The Worst Day of the Year Ride is February 11th

An apology, anger, and glimmers of hope at Holgate bike lane meeting

Posted by on July 23rd, 2010 at 1:24 pm

SE Holgate bike lanes meeting-9

Nearly 200 people packed into
Holgate Baptist Church last night.
(Photo © J. Maus)

If last night’s meeting at Holgate Baptist Church was any indication, PBOT has its work cut out for them in selling big bike projects to outer East Portland residents. The Holgate buffered bike lanes have become a lightning rod and many residents that live near them shared their anger over the project with City staffers last night.
But it wasn’t all bad news for PBOT. There were positive signs of support for the bike lanes (which were installed last August), even from people who initially opposed them.

“Clearly it wasn’t an adequate public involvement process for a project like this … and the amount of people here tonight definitely demonstrates that. From the City’s perspective and from my personal perspective, I apologize for that.”
— Mark Lear, PBOT

The purpose of the meeting was to provide background and traffic data on the project, share potential improvements, and most importantly, hear feedback from residents — feedback that PBOT admits they should have asked for before the striping was laid down.

The turnout last night — which I’d estimate at about 200 people with a majority being against the project — was a clear indication that this has become controversial and that many people in the neighborhood do not feel like the City has heard their concerns. PBOT brought Traffic Safety Program Manager Mark Lear — one of their top staffers — in to lead the meeting. One of the first things he did in his introductory address was to offer an apology:

“… Clearly it wasn’t an adequate public involvement process for a project like this and I think the feedback we’ve gotten from the neighbors and the amount of people here tonight definitely demonstrates that. From the City’s perspective and from my personal perspective, I apologize for that.”

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Why don’t bikes just use the Springwater?

The City focused on safety and speed reduction in making their case for the lanes. Lear told the crowd that East Portland is “the most challenged” part of town in terms of traffic safety. “Nobody should have to die walking to school, nobody should have to die walking to the bus.”

But the safety argument did not sway everyone. There were a number of complaints and criticisms about the project leveled at PBOT staff last night. Here were the most memorable ones:

  • Getting out onto Holgate (in a car) from side streets is now much more difficult because people have to wait longer for a break in traffic.
  • Putting all the motor vehicle traffic in just one lane (instead of two) is causing premature wear on the pavement.
  • Business property values are being negatively impacted.
  • The Springwater Trail is just .7 miles away, why can’t bikes just use that?
  • Having just one motor vehicle lane is causing major back-ups and congestion. One person said, “They’ve created a traffic jam that we never had before!”
  • No one is using the new lanes.
  • “TriMet buses have bike racks on them, why can’t people just put there bikes on those?!”
  • The markings are confusing. One man said, “Taking a right is totally chaotic!”

I talked with several people outside the meeting to learn more about why they were so upset…

SE Holgate bike lanes meeting-3 passed out
flyers at the event.

Can you tell me why you’re so against these bike lanes?

“I’m not against bike lanes but what they did here is just ridiculous… this meeting is just to pacify us and they’re not gonna change anything, we’ll just have to live with it. I don’t want to see anybody get hurt… but now we’ve got more pollution because we’ve got the cars now just sitting in line instead of cutting through.”

I know you’re upset about the congestion and pollution it causes, but isn’t saving lives more important that cars backing up? If it this project prevents people from dying, isn’t that a good thing?

“Isn’t the poillution gonna kill you too? It’s gonna end up killing my trees… look at all those big trees I’ve got in my yard.”

You don’t like trees more than people do you?

“Some!” [As in, he does care more about trees than “some” people.]

Are you more upset about the lanes themselves or the process?

“I didn’t know anything about this project happening. The letter I got came while they were painting the lanes outside my house!”

You’ve mentioned a lack of bike traffic in the lanes. Do you think that some day eventually more people will start biking on them?

“No. It will never happen.”

I also chatted with Rick Bradford, the guy behind, the grassroots effort opposing the bike lanes I reported on yesterday.

Bradford thinks Holgate is simply the wrong street for bike lanes like this. “The city has made these things and now they’ll do everything they can to prove it will work, rather than say ‘Hey, maybe we got the wrong street here.'” He also wanted to make it clear that he’s not anti-bike:

“This isn’t the cars against the bikes. Everybody I’ve talked to has said, ‘Hey, I’m not against the bike lanes, but it takes me 2-3 times longer to get out onto Holgate now because we’ve got a parade of cars two blocks long and I sit and wait and finally get out and when I get out on the road, I’m aggravated.’ Now you’ve got an aggravated driver on the road next to bikes…”

Back inside the meeting, there was another exchange that I feel sums up the feelings about both the process and the lanes themselves…


“I feel like you guys came up with your plan and this is just a sales pitch to us. Is there any chance you will take this bike lane out of here? Or is this written in stone and you’re just trying to sell it now? … You mention this safety business and slowing down the traffic… If that’s such a wonderful thing why don’t we do it on Division, Foster, in fact, get rid of the pavement and let’s go back to dirt roads and we’d have no speeders!”

Mark Lear, PBOT:

“You can take my word for it or not, but personally, We’re doing the evaluation to make sure that we have a project which works well, if we have a project that doesn’t work, than we shouldn’t have a bike lane.

I personally feel that all of our busy streets in the city, if it’s possible, need to have bike lanes. Does it need to look like the bike lane that we have there today? No. I think there are significant modifications that can be made there.

I’ve championed hard within the organization [PBOT] that we need to work our butts off inside Transportation to understand the specific transportation needs for East Portland. Again, more people are needlessly dying in East Portland than any other part of town… I’m really committed to having this be the start of the conversation that leads to bicycle and pedestrian facilities that there’s a high level of support for. I wouldn’t be here tonight making this long of a presentation if I wasn’t seriously committed to trying to make this project work.”

While the vibe was definitely tense and angry at times (I heard people yell things like “You’re just a bunch of professional manipulators!” and “This is a farce!” before storming out of the room), there was also support, most of which mentioned how the new bike lanes had slowed traffic. One young man stood up and said, “I was one of those drag racers [the street was notorious for drag racing]… this works!” Others said they used to be afraid to bike on Holgate, but now they enjoy it.

