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Willamette Week names 50s Bikeway “haters” Rogues of the Week

Posted by on February 2nd, 2011 at 1:31 pm

Graphic from WWeek.com.

One of our local alternative weekly magazines, The Willamette Week, made an interesting choice for their weekly “Rogue of the Week” feature. They’ve given the label to the “haters” of the 50s Bikeway who showed up to last week’s first public open house on the project.

Here’s a snip from the Willamette Week story:

“The sorrow on display by supposedly parking-starved residents… was of apocalyptic proportions…

If they had a legitimate concern, we’d listen. But most of the whining last week had to do with what some Portlanders consider an inalienable right—free on-street parking…

“Don’t take away parking on 52nd,” one read. “This is a terrible idea!” “What about the elderly?” asked another, with no explanation for what that meant. “Nobody bikes here anyway,” asserted another.”

The 50s Bikeway is a federally funded project that will build a 4.5 mile north-south bikeway along 52nd and 53rd streets. A major decision in the project is whether or not to reallocate road space in the southern portion of the route that is currently used to store private motor vehicles in order to make room for the bikeway. Learn more about that in a story we published prior to the open house and read past coverage at our 50s Bikeway story tag.

NOTE: I don’t want folks to get the wrong impression about the 50s Bikeway open house. I was not there and we didn’t do any coverage of it… But from what I heard and read, it was a very strong turn out and the vast majority of people were excited and supportive of the plans that PBOT has come up with. Stay tuned for more on this project.

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  • Peter February 2, 2011 at 2:04 pm

    Wish I’d been able to attend, if only to present a “non-hater” point of view.

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  • Ed February 2, 2011 at 2:33 pm

    People are always going to complain no matter what. Just build it and they won’t even care after a few weeks.

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    • OnTheRoad February 2, 2011 at 2:45 pm

      I think that was one of Mia Birk’s operating principles. It is easier to build it and deal with the flack afterward (after people have started using the facility) than to go thru endless process beforehand.

      Some of the SE 7th bike lanes were installed after the street was resurfaced and Mia asked that the new striping include bike lanes even tho’ there had been no “Portland Process.”

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    • A.K. February 2, 2011 at 2:50 pm

      Agreed. These things get built up to epic proportions, like the word is going to end if a bike lane is put in. If parking fill rates along that street are really 30% like the article said, there will be zero problems after it’s done.

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  • April February 2, 2011 at 2:58 pm

    Nobody bikes there because there isn’t a bike path!! How is this not obvious?

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    • David Parsons February 2, 2011 at 8:10 pm

      But people *do* bike there. It’s a nice easily graded route (except for that one big hill at the south end) that goes all the way from Clinton to the Springwater Trail, and it’s doesn’t have nearly the number of stupid intersections as 41st does.

      If I have the time when I’m going from Westmoreland to 7 corners for shopping, I always loop out to 52nd because it’s a nice wide road with not very much traffic on it (most of the times I ride it the only pinch-point is the bike corral in front of (where’s my) Toast.)

      If I’m going to be paying my property and multnomah county taxes to maintain that strip of macadam, I’d much rather see it be marked off for the extremely low impact use of bicyces instead of lingering as an unused parking lot.

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  • BURR February 2, 2011 at 2:58 pm

    It will be interesting to see where PBOT falls on this issue when push comes to shove.

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    • matt picio February 3, 2011 at 9:20 am

      I was at the event near the end, and when I spoke with staff, they said the overall reaction was positive and as expected. I expect that in the absence of a concerted push by parking zealots that they will continue with their plans. I think it’s great – parking there is 30% utilized only part of the day – most of the time it’s even less than that. The loss of parking spaces is really quite minimal.

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  • Spiffy February 2, 2011 at 2:59 pm

    it’s great that they covered that side of the story and didn’t take the resident’s anti-bike side like that ‘O’ther newspaper…

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    • matt picio February 3, 2011 at 9:31 am

      Fortunately fewer and fewer people are taking the O seriously these days. They are the Fox News of Oregon’s print media.

