Urban Tribe - Ride with your kids in front.

City brings bike boulevard plans to neighborhoods

Posted by on July 2nd, 2009 at 11:54 am

BTA Bike Boulevard Ride

City is rolling out public outreach
process for more bike boulevards.
(Photo © J. Maus)

The City of Portland is about to embark on a series of open houses to inform neighborhoods about their bike boulevard plans.

The Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) is busy planning and designing 15 miles of new, low-traffic streets throughout the metro area. PBOT has planned two open houses for each of the six neighborhoods/districts where the bike boulevards are planned.

PBOT has already completed their public outreach process for the N. Wabash and SE Spokane bike boulevard projects and now they’re tackling the outreach component for projects on; NE Going, N Bryant, N Concord, SE Mill, SE Center, and SW Terwilliger/Westwood.

According to PBOT’s Transportation Safety Program Manager Mark Lear, the first of the two meetings will discuss what PBOT hopes to achieve with the project and why they selected those particular streets.

Lear says they’ll bring data to the first meetings showing residents current crash rates, traffic volumes and crossing treatments; “Essentially, we want to share with them what we know about the streets so we can determine how to best prioritize improvements.”

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The idea is to “get smarter about local knowledge” of the streets Lear said. He also mentioned that in between the two meetings, PBOT will work with neighborhoods to try and plan bike rides and/or walks to get a first-hand look at the conditions.

BTA Bike Boulevard Ride

At the second meeting, PBOT plans to bring neighborhoods one or two proposals of their recommendations for street improvements and get further feedback. Lear made it clear that they won’t be asking for an up or down vote on the project, but would just want to get a general “OK” on the plans before moving forward.

PBOT is being extremely careful in communication with neighborhoods about these bike boulevard projects. They have a clear memory of battles over street “improvements” (not everyone agrees on how to improve a street) and they obviously hope to steer clear of those and have a smooth public process. Primarily, PBOT wants to make sure residents feel empowered by the process and not like PBOT is coming to them with pre-conceived plans.

In a copy of an invite to the Going Street open house, PBOT writes (bold emphasis theirs, not mine), “The Bureau of Transportation has scheduled a public meeting to discuss the potential project with your neighbors.”

If all goes well, and neighborhoods like the recommendations from PBOT, it would then either be approved by the Director of PBOT or City Council.

According to Lear, the goal is to have the first 15 miles of bike boulevards completed by June of next year. PBOT has $780,000 to spend on the project, cobbled together from a variety of sources including $350,000 from the Bureau of Environmental Services’ Green Streets program, $180,000 from Mayor Adams’ newly established Affordable Transportation Fund, and $75,000 from the Portland Development Commission’s Interstate Corridor Renewal Area program.

PBOT should have more information on their website soon. For now, more details can be found on the BTA website and the full meeting schedule is posted below.


Schedule of Public Meetings
Note: All events will take place from 6:30 – 8:30 pm

    NE Going
    Tuesday, July 7 & August 4
    Bethany Lutheran Church, 4330 NE 37th Ave

    N Bryant
    Thursday, July 9 & August 6
    Columbia Cottage, Friends of Columbia Park, 4339 N Lombard St

    N Concord
    Tuesday, July 14 & August 11
    Interstate Firehouse Cultural Center, 5340 N Interstate

    SE Mill
    Thursday, July 16 & August 13
    SE Precinct, 737 SE 106th Ave

    SE Center

    Tuesday, July 21 & August 18
    Mt Scott Community Center (Poolside Room), 5530 SE 72nd Ave

    SW Terwilliger/Westwood
    Thursday, July 23 & August 20
    Multnomah Arts Center, Room 30, 7688 SW Capitol Hwy

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15 Comments
  • Joe Adamski July 2, 2009 at 12:05 pm

    While I am happy to see BBs moving forward, I admit I am somewhat dissapointed that N Central is not one of the first up BBs. Heres to hoping we are next up! Central is already the defacto BB in St Johns, owing to its relatively small volume of car traffic, its width and visibility and access to logical destinations.. two elementary,one high school, the library, the community center and the downtown business core. The only challenge would be an improved crossing of St Louis to the west end. Heres to hoping!

    and go to the meetings for the ones in your neighborhood, and support them. I truely believe a good network of BBs will encourage many more new riders, and riders who eschew the car for a ride to accomplish errands in the neighborhoods.

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  • gregg woodlawn July 2, 2009 at 12:12 pm

    I’m thrilled that these improvements are finally going to happen. When can we expect a north/ south BLVD in the 20s block? When will NE Holman be getting BLVD improvements?

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  • n8m July 2, 2009 at 12:52 pm

    After living 11 some years in Portland and cruising BB’s almost daily, I still don’t understand why changing stop signs here and there and stenciling the ground cost so much. Seems the majority expense of BB’s goes towards paying bureaucrats to talk about/analyze BB’s instead of actually installing them. Furthermore, even after the money is spent – most BB’s I cruise still have tons of stop signs slowing the flow of bike traffic on those particular streets. Gimme $20 and a crew of rogues and we could churn out 15 miles of BB’s in one night.