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BTA executive director Rob Sadowsky said his favorite moment was when a nearby resident of 42 years shared here story. “She was initially opposed to the bike lane… but now likes the treatment since it has significantly reduced speeding, crashes and noise in front of her house. I see that as a huge victory for active transportation.”

The importance of this project transcends Holgate Avenue. This learning experience for PBOT (both in the communications and engineering around the project) will impact how they approach East Portland for years to come.

On a different note, it’s very unfortunate that much of the anger about this project has little to do with the actual bike lanes themselves. From talking to people, it was clear that other factors were driving their sour mood. From a dislike of Mayor Sam Adams (who’s closely tied to biking in a lot of people’s minds), to “annexation without representation” and scars left by TriMet’s recently completed “crime train” MAX line along I-205. It was also telling that two men who were staunchly against this project also shared with me how extremely upset they were about not being able to freely leave their homes in a car during the recent Sunday Parkways event.

One man I spoke with said for many of the elderly residents who showed up last night, “They’re just tired of waking up and seeing things change.”

PBOT plans to make a few immediate improvements (guidance markings) to help folks navigate around the new lanes. Then, over the next six months, they’ll evaluate the performance of the street on a number of criteria and have another meeting to share their findings in February 2011.

— See more coverage of the Holgate bike lane project in our archives.

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 — Jonathan

  • Matthew July 23, 2010 at 1:34 pm

    ‘Hey, I’m not against the bike lanes, but it takes me 2-3 times longer to get out onto Holgate now …

    So … he’s not against bikes … so long as no one driving a car is inconvenienced in the slightest. Great attitude.

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  • matt picio July 23, 2010 at 1:39 pm

    So, the take away from this is a lot of people are pissed, and largely for reasons that are their own fault, like not being able to handle change, not being involved in their local neighborhood association or city committees, and because their convenience in their mind trumps the safety and access rights of others.

    The city made a bad call not soliciting more public input, but the residents have to meet the city halfway. You can’t ignore the public process because you think it’s biased and then claim you have no say – in that case you’ve merely taken steps on your own to reinforce the reality you’ve created for yourself.

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  • MeghanH July 23, 2010 at 1:41 pm

    I. just. don’t. get. it.

    Why is it that people will get emotionally invested over the “right” to speed or pass others when they’re driving a car? Are we really that deep in the car culture that ANYTHING that says there are alternatives provokes a knee-jerk reaction?

    I have a theory that people have seen gas prices and taxes for highways/bridges/roads go up, and it’s scaring the hell out of them. Therefore, any perceived sign of this move away from subsidized, overly-cheap car transportation (a bike lane, a MAX line, whatever) must be immediately attacked.

    Other than that, all I can say is that I’m sad that so many of my fellow East Portlanders don’t want safer streets for themselves and their kids. Just don’t get upset when pedestrians and cyclists continue to be targeted in our neighborhoods if you oppose things like bike lanes, public transport, and lower speed limits.

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  • Hart July 23, 2010 at 1:43 pm

    Possible solution: get rid of street parking on Holgate (plenty of room on side streets), move the bike lane over, give the locals their four lanes back. Moving on…

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  • jordan July 23, 2010 at 1:46 pm

    It was quite the meeting. Very heated at times both literally and figuratively. I really think that there is a disconnect between East Portland and rest of Portland. I noticed that the representative of PDOT referred to the people that live “out here” which I think contributes to the feeling by many in the room that the City doesn’t view them as a part of the city.

    As a very active commuter, and cyclist and sometimes driver who lives in East Portland I think we have to have improved access for walking and biking. But since there are significant challenges and the City and the powers that be need to do a better job of outreach.

    Thank you to everyone who showed up at the meeting to support biking and walking. As a side note I didn’t see any proper bike parking at the church…

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  • Ely July 23, 2010 at 1:47 pm

    tired of seeing things change???? sorry folks, that’s the one constant in the universe. deal with it.

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  • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) July 23, 2010 at 1:48 pm


    many people suggested getting rid of on-street parking and doing just what you propose in your comment.

    the problem is if PBOT did that, it would undermine the goals of the project — which is to slow down the cars. The one lane of motor vehicle travel is key to the speeding problem. … Also, the whole idea is to make the street more comfortable to people on bikes and the days of just sticking a standard bike lane off in the gutter while cars zoom by at 40-50mph are over.

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  • Matthew July 23, 2010 at 1:48 pm

    @MeghanH (#3)

    Are we really that deep in the car culture that ANYTHING that says there are alternatives provokes a knee-jerk reaction?

    ‘Fraid so. :/

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  • Bob R. July 23, 2010 at 1:49 pm

    Why are people required to sit in a hall which bears slogans of religious proselytization in order to comment on transportation issues?

    “God is moving, are you?” — I guess in one interpretation that’s transportation related.

    My own neighborhood association has its general meetings in the basement of a church, however that church has taken care to avoid placing religious symbols or slogans in the meeting hall. That’s perfectly reasonable.

    Is it the case that the city has devoted so little to public infrastructure in the outer Holgate area that there are no civic/secular meeting venues available?

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  • Jessica Roberts July 23, 2010 at 1:50 pm

    It’s funny how East Portlanders are vocal and angry that The City Never Does Anything Good For Us, yet when something good is done for them, they get mad. I know, an oversimplification, and we’re probably not talking about the same people making the two complaints, but still. Way to make it hard to do the right thing.

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  • Allan July 23, 2010 at 1:51 pm

    I guess i wonder if the folks on my street in NE PDX know that they’re going to get like 5+ new speedbumps in a couple weeks. I haven’t gotten anything in the mail.

