After it seemed like strong community support helped PBOT move forward with an enhanced bikeway and the reconfiguration of roadway space along Williams from Broadway to Killingsworth, they will now step back and take more time to assess the public outreach process.
At the monthly meeting of the North Williams Traffic Safety Operations Project Stakeholders Advisory Committee Meeting today, PBOT and project consultants announced that decisions about how to move forward with the project will be delayed until at least this fall. The reason is to work through the complicated issues of gentrification and inclusiveness with all members of the adjacent community.
At the meeting, community member Sharon Maxwell Hendricks (whom I interviewed back in April ) addressed the room with serious concerns about how the process for this project and the changes in the Williams neighborhood in general have had an “unfair” impact on black residents.
“We’ve been waging war against poverty, violence, and a lot of things I feel a lot of cyclists really don’t understand*.”
— Sharon Maxwell Hendricks
Hendricks has lived in the area all her life yet says today she feels “like a newcomer” in the neighborhood. She likened her community’s struggle with violence, drugs, and poverty over the years to a war zone.
“We’ve been waging war against poverty, violence, and a lot of things I feel a lot of cyclists really don’t understand*.”
Saying she and her childhood friends rode bikes all over the neighborhood, Hendricks added, “I’m trying to paint the picture that we’re not against bicyclists, we’re not against change, but we as a community of color, we want to be involved in the change, we want to be participators in the change.”
“While we’re on the front lines, doing all the battling, we feel like you guys are coming in and taking all the spoils and benefiting from all the changes. It’s not fair.” (She also equated her experience living in the North Williams area with living among the Rwandan genocide.)
Hendricks urged committee members and the public in attendance to put themselves in the shoes of long-time residents. She also said the idea of her church, Life Change Christian Center, losing parking isn’t fair. “To have on-street parking taken away from our membership because now all of them can’t afford to live in the community… if we have to park 4-5 blocks away, than we need to have a shuttle. It’s just not fair.”
As a solution, Hendricks urged PBOT to instead make improvement to N Rodney, which is a few blocks to the east.
You can listen to the audio of Hendricks’ speech below:
[audio:WilliamsSAC_Hendricks.mp3|titles=Sharon Maxwell Hendricks at the Williams project meeting]
A member of the SAC, Jerrell Waddell (who represents Life Change Christian Center) supported Hendricks’ comments. “I love the reality that the community is growing, I love the business coming in, but… taking away one lane of traffic you’d have a lot of outcry and people frustrated by that and crying foul.
Waddell said he feels like bicycle traffic is “taking precedent” in discussions about the project. “This room is made up of predominantly a particular population who wants to see bicycles come in.”
In recent months, PBOT and project consultants have also met with other neighborhood groups and they have heard concerns about parking removal and well as the sentiments expressed at the meeting today.
PBOT project manager Ellen Vanderslice met with the Albina Ministerial Alliance about the project. Here’s how she characterized their comments:
“Green is good, but cyclists seem to have a big voice and it’s irritating. They seemed to hear “one lane, yield to bikes, one lane, yield to bikes,” there needs to be more sensitivity to the fact that the community has been invaded… There is anger, distrust, and skepticism in their congregation about the N. Williams project.”
With these complicated and sensitive issues looming in the air, PBOT’s Vanderslice said they have decided to extend the project timeline. “We’d like to extend the process and do more outreach and engagement and truly make this an inclusive process so we have a project that reflects that.”
Vanderslice said the committee would take a break for July and meet again in August. In the interim, PBOT and project consultants will meet with more neighborhood groups and hopefully, “Have a better idea of where we are.”
A second open house for the project tentatively set for July has been
With the committee not meeting again until August, a recommendation about what to do to Williams isn’t likely to happen until fall at the earliest. Given that a dry weather window is needed to re-stripe lanes, it’s possible that changes to Williams won’t happen until summer of 2012.
[For what it’s worth, we brought up PBOT’s framing of this project, gentrification, and other issues when it launched back in January.]
Also significant at today’s meeting were statements from PBOT Traffic Engineer Rob Burchfield that a left-side bikeway will be put back on the table. This is due to major concerns about how a cycle track on the right side of the street would impact access to driveways, motor vehicle flow, and TriMet service.
Learn more about this project on PBOT’s website and read our previous coverage here.
-*Please note a key edit made to this story at 2:50pm: I mistakenly left out the word “don’t” in that sentence. I apologize for any confusion.
– I added audio of Sharon Maxwell Hendricks’ speech at 3:46pm.
– This story initially said Maxwell Hendricks was a member of the SAC. She is not. She was an invited guest. Correction was made at 4:10 pm on 6/8.]
what about the community of color that rides bicycles? do they get a separate category as well?
It is frustrating to feel like we are back to zero on this project. How many open houses does it require to have true community involvement 2, 3, 6, 10? Or just until someone on a bike gets run over by a bus?
As a person of color who rides up Williams regularly to get to my home in North Portland, I was wondering the same thing. This is frustrating.
Or maybe open houses aren’t the appropriate type of outreach and engagement for every project and every community…
This is not going back to ground zero. You sound like Ms. Maxwell. Time is needed to talk.
Face it folks, this hood has been cleansed by white project managers for over 100 years. The bike plan effort does not want to be connected to the past.
As MLK stated “A genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus but a molder of consensus.”