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  • indy July 2, 2009 at 12:58 pm

    SW is pretty absent from representin’ here.

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  • Brock Howell July 2, 2009 at 3:25 pm

    I commute from SE 71st down to 11th on the Woodward/Clinton Bike Blvd every day. There are a number of improvements that could be made to existing boulevards that would make them safer and more bike friendly. Start by clearly identifying blvds when turning in from any side street through both more bike dots (preferably placed on the opposite side of any intersection that the blvd leads to) – or better yet don’t use the dots and instead use the large pavement bike symbols, and use purple signage. Get rid of needless 4-way stops and turn them into 2-way stops and 2-way yields, and where a round-a-about exists, get rid of the stop signs altogether from the blvd. For major side streets, such as 71st, 52nd, and 50th, provide purple signage that clearly designates to vehicles that a bike blvd crosses the street. And, get rid of the diamond-shaped transit symbols. Those do not represent bikes.

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  • Matt Picio July 2, 2009 at 3:49 pm

    n8m (#3) – Really? Which bike boulevards? What do you consider “tons”?

    indy (#4) – SW has one project out of the 6. I’d say what’s absent from representation is NE and NW, which have none – or outer NE / outer SE, which will likely have to wait 10+ years for a project, because they are not low-hanging fruit.

    I’m not blaming PBOT on that one, you work with what you have, and they’ve done a LOT with very little.

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  • Mark Lear July 2, 2009 at 5:02 pm

    Thanks Jonathan for informing people of our upcoming meetings — the more participation and local knowledge the better.

    A couple quick clarifications:

    1) We have had one meeting on Wabash and will be having a second meeting Thursday, July 17, at Columbia Cottage in Columbia Park, N Lombard St @ Russet St., 6:30-8:30 pm

    2) Good points about the worthiness both Central and Holman. As part of the Bicycle Master Plan update, they are being considered for future bike boulevard projects.

    I would encourage everyone to continue participating in the Bicycle Master Plan process, this document will provide the City’s road map for future investments.

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  • Anonymous July 2, 2009 at 8:25 pm

    @n8m

    Yes, there is some cost in planning the transportation system. While the physical results of a bike boulevard may be underwhelming, there is a significant amount of work in deciding where these should go. The designation and implementation of a bike boulevard and bike network (inter-twine?) is still a political decision and, as a courtesy, the government at least checks in with its citizens about such decisions.

    Surprisingly, it is not as simple as re-striping a road.

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  • peejay July 3, 2009 at 6:48 pm

    What, a bottlecap-sized flake of paint every four blocks is not enough for you? We can’t actually let people know where the boulevards are, can we? It’s supposed to be a secret, so that only bike “insiders” will know about them, and the n00bs can keep riding down 39th.

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  • Duncan July 4, 2009 at 4:45 pm

    In response to Brocks post- I live (and bike on the same section of SE as you do- and at least one of those signs you deplore (62nd and woodard) is really important to slow vehicle traffic. 62nd used to be a very speedy cut through betwen division and powell before the S tabor neighborhood association (along with PBOT) paid for the instillation of speed bumps.

    What I dont like is the crossing of 52nd- the way it jogs over (and the teenagers or their distracted parents pulling in and out of traffic without looking) makes for a nerve wracking dart across traffic that seems to be going a lot faster than the posted limit down 52nd Ave…

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  • Brock Howell July 5, 2009 at 2:33 pm

    Thanks Duncan. I agree that additional traffic calming is probably required on Woodward between Franklin H.S. and 71st if the 4-way stops are taken out. Speed bumps or round-a-bouts should do the trick, while keeping the road a true bike blvd.

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  • are July 5, 2009 at 11:06 pm

    re comment 9. a great deal of 39th is perfectly rideable, and without striping or signage. but even a “newbie” could figure out for herself that 34th might be easier, without PBOT holding her hand and dumping a bunch of paint on the ground. almost all of the striping I have seen around Portland is irrelevant or actually counterproductive to safe riding. all that is usually needed is the occasional “share the road” sign, here and there a sharrow, some lower speed limits (or enforcement of existing limits), and signal lights at intersections with major cross streets. oh, and better pavement and sweeping of glass and other debris.

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  • Pete July 6, 2009 at 7:53 am

    This article makes me want to take up biking! Seems like everyone in the club has a great sense of comraderie.

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  • […] read more on Bike Portland: […]

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  • Anonymous July 12, 2009 at 12:17 pm

    I live on Westwood. It is a cut thru for both bikes and cars.

    I am in favor of traffic calming, but would be opposed to anything along the lines of making it a one way street.

    I would love for all to slow down – INCLUDING the bikes which fly down Westwood on the way to Terwilliger. I back out of my driveway very slow and have been yelled at by bikes…while all the cars stop and let me out of my drive. Bikes just don’t want to stop, and are some of the fastest traffic on my street. I can understand when going uphill and always give them the go. I also let the downhills go too, but don’t understand why they cant stop like the cars.

    So yeah 15 mph for all would be great on westwood and traffic calming would be great

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