Biking, Walking into the future with Beaverton's Civic Plan
Midweek, bikeportland published a story on its main page, briefly introducing Beaverton's Mayor Denny Doyle and providing info about upcoming opportunities to meet, listen to and ask questions of mayor Doyle about Beaverton's Plans to improve Beaverton's downtown by way of a redesign, and through its long in development Civic Plan...areas of Beaverton beyond downtown for better ease, practicality by which to travel about Beaverton on foot and bike.
Story received a modest number of comments, but in one of them, somebody thought to include the link to the Beaverton Civic Plan/The Land Use and Transportation Strategy pdf(one of three companion documents), which anyone can download and take a look at to study for themselves, to get a sense of what type and degree of improvement to walking and biking infrastructure has been conceived of and included in the list of projects at this point.
This is a 20-30 year plan. Some things in the plan will be taken on very soon. Others may have to wait years and decades before being built. The plan gives some specific ideas about the timeline for projects itemized. I encourage everyone with an interest in urban and neighborhood livability, and being able to get between their neighborhood and places to shop, get some chow, see a show...to take as close a look as they can at this document. It's not easy reading or easy to understand, but I think most people will find it worth the effort for the insight they'll gain about plans in the works.
Since I live in Central Beaverton just east of the Beaverton Transit Center, my personal interest happens to focus in particular on the Central Beaverton neighborhood. It's not just my own personal priorities that account for my interest in improvements to be made to Central Beaverton's walking and biking infrastructure. Central Beaverton is essentially the heart of Beaverton...its downtown, spread out and bisected as it unfortunately is by at least two regional thoroughfares. The Civic Plan should be seeking to have walking and biking infrastructure be more than a modest concession on the part of growth. Whether the plan actually is more than a modest concession, is something I'm curious about what other people think, especially the thoughts of some of you people I've come to know here in the forums.
So...take a look at the Civic Plan...if you dare. If you've got some ideas about it, post them. I could go on and on about things I've read in the plan...but there might be more to gain if everyone takes a look at the plan themselves and throws some ideas out there.
I've been reading the Beaverton Civic Plan's Transportation Strategy plans, with particular interest in 'Appendix Three: Proposed Bicycle Improvement Projects', and hope some of you also have been taking a look as well.
What the civic plan seeks to address, is the challenge of finding ways to better link the Beav's neighborhoods with its various commercial and public areas, such as Downtown, the multi-shopping/entertainment centers to the northwest and east, and the Library to the south of Downtown. Plans in the works are for more miles of bike lanes; new ones and connection of existing ones with each other. People from the neighborhoods will be having an easier time of getting to town, work and so on without necessarily having to ride main roads as these bike lane projects are completed, in quite a few instances, after many years have passed.
For any town, of course, being able to travel within Downtown is particularly important. For Beaverton, this is a particularly difficult challenge because of the two east-west thoroughfares and the freight rail line running through town. Broadway business owners naturally want to draw more business to their shops, and of course, thinking of people, customers and potential customers that drive is something they're aware of and seek to provide for.
The city hears this and supports them, but at the same time, in its civic plan, gives biking considerable recognition for the potential promise this mode of transportation represents as a means for people to practically and enjoyably make their way around town. With this in mind, the city has proposed among its Proposed Bicycle Improvement Projects, a north-south pedestrian/bike corridor on Main Ave that would travel from Allen Ave to the south, north to Farmington, and from there, manage its way across the freight rail line and intersect with Broadway. Rose Biggi Ave, currently stopping north of Canyon Rd, but roughly in line with Main Ave would likely connect with Main Ave, providing bike traffic with a route to what the city calls Beaverton Central. BC is home of the The Round and a light rail stop. Page 46 of the civic plan says about Rose Biggi:
Sorry to be so long winded. What I'm working up to is to point out what I'd hope people might consider to be a couple alternatives, or additional possible pedestrian/bike boulevard counterparts to the Main Ave/Rose Biggi Ave route that would connect Broadway more directly with Beaverton Central and major points north, such as Cedar Mills Crossing, than would the Main/Rose Biggi corridor."... while Rose Biggi will serve as the primary bicycle connection between Beaverton’s OldTown (south of Farmington) and emerging development and activity centers north of Canyon. ..."
