Splendid Cycles Big Sale

Cycle track coming to North Park Blocks

Posted by on March 23rd, 2009 at 8:21 pm

Cross section of new cycle track coming to North Park Blocks.
(Graphic: NeighborhoodNotes.com)

Details of the Mayor Adams’ promised “high profile” cycle track have been leaked on the Neighborhood Notes website. The new cycle track is one of the promises the Mayor made as part of his “First 100 Days Action Plan.”

The Mayor’s Office was hoping to keep details of the new cycle track quiet until area businesses could be briefed in more detail (since the project includes removal of on-street parking, often a sore spot for businesses), but now the cat is out of the bag.

According to Neighborhood Notes — who heard details about the plan during a meeting of the Pearl District Neighborhood Association on March 17th — a new cycle track (which is essentially a bikeway that is completely separated from motor vehicle traffic) will run along both sides of the North Park Blocks on NW 8th and NW Park from Burnside to Glisan and on one block of SW Oak. Here is a plan drawing that was published on the Neighborhood Notes site:

Design plans for new cycle track.
(Photo credit: NeighborhoodNotes.com)

Also according to the report, PBOT plans to connect this cycle track with a new bike boulevard coming to the South Park blocks. “The goal is to create a safer route for bikes to move between downtown and the northwest district,” reports Neighborhood Notes.

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To make room for the two, one-way cycle tracks, PBOT reportedly plans to move existing curbside parking nine feet away from the curb. The cycle track is slated to be six feet wide, with a three-foot “shy” zone to help prevent dooring.

Another safety feature reported by Neighborhood Notes is that parking “would not be allowed within the 40 feet leading an intersection, increasing visibility for both bikes and cars.” At intersections, the bikeway would be painted solid green, the same color as Portland’s bike boxes and other painted bike lanes.

This cycle track is similar in concept to the one PBOT has in the works out in the Cully Neighborhood. The big difference with the North Park Blocks facility is that it will be separated only by paint (and parked cars), and not built on a completely separated path like the one slated for Cully.

I’ll share more details as I hear of them. For more, see the full story on NeighborhoodNotes.com.

[Thanks to reader Ben F. for the heads up.]

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Michelle (BTA)
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Michelle (BTA)

This is currently a “concept” and that’s important to keep in mind – the designs, the crossings, the directions are very much in open discussion with the neighborhood right now.

For example, in this drawing that happened to get uploaded, the directions of 8th and Park Aves are switched. In another drawing, the directions are as they are today. The City and neighbors will figure out later which direction the streets ought to go with the cycletrack.

Another example, the little purple route to NW Hoyt would pass through what is today a parking lot, but in a few years might be a road between PNCA’s new building and a new Park Block. Also completely conceptual.

The BTA started pushing the concept of using the Park Blocks as a downtown bike route – north and south of Burnside – after Tracey Sparling was killed in 2007 at 14th and Burnside.

We realized that there were no connected low-traffic north-south routes in downtown, and that PSU and PNCA students would likely use them if there were.

The Park Blocks are already pretty pleasant to ride. All that’s needed to make them an easy and intuitive route is a good crossing at Burnside, some turned stop signs or yield signs (south of Burnside one must stop at nearly every block) and signage and markings. Using the North Park Blocks to pilot a cycletrack design is a great idea too!

BURR
Guest
BURR

Cycle tracks in the downtown grid will do nothing to eliminate right hooks (or left hooks in this case), in fact they will make the risks of hooks greater, because the cyclists will be mostly hidden from the motorists by the parked cars. As a result, the North Park Blocks will become a formerly good cycling route that smart cyclists will now avoid.

A ‘cycle track’ is nothing but a new name for a ‘sidepath’, a 70s design that has been thoroughly discredited more that once already.

Besides, there are already paths in the park that it’s legal to cycle on (the Park Blocks are exempted from the Downtown sidewalk riding ban), which makes this project completely redundant and unnecessary, and a waste of money.

The other better option is simply to close the Park Blocks to motor vehicles completely and make them bicycle only, but let me be the first to say that City Council probably doesn’t have the cojones to make that happen.

a.O
Guest
a.O

And at over five whole blocks long, this is indeed an ambitious start for CRC Sam.

