Last month we held a Get Together at a coffee shop on SE 92nd and Foster. The turnout wasn’t huge (similar to last time we did an event in that area), but the conversation was excellent. We not only met some new friends, we learned a little more about what it’s like to ride in East Portland.
The first person that showed up was Geana Tyler. I had a feeling that the Holgate buffered bike lane fiasco might be a topic of conversation; and sure enough, Geana started us off. “I had sold my bike years ago,” she told us, “but after seeing those new lanes on Holgate got me back into biking.”
Geana works in Sellwood and lives just off Holgate around 122nd. The new buffered bike lanes on SE Holgate have not only turned her into a regular commuter, but she’s been bitten by the bicycling bug. She’s got 1,700 miles logged so far, has bought a new bike, has signed up for the Petal Pedal in June, and is considering doing an overnighter with Cycle Wild.
Talking with Geana, and other Lents locals, it became clear that crossing major arterial streets was a major issue. Crossings are so dangerous that several people told us they actually plan their routes so they can make all right turns.
Fears of busy streets also means that multi-use paths act as life-lines for East Portland riders. Thankfully, the I-205 path and the Springwater Corridor provide an off-street option. “Luckily, we can use 205,” we heard from one woman.
Another theme that emerged was a lack of bike shops that serve East Portland. While Portland boasts somewhere near 60 retail bike shops, they are few and far between the further east you go. (FYI, the main shops in East Portland are Backpedal Cycleworks at SE 72nd and Harold, Meticon at 59th and Foster, Bike Gallery at SE 109th and Division, Oregon Bike Shop at SE 81st and Stark and Missing Link at NE 72/Sandy/Fremont).
Nick Christensen, Chair of the Lents Neighborhood Association, said he’s focused on business development in the area. He envisions I-205 like a bike freeway where there would be signs at the cross streets pointing out local businesses. He’s also working on a project to develop a better connection for eastbound biking traffic off the Springwater Corridor and into downtown Lents. Now, people use SE Foster, which Nick says is “insane.”
While there are major needs in East Portland, the good news is that help is coming. Thanks to excellent activism and a City that has heard loud and clear from residents that it’s time to spread the transportation wealth further east, projects are in the pipeline and there are many opportunities to get involved.
Meet a few more of our new friends from the Get Together below and stay tuned for more coverage of Lents and East Portland…
Woodstock and 85th. She wanted to learn more
about getting bike racks and was
hoping to find a bike-related tenant
(a bike shop perhaps?).
and one of the two guys behind the
PBOT project manager Ellen Vanderslice on
hand to share info and her expertise.
We’ve got another Get Together coming up tomorrow (4/27) night at Bridgeport Brewery in the Pearl District. If you live, ride, or work in Northwest Portland, we’d love to meet you. Details here.