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  • Lance P. July 23, 2010 at 2:00 pm

    I think this person says it all “They’re just tired of waking up and seeing things change.” East of 82nd ave wasn’t even a part of Portland until it was annexed around 20 years ago ( It was simply unincorporated Multnomah county. This part is simply 100 years behind in urban planning. When the city attempts to improve livability, people that were there prior to annexation get upset. Treating this as anything but an urban environment now is just silly. People do and will continue to walk/bike. Simply ignoring this is just going to cause more people to get hurt. That fact that Holgate was ever a four lane highway was a mistake from 50s freeway planning. Lastly, “crime train”. That is also silly. Crime has been high on 82nd ave waaaaay before the green line ever went in. While I don’t ride everyday, when I do I have never had any issues at all. When you look at crime statistics it also doesn’t hold any water. The small crimes that do happen are mostly, auto break ins in the parking lots near by.

    Done ranting.

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  • Tom July 23, 2010 at 2:00 pm

    I went to the Eastside Sunday Parkways event, and the traffic/non-participant management was a bit clunkier than other Parkways. The layout seemed to make it less convenient for residents. I heard a few ask volunteers, “What is this?” And Portland Police were stopping lines of cars to let two Parkways participants cross Holgate, instead of waiting for a group of participants to form. I had a great time though, out there on the active transportation frontier, and on my way home was pleasantly shocked to find that Holgate was such a bikeable street.

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  • Anonymous July 23, 2010 at 2:01 pm

    Can you state the number of deaths on that stretch of road before the bike lanes went in?

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  • Marcus Griffith July 23, 2010 at 2:13 pm

    The resident’s seem to collectively feel like something they had a right to was wrongly taken away from them and there is nothing they can do get it back or stop it from happening in the future. Some of them might feel a bit vulnerable and defenseless. So of course they are mad (wouldn’t we if bike lanes were removed). No one likes feeling bullied or ignored by an government agency.

    So yeah, this is transportation project issue, but its still a human issue as well.

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  • SkidMark July 23, 2010 at 2:17 pm

    I will never understand why Portland is always trying to impede traffic. Personally I would prefer the cars that are on the road to get to their destination as fast as safely possible so they are off the road sooner. More room for bikes, and less pollution.

    There are more cars on the road now than when the boulevard was constructed and they cut the flow of traffic in half. What did they think would happen?

    No one cyclist needs a 7′ wide bike lane with a 3 foot buffer, essentially a ten foot wide bike lane. You shouldn’t need 7′ to go in a straight line and 3′ more to feel “safe”.

    The best solution would have been to leave Holgate as is,and picked a street one or two blocks away to make a Bike Route with those big Sharrows that they have been putting down all over the rest of SE.

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  • Michael M. July 23, 2010 at 2:21 pm

    Kudos to you, JM, for an excellent summary of the objections. What’s less clear to me is the purpose. Are these extra-wide lanes primarily designed to calm motorized traffic, to make conditions safer for all modes of travel? Or is the aim to provide better (more convenient, faster) connections for people on bicycles? Some combination? Other things?

    You write, PBOT will “evaluate the performance of the street on a number of criteria….” I guess what I don’t understand is how different criteria stack up against each other. How does PBOT, ultimately, decide whether this treatment is a success or failure?

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  • Bob R. July 23, 2010 at 2:23 pm

    SkidMark –

    You’ve got it backwards. The 7′ / 10′ buffered bike lane isn’t to give room to the cyclists to keep them from drifting into the automobile lane, it’s to create a buffer to allow for the fact that cars frequently drift into bike lanes.

    I really should drive around with a camera and document just how many times I see people casually driving, completely unaware that their right tires are over the paint stripe and in the bike lane.

    If _all_ road users could maintain strict lane discipline, we wouldn’t need more than a 4′ or 5′ bike lane. And that doesn’t even get into the issue of dooring from parked cars.

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  • trail user July 23, 2010 at 2:30 pm

    Why weren’t we told of this meeting beforehand? If we had we could have turned out en masse to stifle dissent.

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  • Brian July 23, 2010 at 2:39 pm

    Please bring more bike lanes, safer roads, and more congestion (to get people out of their cars). Thank you pbot. Thats exactly what I want.

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  • Cora Potter July 23, 2010 at 2:42 pm

    Michael M.

    The three foot buffer was added primarily to reduce the vehicle travel lane to 10 ft. The traffic engineers determined that having an auto lane wider than 10 ft would not be sufficiently narrow to reduce excessive speeds.

    But, the added benefit is that the buffer does provide a lot of comfort for the cautious bike rider – beyond the auto speed reduction. And, given the number of schools in the area and the senior housing at 104th, having an extra wide bike lane provides a lot of benefit for kids and older adults.

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  • beelnite July 23, 2010 at 2:46 pm

    Dear PDOT –

    Please tear up the bike lane on Holgate and give those people back their expressway and auto-centric neighborhood.

    The Starkwood Neighbors hereby officially request that you move the bike lane north approximately 2.7 miles to Stark between 108th and 122nd.

    We are in desperate need of a connected bike lane and slower traffic around our middle school, grade school, community center, local market and densely packed neighborhood.

    Many of us are poor and have to walk or ride a bike. We’d love to not have to run for our lives just to visit a friend across the street.

    If the people of Holgate want to act like idiots well just remember you have people who will welcome you with open arms just up 122nd.

    Thank you.

    beelnite at yahoo dot com

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  • Red Five July 23, 2010 at 2:48 pm

    Possible solution: Get rid of east Portland.

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  • aaronf July 23, 2010 at 2:55 pm

    Give East Portland to Gresham!

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  • Hart July 23, 2010 at 2:55 pm

    Did any of these people complaining about having to sit and wait in their cars consider actually getting out their bike and USING the new buffered lane?

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  • jordan July 23, 2010 at 2:55 pm

    Here! Here! beelnite #22 🙂

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  • SkidMark July 23, 2010 at 2:56 pm

    I’ve noticed that cars hug to the right, too. It’s especially annoying on a street with no bike lanes with stopped traffic because you end up sitting in traffic with them. I ride a bicycle so I don’t have to sit in traffic. Where I live I actually prefer to travel on roads with bike lanes. When I encounter someone looming into the bike lane I just knock on their passenger window, it usually gets them out of their stupor. I don’t encounter it that much, not nearly as much as cars pulling out from sidestreets and driveways right in front of me, driving past me and turning right in front of me, or taking left turn while I am oncoming traffic.