Ms Maxwell is clearly not trying to build consensus, just rant. She feels hurt, and she makes some nasty judgments. She’s spreading stereotypes, a tool used against her parents and grandparents. She calls this a “Rwanda”. “taking all the spoils” “it’s not fair”
None the less, her message is rude, but the topic is valid. You can’t deny the topic because people don’t talk in the way your parents raised you. I’d be rude too if my hood was treated the same way.
Ms. Maxwell is saying people have to walk 4-5 blocks. Moving from 2 moving lanes to one can actually add parking. We have to build consensus as MLK states.
We might as well face it. As long as the world considers cars to be transportation and bikes to be toys, this is how it will go. Oh well.
And 4 blocks to be so far a distance that it requires a shuttle…
I wondered the same thing. Did she really mean this, or was it an exaggeration?
Riding Williams everyday and seeing the congestion and ridiculously dangerous things people do, I’m astounded there hasn’t been a fatality yet. Hopefully I’m still saying the same thing when improvements are finally made, but I doubt it.
Lord save me from your followers.
I find it interesting that bicycles are not getting their fair share of the road. Taking a simple approach to look at fairness, Portland has ~4000 lane miles that are available for vehicles. If we assume the analysis of a number of groups that vehicles pay ~50% of the cost of these, and assuming that there are 5.8% (most recent number) of people commuting, then multiplying these all together gives a fair share being 230+ miles of bike lanes. I do not believe that we have anywhere near that. In 1996 there were 64 miles of bike lanes.
And this does not take into account the amount of space used for vehicle parking, which would double the amount needed to be fair.
Yes, it is hard to see the parking in front of your building that you live in or use to be taken away, but fair is fair. This is a case of NIMBY. Someone has to give up something. I think it is time that vehicles start giving bicycles their fair share of the road. Unless they want us riding in “their” lanes, they need to provide adequate bike lanes.
Byron, thanks for posting this:
I was coming here to say pretty much the same thing :). I even had this reference link handy, which says Portland has about 4700 miles of streets: http://www.portlandonline.com/transportation/index.cfm?&a=319863&c=47307
Bicycle traffic is as yet a ways from achieving parity in this town, and it’s certainly not even close to “taking precedent.”
Is there an expanded and referenced page that enumerates the above funding calculations in a way that even Oregonian readers can follow?
Lane miles 4000 Miles of lanes for motor vehicles
Bike ridership 5.8% Percentage of people commuting by bicycle
Cost ratio 50% Amount motor vehicles pay of costs
Bike lane % 33% Bike lane size to normal lane size
Parking 75% Percentage of lane miles with on street parking
Bike lane miles
1. 116 The bike lane miles “paid” by bicyclists, not accounting for size of bike lane nor the on street parking
2. 352 Factoring bike lane size
3. 203 Including on street parking
4. 615 Including bike lane size and on street parking
The formulae for this are
2. above divided by Bike_lane_%
3. answer 1 times 1+Parking (increases the miles of “lane” devoted to motor vehicles.
4. answer 3 divided by Bike_lane_%
Hope this makes sense. This is based on the assumption that bicyclists are paying taxes that go toward roads. So if we are talking about fairness, then bikes should have either a share of any road or have a whole lot more bike only places. Although the esplanade and Springwater corridor are nice, they are not bike-only. So when we get to the point of having a very large number of bike lane miles, we need to all work together to share the road.
I’m white, young (I like to think), and well-employed (ditto), and live between Williams and MLK, in one of the neighborhoods that this lady and her friends rode around in when they were kids. I ride Williams every day. I also see every day that I am part of a major change on my block.
I agree with all who think a more sane mix of bikes, peds, cars, and buses is needed. But to quote abstract numbers to make the case as it relates to a specific location and a specific community does not make a convincing argument.
It’s very disappointing that this process will be dragged out further, but I welcome more attempts at increasing inclusion.
I was at the meeting as well (pleasure to sit behind you, Jonathan) and it seems to me that some critics are conflating micro and macro issues. The need for better biking and walking facilities on Williams stands regardless of gentrification, discriminatory lending practices and general city policy regarding “blighted” neighborhoods and communities of color. The facilities are needed perhaps moreso, even, because of those factors.
If anything, the current auto facility monstrosities that cross North Portland (Williams/Vancouver, MLK, Interstate and the 5) have probably done more to bifurcate, displace, depress and slice up the historic community living here than any possible individual change to N Williams that could be implemented through this project would.
Safer, friendlier and more equitable streets, increased ridership and decreased auto traffic volumes are good for everyone, regardless of ethnicity.
How should we reconcile inclusion and compromise with those who think it’s “my way or the highway!”?
Ellen VanDerSlice notes “There is anger, distrust, and skepticism in their congregation about the N. Williams project.”
I wondered where that might come from or might connect to, so I googled the Life Change Christian Center to see if I could learn a bit more about what they were all about.
Turns out that church holds a number of positions I disagree with, above and beyond refusing to allow for more bike traffic:
“We believe in the sanctity of marriage as established by the Holy Scriptures and that God created marriage and that the only legitimate marriage is the joining of one man and one woman. (Genesis 2:24; Romans 7:2-3; I Corinthians 7:10-11; Ephesians 5:22-33).”
“We believe in the literal, special creation of the existing space-time universe and all of its basic systems as indicated in Genesis.”
Click here for a complete list: http://bit.ly/kXh6JC
So, now that I know a little bit more about their sense of how things are and should be, I’m not sure how to split the difference on these differences.
I’m just glad I voted for a gay mayor who likes bikes.
Hopefully he’ll push through for these values and visions we share.