West Ave traveling north-south from east-west Canyon Rd tees right about smack dab in the center of Broadway between Hall/Watson. East Ave...logically, east of West Ave and Hall Blvd as well, travels just to the east side of the Beaverton Bakery's annex building and tees with Broadway, looking out over the Holland properties...tenant Ringo's, Stark St Lawn and Garden, a machine shop, and some others, as well as a huge undeveloped chunk of land.The candidate streets would be West Ave and East Ave. These streets currently do not show up as bike boulevards on the maps in the Beaverton Civic Plan pdf. Additionally, West Ave is not indicated on those maps as extending north of Canyon Rd, however, there is a Beaverton Civic Plan circular with maps that do indicate West St for extension north of Canyon.
I'm posting some pics, which I hope will help you visualize the potential for a great pedestrian/bike boulevard using these streets. Both face considerable obstacles to actually becoming bike/boulevards, as the accompanying notes will help explain. A Beaveton Bike Map, which you can get free (thanks to your tax dollars through Metro) at bike shops and city hall, will be a great aid to visualizing what these pictures attempt to show.
The above pic shows East Ave in Damerow Ford country, from Millikan Way, looking south across Canyon Rd to where East terminates at Broadway. The stacking of the image elements because of the telephoto lens makes it hard to pick out details, but Beaverton Bakery's annex would be to the right at the intersection with Broadway. Holland properties and Ringo's just across Broadway on the right. Beaverton Pharmacy on the left.
Same camera position, wider angle shot to establish that these shots were taken from Millikan Way.
Same camera position, but facing east down Millikan Way towards the Beaverton Transit Center. The importance of what this shot shows to a possible East Ave pedestrian/bike boulevard to Broadway, Millikan Way's use as a bike route, is that the barricade indicates the present termination point of Millikan Way. Literally 200'-300' feet past the barricade is Lombard Ave and the transit center. People have established this short distance as a connection to the transit center, by walking regularly over the bare earth. Establishing this important, useful connection as an official city street is in the project list, but isn't scheduled to be paved anytime in the near future, reducing its attractiveness and function as a route to Millikan Way and potentially, Broadway.
It seems the least the city could do is talk now instead of later, with whoever it is that owns the property on which the muddy path traverses, come to some agreement with them and throw some chip seal down to create a safe,level, clean surface for people to walk on from the transit center and points west. The property the path traverses is actually part of a project in the plan, Project 14, pg. 77, but that particular plan is designated 'Long Term'. Work won't be commenced for 11-20 years. Notice in the picture, a guy that's just come from having to push his toddler in a stroller across the muddy path.
It's important that I note that these picture cannot really represent what traffic is like on these streets. East Ave near Damerow sees very little traffic. Canyon Rd sees a h-u-u-g-e amount of very ugly traffic which I selectively timed the shot to avoid, so cars would not block the terminus of East across Canyon.
With a pedestrian crossing signal at East Ave, timed to coincide with that of the signal on nearby Hall Blvd, East could become a superb pedestrian bike boulevard between Millikan Way and Broadway.
The following post will have pictures and notes for East Ave's counterpart across Hall Blvd, West Ave.
West Ave ped/bike boulevard visualizing
From Millikan Way, south across Canyon Rd to Broadway, this shot depicts a view of East Ave's counterpart, West Ave to the south of Canyon Rd. The two story red brick colored building in the pictures background, front Broadway and are vintage structures along the stretch of Broadway between Hall and Watson.
As you can see, the parking lot in the foreground of this shot roughly aligns with West Ave across Canyon, but in actuality, is just a parking lot, and is not currently designated a street. A parking lot serving a decrepit and unoccupied building. Consulting the Beaverton Bike Map is helpful in understanding West Ave's potential future route, and where it currently stops. The map will verify that West Ave does not presently exist north of Canyon Rd.
In the right side foreground is the unoccupied building, most recently a Chinese restaurant. Left of foreground, out of camera view would be the Beaverton Carwash. Between Canyon and Broadway on both sides of West Ave is part of Lanphere Enterprises.
Same camera angle, but closer, to show the existing West Ave with the aforementioned buildings. At one time, the white building on the left was the home of the Beaverton Pharmacy. Vanek's Shoe repair...buy some nice Tony Lama's there.
