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KATU investigates ‘Bike Path to Nowhere’ – UPDATED

Posted by on May 18th, 2010 at 8:18 am

Screen grab from KATU TV newscast.
-Watch video below-

On their 11 o’clock newscast last night, KATU-TV (ABC in Portland) aired a special ‘On Your Side’ investigation titled, Bike Path to Nowhere. The segment focused on the buffered bike lanes that were installed on SE Holgate back in August. To give you a sense of the angle KATU took with this story, here’s the lead-in to the segment (which lasted just over 5 minutes):

“Where does it go and who uses it? A super-wide bikeway in Southeast Portland but at what expense to drivers and businesses? It’s an inexpensive part of the City’s $600 million bike master plan but more than seven months after the city striped the major east-west route, On Your Side investigator Thom Jensen found hardly anybody uses it. Some people who live and work along it say it’s a bike path to nowhere.”

They set up a chair and waited
for bike traffic. Hilarious!

Jensen told viewers of the economic hardships the new bike lanes have brought to businesses on SE Holgate.

David Lentz of Lentz Automotive told KATU that the bike lane has cost him business: “See, I bought my property on a 4-lane street because you pay prime price to have a property on a 4-lane highway when you’re doing a retail business… I rely on drive-by traffic.”

The owner of Pro Hair and Nails said her business had dropped off 1/3 since the lane went in. Her only customer (her salon would be packed without the bike lane) testified that in 30 years of visiting her sister that lives nearby she “hasn’t seen more than a dozen” bikes on Holgate.

Even the local mail carrier is peeved about the new lane. It not only “slows his delivery” but he also said it’s a “bike lane to nowhere.”

This nail salon customer said she
hasn’t seen even a dozen bikes
on Holgate in 30 years.

KATU crews then went even further and monitored the bike lanes for a week and reported, “Without exception, we never saw a single bicycle.” To validate their experiment on Holgate, KATU reporters also checked out two other bike lanes in further out neighborhoods. On SE Foster and SE 122nd KATU saw more “bikeless boulevards.”

KATU also interviewed PBOT bike coordinator Roger Geller who maintained that the lanes are a key connector to local transit stops and said that sometimes it just takes a while before people start to use a new bikeway. A Lents Neighborhood resident also got some airtime to express support for the lanes.

KATU forgot to mention that a traffic analysis was done prior to the installation and it showed that motor vehicle traffic volumes did not necessitate two full lanes. They also didn’t mention that the project was requested by the local neighborhood and it cost just $30,000 — all of which was paid for by TriMet (due to Holgate’s connection to the new I-205 MAX light rail station).

Bicycling occupies a strange place in Portland — somehow it’s managed to become simultaneously revered and ridiculed. Is this just a matter of KATU wanting to stir the pot during sweeps month, or is this alleged “bike path to nowhere” truly an important issue that warrants more city-wide discussion?

Watch the segment below and decide for yourself (apologies for quality, I recorded it with my phone – if it goes up on their site, I’ll update with cleaner version):

UPDATE: I thought this comment just left by a PBOT staffer was worth highlighting:

“PBoT did a bike count at the end of August, one week after the bike lane on Holgate had gone in. From 4 to 6 PM there were a total of 44 bicyclists passing through the intersection of Holgate/112th. Based on a number of 24-hour hose counts of bicyclists done in Portland, one would project something like 200+ cyclists per day.

As to the question a number of commenters have raised as to what the bike lanes on Holgate actually connect with: they connect with the I-205 path & the Holgate MAX station on the west end, and the bike lanes on 122nd on the east end. There are also at least 4 schools not far off this portion of Holgate. Also, planning is underway for several bicycle boulevards / neighborhood green streets in this area, both intersecting and parallel to Holgate. Yes, the network for cyclists is far from complete. But we’re working on it, and you’ve got to start somewhere.”

NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Also, if you comment frequently, please consider holding your thoughts so that others can step forward. Thank you — Jonathan

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Jackattak
Guest
Jackattak

There’s a reason I only watch KGW.

Member

There is a reason I killed my TV.

Let's ride!
Guest
Let's ride!

I hereby propose we ride Holgate (meet at 92nd, ride to 122nd), then take Foster back down to 92nd–or some such route, Sunday morning at 9.

Takers?

Mike Quigley
Guest
Mike Quigley

Bike lanes INTERFERE with business? How does that work? Are bike lanes crocodile filled moats that must be negotiated in order to gain access to these businesses?

Jacob
Guest
Jacob

I use the Holgate bike lane nearly every day to get to work, I love it.