Mike, I don’t see what perspectives on gay marriage and creationism have to do with traffic safety and pedestrian and bike improvements. I think trying to inflame bike portland readers and commenters by using those is a bit of a red herring.
I don’t think pdxmike is trying to “inflame” anything. He got those of the church’s website and there is someone on the SAC who represents the church. Further, the church’s members are raising questions and opposition. Seems fair to know who or what they are about.
Bike safety policy is part and parcel the politics of change — or the politics of gridlock.
Esther, you know that good community politics require listening and sometimes compromise — and really a sense of community.
But not all ideas are created equal.
And selective Biblical literalists (picking and choosing their way through Exodus) unfortunately, do not make it easy for those of us outside of their walls.
I remain hopeful that the politics of safe and green transportation progress will be represented by our electeds.
But every delay they build in is another day of less accommodation and higher risk for people who ride to their work, their homes and their families and friends.
Religious extremism and intolerance comes in all flavors, not just Muslim.
Trust not your neighbor simply because they say god is great.
Atheists have extreme views, also.
As I said, all flavors.
People are people and belonging to a religious group does not make a person’s actions right, just, or ethical.
Just because they’re wingnuts doesn’t mean they shouldn’t have a voice on traffic changes in their neighborhood. We don’t disenfranchise Tea Party members, do we? (even though we’d like to.)
Remember that in addition to supporting things that may be at odds with the church’s mission, Mayor Adams is also behind the Office of Equity.
You may not share her values, but as a long term resident of that neighborhood, any newcomers need to come to terms with the fact that there are people who live there, that do not share your beliefs. This requires tolerance and understanding on some level. Preach the gospel of biking!
I echo the concerns that Williams is completely terribly dangerous these days. Not only due to the conflicts with the parking lane and the buses, but also bikers who are behaving dangerously. I have far too many people passing me way too closely both on my left AND right. Williams is in desperate need of an overhaul and the sooner, the better.
At the same time, that cannot happen without the input of previously established community. I wonder if the traffic infrastructure proposed changes become a target for so much emotion because, as a public process, they are one place for neighbors to have input, when they don’t in other projects that change the character of the neighborhood as much as more than ‘bike lanes’ do. I.e. longtime residents don’t have control over $300,000 condos and expensive brewpubs and $150 purse stores getting put in…but they do over neighborhood streets processes. Whether or not bike lanes actually ‘encourage’ gentrification, as Steve B. twittered this has a lot to do with perceptions, and this is an opportunity to hopefully address and alter some perceptions…
It seems to me like this process has been extremely inclusive thus far (take that with a grain of salt because my skin is white and I moved to the n’hood in 2004). Before it even began, the project consultant knocked on hundreds of doors, the SAC has many people from the nearby community on it, and many private meetings have happened with community groups, churches, business owners, and so on.
I agree that PBOT, Michelle Poyourow etc have made great efforts (and made great strides) in reaching out and getting input thus far.
Esther, what do you mean suggesting that this process has moved forward “without the input of previously established community.” ?
I’m not familiar with this process being either abbreviated or biased.
I’ve recently started using Williams because I joined ME Fitness on the corner of MLK and Alberta, and Williams is the clear route choice there from downtown. What a clusterf***! Scary ride, scary masses of cyclists who like to pass on the right as well as the left, scary cars going too fast–it’s awful.
But what I really notice is how, on turning up Going Street and thence along Garfield to the back parking lot of the gym, I enter a neighborhood where I really feel I don’t belong (as a middle aged white woman on a Dutch bike). Neighborhood residents eye me with a distrust that’s perfectly understandable. I imagine that they see their neighborhood being eroded very quickly by the presence of people like me and the businesses we frequent.
I don’t have an answer to gentrification, but it’s not hard to be sensitive and aware and accepting of the fact that people DO feel threatened and harmed by it.
Johnathan, I wonder if you could convince Hendricks to write a guest column about this? I’m genuinely confused about the issue. I feel like I’m seeing a cultural struggle between bike-culture one one side and church-culture and black-culture on the other side and that it’s eclipsing questions like safety, traffic throughput and business/church access. I suspect the majority of readers on this site identify more with bike-culture than with church-culture or black-culture and I suspect Hendricks would choose words that you’re not and help foster a greater understanding. Maybe it would come to nothing, but maybe it would help?
I sat down with Ms. Hendricks back in April and she talked about the cultural differences. Read that exchange here.And yes, I agree with you that cultural differences play a major role in this discussion.
Please note that I left out a key word in a quote by Ms. Hendricks. Her quote that I featured now reads “… that cyclists DON’T understand.” In my haste I left out the don’t!. sorry for any confusion.
Why are the parking requirements for one church, one morning every week taking precedence over the commuting requirements of hundreds (thousands?) of cyclists every day?
And what does she mean by “you people”?