Tom
Guest
Tom

The Park Blocks are a very pleasant ride as designed right now. I am a cyclist and a regular user of both directions on these streets. Please find a better and more creative use of our limited financial resources.

Rikthankless
Guest
Rikthankless

Hmm sounds like 6 blocks of awesomeness. It would be really nice to have it go from NW 24th Place across the river to MLK where it intersected a bike box. Great concept to begin with though. Seeings as that part of town is pretty messed up right now.

are
Guest
are

agree with comment 4, the existing setup is very rideable, why mess with it, especially as (here also agreeing with comment 2) it will create safety issues?

chriswnw
Guest
chriswnw

What’s wrong with the street that runs along the park blocks? Seems to work fine already.

old&slow
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old&slow

Again, it seems like the B.T.A. and Adams have no clue about what makes sense for cyclists in downtown Portland. The park blocks are a pretty mellow place to ride now if you want to, why spend money there? The safest place to ride in downtown is to ride like a car and just take a lane? Getting into and out of downtown should be the priority.

chriswnw
Guest
chriswnw

To clarify, I don’t favor employing the cycletrack concept here. It is already very easy to transport oneself throughout the city using 25 mph streets, many of which have very little traffic. I resent being herded onto narrow paths — which I don’t consider safe outside the confines of the Netherlands, which was already a very cycling-oriented culture prior to the construction of the paths — by a mayor who cares more about creating the *appearance* of a pro-cycling city than the actual logistics of cycling. The streets are fine, and the expenditure of money on such pet projects funnels money away from, you know, boring but essential city services like sewers, filling potholes, police, etc. If the city wants to do something that actually benefits me as a cyclist, it can repave torn-up streets like Everett, Davis, Salmon that are commonly used by cyclists. Paving low-traffic residential streets on the outer eastside that are currently filled with mud and gravel would also be fantastic. The Morrison bridge path is worthwhile too, because the speed limit on that path is too high for most cyclists to comfortably integrate. However, these little strips of cycle-tracks are pat-yourself-on-the-back, feel good measures to use as meaningless advertising for Portland in magazines. “Look, we’re like Amsterdam!”

n8m
Guest
n8m

Any cycle track news is good news in my book. But where we need cycle tracks is on arterials where there are lots of cyclists (and ‘progressive’ thinking) – such as Alberta and Hawthorne streets. PBOT might even get most of the businesses on those streets to support removing a lane of auto parking for track if it brings in more bicyclists.

dsaxena
Guest
dsaxena

I’ve never had any issues riding through this area. 6 blocks through an already relatively safe are seems like an attempt to appease the bikey folks. Back to the drawing board I say. Same goes for the Cully cycletrack. A track through broadway, both on east side and west side, solving the hotel zone issues and the right hook on Williams is a track that would actually be of use.

chriswnw
Guest
chriswnw

Alberta and Hawthorne are only 25 mph. They aren’t like TV Highway or 82nd Ave. If a rider can’t hack that…well, I’ll keep my thoughts to myself.

jim
Guest
jim

How much?

Kris
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Kris

I disagree with BURR (#2) that cyclepaths are “a 70s design that has been thoroughly discredited more that once already.”

Based on my experience of cycling in Europe, I find cycletracks – when designed correctly – to be a great way to improve both the safety and comfort level of cyclists. At the same time I think that cycletracks are much more appropriate and needed along busy streets with heavy traffic; think Grand/MLK, Sandy Blvd, Burnside, etc. Along more residential or low-traffic streets like the North Park Blocks, they might indeed seem a bit redundant. I would be interested in finding out whether PBOT is considering to make them a standard feature of their future Bike Boulevards.

Donna
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Donna

I don’t get it. Why on the North Park Blocks? How about on 82nd Ave.?

Krampus
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Krampus

haha this is so stupid my brain hurts, and I live in the Pearl. Of all the areas in Portland that need help with bicycle infrastructure, this is where money is going? so a few blocks in the Pearl can have a cycle track?

Pathetic and embarrassing.

