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City will hold public meeting to discuss Holgate bike lanes

Posted by on June 14th, 2010 at 10:59 am

A flyer for the meeting seen
in the neighborhood.
(Photo: Gretchin Lair)

The City of Portland Bureau of Transportation will hold a public meeting on June 22nd to hear feedback on the SE Holgate buffered bike lanes. The lanes were painted last August as part of a demonstration project along with similar lanes on SW Oak and Stark streets in downtown Portland.

Since the new lanes were installed, PBOT has heard loud and clear that not everyone who uses Holgate is thrilled with them. Back in May, KATU-TV did a prime-time ‘Special Report’ on the lanes, interviewing several disgruntled business owners and coining them the “bike lanes to nowhere.”

Buffered bike lanes on SE Holgate-7

SE Holgate
(Photo © J. Maus)

PBOT bike planning staffer Jeff Smith says the meeting is part of an evaluation of the lanes being done for the city by researchers at PSU’s Center for Transportation Studies. “Because these design treatments are new for Portland we want to take a thorough look at how well they’re performing.”

So far, there aren’t similar neighborhood meetings planned for the Oak/Stark lanes, which means it’s likely that the negative media attention on the Holgate project is the motivation for this public outreach. Speaking to that, Smith says, “Folks in the neighborhood have been pretty adamant about wanting an opportunity to express their opinion(s) about the bike lane in person.”

Gretchin Lair, a nearby resident, noticed signs going up in the neighborhood about the meeting. In an email to BikePortland, she wrote, “I hope everyone who commented on the “Bike Lane to Nowhere” post can come to support outer SE bicyclists. :)”

Here’s the meeting notice from PBOT with more details:

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. Thank you.

  • Cora Potter June 14, 2010 at 5:46 pm


    here’s another poster that was on the SW corner of SE 88th and Holgate.

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  • resopmok June 15, 2010 at 12:27 am

    The real complaint is that lead foot drivers don’t have a passing lane anymore, so they get “held up” by people who actually obey speed limits. They still have their precious on street parking, so they whine about not being able to go 50 mph on a wide open stretch. Hope everyone who attends this meeting has paid all their speeding tickets, else their words will ring very, very hollow.

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  • Anonymous June 15, 2010 at 7:17 am

    Still not happy with the design putting the buffer zone next to traffic and not in the door zone.

    I have more issues with people entering and exiting their vehicles, and nosing out to look for traffic than I do with drivers pulling in to parking spaces.

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  • Andrew June 15, 2010 at 10:26 am

    Using this lane to get to lents school for the past three months has really turned me against the buffered bike lanes. Lead footed drivers still use it as a passing lane, especially during rush hour. And you still have to watch out for parked cars & trimet buses whipping in and out of their curb spots. This would have been much better, from a biking perspective, if it had been a broadway-ish cycletrack.

    Hopefully the city moves away from these buffered bike lanes as they irritate drivers & don’t feel any safer than regular bike lanes.

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  • Gerik June 15, 2010 at 2:43 pm

    Thanks for publishing this notice Jonathan. I think a few folks are going to meet up at Bar Carlo (6433 SE Foster) at 6:30, ride Holgate to SE 88th, and then go to the meeting. Hope to see you there.

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  • gl. June 15, 2010 at 3:59 pm

    Gerik, I’m interested in a meet & ride, but why are you meeting at Bar Carlo and riding to 88th? There’s no bike lane on Holgate there.

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  • Dave / Lents Resident June 16, 2010 at 8:02 pm

    The amount of vehicular traffic doesn’t warrant four lanes of traffic from 92nd all the way out to 122nd. But, there are not that many bicyclists using the bike lanes out there either. I do, to and from work.
    The buffered lanes should have extended all the way to SE 92nd rather than keep the four lanes from the I-205 bike path to SE 92nd – just a block long. That is a dangerous situation, going from two lanes to four lanes back to two lanes in the space of two or three blocks.
    Lents residents who bicycle need to be at the meeting and they need to use the buffered bike lanes if they think they’re a great idea. Otherwise, they’ll disappear.

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  • Spiffy June 18, 2010 at 9:34 pm

    thanks for the notice on this… I’m on vacation and will have to set myself a reminder for when I get back… we need to make sure there are people there who ride bikes on this stretch… I’ll be riding it for the few blocks by my house to get to 92nd…

    and yes, leaving the 4 lanes at 92nd was the most dangerous part of the design…

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  • Spiffy June 23, 2010 at 10:31 am

    I was there last night… it was sad and hilarious all at the same time… basically a rerun of the KATU news story where you listened to long-time residents complain…

    there were two recurring questions:
    1) Why weren’t we told in advance about the bike lane?
    2) How do we get our road back?

    these questions were answered multiple times to the same vocal people that continued asking them but never seemed to listen…

    the answers that kept having to be repeated:

    1) the plan was drafted around 1996 and approved in 1998/1999 and again in 2003… the Lents Neighborhood Association also approved it through their meetings… some of the people from the original meetings were there at last night’s meeting… but the angry people seemed to think that money should be spent mailing notices to all residents… they didn’t seem to grasp the concept of community involvement until it angered them…