Seriously. Now the frame is black car drivers versus white bike riders? Also gentrification is such a loaded word and carries so much baggage. And you’re right, the demographics of North Portland, and Portland in general, are changing. I’m not sure what PBOT expects to do about it.
i’m with you on gentrification. it’s not good, it’s not bad. it just is. cities and neighborhoods aren’t static. i moved onto shaver and mallory over a decade ago. at the time williams and vancouver were crap. mississippi was awful. alberta was only barely getting going on it’s change. i don’t know. change happens. it’s not always pleasant. i’m sorry. i’m glad these neighborhoods are safer, cleaner and have life to them now. it sucks that some people have had to move or don’t like the change. i’m not exactly a fan of how these streets have changed either, all the boutique-y shops and overpriced cafes, but i wouldn’t trade them back for what it was like when i first moved into northeast either.
i don’t see how anyone could think gentrification is “not bad”. imo, displacing socioeconomically deprived populations is always bad. i am not saying that its always avoidable but it is something we should strive to avoid or ameliorate.
poor people being displaced *is* bad. right. but a crumbling neighborhood that has or is suffering some kind of psychic death is really bad too. when i moved into this neighborhood mississippi was largely boarded up and decaying. just horrible. alberta used to be the same way. across the street i had a drug house (which was raided one day by an army of cops with shotguns and all sorts of stuff. that was a crazy day!). but like i said, cities aren’t static and they change. constantly. there isn’t anything you or i can do to stop that. sometimes you will see the changes as good, hurrah!, and sometimes you wont, booo!, but that’s how it’s gonna be.
there is nothing you can say to convince me that these inner north/northeast neighborhoods aren’t in a better place than they were 15 years ago. has the change been beneficial for all? no. but i’d wager that more people are in better shape in a better neighborhood than they once were.
so i’m still saying gentrification isn’t bad or good. it is inherently nothing. but it’s gonna keep happening.
Gentrification and implications of race war in politics are as politically unproductive and immature as running in to a crowded stadium and yelling:
“BOMB!!!“. It stops all rational though while PC butt covering campaigns begin.
Kind of a “social terrorism” tactic to stall the political process.
Yeah, I stopped reading at “you people.”
I said it here before (and was accused of being ‘racist’!?) and I’ll say it again, bicyclists are the only minority group I know of that it’s still politically and socially acceptable to single out.
Good luck with your project.
I’m pretty sure it’s “okay” to bash fat people. Just sayin’.
Signed, a fat cyclist. 😉
Thanks for sayin’.
Single white men….and Christians.
single white men: dude, give me a break.
christians: this is a choice based on your religious beliefs. no one is born a christian. nor is it permanent, it’s not like green eyes or something. again, give me a break.
pretty much too late to turn back gentrification here, but the focus on separated bike facilities is just one symptom. this project should never have been framed in terms of the bikeway, but (as in fact the name of the project suggests) traffic safety. there are too many motorists on portions of williams, and many of them are going too fast. pedestrian crossings throughout “segment 4” are difficult. yes, rodney should also be developed as a greenway, and no, cyclists should not expect to be able to book through a mixed use, pedestrian-friendly environment at 20 mph. a buffered bike lane on either the right or the left can allow much of the onstreet parking to remain, but in the end people are going to have to accept that one of the two travel lanes has to go. the local residents should be engaged in this conversation in a productive manner that respects their legitimate concerns. i don’t much care what life change “believes in,” if they are doing good social work on the ground.
a good way to keep stereotypes alive is to complain that blacks are too lazy to walk 4-5 blocks to their church…
more cars means more drive-bys… not a lot of drive-by shootings happen on bikes…
we try to drive dangerous motor vehicle traffic away and bring a calm to the community and they don’t want it… too bad…
btw, not many of us can afford to live here in the city, but we make due with what we have… I’d rather have a 2-bedroom ground-floor apartment, but I live in a single basement room…
I’m not racist, but the arguments I’m reading in this article sure are…
don’t think you’re special just because your neighborhood street is getting a desperately needed wider bike lane at the expense of a motor vehicle lane…
This whole thing comes across as a perfect example of reverse discrimination. The majority of the community who voiced their opinion approved of moving forward with this project. Maxwell claims to support much of this project…except that it means removing a few on street (public) parking spots near her church. So with no explanation as to any correlation, frames the whole thing as a gentrification issue.
Maybe PBOT should offer to install a bike corral or two in the Life Change Christian Center’s parking lot so they can accommodate more members who want to take advantage of active transportation. I never met him, but from what I’ve read it seems like something this Jesus character would approve of.
Jesus drove an Escalade. John 2:7-11
And the apostl
And the apostles drove a Honda (Acts 2:1 “And they all came together in one Accord.”
God himself drove a Plymouth (Genesis:Jeremiah 32:37 “Behold, I will gather them out of all countries, whither I have driven them in mine anger, and in my Fury”)
I don’t think a tax-exempt organization should be able to derail a transportation project because they want to monopolized tax-subsidized on-street parking.
They are free to build as much off-street parking as they like, or use existing available on-street spots.
That’s not how its going down.
That’s a very good point.
Are the transportation agencies responsible for this project applying the same community outreach in all their auto-centric projects? This is a transportation project isn’t it?
I’m empathetic to the concerns of longtime residents but I haven’t heard a clear argument against the plan except that it is ‘unfair’. Unfair based on what specifically? For many cyclists it is unfair to have such a dangerous situation on Williams.
What ‘auto-centric’ projects? You mean the ones outside of Portland? or the very few widenings of arterials in the suburbs. PBOT doesn’t really do auto-centric stuff other than resurface roads, which from what I understand isn’t too controversial
Are- I totally agree with you. It’s definitely a traffic safety issue, not just a bike issue. I bike this route everyday, but I have also driven it during peak traffic hours and it is scary for many reasons. I don’t think even drivers feel safe here.
One of the biggest issues I can see too is that there just aren’t a lot of good north-south bike routes so all of the bike traffic to these neighborhoods is concentrated on one street. With the increase in the number of cyclists with the nicer weather, the congestion is getting worse. I think developing Rodney as an alternative could cut down on that and at least help with some bike safety issues.