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  • SkidMark July 23, 2010 at 2:59 pm

    Sorry that was directed at Bob R’s comment about my comment.

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  • Michael M. July 23, 2010 at 3:04 pm

    Thank you, Cora (#21).

    So if that’s true, then the whole “bike lane to nowhere” angle is irrelevant. It seems like bikes are being scapegoated in this whole debate. The real issue is that PBOT needed to slow motor vehicle speed on Holgate, and it is at least partly incidental that it chose to do so by using the extra-wide bike lane as a tool to accomplish that. Objections quoted in the article like cyclists can use Springwater or TriMet bus racks are really beside the point. The question is, do the residents support the idea of a traffic-calmed Holgate, or do they like it the way it was, with excessive speeding?

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  • JR July 23, 2010 at 3:04 pm

    Please bring the bike lanes to NE Glisan between I-205 and NE 47th. We have fatalities on Glisan, a plethora of vehicle on vehicle crashes, dangerous biking conditions, and we care about our sustainable transportation. Buffered bike lanes are exactly what we need.

    At least East Portland is consistent in their complaints about everything… 🙂

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  • Nik July 23, 2010 at 3:06 pm

    The argument about Holgate that resonates most with me is right-sizing the street. It doesn’t make sense for a medium sized residential street with single lane connectivity to anywhere to have multiple vehicle travel lanes in each direction.

    The implementation of the experimentally wide bike lane is clunky because traffic engineers have much more pavement to work with than is needed, rather than the typically insufficient width they’re used to.

    I’d restripe the street to make the overall bike lane area narrower so it didn’t look like a repurposed vehicle lane, but make the parking lane wider–wide enough for a car door to open without entering the bike lane. Add parking spot hashes like in metered parking areas to encourage people to use the curb side of the parking area.

    I’d also remove the remnant of the second travel lane that appears and disappears as Holgate crosses 92nd. These extra through lanes encourage people to try and race other traffic through the intersection. Replace them with right turn lanes and extend the bike lanes further west on Holgate. There’s plenty of room for them at least until you reach the Walmart.

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  • Elena July 23, 2010 at 3:08 pm

    I’m curious to know whether, and to what extent, the City and advocacy groups are taking advantage of the opportunity to make the point that if the motorists worried about traffic jams would use other forms of transportation, there wouldn’t be as much traffic in the first place. Whether or not the bike lanes stay on Holgate is almost inconsequential in the grand scheme of things – this city is headed away from cars and towards alternate transportatation, and the removal of bike lanes now would just mean fighting them again a few years down the road.
    This seems like a great time to prove the real-world advantages of severing the attachment to cars. But most of these residents seem to be crafting their arguments around the assumption that no one’s willing to give up driving, even in awful traffic conditions – and even advocates for the lanes don’t seem to be challenging that assumption (at least from the info provided here).

    A lot of these folks claim to be “all for” bikes – what better time to make the switch?

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  • Chris July 23, 2010 at 3:08 pm

    On the website, there was one particular paragraph that was quite interesting:

    “What’s a buffered bike lane? Fancy name…… The buffered bike lanes on Holgate Boulevard are 7 feet wide, with a 3 foot buffer between the bike lane and the traffic lane. This, on top of the curb area for parking leaves cars and trucks (yeah, remember us… the real definition of mass transit), with two small crater filled lanes to travel on. (Try to remember who’s paying for those roads).”

    That last bit about “who’s paying for those roads”, we all know the answer is “everyone”, so I’m really confused by his statement and really makes me question any of the information on his website.

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  • Supercourse July 23, 2010 at 3:10 pm

    I’ve been riding around Portland since I moved here in 1972….. I rode the same streets that we just spent a million dollars to paint with really ugly sharrows, I rode to work up Cully that we’re about to spend millions more on. I rode Holgate to see what that was all about…all alone! I ride everywhere…and it seems to me the city is stuck more on good looking numbers than on good working plans. We need more paths…not more paint.

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  • Ted Buehler July 23, 2010 at 3:18 pm

    Question for anyone in-the-know —

    Many states have shared bike and right-turn lanes.

    I saw the Holgate lanes for the first time on Sunday, I didn’t remember seeing and right-turn lanes.

    They could improve traffic flow and placate drivers by adding shared bike and right-turn lanes at some intersections.

    This would give the car-centric voices a “win” — they fought back City Hall and gained something. I don’t think it would negatively impact bicyclists, given the light bike traffic and that it would eliminate a big right-hook risk.

    Jonathan or anyone else, did this come up?

    &, as always, thanks for the in-depth coverage!

    Ted Buehler

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  • John July 23, 2010 at 3:21 pm

    Angry town halls are to baby boomers what fixies are to hipsters.

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  • Cora Potter July 23, 2010 at 3:21 pm

    Michael M.

    One of the difficulties is that it’s hard to say what the residents as a group support, because the opinions are divided.

    What I can say is that there are a large number of people who live on or near Holgate that appreciate the traffic calming, and that putting Holgate on a road diet was not an idea that just came along last year when they striped the bike lanes. Both neighborhood associations approved a three auto lane cross section – the adjustment that PBOT made and didn’t really publicize well was that they decided to go with 10 ft auto lanes rather than 12 or 14 ft auto lanes.

    I live on Holgate and I am ecstatic about the reduction in speeds. It’s hard to explain to someone who isn’t familiar with the street – but it wasn’t just the occasional speeder, it was consistent speeding that precipitated other problems and crashes even beyond the former 5 auto lane cross section.

    PBOT’s data is showing that the number of speeders just in this section of Holgate has been reduced by 19%. Mark Lear stated that a 5% reduction is considered really good – 19% is phenomenal.

    Hopefully PBOT will put the presentation notes and data they passed out last night up on soon. That handout also outlines the measures they are using for the evaluation.

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  • jeff July 23, 2010 at 3:35 pm

    What is is about forum contributors to this blog who can’t validate or understand the thoughts and feelings of the residents at this meeting? Why do they have to see life as you do? The smugness displayed here is unbelievable.

