Joe Bike

PBOT, advocates prep for 50s Bikeway project open house

Posted by on January 20th, 2011 at 2:52 pm

One concept under consideration is buffered
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.

Proposed traffic diversion at 52nd and Division.

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.

This is a major bikeway project and we’ve got to get it right. Please visit the 50s Bikeway project page, explore the draft design concept (PDF), and try to swing by the open house if you can.

    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

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. Also, if you comment frequently, please consider holding your thoughts so that others can step forward. Thank you — Jonathan

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    Paul Manson January 20, 2011 at 3:02 pm

    I would love to see more separation. I live near Division and 50th and my family and I will take 52nd over to breakfast at Toast on 52nd and Steele. Its dicey on 52nd as you really have to take the lane. Hard to share with the level of traffic there.

    Navigating the triangle of Foster-Powell-52nd can be a challenge too.

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    jacob January 20, 2011 at 3:16 pm

    while I wouldn’t call 52nd dicey, it’s pretty calm and easy to ride on. it’s always nice to have more bike specific facilities.

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      Paul Manson January 20, 2011 at 3:28 pm

      With a kiddo in tow its pretty fast – plus the bus traffic adds to the pressure. Its not the worst, but a great candidate to make more intermediate-rider friendly.

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    mabsf January 20, 2011 at 3:25 pm

    I am really interested in the blocks between Belmont and Stark…
    52nd is really slim there – more or less a one-way street when cars are parked on both sides and it is the access to Glencoe Elementary. Needless to say that the route planner (yet again) picked a nice big hill…

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      Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) January 20, 2011 at 3:37 pm


      The route jogs over to 53rd just before Belmont and through Stark.

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      Elliot January 20, 2011 at 3:43 pm

      Do you mean 53rd between Belmont and Stark? Because 52nd dead-ends south of Stark, and then picks back up again as Morrison hits Glencoe, and it then actually is a one-way street southbound next to Glencoe, and then 52nd dead ends again one block past Belmont. They’re not using 52nd in this area.

      But about 53rd as the chosen route… 54th and 55th to the east are even steeper, and 49th is the nearest through street to the west, which has a striped centerline, parking on only one side and is actually even narrower than 53rd… my Google Earth measuring tool probably isn’t accurate, but it’s showing me 23 feet for 49th compared to 26 feet for 53rd.

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      Mabsf February 2, 2011 at 3:52 pm

      Yupp-sorry! Always confuse the streets up there!

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    Allan January 20, 2011 at 3:49 pm

    shouldn’t removing 2 feet from each travel lane add 2 feet to each bike lane? or am i missing something?

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      Elliot January 20, 2011 at 4:01 pm

      I think it was implied, but not explicitly mentioned, that the 5′ bike lane scenario was already assuming a reduction to 11′ travel lanes. (8′ parking + two 5′ bike lanes (10′) plus two 11′ travel lanes (22′) = 40′.

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    craig January 20, 2011 at 4:00 pm

    Jonathan, I know you included the project site link, but maybe put the location and time of the open house in this post too.

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    NF January 20, 2011 at 4:02 pm

    Wait… so the buffered lane option is out? Is there any chance we can change their minds? Buffered lanes are the facility type we should be pushing for whenever possible because they are so superior to a regular lane.

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      Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) January 20, 2011 at 4:10 pm

      No. They’re not “out”… they’re just not currently part of the draft proposal that’s most highly agreed upon by the CAC. The buffered bike lanes are still in as an alternative option and if PBOT hears enough support for them at the open house they could get back on the table.

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    BURR January 20, 2011 at 4:47 pm

    this is probably the first bike project in 20 years where PBOT is proposing significant parking removal.

    It will be interesting to see what the outcome is.

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    cyclists January 20, 2011 at 4:50 pm

    The area in question is almost totally residential, removing street parking on both sides of the street would put the neighborhood residents in the “firmly against” category, this is a pretty smart category that will hopefully gain approval from all those involved.

    One issue I have though is that they’re measuring the parking space usage between 4 and 5pm, since the area is residential it measuring usage after folks are home from work would give a better idea of what the parking needs are in the area.

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    Brock January 20, 2011 at 4:58 pm

    There is plenty to like about this project and I am excited to see it move forward. There will be some contentious issues as outlined. One improvement I would like to see is to eliminate the jag from NE 53rd at Hancock to push cyclists over the busier, more dangerous 57th Street. To make this more dangerous jag, they have to put up 4 stop signs and take away on street parking only to push cyclists to a more dangerous roadway. The alternative? Keep going on NE 53rd, a quiet residential street that is safe, straight and would cost less. No brainer?

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    Alex Reed January 20, 2011 at 8:10 pm

    Wish I could make it! I sent this information to a friend who lives in the area.

    I think it would be because 53rd dead-ends before it even reaches Sandy, and then there isn’t any (non-Sandy) street that goes through until 49th. And if my memory serves, you’d have to go down to 47th to get a traffic light.

    Agreed that 57th is a pretty horrible street to bike on. Heck, it’s a pretty horrible street to *cross* at rush hour! Are there plans to traffic-calm the heck out of it?

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      Steve B January 20, 2011 at 10:37 pm

      Alex, no worries if you can’t make it, but please make sure you get a note of support for parking removal and share your experience to: and


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      Brock January 21, 2011 at 8:09 am


      53rd does dead end just prior to Sandy but then you would head over to 57th at that point thereby reducing 5-6 blocks on 57th at some of the worst points. Not only is it safer and a much nicer biking experience, there is no need to put in stop signs or take away on street parking.

