Joe Bike

Bike project concerns shift to Lloyd District

Posted by on May 5th, 2011 at 10:34 am

NE Holladay options close up

NE Holladay, initially proposed to be
completely carfree, could maintain full auto access.
(Photo © J. Maus

With the fire on North Williams Avenue somewhat under control for now, many people in the community who care about bicycling are now raising red flags about the situation in the Lloyd District; where what started out as three projects that would significantly improve bike access in and around the district are now being significantly compromised by an adherence to the status quo and push-back from business and freight interests.

As you might recall, we recently detailed the opposition PBOT is dealing with in trying to improve bike access on the 12th Avenue overpass. The Central Eastside Industrial Council is strongly opposed to any new roadway space for bicycle traffic and they’ve asked for a one-year delay in the process.

“Each of these projects started out as very viable projects. Unfortunately, all of them are now in serious jeopardy.”
— Lance Poehler, Stakeholder Advisory Committee member

The two other projects PBOT and consultants from Alta Planning and Design are working on in the Lloyd District include; connecting the Vancouver bikeway all the way through the Rose Quarter (it now drops at Broadway), and an effort to make NE Holladay Street a major, east-west bikeway through the Lloyd District.

On the Vancouver/Wheeler bikeway as it approaches the Rose Quarter Transit Center, PBOT reported at a recent Stakeholder Advisory Committee meeting that the public showed the most support for a bike box at Wheeler and Multnomah (Option 1 detailed in this post). Along with a bike box, open house feedback showed a preference for some sort of buffered bikeway southbound on Wheeler and the removal of one standard vehicle lane to make room for it.

Cyclists Open House
for Lloyd District Bike Projects

    12:00 to 1:00 pm today (5/5)
    Lloyd Tower (825 NE Multnomah)

PBOT now says that TriMet is concerned about how any lane re-allocations might create delays on southbound Wheeler. A representative on the SAC who speaks for the Rose Quarter/Rose Garden Arena, Justin Zeulner, also shared capacity concerns. “This is a significant road we utilize when we’re at capacity,” he said during an SAC meeting on April 21st, “Going to one lane you would not have capacity… We fill them when we’re at capacity with our events.” Zeulner estimated about 80-100 times a year when Rose Garden events need two lanes for accessing the arena.

A compromise idea was floated at the SAC meeting that would put a buffered bike lane at the northern entrance to southbound Wheeler adjacent to the Rose Garden in order to filter car traffic into the left lane, and then drop the buffered bike lane where arena access is needed further south and maintain a shared car/bike environment to Multnomah.

Bike traffic in The Vancouver Gap-3

Auto capacity concerns on this stretch of
Vancouver have sent PBOT back to drawing board.
(Looks to me like we’ve got priorities mixed up.)

At the “Vancouver Gap” — a one block stretch between Broadway and Weidler where no bikeway exists — the preferred solution is simply a continuation of the bus/bike only lane that exists on Vancouver north of Broadway. But even that faced opposition at the SAC.

SAC member Rick Kuehn with the Lloyd District Transportation Management Association (TMA) said he’d be “very concerned” about “taking away an option for car traffic” at that location because of possible congestion/capacity issues.

Zeulner said if the bus/bike only lane was put forward, the SAC could face opposition due to “removing a lane of travel” (for some reason, Zeulner and others don’t understand that this isn’t “removing” a lane, this is re-allocating the lane for more efficient use, but I digress). “If we want to avoid opposition, we as a SAC need to be careful.”

Zeulner and Kuehn urged PBOT to simply put sharrows in the lane and then do some video monitoring to see how many cars actually use it. PBOT project manager Ellen Vanderslice spoke up to say that sharrows would be a standard treatment in that situation, so putting them in would essentially be doing nothing. She also said PBOT would not put in sharrows as a temporary measure only to then rip them out if another solution was agreed on later.

Two years ago, the Lloyd District TMA proposed making NE Holladay a transit and bike only street (it currently has light rail), which would provide a much-needed east-west connection through the Lloyd District. However, from the get-go, PBOT seemed to have a defeatist tone about that idea. Since the public process began back in December, the status quo crept back in.

Concerns about automobile access to parking garages, concerns about car circulation, and concerns about loss of on-street parking have all reared their heads and sources close to the project says now PBOT now, “claims no auto closures are possible.”