    2) get involved in the community, like going to the Lents Neighborhood Association meetings and voicing your opinion… write to the people in charge of transportation…

    again, these answers were given over and over and it started to just be hilarious… the mediator (she was awesome) finally stopped re-answering and would just say “yes it’s been answered many times already” but people still kept asking…

    there seemed to be a common angry theme…

    1) “nobody knows where/how to turn!” that’s because you’re not paying attention… people new to the area don’t have any problems… people have old driving habits and having trouble adapting to change makes them feel stupid… they want somebody to blame so they point to the bike lanes…

    2) “it’s hurting business!” the economy sucks for certain businesses… car repair and nails? there are fewer people driving and getting their nails done… it’s just a side effect of the bad economy… but it’s convenient to blame bike lanes instead of your lack of adaptability… people need to drive down holgate, they still do… it’s not a lack of traffic that’s an issue… I don’t hear the nursery, sushi, or convenience store owners complaining…

    3) “nobody uses it!” somehow none of the residents ever see anybody in the bike lane, except for tweakers going the wrong direction… but PBoT counted 44 bikes in just 2 hours, and set a low estimate of 200 people per day using the bike lanes…

    a big thank you to the few vocal people in favor of the bicycle lane… they made their points and the rest of us didn’t feel the need to make the same points over and over again like the angry group did…

    being my first community politic meeting and the general hostile mood of the event I didn’t speak…

    but there’s a July 22nd meeting with PBoT and I plan to give more support there…

    I hope that PBoT is more prepared with answers for that one since they didn’t seem to have any of the statistics handy, or just weren’t called on to answer them…

    my personal experience…

    I’ve lived right off holgate for 3 years now… 2 before the bike lanes and 1 after… before the bike lanes I felt like I was in the way if I rode on holgate, with cars behind me or me having to go on the sidewalk to allow traffic by… the wife never walked our baby down that street…

    now I ride my bike on holgate ever time the pavement is dry (2 trips per day so far this week) because it’s much more inviting… and my 2 year old loves watching the cars and I feel safe enough now to walk with him on the sidewalk or pull him in my bike trailer to one of the many nearby parks…

    the traffic is definitely slower on the road now… it really was like a freeway with all those lanes… powell works just fine with the same setup and has way more traffic…

    the only problems I’ve had with congestion are from the hurry-and-merge section over the I-205 bridge where people speed past cars to get in line on holgate causing a long line of cars for about 3 blocks… this was only a major issue for the first couple of months and now it’s easy to get into traffic and across the street if you’re patient and wait 30 seconds… it has always taken a couple of light cycles during rush hour to get through the lights at 104th and 112th…

    they REALLY need to get rid of the extra lanes at 92nd… they’re dangerous in that they encourage speeding through a vulnerable area…

    with the addition of the MAX stop and the bike lanes I was able to stop driving my car in january and live a healthier lifestyle… now only the wife drives, and usually only when she needs to get to places far away or in bad weather… she now walks or bikes to safeway and walmart because the street feels safer to her, enough that she trusts it with our child…

    I challenge the angry residents to put themselves in the shoes of somebody that feels that they don’t belong on a road… go drive 35 on the freeway and tell us that you don’t feel bad that traffic is backing up behind you… stop driving holgate and use foster and tell me it’s not inconvenient to have to use another road to go out or your way to get to a destination that would be a straight shot if you could take holgate…

    cars are still allowed the majority of the road on holgate… but now bicycles are allowed to share it without feeling like outsiders…

    take a look around you and notice the many people on bicycles going to work, school, and the store…

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  • David June 23, 2010 at 1:05 pm

    Spiffy, thanks for the write-up. Yeah, I was shaking my head too by all the negative comments. At least the gal sitting next to Mr. “I want my street back” agreed that the extra lanes around 92nd were dangerous/confusing. I also had to hear the wife of a former business associate ask me where in the Constitution it forces her to pay for bike lanes on SE Holgate…
    It would have been nice to have a few more supportive bikers speak out though to help moderate the angry mob.

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  • Cora Potter June 23, 2010 at 2:44 pm

    Yes, it really would help if everyone would speak up in support. The unfortunate fact is that the “old guard” of the neighborhood only responds to direct confrontation. If they don’t “hear” the other viewpoint, repetitively, from a great number of people, they continue on thinking they have some sort of moral high ground and represent the majority.

    They need to be shown that they’re at least matched if not outnumbered.

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  • eli bishop June 23, 2010 at 9:35 pm

    Another Holgate Bike Lane meeting will be held at July 22 at 7 p.m. at the Holgate Baptist Church (11242 SE Holgate). As they explained it at the Lents meeting, this should be a little more in depth.

    In the meantime, email Greg Raisman to voice approval for bike lanes & for more info about the meetings: greg.raisman@portlandoregon.gov

    or call him: 503.823.1052

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  • Anonymous July 1, 2010 at 6:25 pm

    spiffy, #9
    When you go to the July 22 meeting you could just read your personal experience section from above. It’s a perfect representation of the efficacy of the Holgate bike lanes. Well done!

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