Michelle (BTA)
Guest
Michelle (BTA)

I agree that streets like 82nd Ave and E Broadway and – thinking outside of Portland – Hwy 43 – are exactly the places cycletracks are most valuable.

But I think the city engineers are wise to test them someplace a little easier first. I’d rather have them work out the kinks on the Park Blocks, and then pitch the 82nd Ave and SW Broadway and N Williams neighbors on cycletracks for those streets with confidence.

jon
Guest
jon

Why not put in a basic curb or a 1 ft wide island to divide the parked cars from the cycle track? I dont think striped paint will do the trick.

Broadway makes more sense, of course somehow the hotel drop offs would have to be dealt with. My guess is that because of this issue it shifted to the park blocks. Or better yet a 9th ave cycle track which goes all the way to Naito by Centennial Mills and also lines up better with the street grid to the south of Burnside.

Why not extend the cycle track all the way to hoyt on 8th and park instead of ending at Glisan and having to zigzag over to that purple colored path on the map?

While I celebrate any plans for cycle tracks, I agree there are better places for cycle tracks particularly in dangerous high auto traffic areas.

Streetsfilms: Physically Separated Bike Lanes
http://www.streetfilms.org/archives/physically-separated-bike-lanes/

Maybe Jan Gehl or Jeanette Sadik-Khan can visit Portland and hole up inside the Multnomah Hotel designing a seperated bike network for Portland just like what Robert Moses did in 1941.

Andrew
Guest
Andrew

Yeah, this seems like the definition of “low-hanging fruit”.

chriswnw
Guest
chriswnw

My goodness, N Williams too? Williams is already a very easy street to ride on. Maybe I’m just the curmudgeon of the blog, but I don’t see the need to create a virtual padded room for cyclists, as if we needed constant protection from the big bad automobiles. Although I’m not a “take the lane on a 65 mph arterial” vehicular cyclist, I take a more minimal approach than this blog: if an interconnected network of 25 mph streets spans the city, then the city is bike-friendly. (This criteria would make many suburbs unfriendly to bikes — those are the areas that need some work.) The rider has to take some level of responsibility for navigating the streets in an intelligent manner, in addition to accepting some level of risk. I see a sufficient number of riders do stupid things everyday to know that no amount of infrastructural investment will ever protect everybody from themselves. If a street like Williams is too harrowing for somebody, perhaps cycling is not for them.

Now do something useful, City of Portland, and pave those mud puddles that you call streets out in the “hundreds”.

Schrauf
Guest

Yeah, this is rather silly, given the street is already acceptable.

If this is an experiment prior to a larger project, fine – simply tell it like it is.

If this is a pet project for the Pearl, not quite okay, but at least don’t use PSU and PNCA students as an excuse.

And I could be wrong, but does this route not have a plethora of stop signs? That will never attract cyclists. Oh wait, maybe they are expecting the stop or yield law to pass soon…

Mike B.
Guest
Mike B.

I sometimes feel that cyclists in this town are the biggest group of whiners imaginable. This encompasses many aspects, not just this one issue.

Donna
Guest
Donna

Why do they need to experiment on a street that will be ruined for biking by a cycle track? Don’t get me wrong – I do believe there’s a place for them in our roadway network. I just think this would make an otherwise pleasurable street to ride on pretty unpleasant.

cyclist
Guest
cyclist

Mike B: I’m with you, though I think that the people who comment here aren’t necessarily representative of Portland cyclists in general.

LC
Guest
LC

Three things about the diagram make me nervous as a cyclist.

1- having pedestrians drift into the bike line to approach their cars or to pass slow moving sidewalk walkers.

2- many (most?) parkers use the curb itself as a physical aid to bump against while parallel parking. I don’t know that PDXers are good enough parkers to park in a free standing lane. (Sorry, I’m a native SFer and we’re the pros at this)

3- the right hook issue mentioned earlier by cars and pedestrians. What if there are delivery trucks or tall SUV’s parked in the lane? Scary.

In most areas of town, I’d rather interact with traffic than have some false sense of security.

