? So she has to flesh it out or eat some crow.

      Somebody wake me up when this gets built.

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      • JeffSnavely February 27, 2016 at 8:00 pm

        I don’t care what she says until she starts trying to create/influence policy. Wake me when that happens. I’m not sure why BP promoted her “comeback” with this piece.

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  • bikeninja February 26, 2016 at 4:03 pm

    There is another good reason to make as many streets as possible bike only, or bike/transit only. As we get serious about dealing with climate change and peak resources we will need to save as many streets as possible from the wear and tear of auto and truck traffic because repairing or replacing them in the future we will increasingly out of reach ( the production of co2 and asphalt are huge climate gas emitters) .We will need these streets intact for bikes trolleys and peds as the age of happy motoring winds down.

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  • Gary B February 26, 2016 at 4:21 pm

    I agree with the sentiment that she’s probably not too serious.

    BUT I will say: I’ve long been of the thought that the day we close a road to vehicles altogether and make it bikes only, I think is a milestone and tipping point. And I mean a legit closing of a significant stretch of important road. The Park Blocks, Ankeny, Clinton, Williams…. To me that would be a statement that we’re really serious about encouraging bike use. I think it’d be a wild success and turn into a network.

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    • JeffSnavely February 27, 2016 at 8:04 pm

      What do you mean by network?

      As much as I would love it, closing blocks can’t really happen west of 405, or at all on the eastside. A downtown novelty doesn’t really make a network.

      Close a road to cars… i’ll support you 100%, but don’t overstate the significance.

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  • Bill Stites February 26, 2016 at 4:31 pm

    I’ll get behind any policy that reduces car access to nearly 100% of our transportation infrastructure, and adds to bike use and pedestrian safety.

    It’s generally not PC to advocate directly for rendering automobile use more difficult, [“stay positive brother, just promote bikes”], but the sentiment is expressed in the City’s policy documents, as others have noted.
    Sorry – we absolutely need anti-overuse-of-cars* policies to make real progress. And we are seriously running out of time in the big picture.

    * Cars are amazing feats of engineering … I don’t hate cars, but we just use them waaaaay too much.

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    • JeffSnavely February 26, 2016 at 4:42 pm

      I don’t see the problem. This is already a horrific town to drive in. If you’re going to screw up a town for motorists, you might as well start here.

      For those that don’t agree… you should travel the country more. Check out the other coast where 45mph, big wide lanes and parking lots as far as the eye can see are the standard.

      I don’t hate cars, but I hate on-street parking with a white hot passion that’s renewed every single time I cross an intersection, on foot, bike or vehicle and can’t see if anything’s coming.

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      • peejay February 26, 2016 at 6:06 pm

        I agree and disagree with you. Those towns with expressways and vast parking lots are pretty terrible to drive in, in my opinion, mostly because they just create more traffic, and congestion in a soulless asphalt sea is worse than congestion in a somewhat liveable street.

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      • Robert Burchett February 26, 2016 at 6:32 pm

        Good idea in there. Take one parking space off every block face in Portland, split it between the two corners to open up the sight lines in the intersection. Could save my life, or yours! There’s actually a law about parking tall vehicles at a corner but try getting that enforced.

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        • Mark February 27, 2016 at 8:10 am

          Oregon law prohibits parking within 20′ of a crosswalk. If this were actually enforced, it would open up sight lines at every intersection which would make travel safer and less stressful for everyone, whether walking, biking, or driving.

          If they were serious about “Vision Zero,” they would start by enforcing this law. Oh, but wait, that would mean removal of parking. Zero Vision.

          Why can’t the BTA get behind this and start pushing our elected officials to do the right thing? Maybe something that BikeLoud would take up?

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          • Mark February 27, 2016 at 8:19 am

            ORS 811.550 section 17

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          • soren February 27, 2016 at 10:14 am

            This is a genuine safety issue but the city and PBOT have a de facto policy ignoring the law in favor of preserving free vehicle storage. It will be interesting to see how they reconcile this with visions zero.