The problem with Rodney as a bikeway is how to get across the major roads that intersect it. To make Rodney a usable alternative they’d have to put in some kind of traffic control device on Alberta, Skidmore, Freemont, etc one block after the traffic control device on Williams. That would be a far worse impedance to traffic flow and far more expensive than taking away a lane on Williams.
Jonathan – you wrote “A second open house for the project tentatively set for July has been cancelled.” I think you mean postponed
–Yes. Fixed it. Thanks. — JM
as a cyclist of color who rides williams frequently-all’s i can say is it isn’t safe the way it is. I don’t equate biking with gentrification-as a matter of fact it is the most inclusive way of getting around
The project will still happen. Take Rodney street if needed.
I was also at the meeting today. I also feel disappointed by the predictable delay in the process, but I also suspect that by making a herculean effort to be inclusive PBOT and their consultants may be able to win over some skeptics.
Let’s face it: the black community has been royally screwed in this city. Most of us know about the racist history of redlining in the 50’s and then the displacement and demolition in the 60’s and 70’s. I couldn’t help but think about the fact that we were meeting in an institution (Emanuel Hospital) that bears responsibility for literally destroying a largely-black business and cultural community around Russell and Williams/Vancouver in the 70’s. And leaving little besides vacant lots.
With that in mind, I think it is important to listen to and to validate the concerns of residents like Sharon. I got the impression (which is indeed just my impression — could be BS) that her opposition to taking away a motor vehicle lane sits more on a firmament of legitimate anger about the black community’s general disenfranchisement than on any clearly-articulated technical concern about redesigning the street to make it safer for everyone. The numbers that Rob Burchfield presented to us make it obvious that Williams can be reduced to one lane without sacrificing capacity. It’s difficult to argue with a straight face that the street *shouldn’t* be redesigned to reflect the reality of how it is being utilized and to make it safer for all users. My dearest hope is that the skeptics can be won over by the numbers and by feeling like their voices are being heard.
Thank you Andrew. I totally agree that most of this is about how people “feel” than about whether biking actually increases gentrification or causes discrimination. (I believe most commenters here, including myself, would argue that they stand to help people who have low income, communities of people of color, etc. ) When a bunch of bike portland commenters jump all over them accusing them of reverse discrimination, well, that is not a way to bridge gaps.
The city of Portland is choosing to endanger my life in order to accommodate some voices of the community based on the color of their skin and I ought to be happy about it? This seems pretty unusual for PBOT. When NoPo transitioned from a white working class neighborhood to a black working class neighborhood the city (correctly!) did nothing about it. Nor should it have any particular opinion about the demographic makeup of the area now.
No, you are choosing to endanger your life by riding that route. You can ride any other street and be safer.
The safest option of all is to not leave your home…and stay in the rooms farthest from the street in case of an vehicle-house collision.
I think you have missed the point of traffic safety improvements.
Um no. There aren’t other streets that are safer and still remotely as fast. And have you tried crossing the major streets without a light? I ride every weekday from Mallory & Failing to PSU. In that time I spend most of it in really subpar bike lanes on both Broadway and Williams. I totally get if PBOT wants to go back to the drawing board, especially since the segment 4 thing requires some rethinking. I recognize that there is a relatively small amount of money for these fixes, especially once (good) ideas like separated trimet bus stops start being thrown around.
However, if this is getting delayed because some african american residents are concerned about perceived gentrification then I’m totally against any sort of delay. It just isn’t a valid reason to not implement safety changes. Cities change and we should be unsentimental about it and instead try to ensure that everyone has the best possible area to live in. The perception that bike facilities=gentrification is an unfortunate byproduct of how the city has invested in inner city bike facilities first coupled with the rise in property prices around the inner city area. When my family moved to the city of Albina it had a dramatically different character. As the city changed they moved away and now it’s changed again and is a place I want to live and raise children in. I vividly recall my grandparents saying they felt like strangers in their own neighborhood.
Esther I think there are important dynamics here you’re not addressing.
What do you do when the other side won’t meet you half way?
What do you do when you study traffic safety and you have plans that can save lives – from collisions, and through improved daily health using low cost options and the other side demands delays and refuses alternatives?
If you waiting for consensus, we might not get there.
Living in North Portland is like living in Rwandan genocide? REALLY?
You don’t understand, It’s not fair.
@Kimberlee and @chris – Any interest in trying to pass this message along to other folks in the community? I am on the Stakeholder Advisory Comittee and I’d love to chat about this project and the outreach.
feel free to contact me : email@example.com
I think it’s worth hearing Maxwell Hendricks’ full speech. I just happened to record it…
I’ve added it to the story above and the MP3 is here.
Thanks. You have to listen to the whole thing. African Americans were cleansed by PBOT over the last 100 years. It’s horrific.
The traveling exhibit called “lost black neighborhoods” is a must see for any critic of Ms. Maxwell.
That was very informative. I have to assume that if Maxwell was not turned away from the community-input events that have taken place so far.
I just don’t understand how shes arguging that she and/or the black community is not being given opportunity to be involved in these decisions.
Maxwell: “It’s just an accident waiting to happen, trying to facilitate so much on that street…” <- Exactly! So let's reduce speed and congestion by removing a lane!
I don’t want to get run over because Ms. Hendricks is pissed about gentrification.