I have yet to see traffic issues caused by the loss of 2 motor vehicle lanes, traffic is always moving freely. My only issue with the lanes is the poor connection to the I205 path.

Also, I can’t grasp the idea that the bike lane would decrease business.

Allan
Guest
Allan

Why are they driving down the bike lane for the shot?

9watts
Guest
9watts

“See, I bought my property on a 4-lane street because you pay prime price to have a property on a 4-lane highway when you’re doing a retail business… I rely on drive-by traffic.”

That sense of entitlement to car traffic will fade…soon.

Nik
Guest
Nik

I saw a promo for this story yesterday evening and just knew by the presentation it would be a anti-bike troll of a spot. I won’t bother pointing out the entirely fallacious reasoning behind their implementation of the piece because they are perfectly obvious to readers of this site, and to do so would be to feed the troll.

On your side, indeed. It’s all us vs. them, and if you ride a bicycle in Portland, you’re one of “them.”

Joe
Guest
Joe

thanks CHANNEL 2, nothing like making people more pissed these days for your mindless intertainment. SITTING in the bike lane? come on!

just like people tell me i ride around with a target in my head. RRRRRR.

be safe all,
Joe

eli bishop
Guest
eli bishop

they waited in a bike lane… in the rain? maybe bicyclists in outer se have more sense than that.

anyway, holgate heading east is one of my favorite stretches: just a whisper of incline to feel like pedaling is almost effortless with Powell Butte rising to meet you. holgate heading west is pretty boring, though, so I take harold.

beelnite
Guest
beelnite

Yes #6! WE HAVE VISUAL EVIDENCE THAT KATU DROVE THEIR VAN ILLEGALLY!!!!

Can this be submitted to the PPD?

Member

Wait, wait…still watching their other important breaking news stories like:
“Man accused of trying to swap baby for beers”
“Doomsday got you down? Try our luxury bunkers!”
“Miss USA also a pole-dancing champ”
“Travolta’s dogs killed in airport accident”
and my favorite leader photo, “Death Penalty for Fags”

Way to be relevant and informative.

Joe
Guest
Joe

driving in the bike lane? WTF! thats one busy road with a bike lane.

Vivian
Guest
Vivian

Bike lane to nowhere? How about Ron Russel Middle School, a stalwart school of the David Douglas School District? How about Human Solutions, a non-profit organization that offers affordable housing, job training, computer classes, eviction prevention, move-in assistance, and other resources to address poverty and/or homelessness. How about the food carts, local businesses and residential homes in this area?

The problem isn’t the new bike lanes, it’s that people still think East Portland is full of junkyards and quick-stop marts.

Vance Longwell
Guest

9watts #7 – It’s not entitlement when one pays a “premium” price. Really, at that point, it’s a civil right and could very easily play out in court that way. I’d give anything to see the business owners unfairly impacted by this stupid bike-lane sue the living bajeezus out of the City. Why they don’t pool resources and do just that is beyond me.

“They also didn’t mention that the project was requested by the local neighborhood…”

Uh, fact-check. Are you sure the neighborhood called for this bike-lane or was it some neighborhood association that did? The distinction is important because, clearly, you are of the opinion there is sufficient communal will to support this facility. A ‘neighborhood’ is comprised of vastly larger number of people than a neighborhood association might be. Which is evidence that neighborhood support may have had nothing to do with it. Maybe, in fact, it was only a few very vocal, overly entitled, newcomers who made the demand, and you are simply obfuscating this point to purposely bolster your usual position? Anyway, just as clearly the ‘neighborhood’ has a problem with this bike-lane as evidenced by the ‘neighborhood’ complaining their businesses have been impacted negatively.

By ‘neighborhood’ then, we must mean the few busy-body wingnuts living in it with nothing better to do than swell the congregation of the Church of Green. Nice try.

Nick V
Guest
Nick V

@ #1 Jackattak,

I can’t think of specific examples off the top of my head, but KGW has been just as biased against cyclists in the recent past.

Dave Reid
Guest

I’m not from Portland, and don’t know the bike lane in question but I wonder if the decline in these people’s business has more to do, with ohhh maybe the great recession than the bike lane.

dabby
Guest
dabby

It is very illegal to sit in a chair in a bike lane.

Can we not use the citizens initiative to have that reporter cited for obstruction of a bike lane?

Joe
Guest
Joe

#17 yep!

Jackattak
Guest
Jackattak

@ Nick V # 16 –

You might be right but I bet they never drove in a bike lane or sat in one and I can just about guarantee they didn’t run any inflammatory news stories.