SAC member (and member of the Lloyd District TMA bike committee) Lance Poehler is very frustrated at how all three Lloyd District bikeway projects have been significantly compromised.

“Each of these projects started out as very viable projects. Unfortunately, all of them are now in serious jeopardy,” he wrote to us via email, “These projects are not in jeopardy because the citizens of Portland do not want them. Nor are they in jeopardy because of safety concerns. They are in jeopardy because of business/freight interests and because of money.”

Poehler says this is a classic example of how Portland has already picked the low-hanging fruit bike projects and now we are eyeing changes that require, “a lot more political will.”

“As the Lloyd District becomes even more dense,” Poehler wonders, “how will the new residents/employees move around?”

Out of concerns that there has not been enough awareness of these projects among people who care about bicycling, the Lloyd District TMA Bike Committee is holding a “Cyclists’ Open House” today from 12:00 to 1:00. Roll over to the Lloyd Tower (825 NE Multnomah) in the Multnomah and Irvington Conference Rooms (at the skybridge to Nordstrom in Lloyd Center Mall).

Stay tuned for more coverage of these projects.

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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    Allan May 5, 2011 at 10:45 am

    Any idea why this is being held at noon on a workday? Certainly that’s not when the majority of cyclists normally use the facility. Please someone go lobby for me 🙂

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      craig May 5, 2011 at 3:06 pm

      Today’s event was intended as a brown-bag session aimed at folks who work in the district. As such, a nooner in the heart of the district seemed the best choice for attracting the most district employees who bike in. This event was hosted by the TMA bike committee, not the project team, and had a focused target audience.

      Additionally, the PBOT project team will host another public open house soon. PLEASE attend and show support for these projects. Watch the PBOT page for the Lloyd projects for an announcement about the next open house:

      On that same page, SUBMIT YOUR INPUT for these projects using the comment form provided, link in the bottom-left of the page.

      Craig Harlow
      Chair, Lloyd TMA Bike Commitee
      Chair, Stakeholder Advisory Commitee, PBOT Lloyd District Bikeway Development Projects

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    q`Tzal May 5, 2011 at 11:05 am

    I know people want to dig in and push their issue until they win but this is about safety and numbers of cyclists.
    We are getting nothing done but angering the general public by shoving controversial projects down their throats when the majority of the public does not perceive the benefit versus perceived costs.

    Perhaps then a useful macro level strategy would be to continue to push on a few large controversial projects while using that diverted attention to slip dozens, nay hundreds, of tiny improvements through the system.

    Tiny improvements are much cheaper and more local; public opinion of small project is easier because less of the public is involved. Also small project leaders are much more likely to be able to talk directly to their neighbors with concerns.

    As incremental improvements occur almost invisibly some people that never considered cycling on public roads will start obviating the need to fight a battle for our rights to the road which we will have found we have already won.

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      Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) May 5, 2011 at 11:10 am

      q-Tzal… these are far from “controversial” projects and there’s absolutely zero “shoving” going on. In fact, if anything, PBOT’s very timid/careful approach to these projects might be somewhat to blame here.

      You make good points… This town, PBOT, City Hall, the advocacy is full of incrementalists… But I think there’s growing reason and feeling by some that when talking about transportation, incremental improvements are not longer acceptable.

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        cyclist May 5, 2011 at 11:38 am

        I’d much rather see all of this energy get thrown behind the Sullivan’s Gulch trail. The Sullivan’s Gulch trail would provide a new, more convenient route for cyclists in the area (akin to what the Springwater on the Willamette trail provides), without taking lanes off of the street for cars.

        You talk about not wanting to make incremental improvements, but what you’re talking about in this article and in the previous Williams article are incremental improvements. We are already allowed to take the lane on Williams (as evidenced by your picture above), making the lane bikes-only would affect some percentage of timid riders, but probably not a a huge percentage because eventually that bikes-only lane ends and you’re once again in a bike lane or in a traffic lane.

        Sullivan’s Gulch on the other hand would be a big project with HUGE gains. Imagine being able to ride from 84th to 99E without having to stop once for a light or a stop sign. How much time would you shave off of your bike commute? People who presently feel their commute would take too long would now be able to make the trip. This type of trail is a game changer, and the type of project we should be throwing our efforts behind. Fighting to remove a traffic lane from Williams or 12th seems like a waste of political capital to me.