When gas is $15/gallon I’ll just take the whole empty lane for myself, since evidently we won’t be getting much space before then.
i just heard opec can’t/won’t agree on oil production, sending the price of oil above 100 bucks this morning.
Thank you, that was very informative.
That wasn’t a complaint raised by cyclists, it was a statement made by the black church lady.
I wonder if this Sightline article (and its charts) might contribute to the conversation:
…might at least help pop the people on bikes = elite yuppies myth.
Its about perception, not reality.
Ms. Maxwell is ranting. Listen to her speech. She says this change will cause Church Members to walk an extra 4-5 blocks.
Moving from 2 moving lanes to one can actually add parking. We have to build consensus as MLK states.
I agree about adding parking. however I think its a token amount in a few select places, not a few spaces every block. Additionally, Portland has parking maximums so I wouldn’t be suprised if places can’t build ‘as much parking as they want’ It would be interesting to see if there really is a shortage of parking. Perhaps this walk a few blocks problem could be solved by metering some of the spaces along Williams, but perhaps that’s for a separate effort.
+1 that the problem isn’t a lack of parking it is that they aren’t charging enough/anything for that parking. Meter it and the people who need to park will have the spaces to do so. Then take that money and spend it on things like putting in sidewalks on some of the many streets in that area that don’t have them.
I’m tired of this. I will just take the lane from now on, there’s too much traffic and too many parked cars.
DIY sharrows, anyone?
I’ve got some extra paint….
There may be so many cyclists in these coming summer days that “taking the lane” becomes a likely result of congestion. I remember last year where lines of 20+ cyclists were heading up Williams, and it’s not hard to imagine the group just moving into the lane.
FYI. I hooked up Ellen with the Alliance phone number months ago. Ellen did not even know they existed. I’m glad they finally touched base. Seems it should have been done sooner.
The bike community must not connect our mission with the racist PBOT agenda of the past. We have to be completely new and patient. It’s not worth the bike lane if it’s done in a way that leaves people out.
If there is a risk that someone dies due to the delay don’t blame the delay. Blame enforcement. Put one of those Police Radar Vans on Williams and ticket all the people driving 35 in a 25 zone. Ticket all the cars that don’t stop for peds on Sunday.
It isn’t that black people can’t walk a few blocks to church; it is the fact that there are a lot of elderly black people that go to church that have difficulty walking the few blocks to church. Removing the parking would make it more difficult for them to get to church. The black church is an important pillar in the black community regardless of how others may view it, both historically and at present.
Perhaps they need to prioritize parking that is near the church (private lot dedicated to those that cannot walk?) instead of expecting free public-subsidized parking.
It’s a silly argument to begin with, however, because very little parking is slated to be removed by this change.
“… ; it is the fact that there are a lot of elderly black people that go to church that have difficulty walking the few blocks to church. …” black dude on bicycle
Man…you’re the first cat out of everyone commenting so far, in 68 some comments, that seems to realize that there are people, due to advanced age, for whom a 4-5 block walk is too far.
And I think the importance of the church is (like BDOB said) completely missed by white hipsters.
And the importance of the automobile because America with one fewer automobile is Soviet Russia.
Just to be clear, this project is NOT going to remove parking. That was originally going to be considered and is off the table. If anything, PBOT is looking for ways to squeeze a few more spaces out, perhaps on a side-street.
vote independent and hope the repugnicrats get booted out in 2012.
Wouldn’t it be safer to have the bikes on Rodney, away from the trucks and buses?
Do me a favor. Every day for one month, ride from Broadway to Killingsworth at afternoon rush hour via Williams. Then spend a month riding from Broadway to Killingsworth at afternoon rush hour via Rodney. Then re-assess your suggestion.
To help you along, consider an alternative: Wouldn’t it be safer to have more auto traffic on MLK, away from bikes and buses?
Rodney is a residential street, North bound bicycle commuters really move along Williams at speeds you would not want cruising through your neighborhoods anymore than cars.
Moving this to Rodney would not work.
I’m as impatient to get this facility improved as anyone, but I would hope that people who cycle, as a group who has been in minority status for some time, would have some empathy for other minority groups.
This neighborhood has been horrendously scarred by transportation projects, including having I-5 literally destroy portions of the neighborhood and then split the remainder in half.
Some of the arguments we are hearing are the skepticism about cycling that we hear everywhere. But there’s a very real concern about levels of empowerment that we need to hear and respect. And if it takes some time to do, then that’s vitally important.
Having said that, I think people of color who DO cycle could be incredibly valuable bridges in this conversation and I would be very grateful if any of them would care to contact me personally at firstname.lastname@example.org
As Ms. Maxwell Hendricks says, the Portland Plan and its spirit of equity is for EVERYBODY in the City.
Let’s use the opportunity to build relationships. It will be worth it in the long run.
I agree. I think further ideas of ways these communities can be bridged should be floated. Pedestrians, cyclists, business owners and residents of every ethnicity and background will benefit from a safer N Williams. We as Portlanders can come together and engender cooperation, not resentment if we engage in dialogue, not diatribe.
Much of what Hendricks said didn’t make logical sense to me. Who is excluded from an Open House? Are all cyclists on Williams St. white? I feel she doesn’t fully realize the true source of her anger or just didn’t articulate it well. And although her statement – “we feel like you guys are coming in and taking all the spoils and benefiting from all the changes. It’s not fair.” – isn’t a reflection of reality, it’s probably the one thing she said that got close to what’s really bugging her. I agree that this project a victim of racism.
