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(Photos © J. Maus)
Our 2011 Get Together season got off to a fantastic start last night. About 40 people who live and/or work in Southwest Portland gathered at Macadam’s Bar and Grill to hear from advocates and experts, share their experiences, and to meet other fine folks they’d never stop and talk to on the hectic bikeways nearby.
to experience what it’s like to ride in
different parts of the city.
Here’s how we crossed Barbur.
On the ride out to the venue (which was about three miles south of City Hall on Macadam Blvd), J.R. and I got a snapshot of what it’s like riding in Southwest. We made our way onto a crowded SW Barbur Blvd from downtown. As we got to SW Hamilton, I noticed a young woman on a bike waiting to cross in the crosswalk to go west — doing the same maneuver J.R. and I had already planned to do. Thing is, when crossing Barbur it’s just easier and less stressful to use the crosswalk.
Once onto Hamilton, we skirted onto SW Corbett and took in a glorious view of the Willamette River and Mt. Hood on one side, and the river of cars on I-5 below us on the other. Coasting south down Corbett reminded me of another Southwest Portland riding staple; hills.
Once inside the venue, things got rolling rather quickly.
I bumped into Kevin Wagoner. He lives at Barbur and Terwiliger and commutes by bike to the Lloyd District every day. Kevin, like many other people I met last night, said his biggest concern is riding on Barbur. In Southwest Portland, where there are hilly roads that don’t connect and no street grid to speak of, all traffic is funneled onto major arterials like Barbur — which makes the urgency to fix them that much greater.
Other faces in the crowd included Ed Jahn, the producer of one of my favorite shows, Oregon Field Guide (which airs on Oregon Public Broadcasting, whose offices are just up the road from the event). Deacon Tom Gornick from the the Blessing of the Bikes was also there.
As I usually do at Get Togethers, I scoped out the room and then called on people who I know are involved with relevant projects and policies.
We heard from Owen Walz and Kiel Johnson, the duo behind the Friends of Barbur Facebook Group. Ron Kroop, ODOT District Manager of Operations and Maintenance for this area, also spoke (although I caught him off-guard by asking him to do so). Kroop shared ODOT’s perspective on a number of projects in the area.
Richard Marantz, who sits on the Citizen’s Advisory Committee for the Sellwood Bridge Project, gave us an update on that project. He said that recent cost-cutting measures wouldn’t impact the bikeways and that, while final designs are yet to come, the current plans call for a six-foot bikeway on both sides of the bridge.
Uber-activist Don Baack gave us a rundown of many projects in the area and encouraged folks to get involved now with the Southwest Portland Active Transportation strategy. We also heard about Southwest Portland bike boulevard developments from Keith Liden (a member of the City’s Bike Advisory Committee). Roger Averbeck gave us a preview of what’s on tap for a project on Multnomah Blvd.
Also speaking up were John Landolfe representing bike commuters at OHSU and Rebecca Hamilton, who’s working on creating “parklets” throughout Portland with her group, Rethinking the Right of Way.
After the mini-presentations by the many smart and engaged people in the room, I opened up the floor and asked for folks to share the big issues in Southwest Portland. Here is some of what was said:
- There’s a lack of a street network, so there are not adequate alternate routes off of major arterials.
- People are not willing to wait 30 years for scheduled light rail and transit corridors to be built (they’ve been told bikeways will go in as part of future transit projects). Instead, there’s a push to do the “little things” that can be done in the near-term.
- Speaking of little things, myself and several others urged everyone to use the City’s 823-SAFE and 823-CYCL hotlines to report nagging bikeway issues.
- One person said the City has “a lack of passion out here.” SW Portlanders feel like they get no respect from PBOT.
We covered a lot of ground last night and the energy level was high. The issues facing Southwest Portland won’t be easy to solve, but the more informed and connected we are, the faster we can make it happen.
I heard from several folks that great connections were made. City Pedestrian Advisory Committee member Rebecca Hamilton, for instance, got a chance to meet and talk with Ron Kroop from ODOT and now she’s scheduled a ride-along with him to discuss potential crosswalk treatments on Barbur Blvd.
Jene-Paul Lemieux had never been to a Get Together before, and he had this to say:
“Wow. I can’t imagine any other way to be in the same room with as many local, working bike infrastructure professionals (PBOT, ODOT) and experienced advocates at one time! The speakers all delivered the goods and did not shirk any questions asked…
My take-away conclusions: If enough people make a ruckus in the right place, things get done and, every little bit of input to the government organizations which build things and to positively present the cause to our neighbors, adds up.”
Thanks to everyone who came out and thanks to SKS for the raffle goodies and sponsorship of all our 2011 Get Togethers. Browse more photos from the event in the photo gallery.
If you came out last night, feel free to share your take-aways and thoughts on the event below.
— If you gave us your email last night, we’ll be sending you a follow-up with contact info of the speakers and some other helpful tidbits!