West used to be straight. Somehow, for some reason coinciding with Lanphere Enterprises acquisition of adjoining properties, the street acquired the twist it has now. No problem...makes for a nice departure from the usual. People working on the Broadway Redesign effort have ideas for West Ave, going along with the idea of Broadway becoming a kind of 'festival street'. I see pedestrian/bike boulevard. A nice brew pub with patio seating out in the sun on the asphalt area around the entrance to the white building.
This shot is almost exactly 180 degrees from the First camera view, looking roughly north. The idea is that it will help to show the potential for a continuation of West Ave north, at least to Millikan Way, which is the street just past the parking area and sidewalk the guy is strolling along.
Notes about details in the picture: building with the balconies and slim red roof, shown on the left of the picture is The Round complex. The light rail runs east-west past the complex. In the background, the building with the blue detailing is an older high rise office complex. It's quite a ways further down Hall. Lens compaction makes it seem closer than it is.
Ideally, arrangements with property owners north of Millikan Way could be made to allow for a continuation of West Ave north...let your eye visualize a route through the parking lot in the middle ground of the picture. Realistically...what is the likelihood that arrangements would be made with property owners to extend West Ave north through these parking lots for the purpose of making a pedestrian-bike boulevard? I would think it's quite a small one. There's money paid out to property owners for loss of property value, and tax revenue losses to the city to consider, future development potential which a central pedestrian-bike boulevard coursing through these areas of land could conceivably present an obstacle to.
Main Ave bike boulevard/Rose Biggi primary bicycle connection proposal
^ From a position on Broadway, 600-700 feet west of Watson, we're looking south across the freight train tracks and Farmington road, which the rail bed blocks the view of, to Main Ave . Pg 76 of the Civic Plan lists Main as a future 'Bike Boulevard'. Notice the use path through the ivy? You can tell that people are already hoofing it across the tracks. Maybe to go get a snack at the DQ ? (you can see the edge of the store's sign on the red pole.).
Making Main Ave and Rose Biggi Ave (read next photo caption.) a primary bicycle connection obliges the use of a track crossing that offers some safety feature. Pg 82 of the Civic Plan shows an overhead graphic visualization of what the crossing would be...a sort of chicane gate affair.
This shot is an about face from the photo above. What it shows is critically important to understanding Beaverton's plan for a north-south bike boulevard extending north beyond Main Ave's current termination at Farmington Rd. The foreground of the photo with cars parked there is at present...simply a parking lot. Same basic situation as that described for West Ave in the earlier posts.
The road just beyond the parking lot is the very busy Canyon Rd (doesn't look very intimidating in the photo, but trust me... .). The funny shaped multi-story beige building is part of The Round complex, Beaverton Central, light rail crossing, etc. You've got to use your imagination here, and a map if you've got one, to get a sense of what the route for this bike boulevard might be. They aren't directly in line with each other, but basically, the suggestion in the Civic Plan is that Main Ave and Rose Biggi Ave would meet to:
Looking at the picture, Rose Biggi is somewhere off to the left(west) of the funny shaped beige building."...serve as the primary bicycle connection between Beaverton’s Old Town (south of Farmington) and emerging development and activity centers north of Canyon. ..." pg 46/civic plan
O.K., now you've seen the pictures...so let's look at some of the Beaverton Central bike infrastructure projects listed in the Civic Plan, and schedule information indicating when construction on them will individually take place.
Page's 74 and 75 list the "...four categories of implementation priority– immediate, short-term, mid-term, and long-term..."
which basically are: 'first year', '1-5 years', '6-10 years', and '11-20 years' respectively.
Next, it's necessary to refer to table 1 in the Civic Plan on pg's 76 and 77 that lists the various projects. There's nineteen projects listed in this table. Projects 1 and 10 through 15 are the projects addressing the general area north of Farmington to Beaverton Central/The Round.
This is the area about which to consider whether more, possibly better plans that would support travel about Beaverton-Broadway, Beaverton Central, and Cedar Hills Crossing, independent of a motor vehicle, by foot and bike, could be made.
Project 1 relates to the Main St. Bike Boulevard. There's two parts to the project, detailed on Table 1. The 'Proposed Facility Type', or what's actually to be installed on the street, are sharrows and wayfinding signage.