    “Stiffling dissent”, calling them “idiots”, etc. Very indicative of immaturity.

    Speed changes were required on this stretch of Holgate. I live near there, I’ve seen and heard the problems/crashes/races. This type of bike lanes may not have been the best solution and PBOT screwed up by not inviting shareholders opinions. Bike lanes are great, but other options could have been considered.

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  • Spiffy July 23, 2010 at 3:43 pm

    I was at the meeting last night and it had a lot more people but they were a little more civilized… maybe because the pro-bike-lane people actually spoke up more (me included) so the anti crowd wasn’t as fueled…

    there were still some of the “we want our road back” people but not as many interrupting the meeting… and PBOT only had to give the mic to the mediator a couple times to control the outspoken…

    many older residents (some there since 1944) voiced their support of the bike lanes and the effect they’ve had in calming the street…

    I thought it was great that a self-proclaimed “Holgate drag racer” stood up and said that the bike lanes have worked in slowing down the traffic…

    PBOT had a handout (but they only had 100 copies and ran out) showing lots of statistical data they’ve gathered before and after the bike lanes to show people what has changed…

    as was already mentioned there were quite a few people who just flat out refused to believe what PBOT was saying… PBOT mentioned that they did a video survey last week of the bike lanes and counted nearly 200 riders… a lot of the crowd called foul… it’s a video! I’m not sure how the anti crowd thought that PBOT was faking a video but they were all invited to go to PBOT to watch the video and count the bicycles themselves… but they were still doubtful…

    there was still the usual concern of people not knowing how to drive or ride bikes correctly… these people didn’t seem to realize they were outing themselves as inattentive drivers with no ability to adapt to their surroundings… there were still many complaints of cars turning incorrectly and bicycles going the wrong way… as if PBOT can control how poorly people are driving… sure they can help a little with initial confusion but once you’ve turned onto Holgate you should have learned… the person sitting next to me suggested mandatory retesting with driver’s license renewals…

    the open forum presented to us worked well and they tried hard to keep it moving smoothly… they asked for observations, then improvements, then questions about their data… they never really went into the emotional area of asking people to just speak their minds about how they felt, just what they saw… that didn’t stop everybody but it kept the discussions more civilized…

    it was awesome of the church to let PBOT use their building… they had a presentation on the projector and were using the sound system so they could be heard… but I don’t think they turned on the AC because it was HOT in there by 9pm…

    they don’t have a bike rack… it was amusing to see all the bikes locked to the chain link fence like an art project… I walked to the meeting because of that…

    and if you’ve ever walked on Holgate you could understand the joy that the person in the electric wheelchair expressed during the meeting at being able to safely navigate Holgate… due to all the sidewalk obstructions (bushes, cracks, poles) they can now use the bike lane when they have to… they seemed very happy to have their mobility in their own neighborhood and I think it was a wake-up call to a lot of people that hadn’t considered the use of bike lanes by people in electric assist mobility devices…

    overall a much better meeting than last time, mostly because PBOT came prepared with numbers to back up the project and was able to answer most of the questions…

    Holgate will be seeing some improvements to help keep all modes of traffic running smoothly and I think in the end we will get to keep the bike lanes because they’re already making a measurable improvement…

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  • Matthew July 23, 2010 at 3:47 pm

    Not to comment-spam, but it sounds like PBOT accomplished exactly what they intended with this project — slowing down traffic — and the residents are angry because … PBOT accomplished exactly what they intended.

    If you have to drive a car, slow down. And if you don’t have to drive a car, don’t. I know I’m preaching to the choir here, but sheesh.

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  • John Reinhold July 23, 2010 at 4:00 pm

    I encourage people to bike out there, bike along these bike lanes. Stop and buy something at a local business, or get some food at a local shop.

    Let them see you on your bike.

    Then they are no longer bike lanes to nowhere.

    Oh, and although the Springwater may be .7 miles away – it doesn’t go in the same direction! If you need to go ANYWHERE from Harold or Woodstock north, the Springwater doesn’t go there. It goes Southwest from that area. To hit most of SE Portland, the Springwater goes the wrong way. So if you are going to businesses on 82nd, or Mt. Tabor, or Hawthorne, or Woodstock, or Division, or Ladd, or Laurelhurst, or even Lloyd Center – the Springwater is not even near your path.

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  • Peter Smith July 23, 2010 at 4:04 pm

    I was glad to see PBOT’s Mark Lear say that we need bike lanes on all major (aja ‘busy’) roads in the city. Of course that’s what we need, and that’s the minimum that we need — and even a simple buffered bike lane is not enough — we’ll take it for now as a step in the right direction, but this is not the end game.

    And appropriate bicycle infrastructure and traffic calming _will_ be implemented on every single public road in the entire city of Portland — without exception. Auto traffic concerns do not take priority over allowing pedestrians and cyclists safe, comfortable, and dignified access to every single public road under PBOT’s jurisdiction. This correcting of a historic injustice is being corrected before our very eyes — can I get a witness?! It’s time to become a true believer — get on this bike bandwagon — these injustices will not stand — get on the right side of history — these corrections are inevitable — don’t fight them — they’re like quicksand — you’ll only sink faster if you fight it.

    I agree that the single auto travel lane in each direction is important to keeping auto speeding/law-breaking under control — this is the reason to oppose any multi-lanes-in-one-direction setups, like one-ways, freeways, etc. — they’re just ‘crimeways’.

    The buffer is necessary to help cyclists feel a little less uncomfortable traveling next to massive and dangerous cars and trucks — in addition to the many other reasons the buffer is necessary.

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  • Vance Longwell July 23, 2010 at 4:05 pm

    “The importance of this project transcends Holgate Avenue.”

    A statement like this TRANSCENDS the stated goal. Which is to allocate more funding toward so-called active transportation, and to reduce the general public’s dependency on personal automobiles. I thought it was about, “Reducing automobile ABUSE, and not USE.”?