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            • Mark February 27, 2016 at 6:27 pm

              Not holding my breath, but it would make a tremendous improvement for all modes of travel.

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            • JeffSnavely February 27, 2016 at 8:17 pm

              It is most definitely a genuine safety issue. At over 6ft, I can see over most cars, but I still have a serious visibility problem crossing intersections on foot or on bike.

              My wife and daughter can’t see until they’re in the travel lane. I continue to be infuriated with the people who encourage on-street parking as traffic calming while ignoring visibility.

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      • ethan February 28, 2016 at 12:02 pm

        How is driving horrific here? I drove occasionally and have never been horrified, even in a little smartcar.

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  • Pat Franz February 26, 2016 at 10:09 pm

    Ah, imagine riding on Clinton with the only auto traffic being the people that live there…..

    That’d be about 0.1% of the auto traffic there is now. I’ll bet in a few years, property values would go absolutely nuts.

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  • Clark in Vancouver February 26, 2016 at 10:14 pm

    So, obviously she needs to learn much more about the whole picture and about transportation. She might be up for it but there’s a chance she’s just a plain ol’ opportunist who just wants to get power. They can be useful but it’s better to have politicians who have principals and are sincere about what they say. (Even if you disagree with them it’s nice to know where they really stand.)

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  • Opus the Poet February 26, 2016 at 11:28 pm

    To paraphrase Ms. Fritz until drivers can obey all the road laws they don’t deserve as much infrastructure as they have now. When they start obeying the laws we can think about not taking any more space away from them.

    But seriously I about fell out of my chair when I read that headline.

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  • Robin Dale February 27, 2016 at 6:27 am

    Platitudes… This idea has been “floated” before but shot down by business interests in the area concerned. i.e.; The original proposal for the Downtown Transit Mall was to allow bus and bicycle access the entire length of 5th and 6th with diverters every 2 blocks for automobiles/trucks to include loading zones and only metered parking. PBA shot that idea down almost before the ink dried on the printed proposal release, before it got to the public comment period.

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  • q February 27, 2016 at 3:28 pm

    SW Miles Place between the Sellwood Bridge and Willamette Park isn’t car-free, but close (dead end both ways, serving only about 20 houses) and it’s part of the Willamette Greenway Trail. It’s always worked as a shared street for all modes, with no sidewalks. Because completion of the Sellwood Bridge will bring even more pedestrian and bicycle use, the City and County wanted to redesign it, but using outdated thinking that would have destroyed the mixed-mode street, forcing pedestrians onto narrow sidewalks, and creating separate lanes for bikes and cars, all on a narrow street a couple hundred yards long. Fortunately, the final design kept it as a truly shared street, but it was the residents pushing for it that created that outcome. The City fought us every step of the way, saying a shared street could simply not be allowed. Even now, the neighborhood is still hoping the City will not plaster the street with lane striping and signage that will work against it functioning as a shared street.

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  • Mark smith February 27, 2016 at 5:21 pm

    Why do you need car free streets? A shared space wit major slowing works fine. The truth is, cars are amazing in crappy weather…aka portland much of the year.

    Again, portland is filled with one ways which is great for cars and horrible for everyone else. Let’s start there. Two lanes shared space roads.

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    • lop February 27, 2016 at 7:22 pm

      The culture in Portland isn’t very tolerant of delay or considerate of the needs/comfort/convenience of others. Especially when someone else is traveling by a different mode. Doesn’t matter if someone is on foot, riding a bike, or driving a car. How do you plan to change the culture in Portland for shared spaces to work better?

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      • JeffSnavely February 27, 2016 at 10:33 pm

        I’ts much better than most of the rest of the country.

        The problem, of course, is that all the new people we’re attracting are coming from those other areas and bringing that mentality with them. Staying the same will be a challenge, much less improving.

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  • chris February 28, 2016 at 7:20 pm

    Fritz is just pandering for your vote. Get behind mountain biking, then we’ll talk.

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  • John Liu
    John Liu February 29, 2016 at 9:11 am

    Forget what she SAYS. Judge her on what she DOES. On that measure, in my view, she should go away.

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