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

“…KATU crews then went even further and monitored the bike lanes for a week and reported, “Without exception, we never saw a single bicycle.” …” maus/bikeportland

Man, that’s a long time for anyone to sit on a chair placed on a bike lane… . Got to at least give the guy credit for that.

But seriously… . Read the KATU news story (link above in maus’s story) and it says:

“…Then he went back and set up a chair in the westerly bike lane and waited. In an eight-hour period he saw only eight bikes on a road where more than 16,000 cars drove daily before two lanes were taken away for bikes. …”

So it turns out…he didn’t sit in the chair on the bike lane for a week…he just set up the chair in the westerly bike lane and ‘waited’ there for a week. Sounds fishy. I’d kind of like to know whether the tv station actually staked their reporter out there on that chair for a full 8 hrs, bathroom, coffee and lunch breaks excepted. If they did, and he had his eyes on the bike lane the whole time, the “…only eight bikes…” observation might have more significance.

In the comments following the KATU story, commenter AFK417 says “I live just off of Holgate and I see quite a few bikes, especially during the afternoon hours. …”.

Does anyone really know how many bike trips are being made on these bike lanes over an 8 hr or a 24 hr period?

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)
Guest

Vance:

Vance.. i will edit the story to add “association” after n’hood. thanks for pointing that out. I agree it’s an important distinction.

Cora Potter
Guest

I live on Holgate. I love the bike lanes. I would take my bike to that nail salon, or the Takahashi, which is next to that nail salon but they don’t offer any bike parking.

Before the bike lanes were installed, I would frequently have people speeding past my house in excess of 50 mph. Now, the traffic is calmed significantly. There’s still just as many cars, they just aren’t flying down the street as if it’s a “highway” as often.

And, it isn’t a bike lane to nowhere – It’s how I access Powell Butte, it’s anchored by Lents Park on the other end and it passes by two schools and helps with bike access to Marshall High School and the MAX stop.

Comparing it to Foster or 122nd is apples to oranges as well. Both of those streets seem unsafe for cyclists because they have four lanes of traffic and the traffic is fast. I think it’s also telling that you can see a car partially parked in the bike lane in the shot of 122nd – with it’s door hanging wide open.

The businesses on Holgate are being effected by the recession, not the bike lanes. I don’t get my nails done as often, and that’s because money is tight, not because of bike lanes. Likewise, I’ve got a dent in the back of my car, but I’m not getting it repaired because money is tight, not because of bike lanes.

I’m totally down for a regular ride with folks down Holgate. I’m not a fast rider though – I have a goofy bike that weighs 50lbs – so it would have to be leisurely.

Alexis
Guest
Alexis

Their inflammatory angle aside, the “bike lane to nowhere” discussion can be a legitimate and serious one. It’s what concepts like Complete Streets are supposed to help us avoid — the piecemeal creation of infrastructure so that each part of it is less useful than the whole could be, if only it were whole. The creation of bike infrastructure has been all about low-hanging fruit, and has disregarded connectivity, for way too long.

That said, even without great connectivity it’s still nice to have (wide, buffered) bike lanes along a stretch of road that didn’t have them before. They’re useful, and they’re a signal that more may come. You can’t get everything done at once when you’re retrofitting, so sometimes there will be bike lanes to ‘nowhere’ (although how the businesses can simultaneously claim to be ‘nowhere’ and to have previously been vital, busy enterprises is a bit beyond me).

Paul
Guest
Paul

Nor did car traffic seem anything but light in these shots. Maybe if they removed the sidewalks they would see more business too…yeah.

eli bishop
Guest
eli bishop

also, i wish the bike lane continued the whole stretch of holgate: 136th to mcloughlin. it’s a long direct route east to west that parallels powell (which also needs more bike lane west of 92nd, imo).

trail user
Guest
trail user

Who’s up for a ride around the block a few hundred times around katu? Let’s use the bike lane.