    What’s implicit in this statement is that there exists an agenda with a higher priority than implementing infrastructure. This is precisely the sentiment that set Dan Christensen off, and what inspired the license-plate-gate that just went down.

    Before this coverage the line was that the community was consulted. That people WANTED this. This was countered with, “No, the people whom might otherwise attend such meetings work for a living, and simply can’t/won’t attend.”, and was immediately rebuked with yet more citations of community involvement. Bull. The two out-of-state hippie couples on the block went to your dumb meetings, and that’s it. You know it, I know it, everybody knows it.

    Quickly now. Rationalize. Justify. Descend into the semantics. Complexity will protect you from sophistication, and large scope. Fools. Yeah, and ignoring it has not made it go away either, huh?

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  • Rick Bradford July 23, 2010 at 4:10 pm

    In response to Chris,

    I don’t know how much you pay in fuel taxes, and I’m sure the liabilty insurance on your bike is pretty hefty too. Not to mention the excise taxes on your tires. Add in your Licensing fees and your bike inspection fees. I’m sure you realize by now that the person driving a car has paid a far greater feed to drive on this public road than you on your bike. Granted you might own a home and pay some property taxes that find their way into the transporation system, but c’mon…. Who is really footing the bill here.

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  • SkidMark July 23, 2010 at 4:11 pm

    There is nothing calming about sitting in traffic. How about “Traffic Frustrating” or “Traffic Infuriating”?

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  • Geana Tyler July 23, 2010 at 4:35 pm

    In Response to Rick Bradford #44

    I own a car and a pickup truck and have just started using the Holgate bikelanes, I live on Holgate. I have both vehicles registered, insured and just put a new set of tires on both of them the past year or two. I think I am footing the bill enough to be able to ride a bike down the street if I want.

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  • Hart July 23, 2010 at 4:35 pm

    Driving around in a car should be frustrating and irritating, all the more reason to live car-free.

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  • suburban July 23, 2010 at 4:39 pm

    35 John- your comment, while off topic, is so spot on, and I think you are on to something. There are sociological forces that act on all demographics. There is obviously enough pavement on this huge street to accommodate all users, and we may agree this discussion is about something less tangible.

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  • Rick Bradford July 23, 2010 at 4:39 pm

    In response to Geana Tyler,

    Very good points

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  • Elliot July 23, 2010 at 4:41 pm

    Re: SkidMark #16: ““The best solution would have been to leave Holgate as is,and picked a street one or two blocks away to make a Bike Route with those big Sharrows that they have been putting down all over the rest of SE.

    Sounds nice, but no can do. There isn’t a single local street parallel to Holgate that goes through from I-205 to 122nd. Just look at a map. The street grid isn’t complete in East Portland like it is closer in to town. Between Division and Foster, the only east-west through streets are, count ’em: Division, Powell, Holgate, Harold and Foster. (Division, Powell, and Foster have bike lanes). Sorry folks, bikes are going to be on arterials in East Portland whether you like it or not.

    Or… maybe some of the anti-bike lane folks at the meeting would like to offer up their houses for demolition so the street grid in the neighborhood can be completed in order to create a feasible parallel route for bikes? And hold a bake sale to raise a few million dollars for a new bicycle and pedestrian overpass across I-205 so bikes don’t have to detour to Holgate to get across the freeway, too? Then, we could take the bike lane off Holgate and everybody would be happy!

    Well… probably not gonna happen. $30,000 worth of paint on Holgate sounds a lot better than that alternative, doesn’t it?

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  • matt picio July 23, 2010 at 4:41 pm

    SkidMark (#16) – Because the more convenient you make driving, the more people will do it. If you increase traffic flow, you will have more cars on that road, and the odds of collisions will increase. Regarding bike boulevards in outer NE/SE, look at a map of the area – connectivity in the outer areas is not good, and low-traffic routes are problematic at best, and in some cases not practical.

    and (#45) – Traffic will be there no matter what they do – it’s a function of population density and a limited number of streets. Increase the number of lanes, and you’ll simply get more trips on those streets until the congestion rebalances exactly where it was. Sometimes it takes 3 months, sometimes a year, but it always happens. It’s a function of having more than a million people in the metro area, and unless we start shoeing people out of Portland, it’ll be here from now on.

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  • peejay July 23, 2010 at 4:42 pm

    Rick Bradford:

    Divide the higher fees you pay for driving a car by the extra infrastructure your car requires, and the wear and tear you do to that infrastructure. The fact is that a 3000lb car does more damage to a road surface than a 20lb bike plus 180lb rider. And it’s not just proportional: I’ve heard convincing arguments that the damage goes up by anywhere from the square of the weight difference to the cube of the weight difference. Other factors matter, such as tire size and type, axles, speed driven, etc. Suffice to say, that although you pay more (and you might be surprised by the actual numbers), much much more is spent on your road use than on mine. Then we should consider the costs placed on society by the extra emergency rescue resources required to respond to the crashes caused by drivers, by the loss of life from same, and the cost of pollution damage from those cars. As for property values: you can be sure that a house one or two blocks away from a busy, fast-moving street will sell for more than the identical house right on that street. Which would YOU rather live in?

    Don’t think I’m anti-car. I’m anti-“car-by-default”; that is, I think people should be free to use cars when they really need to, and free to use other options when those make more sense. Since those other options cost LESS in terms of public money, it’s better for everyone — including those who exclusively use cars — that those other options are given a place on our roads.

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  • Peter Smith July 23, 2010 at 4:42 pm

    Also, it’s time for KATU-TV to apologize for endangering the lives of cyclists by intentionally sewing confusion and stoking anger with their misleading report.

    We just saw that terrorist driver run down four cyclists in San Francisco – probably because he’d had his fill of bike hate from tv. And we saw the right wing terrorist shot to death in Oakland just a couple of days ago. He was on his way to SF to ‘kill progressives’. His mom said he just kept watching tv all the time and would get angrier and angrier.

    TV stations operate on the public airwaves and have a duty to provide accurate, responsible coverage. Provoking violence and terrorism is not acceptable.

    So, KATU-TV — how about that apology and correction report now?