That was the statement that bothered me the most. The gentrification in that neighborhood is definitely not driven by her actions or the actions of her church. It sounds like she’s taking credit for it, while standing in the way of a major project that will further help the area.
I totally agree. It always comes to an Us Vs. Them thing in the cycling community. 3-6% of the commuting population wields more power than they are due and have great influence over the transportation grid that was originally built for the cars and a way of life that existed long before most of us were born.
Of course the old folks are concerned about heading to church, and yes they should be able to park where their parents did, or have some other way for them to totter in for communion or whatever. Don’t mess with people’s faith! The so-called “free parking” they are getting has been subsidized by their own tax dollars paid for decades before we ever showed up. Have some respect.
I finally think that the BTA, and the PDX cycling community has gotten over-funded and too big for its britches, and it is going to start facing a backlash like we have never seen. This ain’t no critical mass ride in the early 90’s.
We can all fit here in this lovely city, perhaps it is time to listen more than we yell. Two ears, one mouth, whether or not it was “intelligent design” or not, they came in that proportion for a reason.
Yes, that’s why the new BikeBar–on N Williams, no less–is the most popular place in the neighborhood… after only being open two days. If that’s backlash, I’d hate to see what “vibrancy” looks like…
In my estimation, bike culture is set for a tipping point, not backlash. Gas prices continue to rise. Auto usage is falling. Our car culture hangover hasn’t even begun. We might as well tell the bartender to cut us off now, before we make it worse for ourselves.
You need a history lesson. The transportation network has always been built to move people. First, the trails and roads were built for walking and riding horses. The first major change was the introduction of streetcars in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. These streetcars built most of inner-Portland, including the area of N Williams in question. At this time, there was also a strong use of bicycles for transportation and leisure. As the gas-powered automobile increased in popularity, the streetcar routes were slowly replaced by busses, and many of the tracks were paved over. In the second half of the 20th century, the priority was gas-powered auto infrastructure, because that was where the demand was. Now the priorities are shifting again. More emphasis is being placed on transit and cycling, cycling in particular, because it has been steadily increasing in popularity:
“The survey found that 5.81% of Portlanders used a bicycle as their primary mode of transportation to work in 2009.”
And a quick look at the transportation projects the city of Portland is working on:
This does confirm that bikes and pedestrians are getting a good share of the projects, but there are also a fair share of large car-centric projects as well (Sandy repaving, for example). We have a well-established auto network, and auto travel is not growing, cycling is. Why should we spend more money on cars?
i am so awfully sorry, kids, that ms. maxwell hendricks is maybe not the most articulate possible spokesperson for a point of view she does share with quite a number of others who have been on the receiving end of this, that, or another project imposed on this neighborhood for fifty or a hundred years by well-meaning and not so well-meaning white people, but the fact that she does not express herself in ways you can readily accept does not mean there is not something here that should be heard. the first wave gentrifiers do not intend any harm, but the end result is the people who used to live there get pushed out. okay, in the end, certain improvements will have to be made to this street — at the very least, some striped pedestrian crosswalks and some timed signals through segment 4, and probably some kind of separated bike facility, and one hopes the removal of one travel lane through at least some segments, etc. but wouldn’t it be better to arrive at this result with everyone feeling that they participated in the decision and that a bunch of “cyclists” didn’t just push it down their throat? let’s take the time to do this right, and maybe we will learn a thing or two from our neighbors along the way. if we keep our ears open and drop the myth that whiteness counts for nothing in this society.
In my previous post I wasn’t very articulate and used the word “racist” which was regrettable and inaccurate. I should have said “about race”. So my apologies to anyone who was offended. And I may still be wrong in my assumption but that’s how I feel.
I think “the community” got what they wanted. It appears this project is dead for another year, and may be on life support. Change has been prevented, autos still rule, all is good. Right?
i think you are entirely mistaken about what is happening here. it is not as though PBoT had finished designs ready to put on the ground anyway. they are still working with trimet to work out the bus/bike conflicts, they still do not have consensus on taking out a travel lane through segment 4, etc., etc., etc., etc. the SAC itself has not expressed itself with any kind of coherent or unified voice. the constituency of which ms. maxwell hendricks is a voice is only one part of this messy equation.
if anything got delayed for “another year,” it is some imaginary scenario where a handful of people who think they “know” that what is needed here is a right side cycletrack and everyone else can go to hell just march in and get their way. that was never going to happen, and it would not have been a good thing if it had happened.
I doubt we will end up with a right-side cycletrack at the end of this project. My guess as of right now is left side cycletrack or left side buffered bike lane. My preference is cycletrack but I could easily be convinced that a buffered lane is better. I don’t think that’s going to be the problem. We need to get support for removing an auto lane, which to a large part of the community feels like ‘taking away the ability to drive’ or at least that’s the perception. I don’t think that there is this trust in the numbers in that community like there is often on BikePortland. Basically, if the road feels ‘congested’ now, taking away a lane will make it feel ‘worse’. I think these concerns will be allayed when we actually put some paint on the road.
**Portion of comment deleted** A evil man who committed mass genocide isn’t quite the same thing as a woman voicing concerns about the changes in her neighborhood. I looked up this website on a recommendation from a friend but so far comments like this have really put me off.
