Better Block PDX

Better Block volunteers prep for Broadway and Burnside demos in May and June

by on April 20th, 2016 at 3:34 pm

3rd Avenue Better Block PDX
A protected bike lane on SE 3rd Avenue in 2014.
(Photo: Greg Raisman)

Dozens of volunteers are now meeting weekly to plan temporary human-friendly makeovers of Northeast Broadway and the Burnside Bridge this spring and summer.

Better Block PDX’s next “work party” is tonight at Pizza Schmizza at NE 7th and Broadway, from 6-7:30 p.m. Next Wednesday it’s the same time at Black Water Bar, NE 9th and Broadway.

The Broadway demo will create a protected bike lane for one week, from May 9-15.


Better Block’s 2016 street demos will reimagine Burnside Bridge, Broadway, PNCA

by on February 19th, 2016 at 2:58 pm

better ankeny explanation
Curt Fisher, left, explains the concept for a demonstration plaza at SW Ankeny, Burnside, Pine and Broadway to two attendees at Better Block’s volunteer appreciation meeting.
(Photos: M.Andersen/BikePortland)

The streets-for-people group Better Block PDX unveiled four main projects for its “2016 season” Thursday night to a crowd gathered in a bike warehouse.


Better Block will unveil its four 2016 street demos at Thursday event

by on February 17th, 2016 at 5:46 pm

Better Block demonstration project on 3rd Ave-16
Better Block’s 2014 demo on SW 3rd Avenue got results.
(Photo: J.Maus/BikePortland)

The volunteer street transformers at Better Block PDX are kicking off what they call “a transformation moment for our organization” at a “volunteer appreciation party” Thursday night.

It’ll be a starting gun for the first full year of what the group hopes will be an ongoing conveyor belt of new ideas for Portland streets, with help from Portland State University’s pipeline of aspiring planners and engineers.

The event is 6 p.m. at 1805 NE 2nd Ave.


Nine questions for Better Block founder Jason Roberts

by on February 11th, 2016 at 3:58 pm

jason roberts
Mr. Roberts in action.
(Photo: Better Block)

If you had to pick a single person to thank for the wave of live on-street demos that’s been spreading rapidly around the country — most recently, today’s pop-up protected bike lane on Southwest Broadway — it’d probably be Jason Roberts.

In 2010, the Dallas-based planner co-created what’s now The Better Block Foundation by raising $1,000 for a semi-legal weekend demo of bike lanes, street flowerpots, cafe seating and pedestrian space in the city’s Oak Cliff neighborhood. From there, Roberts has spun the concept into a group that has lent its name to disciples around the country and last month received a $775,000 grant from the Knight Foundation to enshrine live community-led demos as a legitimate part of American urban planning.

As we wrote on Tuesday, Roberts is visiting Portland this week for a talk at City Hall on Friday. We caught up with him for an interview about how to run a great street demo, how these projects can improve cities and why they were developed in Dallas, of all places.


A closer look at the ‘Better Broadway’ pop-up protected bikeway

by on February 11th, 2016 at 11:47 am

(Photos: J. Maus/BikePortland)

For today only you can feel what it’s like to ride on Southwest Broadway without the threat of someone opening a car door into you, or someone parking in the bike-only lane, or someone squeezing you into parked cars. (Sorry I can’t promise you won’t be right-hooked before you get there.) That’s because a trio of “tactical urbanists” have come together to create a temporary protected bike lane between Salmon and Taylor, just outside the doors of the Hilton Hotel where a smart growth conference is taking place.

Pop-up protected bike lane coming to SW Broadway tomorrow

by on February 10th, 2016 at 11:49 am

Mock-up of a bikeway that’s set to make a cameo on Broadway tomorrow.
(Image: Nick Falbo/Alta Planning + Design)

Tactical urbanism is about to make another imprint on Portland’s downtown streetscape. Tomorrow morning, a trio of planning and place-making groups are planning to create a temporary protected bike lane on one block of Southwest Broadway.

Better Block PDX will team with PSU to create annual street demos around town

by on January 21st, 2016 at 9:46 am

Better Naito demo
Fun on a better Naito, 2015.
(Photo: M.Andersen/BikePortland)

One of Portland’s most interesting annual traditions just got a little more official.

After three years of doing short-term demos themselves, the volunteer-led street reinvention group Better Block PDX has struck a formal partnership with Portland State University’s Toulan School of Urban Studies and Planning. With the help of PSU planning and engineering students, this new partnership means Better Block will constantly churn out a pipeline of projects that temporarily re-envision public spaces around Portland.

The new agreement will create one of the only academic programs in the country to integrate hands-on uses of “tactical urbanism,” as these lightweight, flexible projects are often called, directly into a student curriculum.


Looking beyond city core, Better Block PDX wants your ideas for 2016

by on December 22nd, 2015 at 12:13 pm

Better Naito pilot project-15.jpg
Naito Parkway last summer.
(Photo: J.Maus/BikePortland)

The volunteer organizers of Portland’s three-year-old team of street rethinkers say they’re in the “off season” but getting ready to scale up.

Better Block PDX is the group behind a much-praised temporary redesign of NW/SW 3rd Avenue that led to rapid installation of crosswalks and a buffered bike lane and (more recently) a two-week test of walking and biking lanes on SW Naito Parkway that has some in the city talking about permanent changes.

They’re about to begin considering temporary street demos for 2016, and plan to hold a public meeting this February to start the selection process.


PBOT plans to stripe new 3rd Avenue bike lane this weekend

by on October 16th, 2015 at 12:40 pm

Image from PBOT website showing new configuration of SW 3rd just south of Burnside.

The new lane will be a wide, buffered bicycle lane to increase comfort for all ages and abilities of bicycle riders, such as tourists and families.

The demonstration that inspired it happened one year ago, the compromise among stakeholders that confirmed it happened four months ago, and it was first promised to be on the ground one month ago.

Now, at long last, the Bureau of Transportation has made an official announcement that they plan to “reconfigure” 3rd Avenue this weekend.

As we reported back in August, the plan is to re-stripe nine blocks of 3rd from NW Glisan to SW Stark in order to make room for a bicycling-only lane. The new bike lane will be installed in place of the existing standard lane and it will be seven-feet wide with extra “buffered” space on boths sides.


SW 3rd Avenue is about to get downtown’s only buffered bike lane

by on August 28th, 2015 at 8:39 am

SW 3rd at Oak
Earlier this year, bike markings unexpectedly appeared on 3rd Avenue. Now we know why.
(Photo: J.Maus/BikePortland)