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  • Elliot July 23, 2010 at 4:49 pm

    Re: Rick Bradford #49 – glad you agree with her points, because Geana Tyler isn’t alone. The vast majority of bicyclists are also tax and insurance-paying car drivers. And I bet it’s closer to 99% in your neighborhood, simply because the current conditions for bicycling and walking are very poor.

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  • SkidMark July 23, 2010 at 4:55 pm

    matt picio : What about in place where driving is more convenient,like out on the West Side? How come I am seeing more people on bikes out here when driving is so convenient,with the big parking lots at the shopping centers and one bike rack shoved in a corner?

    If cyclists were really interested in getting people out of their cars and onto bikes, they would stop admonishing and chastising them for driving cars.

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  • Devian Gilbert July 23, 2010 at 5:33 pm

    i suppose a fundamental key to non violent communication is to avoid duality.

    “you must be crazy because your problem is this”<—gets you nowhere. all it does is establishes a division.
    I'm right you're wrong (that kind of a thing)

    a bunch of psycho word babble right? I guess…
    but its a portrayal of a person's mind. The way a person speaks paints a picture that others interpret.

    the reality is that everyone is living together to a degree and motorists are people just like cyclists are people.

    I'm a combat vet. years ago a buddy gave me this book: On Killing

    its impossible to disembowel your children with a dull antler horn

    however a person can deliver atomic ordinance from 30,000ft


    3 things:

    1. psychological
    2. social
    3. physical


    it occurs every day in our world

    thats why we have slanders

    unfortunately motor vehicles provide a degree of anonymity

    red acura cuts off whit toyota

    not accurate: the driver of acura cut off driver of toyota

    I'm in a hurry, I have better things to do than ride a bike, and the car provides power, speed, anonymity (aka: physical distancing). <— viola

    perfect scenario to establish the foundation to commit violence

    aka: act out

    its really hard to be rude to someone's grandma when they cut in front of you in line at the grocery store. suddenly you are face to face. probably you have a dialog. More than likely you smile, the discrepancy becomes resolved.

    its another story when someone passes you on the brakes while stuck in car traffic.

    distancing: psychological, social and physical distancing

    we all know this, bikes are great for breaking down barriers. suddenly everyone is face to face.

    bureaucracy often times is distanced
    its easy to have people feel left out

    I'm still bummed out that so many jobs have been sent overseas for the last 3 decades… I wasn't old enough to vote on that.

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  • Coldswim July 23, 2010 at 5:53 pm

    If outer NE Portland wants to start rejecting bike infastructure improvements then I’d like to, on the behalf of North Portland, accept all their funding.

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  • Devian Gilbert July 23, 2010 at 5:58 pm

    easy direct, factual input

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  • The Translator July 23, 2010 at 6:11 pm


    It’s a socio-economic thing. Initially, it appears the westside is cartopia and to a certain extent it is. The westside is also populated by more affluent and better educated folks by and large. So, riding a bike seems rational along with being trendy and cool amongst westsiders. Want to be one of the cool kids? DRIVE over to the chi-chi bike shop and drop a couple grand on a bike – that’s a cheap purchase to those making far above the median income.

    Out on the far eastside, the folks are predominantly working class and probably feel economically threatened. They bought a car that likely gave them an ego boost and a small sense of “I’m doing O.K.!”. Now they feel attacked by a city government that saw fit to build a bike lane without consulting them first. A city government that, in their eyes, caters solely to the monied westsiders and Laurelhurst liberals.

    I can understand their anger and PBOT should really do a much better job of outreach BEFORE doing things like this buffered bike lane. That doesn’t mean that projects should be stalled for years until the neighborhood comes around but it does smack of disrespect or outright disregard. People should be allowed to express their concerns and the city needs to be far more transparent in its dealings.

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  • Crash N. Burns July 23, 2010 at 6:37 pm

    This entire city has Jumped the Shark.
    Everyone is right. No one is ever wrong.
    Here in PDX we don’t have smog, we have smug.
    Life’s way too short.

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  • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) July 23, 2010 at 7:11 pm

    Ted Buehler (#35),

    good observation.. and you’ll be happy to know that allowing cars to cross over the bike lane (prior to the intersection) and into the parking lane to turn right is one of the immediate changes PBOT plans to make. This will mean people will no longer have to make right turns at the intersection.

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  • John July 23, 2010 at 7:40 pm

    48 Suburban, I’m glad you got my point/joke. Sociology indeed. I’ve nothing against boomers or hipsters but here’s hoping public tantrums is a passing fad.

    Transit planning should be should be careful, technical & boring.

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  • Paul Johnson July 23, 2010 at 9:11 pm

    Really sounds like the RestoreHolgate crowd is out of synch with the locals. I wonder if they know 1-800-GOOG-411 can tell them the number to the closest UHaul location.

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  • maxadders July 23, 2010 at 9:39 pm

    Supercourse: “We need more paths…not more paint.”

    Don’t get me wrong– I love multi-user-paths too. But bike lanes are an essential component. Unless there’s a personal path to my front door– as well as a path that lets me go everywhere I want to on my bike– I’m going to need a way to get my bike there.

    I’m not going to put my bike on my car rack and drive it to a MUP trailhead just to commute to work. That would be ridiculous!

    If we could redesign our city from scratch, maybe we’d come up with an amazing network of bike / walk / rollerblade paths leading just about everywhere in the metro area. But we’re living in a city that’s well over 100 years old, and we’re only a good 20 or 30 years, max, into sensible bike advocacy and urban planning.

    I rode dozens of bike lanes and sharrowed streets today to reach both the 205 bike path and the springwater corridor– and I think Portland’s done an amazing job so far.

    The stubborn NIMBYism around the Holgate lanes has made it painfully clear how short-sighted a neighborhood can be.

    They’re acting like their area is the only one to ever be neglected in this city, and that’s far from true. Compare Mississippi or Alberta to what they were 10 years ago, and you’ll notice that easy bike access was key to transforming these neighborhoods.