bob
Guest
bob

Did KATU bother to read any of the history of this project? They certainly did not report on it.
http://www.portlandonline.com/transportation/index.cfm?c=50346&a=295402
states that “The project is funded by a “Jobs Access and Reverse Commute” (JARC) grant administered by TriMet; JARC funds aim to increase connections to jobs and employment centers in the region.”
or
http://www.portlandonline.com/transportation/index.cfm?c=50350&a=263080
which states:
“The Lents and Powellhurst-Gilbert neighborhood associations voted to support the
conversion of Holgate to a three-lane street with bike lanes.”
“Before the buffered bike lanes were added to SE Holgate over 50 percent of motor
vehicles exceeded the 35 mph speed limit. Now traffic is moving slower and,
consequently, more in-line with the safe speed limit.”
or the Lents Neighborhood plan from 1995:
http://www.portlandonline.com/shared/cfm/image.cfm?id=90929
which, on page 45, says they wanted to Heavily lobby for an integrated traffic plan accommodating pedestrians, cyclists and motor vehicles.
Whether we like it or not, neighborhood associations do influence city policy no matter if you have been involved in one for 6 months or 60 years.
Has the auto traffic volume or speed changed or become densely problematic? And how is it that the postal delivery person in the KATU video claims it has made his job more difficult? Is it due to lower speed limits or having to watch for people on bikes? Also, I only get my nails done for special occasions because it is a luxury service, many of which I have cut back on in recent years due to the overall economic scene. I am not unsympathetic to Mr Lentz’ decline in business but he did choose to base it on drive by motor traffic and the combination of ever evolving infrastructure and his customers’ decisions to drive less are not within his control. That’s business.

Bob
Guest
Bob

#24 Alexis is right — there may be a legitimate story about the Holgate bike lane: Where does it lead to? The MAX Green Line? Is that it? If there aren’t good connections, the re-striping IS a waste of resources, and we as cyclists ought to be upset about that.

It looks like the Holgate lane is a typical PDOT project that’s easy to put in and show off, but doesn’t serve a larger purpose. It contributes to Portland’s shortsighted bike planning system that adds lanes where they’re easy, not where they’re needed.

Vance Longwell
Guest

J #22 – Yeah, thanks. Didn’t mean to be such an ass about it. It’s a little frustrating. I mean, here we have the concerns of members from that neighborhood possibly being silenced by the invocation of neighborhood concerns.

Daniel Ronan
Guest

That was really nice of that guy to push the biker out into traffic. Thanks KATU, for endangering the most vulnerable road users among us.

Greg Haun
Guest
Greg Haun

What a coincidence. I just ‘discovered’ Holgate a few weeks ago and decided to make it my preferred exercise route. Why? Its a long, fast, safe stretch of route that nobody much uses, yet. I too was struck by how few cyclists there were, compared for instance to the same stretch of Powell. After the Springwater is re-paved this summer it will make a great loop.

Cover up your spandex with some Dickies and come out here and ride. Nothing gets people on their bikes like other people on bikes.

Joe
Guest
Joe

drive less save more 🙂

Cora Potter
Guest

Yep – maybe if more people biked to MAX instead of driving they’d have more money to spend at nail salons!

Paulie
Guest
Paulie

Funny, I rode that bike lane on Sunday. I didn’t see any other bikes at the time, but I also didn’t see many cars. The bike lane doesn’t seem to cause any traffic problems that I can see, though I haven’t ridden, or driven, it during rush hour.

becky
Guest
becky

so, who’s leading the sushi ‘n’ tempura ride to Takahashi during Pedalpalooza? The restaurant has a big back room that could maybe be reserved for a group!

Dave2
Guest
Dave2

Channel 2 has become a “Fox Lite” right wing station as has their ABC network. They have joined the brigade of media howler monkeys who consider any public money that is spent on mass transit or bike/ped projects as wasted. They’re making a serious play for the Battle Ground residing, F250-driving knucklehead audience. Before you censor my comments, Jonathan, I live here (Clark County) and know what I’m talking about.

IanO
Guest
IanO

@Becky: Me me me!!!

I’m a big fan of sushi, esp. Takahashi 2 near PSU. What a great excuse to explore this new bike path!

jim
Guest
jim

Only in Portland do we have morons making bikepaths to nowhere. This is a pathetic waste of money and resources. No wonder the shop owners are peaved.

KWW
Guest
KWW

“153.058 Initiation of violation proceeding by private party. (1) A person other than an enforcement officer may commence a violation proceeding by filing a complaint with a court that has jurisdiction over the alleged violation. The filing of the complaint is subject to ORS 153.048. The complaint shall be entered by the court in the court record.”

I saw the report by chance, what a joke. And seriously, lets teach this ‘journalist’ a lesson and issue a citizen’s traffic citation and force katu to show up on court, for driving in the bike lane, and blocking the bike lane.

http://blog.oregonlive.com/commuting/2010/03/a_citizens_traffic_ticket_in_f.html

http://www.stc-law.com/articles_8.html

Hart
Guest

If they want a four lane highway let them paint their nails on Powell. Good grief.

MIndfulCyclist
Guest
MIndfulCyclist

I really do wonder how much Lentz’s business has struggled due to the Cash for Clunkers program. So many people went out and bought new cars that do not need the repairs (and the old ones were destroyed). And, when the cars do need repairs, the owners take them to the dealership so the warranty is not voided. That along with the new MAX line that give people in the neighborhood a new transportation option. Less driving=fewer repairs.