      Just a better way to go but PBOT is intent on doing the jag???

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    Todd Boulanger January 20, 2011 at 8:22 pm

    PS. PBoT – Good Luck with the project and the wider public discussion.

    PSS. The proposal as outlined by PBoT would greatly benefit from the current OR bill to allow the setting of speed limits below 25 mph [where appropriate]…closer to bike and ped friendly speeds (30 kph / 19 mph) where such European treatments (as proposed) work well for both traffic safety AND multi modal mobility.

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    Dan V January 21, 2011 at 9:42 am

    As a resident, cyclist, and driver in this area, I am all for the project, but as it is a major thorough-faire, it will need significant reworking for this project to work. There needs to be much more data collected on the parking impacts on these neighborhoods (at all hours of the day). Talking to some of my neighbors, many of whom have lived in the area for many years, quite a few see this as a special-interest plan that will not benefit them, and will only make their lives that much harder, and may, in fact, reduce their property values (due to loss of parking).

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    Woodstock_Cyclist January 21, 2011 at 11:37 am

    I wrote to Rich Newlands of PBOT last night. It is so essential just to get your voice added to the mix. In addition to conversing with fellow cyclists here on the boards and elsewhere, please write just a short email to either PBOT manager and get your two cents in.

    I just moved to Woodstock from Creston (changed my user name here, too), and 52nd is a huge barrier for cyclists and pedestrians. I’m also particularly concerned about bike/ped traffic crossing 52nd. Would love to see improvements at several other intersections (like they have done at Gladstone/Center). I agree with Dan V that there are some political challenges here–PBOT will need to make sure that this doesn’t look like a special-interest project and raise the ire of those local residents that do use 52nd for parking (particularly around Steele, where Toast and several other businesses are located).

    Also, anyone know why the Steele bike route just ends at 52nd, with cyclists directed to turn right and then left onto Harold? Since there is a signal at Steele, it would make sense to me to have it cross 52nd straight, and then turn at 57th to have riders take a L onto Harold eastbound there. Just a little peeve of mine.

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    kenny January 23, 2011 at 11:07 pm

    I actually thought closing the street of Steele to auto motive traffic at the 52nd crossing entry (much like Clinton and 39th) would create a much more attractive way to head over to streets that lead to the bikeway of SE Harold St.
    Steele is not a through street at that point anyway, and this would reduce ‘accidental’ traffic (i.e. folks looking to go further out to place like 82nd and they did not realize they should have made a left on 52nd to turn right on a street like Holgate).
    That kind of calming would likely be welcomed by the folks living on Steele beyond 52nd and increase the property values. Access is easy from side streets for those driving home.
    This would be worth considering in future design phases.

    There was parking counts during several hours of the day. From what I recall in the meetings, 30% was the typical high, 50% at the very most during the night time after folks arrive home from work (and 50% is not particularly common, usually it is far lower).

    Essentially, folks might need to cross the street to park if they live on the opposite side of where the parking would be on 52nd. It has not been decided whether it would be E. or W. of 52nd.

    Regardless, when you become multi mobile and try to take care of all mode needs there will be some sacrifices. There is not much being sacrificed by taking away one side of parking.

    Another interesting tid bit was that only 5 homes did not have a personal drive way along the section requiring removal of some parking.

    I ride (though not comfortably) on 52nd quite often from Woodstock to Northern bike net works.
    On these rides, often various hours of the day, I have noticed not only sporadic here and there parking, but those who are parked in front or nearby their homes actually have drive ways that are completely not being utilized… or, only partially with one car and a few sitting right in front of their property on 52nd, occasionally 2 cars but a fat amount of space still ahead of those 2 vehicles in the drive way.

    52nd has an issue with speeding. On average, somewhere between 10-20 mph exceeding the limit. Adding the large bike lanes could help calm the traffic.

    Personally, and the majority of others agreed… the ideal scenario would be removing parking on both ends and have 8 foot buffered lanes.
    Form my POV no one likes being doored by parked cars. Not exactly world class to have the possibility still present (granted, at least only on one side of the street).

    However, in the grander scheme of things: yes, removal of parking on both ends could be controversial despite options to park in a drive way for most residents or, at worst, a quick walk to a side street for those 5 homes. They can also look into adding a paved driveway I suppose if that would be desirable.

    The consensus was that likely shrinking the auto lanes AND keeping one side of parking would likely be the most effective means of reducing excessive speeding. Maybe better than just car lanes and bike lanes. Tighter 10 ft lanes to slow down traffic, add bike lanes, parking still available on the street…sounds like a real “win, win”.

    There would be plenty of parking only using one side of 52nd. Seems like the most balanced approach to remove one side. But that whole dooring issue… I am a little on the fence. Regardless, this is a important/direct bikeway.

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    KMG January 27, 2011 at 5:10 pm

    It seems to me that bicyclists do not want to ride on a street with heavy traffic and fast speed limits. Most other streets I have seen that are bike routes are much less busy with car traffic giving bicyclists more safety and freedom. There must be another path that can be taken on streets near the 50’s that has less vehicle traffic to begin with. It seems that it would also cost less to show clear signs to the bike route on less traveled streets than to have to put up so many no parking signs all along 50th and 52nd. Also, why is there a need to completely eliminate parking on one side? Why not reduce the car travel lane while adding a bike lane and keeping the parking? If people are worried about speed on 50th or 52nd then the speed should be reduced or a new path should be found. This all sounds like a recipe for disaster!

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