The two parts have an immediate and mid-term priority category assignation respectively, so the wayfinding signs could be going up soon. Main Ave meeting up with Rose Biggi Ave's to be constructed extension south to Farmington, being a mid-term priority, will be 6-10 years down the road before the extension is built and the chicane across the freight tracks is installed.
Projects 10-15 : Like Project 1, these projects have their own category in the plan, and its name is 'Downtown (North of Farmington) Bike Improvements/Corridors'
Project 14 is most important to take a look at, because it involves extending Millikan Way, east, the short 200'-300' distance over presently muddy ground to connect with Lombard, which borders the Beaverton Transit Center. Project 14 actually has as its idea, creating a motor vehicle traversable street, extending further east from Lombard, through the strip mall to 117th. Whether encouraging motor vehicle traffic to travel through the area beyond Lombard Ave is a good idea is something I'm not sure about enough to say. My tendency at this point is to say 'No, it's not a good idea'.I'll only detail Project's 10 and 14, because only they deal with the general area the photos I've posted, address. Short term priority Project 10 puts up ODOT Bike Lane merge signage to attempt to mitigate the adversity bike lane traffic must contend with due to Hall Blvd and Watson Ave's notoriously sporadic bike lanes. Where they exist, Hall and Watson's bike lanes are quite good, but then, as you well know if you've ridden the streets, in certain places...they just end, sometimes rather abruptly, obliging bike traffic to manage some kind of safe merge into Hall and Watson's extraordinary hectic main lane traffic. The project info on the table says this treatment will be to portions of the street north of Farmington.
As to the short span of muddy ground between the present east terminus of Millikan Way and Lombard, it seems that this short section of ground should be given some sort of paving...immediately, so that its availability for use can encourage more travel by bike and foot rather than motor vehicle. Unfortunately...Project 14 has a 'Long Term' priority designation, implying that people wanting to walk or bike from Millikan Way to Lombard instead of walking around using Canyon Rd, could possibly have to be traversing the muddy path for the next 11-20 years.
West Ave ventures south in 'fantasy urban planning' mode.
Having looked at the idea of enhanced pedestrian-bike travel infrastructure between Broadway and Beaverton Central to the north (and hopefully to Cedar Mills Crossing, eventually.) using the Civic Plans' officially designated project which would extend Main Ave to Rose Biggi, and also, my 'out of the blue' idea of possibly extending West Ave to the north of Canyon, extending it Millikan Way and beyond....let's do a little more fantasy urban planning, and look at the idea of extending north-south running West Ave further south from Broadway across the RR tracks, Farmington where it could meet up with a street it's in line with.
As a geographical reference, get out your 'free' Beaverton Bicycle Map...did I say 'free'? ...available at your local bike store or City Hall, or it you're determined to use google mapview, be that way.
Ignore the fact for the moment if you will that there's, well...a building in the way of West Ave's route any further south from Broadway. Look at the map. Notice that in line with West Ave., directly south across the RR tracks and Farmington is Washington Ave. Actually, you may like to have a little more informative map than the Beaverton Bike Map, because though the street is indicated on the map, the name is not there. just note the single parallel running line between Hall and Watson: That's Washington Ave.
There's a number of very appealing qualities that 'West Ave meets Washington Ave' offers as a pedestrian-bike boulevard. First of all... obvious, is that the route these streets would provide, is away from the awful, motor vehicle traffic afflicted streets of the evil Hall-Watson couplet.
Second appealing quality, is that the route takes you directly to the Library and the big park adjoining it, and also, to the big parking area that's the home of the extraordinarily popular Beaverton Farmers Market on Saturdays.
Only problem is...well, hey...not the only problem but...(shrug)...the building on Broadway that's directly in the way. And...it's a vintage building, not excellent architecture, but one certainly having sentimental and some historic associations. it doesn't need to come entirely down...it just needs a redesign, with a striking arch that would allow people on foot and on bikes to pass through it (An esplanade is what I'm thinking here, a refuge from motor vehicles.). 15'-20' wide would be nice. I'll look around for a picture, but think something like from Oxford or Paris, but probably more modern, less expensive.
A redesign of the vintage building, or a replacement, could add stories to make up for space given over to the provision of a pass through arch.