It is very difficult for me to believe that a buffered bike lane is such a big reason business is down. There are too many bike lanes in this town for driver to be that ignorant.

matt picio
Guest

Apparently it’s not the lousy economy which is decreasing business on Holgate, but the bike lanes. Who’da thunk?

Allan (#6) – Because apparently KATU news drivers are exempt from ORS. Someone should file a citizen’s initiated ticket and use that footage as evidence.

Vance (#15) – Uh, right – apply the same logic to your own argument. It’s just as likely that the majority of the neighborhood just doesn’t care, and the vocal minority in this report (and the neighborhood) is roughly equal to the vocal minority in the NA. The fact is, we have no idea how much support or opposition the bike lanes had, and while you’re right to point out the difference between the NA and the neighborhood (thank you for making that distinction), there’s not a lot of conclusions that can be accurately drawn without more info.

I would also argue that since the neighborhood can participate in the NA at any time, if they don’t care enough to go to the meetings and raise a stink, they deserve what they get. The NA system is well-established in Portland.

wsbob (#21) – and for a facility that sees “no” use, there were a lot of bikes visible in that piece.

Also, how many cars drive it now? And is the reduction due to the overall decline in VMT? KATU of course does not mention that.

Bob (#29) “If there aren’t good connections, the re-striping IS a waste of resources”. No sir, it’s only a waste if the city has no intent to MAKE good connections. Because of the nature of funding, these projects are often built piecemeal, as funding permits, and the existance of a partial network sometimes helps get adjacent infrastructure funded.

An argument can be made against infrastructure on general principle (as Vance and others have done many times), but your logic on being a waste of resources based on a lack of current connections is faulty.

jim (#39) – How would you explain the “morons” who made all the freeway ramps to nowhere on the bridges? Bought properties in SE for projects that were never built? The shop owners are peaved because business sucks, and they’re looking for anything external to pin it on. The real reason their business sucks is because they’re in low-density outer SE in a lousy economy in which people are driving less. They have almost no transit access and very little bike/ped amenities, so there is no reason or opportunity for non-car users to go there. If there was MORE transit in that area, and SIDEWALKS in the neighborhoods, they might see more business.

Tony Columbo
Guest
Tony Columbo

Total waste of money. It doesn’t matter where it came from or what color. The neighborhood association voted for it however the neighborhoods residents were against it. I’m sure more citizens wish now they had signed the recall.

Cora Potter
Guest

Re: connections, the SE 101st and SE Bush St Bike Boulevards are currently in the planning stages. Also, the Holgate Bike Lanes connect up with the I205 MUP at 94th and with the Bike Lanes on 122nd.

Jeff S
Guest
Jeff S

wsbob #21: “Does anyone really know how many bike trips are being made on these bike lanes over an 8 hr or a 24 hr period?”

PBoT did a bike count at the end of August, one week after the bike lane on Holgate had gone in. From 4 to 6 PM there were a total of 44 bicyclists passing through the intersection of Holgate/112th. Based on a number of 24-hour hose counts of bicyclists done in Portland, one would project something like 200+ cyclists per day.

As to the question a number of commenters have raised as to what the bike lanes on Holgate actually connect with: they connect with the I-205 path & the Holgate MAX station on the west end, and the bike lanes on 122nd on the east end. There are also at least 4 schools not far off this portion of Holgate. Also, planning is underway for several bicycle boulevards / neighborhood green streets in this area, both intersecting and parallel to Holgate. Yes, the network for cyclists is far from complete. But we’re working on it, and you’ve got to start somewhere.

Jeff Smith / PBoT

Hart
Guest

Somebody show this to autoshop guy and nail salor lady:

http://www.streetfilms.org/people-parklets-and-pavement-to-parks/#comments

Andrew
Guest
Andrew

Shoot, I wish I had known. I would have ridden straight through that guy and then sued the hell outta him and KATU.

Andrew
Guest
Andrew

The neighborhood association voted for it however the neighborhoods residents were against it.

This is a contradictory statement. If the “neighborhoods residents” were against it, they should have displayed that to the other “neighborhoods residents” that comprise the neighborhood association. Apathy sucks, doesn’t it?

MIndfulCyclist
Guest
MIndfulCyclist

Tony Columbo (#44): This bike lane did not just appear a month ago. Two recalls have failed since this has been installed. So, I am not sure what the recall has to do with anything in this thread.

And, people need to show up to NA meetings if they want to express disagreement with it. As Matt Picio pointed out, they get what they deserve if they don’t.