Portlanders ask for better bicycling at first N/NE Quadrant open house

Scene from the N/NE Quadrant Project
open house last month.
(Photo: City of Portland)

The City of Portland and the Oregon Department of Transportation have recently embarked on a public outreach process to garner input that will inform their N/NE Quadrant and I-5 Broadway/Weidler Plans. The idea is to integrate land use and urban design planning with freeway planning in the lower Albina and Lloyd Districts.

At the first public open house of the N/NE Quadrant Project (held November 15th), attendees made it clear that the top priority should be improvements to the walking and biking environment. According to the City’s Bureau of Planning and Sustainability (they’re managing the process), the majority of comments received at the event had to do with transportation. Here’s how the City characterizes the responses:

“Your comments showed a clear interest in making the N/NE Quadrant of Portland’s Central City more pedestrian and bicyclist friendly and making public transit (bus, MAX, streetcar) more accessible. Many of your comments also included suggestions to lower speed limits in the portion of the I-5 freeway that passes through the N/NE Quadrant. Your comments also show sincere concerns about the safety around I-5 on/off ramps that intersect with pedestrian, bicycle and local auto traffic.”

Broadway and Larrabee observations-6

Bike traffic on NE Broadway.
(Photo © J. Maus)

Also at the open house, ODOT representatives asked a specific question about Interstate 5. (As we know, ODOT has some ideas of their own about how to alleviate bottlenecks and lower the amount crashes on I-5 as it passes through the Broadway/Weidler interchange). Interestingly, when they asked, “What issues are the most important to address as we consider improvements to the I‐5 Freeway?” the 22 open house attendees that answered the question put congestion and freeway traffic safety at the bottom of the list.

Here’s how the responses to that question broke down when spread over eight issues and placed in order from highest importance to lowest importance:

  • Pedestrian and bike travel improvements: 31%
  • Impacts on quality of life: 22%
  • Impacts of improvements on adjacent properties: 15%
  • Economic impact on local business: 13%
  • Regional economic impact: 7%
  • Freeway traffic safety: 5%
  • Local and street access to freeway: 5%
  • Freeway congestion: 3%

With many bike transportation problem spots in this area, there’s a lot at stake in this process. It’s good to know that people are speaking up about bicycling right from the get-go.

Learn more about the N/NE Quadrant Project and read a full summary of the first open house here. You can also take a look at a detailed list of all the comments they received on transportation issues in this PDF document. See the “Get Involved” page for ways you can track this project.

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

Founder of BikePortland (in 2005). Father of three. North Portlander. Basketball lover. Car owner and driver. If you have questions or feedback about this site or my work, feel free to contact me at @jonathan_maus on Twitter, via email at maus.jonathan@gmail.com, or phone/text at 503-706-8804. Also, if you read and appreciate this site, please become a supporter.

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13 years ago

those numbers from attendees are great news! let’s hope it stays in favor of local surface streets and doesn’t get steered toward favoring the freeway…

13 years ago

From the article:
“… 22 open house attendees that answered the question put congestion and freeway traffic safety at the bottom of the list.”

I equate this to the same sense of local responsibility that small town folk will stridently defend and have their local police ticket every city slicker speeding through their town.
Just because those city folk want to get from point A to point B doesn’t mean that people at point C, being a point in between, have to put up with being endangered by them.

Certainly some local drivers will need to use this interchange. Local delivery of freight by truck will continue to be necessary until there is a major system wide change to our transport system away from what it is now.

However, we as urban citizens, do not need to suffer for the speedy travel of people just passing through.

I don’t believe that we need to remove this section of I-5 but I don’t believe that money invested in any of these superfluous road-way expansion simply because with peak oil so blatantly on the way it is ill advised to invest in increasing capacity of a transport mode that will have said capacity curtailed by the reduction of available fuel.

Machu Picchu
Machu Picchu
13 years ago
Reply to  q`Tzal

I agree with 99%, q’Tzal, but it occurs to me that with the current rise of alternative fuel motor vehicles, the decline of oil as a fuel may not translate to the decline of cars on local freeways. I’ve been thinking that a lot of electric cars would solve a lot of oil-related problems, but not the “every individual hurtling around in his/her own steel box” problem.

13 years ago
Reply to  Machu Picchu

That is a reasonable assumption if portable electrical storage/generation capacity (batteries, hydrogen fuel cells, flywheels, hybrid super capacitors) keeps up with the pace of increase of usage.
Unfortunately current electrical storage technology has not, is not nor shows any signs of being able in the future of keeping up with the ever increasing demands of individual units (cars, trucks, laptop computers).
Nor is there an industrial structure or distribution system in place to handle the massive amount batteries that will need to be distributed nation wide to supplant the energy density currently supplied by petrochemicals.
Further complicating a massive roll out of battery power is the environmental impact. As the pro-hydrogen/anti-gasoline argument goes:
“You could never get gasoline approved for public use in this culture. Ignoring pollution & CO2 issues it is carcinogenic, the fumes are toxic and explosive, the fumes are heavier than air so they accumulate around ignition hazards…”
Lead acid batteries are the only battery tech cheap, plentiful enough and with a sufficient US based infrastructure to supply the US demand for American mobility.
I’m not certain anything other than the sudden and total unavailability of petrochemicals will produce the political will required to get the public to allow that many GIGA-tons of lead to be carted around everywhere endangering public health.

13 years ago

So, how can we get involved now? I didn’t even know about this open house and though I live in SE I still often travel through that area to visit friends and attend events.

cold worker
cold worker
13 years ago

was this announced on bikeportland? less bikecraft and fashion. more real stuff.

Adams Carroll (News Intern)
Reply to  cold worker

Yep. It sure was.

cold worker
cold worker
13 years ago

thanks dude. less bikecraft and fashion anyways. heh.

13 years ago

On that “site topic” issue:
it would be nice to be able to have subject headings at the top of the home page like the sort of big news outlet this site is turning in to.

I’m not sure that “jobs” or “photos” are the big draw of BikePortland.org.
However there might be a reasonable draw to a “Community activism / Politics” tab or a “Bike FUN!!! / Events” tab or a “Local Heroes” tab.

Conversely, there are some readers who have absolutely NO interest in some topics would just as soon not even see them. Be it “pointless bike silliness” or “depressingly corrupt political DOT maneuvering” or “road rage of the week”.
It might be nice to be able to easily avoid what ever doesn’t interest what you don’t want to read without a few classes in website craftery.
Or just click the “Home” tab if ya want to read it all.

Thank you.

Perry Hunter
Perry Hunter
13 years ago

Portland Planning and Sustainability Calendar of Events

Maybe put that as a link on the sidebar?

Adams Carroll (News Intern)
Reply to  Perry Hunter

Hey Perry,

Thanks for becoming a subscriber.. and I’ll add that link to the story.