    (And before someone gives me a kneejerk gentrification speech, I believe there are many ways to improve a neighborhood without yuppifying and gentrifying it. Calming traffic and adding pedestrian and bike infrastructure is a big part of all that. And it’s relatively painless, if everyone would stop acting like a martyr for ten minutes and give it a chance.)

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  • SkidMark July 24, 2010 at 9:24 am

    Translator,I’m talking about Beaverton/Aloha/Hillboro, not NW Portland.

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  • spare_wheel July 24, 2010 at 11:50 am

    “completely *aware* that their right tires are over the paint stripe and in the bike lane”


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  • Nick Christensen July 24, 2010 at 11:50 am

    Bush Street could function as an excellent alternative from 99th to 130th.

    A bridge over I-205 could connect it to MAX and the MUP, maybe 2 property acquisitions could get it to 82nd Avenue and a bike boulevard could then use Center and Gladstone into the city.

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  • Cora Potter July 24, 2010 at 2:46 pm


    I’ll ride 5 blocks out of the way to Bush, if you start driving north all the way to Division and then to 122nd or 82nd every time you want to go South – and also drive south to Foster and then to 122nd or 82nd every time you want to drive North.

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  • Elliot July 24, 2010 at 10:21 pm

    Cora, Nick’s point is valid… and his tone sure doesn’t sound to me as if he’s suggesting it should be instead of bike lanes on Holgate, but complementary to them. I know I’d use a Bush bike boulevard if they got it over I-205… but a new overpass doesn’t sound very likely.

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  • Cora Potter July 24, 2010 at 10:34 pm

    Elliot, Nick and I are friends. He means instead of buffered bike lanes on Holgate.

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  • jim July 25, 2010 at 11:29 am

    Why didn’t they make one of those bike boulavards (greenways) one block over? They will probably come back in 2 years and do that to like over on Interstate where they have bike lanes then a bike bvd on concord, and then more bike lanes on denver just a couple of blocks over.
    This city is on crack

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  • Pete July 25, 2010 at 3:18 pm

    jim (#71): I’m not disagreeing with you, but reading this from a distance, the message I got was that the project is also about traffic calming. I don’t know the area though so have no opinions on it (other than the hash marks don’t make sense to me being on the left).

    Rick (#44, 49): As you’ve probably figured out by now, cyclists have heard that argument before (once or twice ;). Some of us would love to pay weighted taxes for our own infrastructure – I’d get back a ton of money I spend registering and insuring my cars to sit in my driveway (and the Federal highway deficit of $20B+ would magically disappear). Further, my county breaks down the percentage of my property taxes that go to public schools. Since I have no children, I’d be retired on the money I’d save not sending other peoples’ kids to school. But this is not the way our system works.

    Also, I applaud you for engaging in what I see as an open-minded two-way conversation with ‘the other side.’ I hope things work out to everyone’s advantage there.

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  • CaptainKarma July 26, 2010 at 1:07 am

    I think this whole brouhaha (is that a word?) was instigated by inflammatory yellow journalism by TV news in order to get ratings. Stir up the populace, give them a cause, have a “news” story to report ad nauseum, at a cost to civility, progress, and community. I think folks wouldn’t have been nearly so upset if the media hadn’t told them they were.

    I say the Holgate extra lanes should be depaved and trees planted to counteract the carbon dioxide and monoxide emitted by internal combustion fetishists.
    (Is *that* a word?)

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  • john July 26, 2010 at 5:57 am

    Make it like Lombard street north/west of columbia park into st johns. One wide road with just a center lane. Sure makes the painting easy. Great to ride bike on because cars have plenty of room to get around. Sure nice for parking. Sure nice for turning either left or right, the traffic just goes around. No confusing paint, people just avoid each other and traffic flows whether car, bike or horse&buggy is smooth.

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  • Anonymous July 26, 2010 at 8:25 am

    Lombard does move pretty well through that area. It might be a good model

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  • chelsea July 26, 2010 at 9:30 am

    If driving is less convenient perhaps fewer people will drive half a mile to run errands. Change is inevitable.

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  • KWW July 26, 2010 at 10:17 am

    …don’t listen to this bunch of mouth breathers.

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  • joe adamski July 26, 2010 at 11:30 am

    Holgates design ( minus the bike lanes) is the result of the Mt Hood Freeway. 40 yrs ago, lots were cropped to extend right of way for what was to be a major collector street off 205 freeway and connections to the Mt Hood Fwy. When Mt Hood was killed, the wide street remains and it is a street designed for high speed/volume, though the need is not there.
    It would take extensive investment to make Holgate the right sized street it should be. Median islands, curb extensions etc are very pricey and PBOT hoped to calm Holgate with a few gallons of paint. The bike community is hearing the backlash from car-centric folks in SE, framing it as a bike issue, rather than a livibility/safety issue it is.
    Remember outer SE is a recent annexation to the city of portland. many moved to outer SE to NOT be in portland, much the same as vancouverites. To them, this Holgate issue is validation of their anti City attitude. But they took the cities money to build sewers out there,when EPA mandated it in the 90s, and being part of the City means having City policy direct transportation etc. I wonder if many of those loud voices were there when they were faced with $30k per lot sewer bills on $60k properties? Like the City or not, they are now citizens of Portland. And that means being subject to City policy, zoning, etc. I think many want to have their cake and eat it too.

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  • Linda in East Portland July 26, 2010 at 2:53 pm

    Joe says, “But they took the cities money to build sewers out there,when EPA mandated it in the 90s,…I wonder if many of those loud voices were there when they were faced with $30k per lot sewer bills on $60k properties?”

    The voices were there, LOUD & CLEAR, when they were faced with those huge sewer bills. In fact, that’s one of the main reasons for the attitude of many residents in the area (anti-city, or more appropriately a general distrust of the city). It was only after significant protests on the part of the citizens of east Portland, that the City agreed to provide ANY city money for the massive sewer project and provided a source of low-interest loans.

    Another reason for the “attitude” is the residents of east Portland were promised they would have city services comparable to the rest of the city (roads, sidewalks, parks and more) — and, for the most part, they are still waiting for those services more than 20 years later.

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