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          Lance P May 5, 2011 at 11:49 am

          These changes in the Lloyd district are a part of the Sullivan’s Gulch trail concept. There is a person on the SAC representing Sullivan’s Gulch Trail. Without safe ways to get on or off the trail then it isn’t much of a trail. The Trail will not be able to go past the Lloyd due to all of the freeway/rail exchanges in Sullivan’s Gulch.

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            Chris I May 5, 2011 at 12:07 pm

            That’s a good point. The terrain is especially steep in that section. A bi-directional bike-only Holiday street would be just as good as a trail all the way to the steel bridge.

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            q`Tzal May 5, 2011 at 1:47 pm

            After the 12th ave bridge article I started thinking if there was a “pie in the sky” alternative.

            From the stand point of Sullivan’s Gulch trail and interfacing connectivity there is much more room for ramps up at NE 15th Ave from about 45.53088, -122.649380 just west of Regal Lloyd Center 10.
            If you include a MUP overpass south to NE 16th Ave (bridge landing at 45.52932, -122.64875 and connecting to 16th at 45.52824, -122.64959) you can kill 3 birds with one stone:
            ()provide safe and calm north-south access from a bike boulevard through a major retail area,
            ()provide connectivity (bike off-ramps!) to a major destination and
            ()remove some of the demand for 12th Ave bike access.

            By deferring this issue for a while we can wait for peak oil to remove a good portion of autos from the road thus obviating the over-demand for this bridge’s limited resources.

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        q`Tzal May 5, 2011 at 1:12 pm

        Well, these projects might not be controversial in reality but they are controversial in the minds of the willfully ignorant. They have isolated themselves from the reality of road cycling so much that they do not see humans on bicycles but disposable homeless and DUII offenders that deserve what’s coming to them.

        Unfortunately their votes count the same and politicians respond the same.

        Tactically, I’m of the opinion that selling bicycle improvements to these people is like asking a 1950’s baby boomer to invite Nikita Khrushchev to dinner. Trying to even advocate pedestrian improvements is seen as a step away from the “common sense” progression of society towards greatness. They worship more at the wheel of their auto than they do at an actual church; is any wonder that their true faith is automotive?

        But for everyone the safety of their children comes first. Slowing down autos in family areas has great block-by-block support until you include local businesses that think the 25MPH arterial collector in that school zone is critically a 40MPH super-highway that their business is dependent on.
        By advocating for small neighborhood control of traffic safety with state mandated minimums neighbors can get together and make their roads slower and safer for all that live there and damn anyone else passing through.

        Cumulatively, these improvements will help the perceived safety environment for cyclists.

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    Andrew Seger May 5, 2011 at 12:18 pm

    I find Trimet’s objections particularly risible. Over the past decade they’ve demonstrated that they just don’t care about the bus service part of their mandate. They were totally opposed to the previous RQ improvements. Really they should have zero voice in this process.

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    BURR May 5, 2011 at 12:19 pm

    PBOT project manager Ellen Vanderslice spoke up to say that sharrows would be a standard treatment in that situation, so putting them in would essentially be doing nothing. She also said PBOT would not put in sharrows as a temporary measure only to then rip them out if another solution was agreed on later.

    this is entirely too narrow-minded. sharrows are a great, if perhaps only interim, solution; and the PBOT mentality that nothing can ever be changed once a design or treatment is chosen is completely shortsighted.

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      BURR May 5, 2011 at 1:51 pm

      sharrows are also not a ‘do nothing’ solution; they send a clear message to motorists that bikes belong on the road and should be expected there.

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    beth h May 5, 2011 at 1:14 pm

    We are talking about a part of town that is “at capacity” (really? already? How do we define “at capacity”, please?) and will only become more so if the CRC project goes in as recently approved by way too many governors and city officials. Then it will become even more impossible to remove a lane of motorized traffic from Williams and many other streets in the area.

    Push-back happens when corporate interests with money remind elected officials and governments where much of their money comes from. What is left for bicycle activists to do within the system that has any meaningful hope of acheiving anything? Obviously, our push-back simply doesn’t have enough clout attached to it.

