A couple that lives near SE Holgate Ave east of I-205 has launched a grassroots effort to undo the City of Portland’s buffered bike lane project on that street. Rick and Trish Bradford are behind RestoreHolgate.com, a website that includes an online petition (which only nine people have signed since July 6th), forums, and information about the project.
The header of the site includes says it’s “A place for sharing ideas and information in our quest to return SE Holgate Boulevard to it’s Pre-“Buffered Bike Lane” state.”
The Bradfords and their supporters represent a voice in opposition to the project that has been growing since KATU-TV ran their “Bike Path to Nowhere” investigation back in May. That news report characterized the lanes as being unneccessary and featured a KATU reporter sitting in chair in the bike lane waiting for people to ride by (point being that there wasn’t much bike traffic). KATU also interviewed several local business owners who were staunchly opposed to the new lane configuration.
“I have talked to many people who live on and around Holgate who are very disappointed in this entire experiment and even folks that are angry in how this whole thing came about… If the voice from SE Portland is loud enough, the city cannot ignore our wishes.”
— Rick Bradford, RestoreHolgate.com
In part because of negative attention on the project spurred by KATU’s story, PBOT held a public meeting to discuss the lanes back in June. At that meeting, there was a clear sense of anger about the project expressed by many people. As a follow-up, PBOT will hold another meeting tonight to gauge more feedback on how the lanes are working.
Rick Bradford, the man leading the “quest” to undo the bike lanes, says he has lived off SE Holgate for over twenty years. On RestoreHolgate.com he explains the impetus for his opposition:
“One day I ventured out to find the City of Portland Transportation Department crews painting some stripes on our street… Later that day, on my return, I found a striping pattern that made no sense to me. It didn’t take long to realize that they had turned over half of the street to bike lanes. Fancily called “Buffered Bike Lanes” by our city fathers.
I have talked to many people who live on and around Holgate who are very disappointed in this entire experiment and even folks that are angry in how this whole thing came about.
Please join me in becoming active and staying informed. If the voice from SE Portland is loud enough, the city cannot ignore our wishes.”
Here’s the backstory on this project…
Back in August 2009, the Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) put SE Holgate on a road diet and re-allocated its vehicle lanes to create a seven-foot wide bicycle only vehicle lane separated from the other lanes by a three-foot wide buffer. Prior to this new configuration, Holgate had five vehicle lanes to accomodate freeway access to I-205 that never materialized. A traffic analysis by PBOT showed that adding a bicycle only vehicle lane would not hamper traffic flow. The project was also identified in the Lents Neighborhood Traffic Safety Plan (adopted in 1999) and the Powellhurst-Gilbert and the Lents Neighborhood Associations supported the project.
The bike only vehicle lane stretches from SE 92nd Avenue to 122nd Avenue and was paid for by a $30,000 TriMet grant (due to its function as a connection to the I-205 multi-use path and the Green Line MAX station). According to PBOT project manager Jeff Smith, a count done one week after the bike lane went in (at SE 112th and Holgate) netted an estimated 200+ people on bikes per day.
Cora Potter, a local resident who supports the bike lanes, says the real mistake was making Holgate a five lane thoroughfare to begin with. “A truly restored Holgate would be a neighborhood street with two auto lanes. The widening was a mistake, caused by the 205 freeway project and that mistake needed to be corrected.”
Potter says $30,000 of paint and thermoplastic isn’t quite the two-lane road she’d like to see, but that, “reducing the amount of right-of-way dedicated to automobiles and increasing the amount of right of way that is safe for people in general,” is a step in the right direction. “This isn’t just about bikes. It’s about healing one of the many scars left behind when I-205 was constructed.”
PBOT has acknowledged that they could have communicated more clearly with neighbors about this project. It remains to be seen whether or not their attempts to clean up this situation will suceed.
Mr. Bradford has not responded immediately to a request for an interview. If/when he does, I’ll update this story.
If you want to share your perspective on the Holgate buffered bike lanes, attend tonight’s meeting (details below). For more background on this project, view my SE Holgate Bike Lanes story tag.
- Holgate Blvd Bike Lane Open Meeting (hosted by PBOT)
Holgate Baptist Church (11242 SE Holgate)
Thursday, July 22nd at 7:00 pm
More info: Greg Raisman – firstname.lastname@example.org