Speaking of whiny PDXers — I’m currently visiting SF and am amazed by the poor condition of roads here in the city. Potholes, glass, exposed asphalt seams – it’s really bad here in SF, and makes me very glad to live (and ride) in PDX.

Dianna
Guest
Dianna

My question is, what would this do for the crossing at Burnside? I tend to agree that the NW Park Blocks are already a pretty nice and low-stress ride… except for crossing Burnside with no light, poor visibility, that tiny narrow curb cut through the center divider, and the eastbound cars going about a million miles an hour down the hill. It frays my nerves a little. If the cycle track provides the impetus to make a non-life-threatening bike crossing there, SWEET.

Jessica Roberts
Guest
Jessica Roberts

Why does anybody try to do anything for such a whiny lot? Sheesh.

are
Guest
are

the way to address NE Williams and the hotel zones on downtown Broadway is to get rid of the striped lanes altogether and let cyclists take the lane. which is what I do anyway. the urban core is absolutely not the place to do a cycle track (if anywhere actually is), and an “experiment” that destroys a perfectly good stretch along the Park blocks is harmful. if you have to do it at all, do it on Culley, where people actually imagine that they have trouble sharing the road with motorists . . .

BTA on the wrong side of the issue yet again.

are
Guest
are

the way to address NE Williams and the hotel zones on downtown Broadway is to get rid of the striped lanes altogether and let cyclists take the lane. which is what I do anyway. the urban core is absolutely not the place to do a cycle track (if anywhere actually is), and an “experiment” that destroys a perfectly good stretch along the Park blocks is harmful. if you have to do it at all, do it on Culley, where people actually imagine that they have trouble sharing the road with motorists . . .

BTA on the wrong side of the issue yet again.

shooter
Guest

Thanks for the link Jonathan.

One point about the direction of the streets, a proposal to change the direction of both NW 8th and NW Park has been floated around for a number of years. Someone attending the meeting asked the astute question “why”. No one at the meeting, including the PDOT representatives, could answer the question. The idea predated any of their involvement.

If anyone knows the reason why these change of directions were proposed, please share. To me, the proposal to change direction looks like a solution in search of a problem.

are
Guest
are

jessica 27. I wish “they” would stop doing things “for” me, thanks.

John Peterson
Guest
John Peterson

“The Park Blocks are already pretty pleasant to ride. All that’s needed to make them an easy and intuitive route is a good crossing at Burnside, some turned stop signs or yield signs (south of Burnside one must stop at nearly every block) and signage and markings.”

So why mess up something that is already working with an expensive “fix” that is unnecessary and possibly more confusing and dangerous?

Hopefully intelligent design will prevail and one of the more pleasant and low vehicle traffic routes will remain.

How about focus on that Burnside crossing?

How about build a cycle track where it is needed (high volume, fast traffic streets that are already being used by bikes because of routing necessity)

old&slow
Guest
old&slow

Jessica 27, Why is it whining to want limited resources and political capital spent on worthwhile projects. Who asked for cycle tracks in the park blocks. Who is making these decisions and doesn’t the public get to question these things or is that considered whining? Sheesh!

GLV
Guest
GLV

“My goodness, N Williams too? Williams is already a very easy street to ride on.”

I could not disagree more. Between Broadway and Alberta during weekday rush hour, cars average about 50 mph on Williams. With on street parking at at some points very narrow bike lanes, it’s a miracle no one has been killed there. I almost get right hooked all the time.

Aggressive cyclists don’t help. I’m that guy deliberately going slow who is pissing you off.

Coco
Guest
Coco

That’s awesome news! The park blocks are such an intuitive safe, low-car traffic route to get around downtown. Particularly if you are heading up to PSU on your bike. They sure beat Broadway any day of the week! I was wondering when efforts to make them more bike-friendly were going to be on the way…

Andrew
Guest
Andrew

Making the Park Blocks a bike artery seems like a good idea, but why not just turn the stop signs and fix the Burnside crossing? That seems like the real solution here.

chrisw
Guest
chrisw

“I could not disagree more. Between Broadway and Alberta during weekday rush hour, cars average about 50 mph on Williams. With on street parking at at some points very narrow bike lanes, it’s a miracle no one has been killed there. I almost get right hooked all the time.”