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      Allan May 5, 2011 at 1:55 pm


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    matt picio May 5, 2011 at 2:29 pm

    The capacity issue is a red herring – capacity on those roads during an event is a non-issue, because the limiting factor isn’t removing a lane from general traffic for cyclists. The limiting factors are the lack of grade-separated pedestrian crossings of the streets surrounding the Rose Quarter and the bottlenecks caused by traffic entering / exiting the parking lots and structures. The second lane on Wheeler is completely superfluous during the events – it effectively acts as a parking lane. It can be safely removed / repurposed for bike use with no impact on the current traffic situation.

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      matt picio May 5, 2011 at 2:32 pm

      Kuehn and Zeulner are effectively taking advantage of the average person’s lack of understanding of the principles of traffic flow. (whether intentionally or otherwise) In future meetings, it would be useful if someone can point out publicly that the bottlenecks are parking and the pedestrian flood – NOT the number of lanes on Interstate, Multnomah or Wheeler.

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    peejay May 5, 2011 at 3:01 pm

    If the Rose Garden wants to sell itself as the Green Sports Arena, then they’d better begin to understand that bike access to their facility isn’t something that they have to “pay for” with reduced motor vehicle access, but something that actually benefits them by providing more efficient access to their facility for their paying customers.

    Until they get that conceptual shift, we’re wasting our time arguing.

    (And the same goes for all the other stakeholders in this area. A business should realize that it’s cheaper for them to provide some quality bike racks for their employees and customers than a sea of parking spaces, as long as people feel comfortable riding to that location.)

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    a lloyd rider May 5, 2011 at 9:31 pm

    I have attended many of the SAC meetings pertaining to the 12th Avenue Bridge. PBOT used these meetings to further conversations about design options in order to accomplish a common goal: to make 12th Avenue a safer and more efficient roadway. I attended these meetings with the sincere desire to accomplish this goal for ALL users. I am appalled (naively so) that the freight community has closed the door to these conversations. One of the challenges with the 12th Avenue Bridge is that bikes behave in an unpredictable manner. This is because there is no infrastructure on the bridge to guide their actions. By installing bike infrastructure on the bridge cyclists become more predictable, thus increasing both the safety and efficiency of the roadway. I am tired of the argument that bike infrastructure deters the economic growth of a community. If safety and efficiency are important to economic growth, as I believe they are, than freight, and all businesses in the area, need to get back to that table and figure out a solution. We do not know what that solution will look like. We do know that no solution will be found if the conversation is ended now.

    If freight, and other local businesses, truly believe that bikes don’t belong on the 12th Avenue Bridge, than I encourage them to help fund a 7th Avenue bike/ped overpass. Ignoring the increasing number of cyclists on 12th by doing nothing will only decrease potential economic growth in this area by decreasing the safety and efficiency of this roadway.

    As for Holladay, I am sympathetic to the needs of developers and property owners and the issues of traffic circulation. After listening to many conversations, I understand why this road may not be closed to auto traffic. However, I find it unacceptable for the community to not support a contra-flow bike lane on this road. If loosing on-street parking is the issue, put it back on Multnomah. Politically, it seems like a misstep for the Lloyd District business community to walk away from this project at the same time that it is creating an Eco-District.

    I fear that anger towards the City regarding events not related to these projects may halt the progress of these infrastructure improvements. I truly hope that the Lloyd District community, and the surrounding communities, put away their anger and political games and get back to the table to continue the conversation of how to make these roadways safer and more efficient for all users.

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    BURR May 5, 2011 at 10:20 pm

    It all comes down to political will, and Sam’s still got one foot on either side of the fence. Maybe Tom Miller will step up and give the city traffic engineer a good kick in the butt, but I’m not going to hold my breath.

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    007 May 6, 2011 at 8:55 pm

    RE: Holladay St. Hardly any cars drive on it so it is ridiculous to think it should remain open to cars. It is NOT a convenient street for cars to access anything except when crossing it.
    It also boggles the mind why bikes don’t trigger ANY of the lights on that street. I so wish Holladay was more bike friendly because then the mess of 7th Ave., 9th Ave., Weidler & Broadway could be avoided for those of us who live in NE. But that would make sense!

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