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Bike project concerns shift to Lloyd District

Buffered Bike Lane with a bike symbol and arrow pointing forward

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.

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.

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