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  • q`Tzal February 2, 2011 at 3:06 pm

    In the tone of a snake oil salesman of the late 1800’s:
    Come one! Come all! Come and see how my company can build extra road for FREE!
    Yes sir-ee, we can make your roads bigger without a single truck load of concrete, rocks or asphalt!
    How you ask good sir why thank you fot your interest. You see we need only dig slightly and whole lanes worth of unworn road surface will be found! But our digging implement is no mere spade, no sir, it is public right of way!
    You see roads are for getting places and if you are not traveling somewhere you get off the road. We aim to reclaim the lanes of public road used for storage of private property.
    No Ma’am you will not be losing your on street parking, it was never yours to begin with. Our roads were built for the purpose of public travel and payed for by all.
    We shouldn’t let special interest fat cats reappropriate our roads for their own uses to the detriment of all.
    /end sales pitch

    Seriously we all pay for private users to use our roads for non travel uses that make travel more difficult and less safe.

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    • El Biciclero February 3, 2011 at 10:06 am

      Hear frickin’ hear!!

      This is the “movement” we need: to re-cast streets as ways for travel, i.e., moving, not parking. I haven’t had to use it yet, but my ready answer for anyone who wants to confront me about riding “too far” into the lane is “Hey, don’t blame me; blame all these yahoos who left their cars lying around blocking the road!”

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  • John Mulvey February 2, 2011 at 3:42 pm

    Wish I’d been able to attend, if only to present a “non-hater” point of view.

    There actually were quite a number of non-haters there, so much so that the few antis were quite lonesome and even more disgruntled about life than they normally are. (I overheard a couple of them at a table griping about “Obamacare.”)

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  • Mike M February 2, 2011 at 3:48 pm

    I went to the event and found that most of the attendees I talked to were middle of the road people who wouldn’t mind having a bike lane on 52nd. However, there were extremists from both sides there as well. Some wanted faster speed limits and no bikes, and some wanted roundabouts and less cars. Thankfully most of us seemed to be middle of the road commenters.

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    • EmGee February 2, 2011 at 5:55 pm

      I don’t think any bicycle user should take a middle of the road position. It is not a healthy place to be riding.

      (Could. Not. Resist.)

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      • Bikieboy February 2, 2011 at 6:46 pm

        Unless it’s the middle lane on 4th downtown. Always an exception…

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      • middle of the road guy February 2, 2011 at 9:32 pm

        I resemble that remark, in more than one way.

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  • Mabsf February 2, 2011 at 3:49 pm

    I had a different impression from the meeting: I was going because I was worried about not enough pro-bike people showing up (no fear – there were plenty) and as a member of the Glencoe Pta (the bikeways will influence the biking to/from our school). I saw a group of concerned neighbors from 57th Ave and had a long conversation with a lady from the Holgate/Division area. She had a lot to say about bicyclists, congestion on Holgate and she didn’t leave nice comments on the route maps. BUT we talked. …and perhaps she remembers this middle-aged cyclist once in a while!
    There is still a lot of talking to be done and the worst thing is to close our minds!

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  • Joel February 2, 2011 at 4:10 pm

    build it and they will come 🙂

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  • jim February 2, 2011 at 4:26 pm

    where can I get one of those signs?

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  • yarrrum February 2, 2011 at 4:52 pm

    Don’t hate on me (much), but why does on-street parking need to be eliminated completely? I’ll go back and look at the plan. That seems like the exact thing that makes folks HATE us bike riders. I am civilly asking this question.

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    • Jonathan Gordon February 3, 2011 at 11:03 am

      My impression after attending the meeting is that the current plan that has the most support is removing on-street parking on only one side of the road, so it won’t be “eliminated completely”. This will allow enough room for six-foot bike lanes on both sides of the street. Removing parking on both sides of the street would have allowed room for buffered bike lanes. The reason I heard they weren’t pushing for this approach was two-pronged:

      1. They thought they’d get much stronger pushback from residents about losing all on-street parking, rather than just a single lane.

      2. They thought the buffered bike lanes would make the street feel too open and thus cars would go faster.

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  • yarrrum February 2, 2011 at 4:59 pm

    I just read the proposal. Those folks are gonna poo their pants!

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  • Brad February 2, 2011 at 7:48 pm

    I’m with yarrum. In fact, why do we need a “Bike Boulevard” to begin with? Sharrows are cheaper, can be put down on streets all over town en masse, and intutively scream “Caution! You WILL encounter bikes on this road.” Coupled with the ability for PBOT to set speed limits, you essentially can make most streets bike friendly. Make the strong statement that bikes truly belong on the streets and there is no need to antagonize others by removing the parking privileges they take for granted.

    I really question the need for PBOT to spend huge sums of money on projects of limited utility. If Portland is truly “Bike City”, shouldn’t it be more concerned with the overall quality of riding and integration of mixed traffic rather than concentrating on show projects?

    I disagree with the “principles” of Mia Birk. In a very critical time for the acceptance of cycling as transportation, flack after the fact can very quickly become full fledged backlash in the next election cycle. Taking people’s parking away, while a dubious claim, is an emotional flashpoint and easily exploitable. (Remember what happened to those folks on the 50’s bike boulevard? Keep in mind NW, Sellwood, Lents, Laurelhurst, NoPo – it could easily happen to you if you keep these people in power. They answer to bike riders who make no efforts to contribute rather than hard working Portland families!) It would be very easy for a mayoral or council candidate to run on traditional liberal issues while decrying how “those bike riders” have no respect for the lifestyles and transportation needs of 90% of Portland’s residents. (Hint – the other 90% get their soundbites from mainstream media, not BikePortland.org so they will not read your logical, reasoned, factual responses to said candidate’s rhetoric. In fact, the media will likely champion that view.)

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  • mmann February 2, 2011 at 9:19 pm

    When I heard about the proposal a couple weeks ago it really got me thinking about on-street parking. We’ve got a driveway and only one car, so it’s not an issue for us, but when did it happen that on-street parking – using the public right of way for parking your vehicle – start to be seen as a right? And then I thought about my street and how I’d feel if on-street parking – one side or both – was eliminated and replaced with a bike lane (and the attendant traffic calming infrastructure.) Even if I wasn’t a bike commuter, I’d be thrilled. Thrilled. How could anyone NOT see this as an improvement in the livability of their neighborhood? Help me out here. The only issues I can see are: You just hate bikes/cyclists, or you have too many cars to fit in your driveway. Am I missing something?

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    • middle of the road guy February 2, 2011 at 9:34 pm

      When did people start to see cycling infrastructure as a right?

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      • tony February 2, 2011 at 9:43 pm

        I think we can, hopefully, agree that mobility is a right. I have the right to a safe route to work by an affordable mode of transportation. So do you.

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      • El Biciclero February 3, 2011 at 10:39 am

        Since when was paint considered “infrastructure”?

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      • mmann February 3, 2011 at 12:59 pm

        I didn’t say it was a “right.” But the road is a public right-of-way, and as such, it’s for the public to decide the best use of it. Our community – and how we get around it – is changing, and bikes are (once again) becoming a bigger part of how we get around. As our concept of public transportation and the use of public spaces undergoes a transformation, we need to have these discussions – what is the best use of this public space? It sounds like the public may get more benefit from creating a good 50’s bikeway. One of the best discussions regarding Public good vs Private good can be found here:http://www.godowntownbaltimore.com/publications/malcolm_gladwell_transcribed.pdf?
        The whole speech is great, but the part most relevant to this discussion begins about halfway down on page 9.

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    • Duncan February 3, 2011 at 7:56 am

      While I agree that on street parking is not a right, I do think that it has the effect of traffic calming, especially on narrow streets.

      Back before the speed bumps got built on my street, I used to park my VW bus out there- without an clear site line cars would slow down. Over the years its become my habit to park out there for just that reason. Low cost, efficient traffic calming!

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    • jeff February 3, 2011 at 8:04 am

      Good question. I suspect that just about everyone regards the street adjacent to where they live as within their private space (at least for single-family residences) to some degree. As for losing parking in front of your residence, I think it can vary anywhere from inconsequential to a minor inconvenience to a major hardship, depending on available off-street parking number of cars, amount of driving, and physical limitations. And if you happen to think the public benefit – a bike lane – is nil, or worse, then you might be inclined to be fairly outraged.

      I think the 50’s bikeway is fantastic – but I’m a cyclist who would use it, and i don’t live there, so it’s all upside.

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    • OnTheRoad February 3, 2011 at 9:56 am

      Some people don’t have driveways.

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      • k. February 3, 2011 at 12:46 pm

        Some people don’t have driveways.

        It’s City code that all residences must have a driveway and off street parking. Some people may have removed there’s but that’s their choice. It’s only in very limited zoning areas (close to transit centers etc) that builders can not provide for off street parking.

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        • OnTheRoad February 3, 2011 at 1:02 pm

          In some older parts of the city, not all the houses have driveways, or off-street parking. Some apartments and rowhouses may not have enough spaces to accommodate the people who live there.

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          • mabsf February 3, 2011 at 1:45 pm

            Technically that is the problem of the inhabitants of that apartment/house. It that doesn’t mean that residents have a right to a parking spot in front of that building.

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  • Josh February 2, 2011 at 11:07 pm

    Is anything a right?

    A safe route to work by an affordable mode of transportation is highly desirable in my opinion.

    But none of us are entitled to anything.

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    • q`Tzal February 3, 2011 at 9:35 am

      As taxpayers we are entitled NOT to pay for public roads that private users have claimed as their own.
      Either it is a road that we ALL pay for and should be used for travel or it is public property being used as private property without due compensation to the taxpayers for hinderance of the original design use.
      What’s worse is that DOT’s spend funds engineering roads for travel, that due to any consistant parking, are obstructed to travel thus these road sections are OVER engineered and a collosial waste of public funds.

      As DOT’s nationwide discover their funds evaporate they will have to utilize the resource all ready build: road under on street parking.

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    • are February 3, 2011 at 10:06 am

      rights, privileges. usually seen in terms of extending to where they interfere with those of others. in this case, your [right/privilege] to store private property in the commons may be limited by my [right/privilege] to travel in safety. not quite as easy to frame it in terms of my [right/privilege] of safe passage being limited by your [right/privilege] to store stuff in the commons.

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  • JR February 3, 2011 at 6:49 pm

    It’s not surprising to see a handful of “haters” out there. They are way outnumbered by rational people who understand the trade-offs at issue. Rational people also understand that public travel space doesn’t/shouldn’t have to be devoted to the parking of private vehicles.

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  • Paul Johnson February 3, 2011 at 7:49 pm

    “Nobody bikes here, anyway!” is something I hear in Tulsa. Then I ask the person who says that, “Why?” Equal odds on whether the response is indicative of lack of bicycle infrastructure on the “last mile” or that they can pry their carmotorized armchair from their cold dead hands.

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  • John February 6, 2011 at 8:56 pm

    taking away parking …. way to build bridges

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    • Jonathan Gordon February 7, 2011 at 1:07 pm

      I saw a couple there who lived on the section of 52nd where parking is being considered for removal. Their particular section of the block had 100% utilization. And yet they were still looking forward to it. I believe the notion that we burn bridges by making streets more friendly to bikes is limited and antiquated. I wouldn’t be surprised if in the near future we start seeing residents asking for their streets to be converted to neighborhood greenways and bike routes as their street-calming effects become more apparent.

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  • TM February 7, 2011 at 11:18 am

    Willamette Week = Tabloid. Their article was put there to stir up a hornet’s nest. Here’s hoping that the plans for a better cycling infrastructure continue.

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  • valkraider February 7, 2011 at 12:35 pm

    I think it is funny to see people complain about cars being parked (or “stored”) on “public property” blocking the right of way. Especially those in this forum who are calling to remove parking as people should “store” their “personal property” (i.e. cars) on their own private property and not in the “public right of way” like on streets…

    So what about all those bike racks that are in the “public right of way” storing people’s “personal property”? What about bike corrals? We could do away with any place where people can “store” personal property in the public right of way. No more bike racks – they block the public use of the sidewalk.

    Note: I don’t take either side – sometimes parking may make sense, other times it may not. The hypocrisy of many in this crowd is often painful to read.

    And we wonder why people vote against “bikes” in elections…

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