Hmm…I haven’t experienced that. What is the speed limit Williams? 35 mph? Well, the police should be enforcing that. I do think that speed humps have a place in forcing drivers to maintain a speed close to the limit. Still, I haven’t had a problem — the right lane is nice and wide, and I’d I’d feel comfortable on it, bike-lane or not. Drivers are able to pass without getting very close to you.

Getting right-hooked is avoidable. Either take the lane at the intersection, or pay very close attention to what any driver to the side of you is doing at an intersection (possibly even yielding to them).

“Aggressive cyclists don’t help. I’m that guy deliberately going slow who is pissing you off.”

On a nice wide street, I can easily pass you while giving you plenty of berth — no getting pissed off necessary 🙂 It works for both of us. And if Williams has a overly fast speed limit, there are calmer parallel streets like Rodney and Mallory. The logistics of passing on a narrow cycletrack, however, are quite a bit sketchier.

Blah Blah Blah
Guest
Blah Blah Blah

So what exactly is wrong with our current bicycle infrastructure here in Portland? I think we have it pretty good as it is now. Yes, there are spots that need fixing but not this kind of fixing!!!

chrisw
Guest
chrisw

Also, one other thing that would worry me about a NE Williams cycletrack (or a cycletrack in a lot of places) would be its proximity to the sidewalk. North and Northeast Portland aren’t thoroughly gentrified. There are still thugs there. If you ride past them on the street, you are too far away from them to attack you — by the time they decide to do anything, you’re gone. If you’re on a cycletrack next to a sidewalk, they can clock you or pull you off your bike on a whim.

bjorn
Guest
bjorn

BURR- Since part of this plan is to remove parking near the cross streets I think that the sightlines will be improved by this change not made worse. The biggest improvement from this project clearly will be the implementation of a hawk signal or something similar to allow crossing at burnside though.

Bjorn

BURR
Guest
BURR

I don’t think cycle tracks will work on NW Broadway throught the hotel zone, either; the blocks are too short, there are too many turning manuevers across the cyclist’s path, and pedestrians will be in the bike lane in the hotel zones even if motor vehicles aren’t. The first two are certainly going to be true pretty much anywhere in the downtown grid.

The only place cycle tracks make any sense to me are on busy arterials with long distances between cross streets. SW Barbur Blvd. or maybe SE 28th and SE Bybee over by Reed College and the Eastmoreland golf course, for example.

Cleaning the cycle tracks is another issue that the city hasn’t addressed, are they going to purchase new undersized street sweepers that fit on the cycle tracks and maintain a regular sweeping schedule, or not?

BURR
Guest
BURR

#39 they can easily put in a new crossing at Burnside without building the pointless cycle track

BURR
Guest
BURR

One more thing: If and when this is built be prepared for the police to do enforcement stings citing cyclists who choose to ride in the street instead of on the cycle track for violation of ORS 814.420, Failure to Use Bicycle Lane or Path.

steve
Guest
steve

This excellent post from another thread pretty much sums it up for Michelle, Scotty, and the safe routes/CRC crew. Oops, I mean the BTA.

Is the BTA completely inept?

Let’s ask ourselves the question based on the current crop of BikePortland stories.

1. The Idaho law outreach. Inarguably poor outreach. Eugene is the state’s second largest city. Moreover it enjoys a strong reputation as a bike-friendly city. Not getting Eugene to neutral is a political disaster for this cause. You have to feel bad for Kopel-Bailey, though he will shrug this off politically. It’s the BTA that takes the hit in Salem for being poorly organized. But if you’re Jules, it’s a ‘fool me once shame on you. Fool me twice shame on me’ situation.

2. The Idaho law merits. Get 10 cyclists together and they’re not all going to agree on anything. That said, 10 Oregon cyclists might all agree that rolling through stop signs isn’t the highest and best use of limited political capital in Salem. Who decided this was a legislative priority?

How about moving from 1% of highway funds earmarked for bikes to 2%? when Democrats are in charge top to bottom. I bet we could all agree that would be a good use of political capital. Even Republican gubernatorial candidate Jason Atkinson would likely support this.