Hi Jerome. Thanks for checking out my site. I want you and everyone else to know that I’ve deleted references to that “evil man” in these comments. I hope you’ll continue to read BikePortland and please understand that I take the comments/discussion here very seriously. — Jonathan Maus
That woman aired her view that living in Portland was the equivalent of living through a mass genocide. My comment was only meant to show the ridiculous nature of her claim, and also to highlight the fact that I could not take any of her comments seriously when she led off with such a false equivalence. I am sorry if you were offended by my comparison of her to a purveyor of genocide, I did so in a tongue in cheek manner in response to her comparison of any portlander who she doesn’t consider to belong in her “community” to the purveyors of the Rwandan genocide.
I fail so far to recognize what it is about this project in particular that Ms. Maxwell Hendricks is addressing. The broader history of injustice and oppression, general issues of fairness and equity, personal difficulty coping with change–these things I get, and on those points I’m sympathetic; but what specific aspects of THIS project are at issue?
I think it comes down to ‘taking away a car lane’. There is a perception that there is a ‘loss’ here, that something is being ‘taken away’ even though the traffic engineers tell us that we aren’t really using that capacity anyway.
I think that’s correct. Coupled with the belief (at least partially accurate) that the folks on bikes are more white than the general population, it reads as “taking away an auto lane for folks (many of color) who live here for the benefit of people from the majority culture cycling through the neighborhood”.
Having the conversation about the new design maintaining the current level of auto throughput requires a level of trust that does not exist yet. The purpose of taking more time is two part:
1) To build that level of trust
2) To make sure that we have heard all the perspectives and that the decision is informed by any factors that those of us in the majority culture may be blind to
Chris, if the issue (from the perspective of those raising that issue) is as you’ve framed it–and if those same parties are bold enough to articulate it in those clear unvarnished terms, then there’s hope that the issue can be effectively discussed and resolved.
If *any* of the parties avoid speaking out with substance and with specifics about what really worries them–then the chances of having a productive dialogue becomes severely disabled.
I’m hoping the stakeholders succeed in educing frank, unvarnished dialogue from all the stakeholders, while maintaining a sincerely sympathetic and collaborative spirit. No small task.
I’d love to see a survey of the end destination of cyclists on williams. I’m guessing that most work downtown/south waterfront/maybe lloyd district and ride no more than 10 miles, tops. Ergo, we live IN the neighborhood, and are not just cycling “through” it. Though I doubt that argument would go anywhere since I’m currently feeling decidedly unwelcome in my own neighborhood.
I agree and it’s unfortunate when PBOT/project consultants don’t refute that kind of framing/language every single time it comes up. In one of those meetings I couldn’t help myself and had to speak up at someone perpetuating that falsehood because I just couldn’t stand it!
Yes, perception is important, but facts are important too and the more that false information is allowed to be shared without response the harder it is to have an informed conversation based on reality instead of perception.
+1 for needing to open our ears to all the users of N Williams. But the safety issue remains. Here’s hoping that we make it through the entire planning process without a fatality. And I encourage everyone to bike responsibly–in my mind, it only adds fuel to the fire when cyclists are reckless…
It appears that a claim of racial inequality is backed by the fear of losing parking at church.
Since when is that valid?
Since when should Sunday morning parking disrupt needed transportation changes?
Since when is this supposed God telling his lackeys where I can ride my bike?
In no manner should this project be changed due to fears of Sunday morning church parking.
Really, I am sorry this woman feels so slighted as an African American woman, but I have to tell you it is no gift being a middle age average white man either.
i really think you need to reconsider the statement that it is not a gift to be a white male in late 20th early 21st century north america
NO, I do not need to reconsider that statement.
It is no gift.
“Thall shalt not criticize a man until you have walked a mile in his moccasins.” (Will Rodgers)
Really. I don’t want to start an argument here about “who has it worse”, but if you’re a white male in America and can’t see the benefits you have because of the race and gender you were born into, you need to spend more time either talking or working with disadvantaged people. I don’t know your background or anything about you, but from my vantage point as a white male, things could certainly be a lot worse for me.
For reference, according to the 2010 census, the tracts around the Williams corridor are about 30% african american. I think it is interesting that Sharon’s comments about who is benefitting from the change really do ring true in the fact that most of the businesses along Williams aren’t owned by african americans and most of the employees aren’t african american. We live in the same neighborhood but its like there are 2 seperate realities
If they can’t park on Williams they have to go 4 or 5 blocks? That is complete BS, There is parking all over the place around that Church. Why don’t they ask those who are healthy to park farther away and reserve all the spaces in their lot for the elderly.
This isn’t about cyclists at all. It’s about the people from this neighborhood who were born here and grew up here, long before it had all the amenities we have today.
Just a quick thanks to all the levelheads – Chris Smith, etc. – who’ve chimed in with words of wisdom on this issue.
With all due respect to Ms. Hendricks, I’m pretty disappointed she’s using race baiting to address a parking issue. The bikes are already there. The neighborhood has plenty of streets designed purely for automobiles. I live on Williams and I moved to this town with a family of black and Indian bicyclists. I’ve been robbed, I’ve been broke, I’ve heard a guy get shot outside my front door. Instead of assuming cyclists “don’t understand” maybe she should try to get to know her neighbors. I also want a safer street but not getting hit by a car is part of that.
Good to hear that someone is listening. It is obvious that when PBOT listened to the whole community they were left with the impression that they should go back to the drawing board or deliver better options in the future. I am glad that they are taking the opportunity to get this right and improve the process.
PBOT+BPS has been a preconceived planning partnership for as long as I can remember. Their outreach has only been token in many respects and people aren’t as empowered to have input as they could be. Glad to hear people are going to take the time to think about being people-people and not just bike-people.