-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.”
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.”
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):
[Video is no longer available. Sorry.]
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.”