3. Opposing the CRC now. Are you kidding? Where was the BTA when its opinion on this issue actually mattered? It’s one thing for individuals to do their fun skits after the fact, but the state’s most influential bicycle organization can’t get away with being a day late and a dollar short. This ship has sailed, folks.

The entire environmental community, BTA included, left the mayor, city council, Bragdon, and Metro high and dry. They provided no cover whatsoever.

It’s one thing to be incapable of getting your constituents motivated on a particular viewpoint. It’s quite another to johnny-come-lately after the votes. That’s just embarrassing.

4. Without revealing sources, the fact is it’s the mayor’s office pushing for cycle tracks and innovations generally, not the BTA. A general observation: taking credit where credit is not deserved is tacky at best and a proven way of undermining credibility among those who know.

5. And the final thing that comes to mind (at the moment): the BTA works to host the national Safe Routes to School conference in Portland the same year its local transportation bureau proposes to gut funding for the very program.

That’s right: PBOT proposes to kill funding for its Safe Routes to School program, which is an extremely lucrative contract for the BTA, incidentally. Look at their budget. What does that tell you about the BTA’s pull with the bureau’s leadership?

Imagine hosting that conference and having to stand up before hundreds of attendees from around the country and admit your program is gone because it was defunded. Adams will no doubt bail out the program, and by extension, the BTA with it before the final budget is completed. He won’t embarrass himself politically like that. But the fact that the bureau’s leadership can even propose to gut the program – the same year Portland hosts the national conference (!) – says BTA has no sway with Sue Keil or the leadership generally.

What happened to the scrappy non-profit that sued the city for bike lanes and kicked ass? Please redirect my annual membership dues to those people.

mark
Guest
mark

this is a solution in search of a problem.

Shoemaker
Guest
Shoemaker

This proposal is giving bikes given more room on the road and more protection when they ride by providing a buffer. Sure there’s the odd crank who will say “Hey, no thanks” to just about anything, but whoa, this is bringing out the cranks today!

The city is considering a protected bike lane instead of just letting everyone fend for themselves. I’m all for the protected bike lane *wherever* they apply it. Go PBOT!

Hey mom, come join me in the lane in front of this Reddaway truck. No really, it’s completely safe, come on. Oh yeah, I want my kids or partner taking the lane with FedEx, UPS, or the street car too. Not!

I’m all for taking the lane because it’s my only safe choice today, but really I’m all for having something more than a stripe of paint between me and the motor vehicles.

Thank you to PBOT for considering protecting bike riding through down town.

Ben Foote
Guest

shooter #30:

IMO here’s why they need to switch the direction of the Park Blocks…

http://tinyurl.com/dn7amr

The crossing at Burnside is much easier if you’re traveling south on Park. Cars are flying down the hill on Burnside unless you time the light at 10th.

http://tinyurl.com/cm27l6

I’m not sold on the true bicycle utility of the cycle track vs what is there now (though I’m willing to be convinced) but I am curious how the park blocks will feel with an extra 9 feet of space on either side. It could be nice.

As a resident of Old Town and someone who uses this corridor daily I’m particularly keen on improving NS crossings. Right now the Bus Mall is probably the best crossing, though not nearly as pleasant as the Park Blocks.

chriswnw
Guest
chriswnw

“The city is considering a protected bike lane instead of just letting everyone fend for themselves. I’m all for the protected bike lane *wherever* they apply it. Go PBOT!”

Eventually you’re going to have to cross a street, and you’ll have no choice but to turn around if you wish to remain protected. Better yet, don’t leave the house.

a
Guest
a

Cycle track is a good thing wherever it gets a toehold…bring it on!

May it be wonderfully successful so that we can point to it and continue to add them to our cycling infrastructure!

BURR
Guest
BURR

@ Shoemaker #46. Since when does opposing a dumb idea make a person a ‘crank’?

OTOH, I’m sure you’re eager to paint the opponents of this dumb idea as cranks, that just makes it easier for you to dismiss valid criticism.

PS-If you don’t want to ride in the street here, you can always ride in the park.