Not finding pictures of arches in width's and height's that would be exactly right for West Ave-Washington Ave at Broadway, but here's some examples to start to get a general idea. Think proportions and radius of the arch top rather than style. B&W pic is Stanford. Second from top color pic is something 'JMU'. Top two arches appear to have a width that would be just about right for shared walking and biking. A bit wider maybe a foot or two might be good. Height seems about right. Second from bottom pic is of another Stanford arch, nice, but seems too wide for a West Ave-Washington Ave at Broadway. Bottom pic of twin arch is attractive and functional. Note: I searched the web for some stock photo pics of arches, found some, posted info to them I thought would make them visible here. They were visible, but have now become invisible even though the source info is still visible on the compose page. Sorry if I've inappropriately borrowed pics for a use I wasn't entitled to. I'll try to either take some pics of arches that would be useful in a reconfiguration of the West Ave-Washington Ave building, or find some others that are able to be used and visible here, because I think some kind of visualization of an arch incorporated into this building for the purpose of a bike pedestrian boulevard is important to helping people consider how effective that feature could be.
P.S. ...if the 'views' count indicates at least someone is actually reading and thinking about the subject this thread deals with...and I hope someone is...here's some bonus info...kind of a homework assignment, because in the next week, with the next post, I'll be leading up to something I think you'll find interesting associated with the 'fantasy' extension of West Ave South to Washington Ave. . The assignment: 'O' story about how Oregon City people are learning to use Amtrak's Cascade service. The link to that story: Amtrak gaining popularity among commuters who ride between Portland, Oregon City and Salem/rose/oregonlive
In comment 3, I showed a photo of West Ave north of Broadway at Canyon Rd looking south to the bank of vintage buildings aligned with Broadway's east-west orientation, effectively creating an impermeable wall to further travel along West Ave beyond that point. Well...not exactly a wall to further travel south on West Ave, because West Ave actually ends with the 'T' intersection it makes with Broadway. As I mentioned in comment 6 though, if the vintage building were to be redesigned to incorporate a public pass-through arch into the building, West Ave could meet with Washington Ave with which West Ave is almost in perfectly in line with. For Beaverton, or even a larger city, something like this would be a substantial undertaking, but it looks like it could be a worthy one.
Also in comment 3, I mentioned how West Ave from a visionary perspective might conceivably become an extraordinarily nice 'through city' pedestrian bike boulevard extending at least from Millikan Way, which is north of Canyon Rd, and maybe even further north from Beaverton Central, home of The Round...offices, residences, retail, restaurant, and possible new home of City Hall, Police Department, assuming the city goes on to purchase the Coldwell-Banker building that's part of The Round complex.
Returning to Broadway and the bank of vintage buildings aligning Broadways south side and blocking continued travel along West Ave. West Ave 'T's with Broadway and ends here. It does not continue on the other side of the bank of buildings; but another street in line with West Ave, Washington Ave...does resume southward travel somewhat south of bank of buildings. Washington Ave picks up on the south side of the major east-west thoroughfare, Farmington Rd. And of course, there is the single track freight railroad between the bank of buildings and Farmington.
A West Ave-Washington Ave pedestrian-bike boulevard's strength is multi-fold. One of it's strongest though, is that it could provide a direct link between Beaverton Central, Broadway, and 6 blocks further beyond the RR tracks and Farmington Rd...to Beaverton's Central Library with it's beautiful architecture...the big city park with its splashing fountain and numerous neighborhood events...and the Saturday Farmers's Market.
Let's look at some pics.... . First one will be the earlier posted pic of the 'T' intersection of West Ave and Broadway from the north side looking south:
West Ave and Broadway from the north side looking south, showing the bank of vintage buildings
This view shows from Washington Ave across Farmington and the RR tracks, the same bank of vintage buildings from the south to their back side. It's basically 180 degrees from the previous shot, but from the buildings' south side.
If you stood with your back to the window with the shade in the picture above, this is what you would see, looking south down Washington Ave to the park in the distance. The angular column of orange you see in the distance is a modernist-pop sculpture in the park.
From Washington Ave, a closer view of the sculpture in the park. The number of motor vehicles traveling Washington Ave is a typically very low. It's a very laid back street, particularly at its terminus at the park, which is part of the reason the kids you see in the pic are able to lounge comfortably right in the street itself. When I was studying the street for a good view, they were relaxed, skating around, having good fun.
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