Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on January 20th, 2011 at 2:52 pm
bike lanes and removal of parking on both sides of
SE 52nd north of Woodstock.
One year ago today, the City of Portland Bureau of Transportation accepted a $1.3 million grant to build the 50s Bikeway project. That grant came 13 years after the project — a 4.5 mile north-south bikeway along the 52nd Avenue corridor — was first envisioned by PBOT.
On Wednesday night (1/26), the public will get their first opportunity to see PBOT’s plans for the project at an open house in the Woodstock neighborhood. According to drafts of the proposed plan developed by PBOT and a Citizen’s Advisory Committee (CAC), the 50s Bikeway could come with significant transportation changes along the corridor.
Like their “next generation” bike boulevard and neighborhood greenway projects, PBOT plans to employ tools such as speed bumps, improved signal detection for bicycles, traffic diverters, bike boxes, pavement markings, and other treatments in order to make the route pleasant, safe, and efficient for bicycle traffic.
Of particular note is the stretch of SE 52nd from SE Woodstock to Division (a 40-foot cross section with two 12-foot travel lanes and two eight-foot parking lanes). According to PBOT data, motor vehicle traffic volume and speeds are high in this section. On-street parking is also allowed.
In order to make room for a high-quality bikeway, the CAC and PBOT started looking at ways to re-allocate the existing space. If the space of a parking lane on one side of the street was re-allocated, five-foot bike lanes could be added; but Newlands says that, “There was a strong feeling on the part of the CAC that five foot bike lanes wouldn’t be sufficient in that high-speed environment.”
“There was a strong feeling on the part of the CAC [Citizen’s Advisory Committee] that five foot bike lanes wouldn’t be sufficient in that high-speed environment.”
— Rich Newlands, PBOT
Instead of narrow bike lanes, Newlands said the CAC felt they should go for eight-foot wide buffered bike lanes. However, that option would require the space taken up by parking lanes on both sides of SE 52nd. With space to park private automobiles considered sacred, PBOT tends to tread lightly whenever it’s considered.
In search of a compromise between buffered bike lanes with no parking lanes (which CAC meeting minutes noted could have the unintended impact of encouraging higher speeds on the street) and one parking lane with only five-foot bike lanes, PBOT engineers found a few more feet to work with. As they’ve done on several other projects recently, PBOT engineers gave Newlands the go-ahead to reduce the standard travel lane from 12 feet to 10 feet, thus giving the CAC the option of six foot bike lanes that would only require one side of on-street parking to be removed.
Newlands says that, “When we were able to get a green light on the six foot bike lanes, that shifted the consensus on the CAC away from buffered bike lanes… They felt six foot bike lanes would be comfortable.”
Here’s a look at the cross section drawings for the six-foot bike lane and buffered bike lane options:
With the likelihood of space on their street being used for transportation instead of private storage, neighborhood residents have already begun to contact PBOT in opposition to the plan. In response, PBOT can point to analysis that shows most people don’t use the parking to begin with.
Back in August, PBOT analysis showed that on-street parking utilization was extremely low — rarely going above 50 percent and averaging somewhere near just 10 to 15 percent. (This is likely due to the fact that almost all the homes along SE 52nd in this stretch have off-street parking.) The chart below shows parking utilization rates between 4:00 and 5:00 pm on August 5, 2010…
Advocates who support the bikeways proposals are doing what they can to garner support and make sure that neighborhood opposition doesn’t unduly influence the project outcome.
Active Right of Way wrote via their blog today that, “We have to be louder and more present than the opposition to make this project a reality, so please make sure you participate and demonstrate your support.”
The Bicycle Transportation Alliance (BTA) is also alerting their members about the open house through their blog, email blasts, and phone calls. Advocacy Manager Gerik Kransky, who’s also a member of the CAC, says he hopes to avoid a backlash to this project similar to the SE Holgate fiasco.
At the open house on Wednesday, the community will be able to weigh in on the various design options. Buffered bike lanes are still under consideration, but the CAC and PBOT would need to hear strong support for them before moving forward.
Newlands says the CAC will meet again after the first open house and a follow-up open house will happen this spring. Following that second open house, PBOT will bring the project plans to City Council for adoption. A final design is scheduled to be complete by spring 2011 and work on the project could begin as soon as 2012.
NE/SE 50s Bikeway Public Open House
Wednesday, January 26, 2011
Public encouraged to drop in anytime between 5:00PM and 8:00PM
Our Lady of Sorrows Catholic Church (5329 SE Woodstock Blvd)
TriMet Bus #71 and #19
Auto parking is available behind church.
Additional bicycle parking will be provided.
Link to Google directions