Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on July 9th, 2008 at 1:24 pm
this one on SE Powell — are the norm in outer
(Photos/video © J. Maus)
Last night, the City of Portland’s Bicycle Advisory Committee took a closer look at the bikeways of East Portland.
Led by city bike coordinator Roger Geller, the group met at the Gateway Transit Center (just southeast of I-205 and I-84) and rode a loop that took them east to 162nd Ave. and south to Powell Blvd.
Usually considered a neglected part of our heralded bike-friendliness, Geller told the group — which included committee members and TriMet’s bike guy Colin Maher — that East Portland actually has the most miles of “developed bikeways” and the highest ratio of miles of “bicycle facilities” of any area in the city.
Of course, those “facilities” and “developed bikeways” are narrow bike lanes on high-speed, high-traffic arterial streets and on this ride, we sampled many of them.
One of them — on NE 162nd Ave — is the city’s newest bike lane. It’s a four-lane road which was recently re-paved. Using money from what’s known as their “Missing Links” program (funded at a modest $50,000 per year), PDOT reconfigured the auto traffic lanes and painted a bike lane.
While Geller admits that riding in a bike lane on a four-lane arterial is far from ideal, he says it’s better than nothing. “It won’t get the interested but concerned on a bike,” said Geller as we rode, “but it’s an immediate improvement, it’s a start… and you’ve got to start somewhere.”
As for how to make East Portland more bike-able, Geller says, “You can try to make the [bike] lanes wider, maybe try to get them off the street, bring them up to sidewalk level and make them cycletracks. You could also look to alternative routes, like bike boulevards.”
Riding in the bike lane of E. Burnside between NE 122nd and 136th, we experienced what happens when a TriMet light rail line takes away traffic lanes. It was a tighter fit, but it also leads to lower traffic speeds and less traffic volume.
Curious about doing similar re-allocations of traffic lanes in other parts of the city (that don’t have a light rail line), I asked Geller how people responded to having traffic lanes removed (which is like blasphemy to old-school traffic engineers). “They dealt with it,” he said, “They figured it out.”
Geller says one of the ways they hope to improve conditions in East Portland is to create more bike boulevard routes through low traffic streets. We sampled one route under consideration — the “Market-Mill-Main” bike boulevard. It was a pleasant street that almost anyone would feel comfortable riding on.
(View is looking south on I-205 bike path
with Halsey Blvd. in the distance.)
Toward the end of the ride, we made a stop at the potential “Gateway Green” site. This parcel of land between the junction of I-84 and I-205 is part of a vision by a local developer to create a bike park and sustainability demonstration area. Its potential as a riding area are very exciting.
Hear more from Roger Geller and get a bikes-eye view of riding in East Portland in the video below: