The buffered bike lanes on SE Holgate are finally getting some love thanks to the grassroots “We Heart Holgate” campaign.
The lanes — which were part of a $30,000 road diet funded by TriMet — didn’t get much attention when they debuted back in August 2009. Then, KATU-TV’s infamous Bike Lanes to Nowhere piece stirred the pot and put local opposition to the project front and center. A few months later, a very angry and vocal crowd showed up at a public meeting hosted by PBOT to discuss the lanes. Local residents, organized in part by RestoreHolgate.com, were upset that PBOT did not give them enough warning about the project. They also complained that the new bike lanes weren’t used and that they increased congestion on the road.
At a follow-up meeting in July of last year, PBOT admitted they could have done a better job with public outreach before the lanes were put in. Despite that admission, anger simmered with some local residents.
This new campaign by an informal group of citizen activists (with organizational support from Active Right of Way/AROW), is aimed at spreading love not just for the Holgate bike lanes, but for buffered bike lanes throughout the city. From their website:
“[We Heart Holgate]… is aimed at improving the local image of the lanes, show appreciation to the City, and to organize the supporters in the area… There is no need to be an east Portland resident to support these lanes. The improvements they bring should be available to all of Portland.”
Activists behind the effort have mailed a postcard supporting the new design of SE Holgate and they have written letters of support for the project to local elected officials and city staffers that were behind the project. They also have a new website and online petition.
After the last public meeting about this project back in July, PBOT said they’d perform a thorough analysis of the project, address concerns of angry residents, and report back to the neighborhood in February 2011. It seems like this campaign is starting up in advance of what could be the re-opening of the debate on this project.
This is just an informational campaign for now, but as public events around these lanes and others like them happen, we hope to organize the supporters to show up and make their presence known.