Last week, the City of Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) held a public forum in the Lents Neighborhood to get feedback on their buffered bike lanes on SE Holgate Ave. The lanes have stirred a bit of controversy since being installed back in August 2009 and PBOT has heard complaints about the lanes from nearby residents and business owners.
Nearly 100 people showed up to the meeting to voice their feedback. Several people who were there reported that many of them were angry. Lents resident and journalist Nick Christensen said the vast majority “strongly opposed the bike lanes” and the prevailing sentiment in the room was, “We want our street back.”
“…this dialogue between the neighborhood and the city has shown that the Bureau of Transportation is still learning how to introduce innovative designs for transportation projects as efficiently and clearly as possible.”
John Carter reported via a detailed comment that there was “a common angry theme” of complaints from what he described as long time residents.
PBOT staff, reporting through a spokesperson, said the meeting went “well.” They said there were “mixed responses” to the project and the most popular feedback related to “questions about changes in capacity and volume of traffic on the street” and “the potential for confusion by road users and proper public notification procedures for projects.”
PBOT says they’ll bring a host of options back to neighbors, including more analysis of the project (which likely means stats to back up the lane re-allocation) and possible fixes to “common problems.” PBOT also acknowledged that they have yet to master the art of communication around these kind of projects…
“If anything, this dialogue between the neighborhood and the city has shown that the Bureau of Transportation is still learning how to introduce innovative designs for transportation projects as efficiently and clearly as possible.”
Some of that learning curve was detailed in an article that appeared in the East PDX News a few weeks after the lanes went in. In that story, Mark White, Chair of a nearby neighborhood association, felt the City did not make good on promises to run the final design by them. Here’s an excerpt from that article:
“While I truly believe it is important to have bike lanes on SE Holgate Boulevard – what they installed is different than what we were presented,” White commented.
“Many residents here in outer East Portland have deep-seated mistrust of the City,” added White. “Doing things like this doesn’t help; it’s hard to get people involved, as it is. This is an example of a flawed public process.”
There were strong voices of support for bike lanes at the meeting, but from all accounts those voices were outnumbered. East Portland neighborhood activist Cora Potter thinks that’s reason for concern. She says if those who are angry about this project don’t hear strong support for it, “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.”
PBOT will host another forum on this project at 7:00 pm on July 22nd at Holgate Baptist Church (11242 SE Holgate).