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Should we move forward on Williams? If so, how?

Posted by on July 22nd, 2011 at 4:09 pm

Traffic on Williams is a mess.
(Photos © J. Maus)

As you can tell if you’ve been reading my many responses to reader comments, emails, and Twitter messages, the N Williams Avenue project has weighed heavily on my mind in recent days.

Corner store in North Portland-1

Many of us have shared thoughts about how institutional racism and gentrification intersect with bicycling in Portland and to what extent — if any — they should impact this traffic safety project. I want to keep that conversation going; but what about solutions?

How can we productively move forward from where we are today? Can we take our energy and concern about racism and gentrification and use it toward making things better? Should this traffic safety project even move forward? Or, has the racism issue completely superseded it? Is it possible to work on both things — the race issue and the traffic project — at the same time?

Personally, I don’t think this should be an either/or discussion. The community has a golden opportunity to deal with two major issues that everyone agrees need to be addressed: traffic safety and social injustices of the past that continue today.

I think we, as a city, can and should move forward on both of them… And we shouldn’t just kick the can down the road because the process and the conversations might get tough.

I’ve shared some of my ideas below. I’d love to read yours…

  • PBOT should continue the great conversation that started Wednesday night and expand it into a larger racial understanding/listening project that includes more community members and opportunities for people to share histories and perspectives. Perhaps they can work with the Boise Neighborhood and the new Office of Equity to make it happen.
  • Part of that new/renewed effort could include PBOT and the neighborhood coming together to host a series of street-based community events. The events would bring all road users together to hear speakers (black leaders, new residents, and urban historians), mingle and get to know one another — outside of their vehicles. One example would be a bike-by museum of the excellent “Portland’s Lost Black Neighborhoods” exhibit. There could also be guided rides for anyone to hop on a bike and experience the neighborhood on two wheels.
  • To give both issues — racism and the road project — the space and time they deserve, wouldn’t it make sense to separate them? I’m not saying the roadway project should completely ignore the history of injustice in the neighborhood, it should continue to be a part of the process, but I don’t think it’s wise to make that complex issue the central driving force of the project.
  • PBOT and the community should agree to a set of expectations about what exactly needs to be done before the traffic safety project can move forward.
  • If it’s agreed that the traffic project should move forward, let’s re-start the effort to implement some of the changes that have been vetted out by the community.
  • PBOT should immediately begin racism and gentrification sensitivity training for all project staff and consultants.

Those are just some ideas. This is an important project and no one has all the answers. If we’re going to get it right — and we absolutely must get it right — we need to continue to share our ideas and perspectives.

As always, I welcome your constructive criticism and feedback.

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

196 Comments
  • Avatar
    cyclist July 22, 2011 at 4:17 pm

    Jonathan,

    To resume the conversation you exited in the last thread, I’d like to give you an opportunity to respond once again to the idea that you might make some sort of compromise with folks who want to maintain a traffic lane.

    You accused me of playing “gotcha” by quoting your earlier statements* and concluding that you are unwilling to make compromises in your position to help strike a N Williams deal. Can you explain what compromises you are willing to make on this particular project?

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      Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) July 22, 2011 at 4:22 pm

      cyclist,

      I did my best to respond to your comment on that over on the other thread.

      You say I’m “unwilling to compromise” but I’m sorry if I just don’t understand what you’re trying to get at. Perhaps you missed my comment that I’ve linked to above. Thanks.

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        cyclist July 23, 2011 at 12:47 am

        What I’m saying is that the residents don’t want to remove a travel lane and you do. What sort of compromise solution would you support that would increase safety in the corridor without taking away a travel lane?

        That’s what I’m getting at.

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          Paul Johnson July 23, 2011 at 12:48 am

          Bicycle lanes are travel lanes. They’re just reserved for people who don’t have a motor but do have a pair of wheels.

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          booger July 23, 2011 at 11:51 am

          This is a patently absurd statement. We’re not talking about removing a traffic lane, but repurposing a traffic lane. Furthermore, I’m a resident of this neighborhood, and I want to see the project move forward, so please don’t try to speak for me. Some folks here want the project to move forward, some don’t, big surprise

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          sd July 23, 2011 at 2:44 pm

          I am a resident of this community and I want the project to move forward.

          Marginalized communities have been denied health promoting infrastructure like bike lanes and safe streets for far too long. This is evidenced in clear observable health disparities. I hope that “cyclist” and the few individuals that oppose these changes realize that the health of their community and their children is more important than fast car traffic on Williams.
          It is ironic and tragic that opponents of the changes on Williams are protecting the old street design that occured without care for the NoPo community and denouncing an investment of resources into a street design that improves health and safety for the local community.

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      JR-eh July 22, 2011 at 4:33 pm

      Dude. Just call the guy and ask him. His number is right on the site. You are derailing possible solutions by dominating the comments. You give the publisher too much credit/power. He is just reporting on the issues and advocating for improved safety.

      The city has proposed to maintain one auto traffic lane because it will not change the car throughput while it will improve the safety environment for peds, businesses and people on bikes and in wheelchairs.
      As part of the larger city transportation plan, I think this ought to be done. Williams is not an appropriate cut through.

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    jeff July 22, 2011 at 4:28 pm

    cyclist…I’m not sure Maus has much, if any, influence on whether or not the Williams changes go through. He’s just reporting the issue. Seems your ire is just a tad bit misplaced.

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      Machu Picchu July 23, 2011 at 11:30 am

      To be fair, Jonathan was pushing back pretty hard on comments by the co-guest on Think Out Loud. He was definitely taking a stand (and seems to be continuing it here) which sounds like: keep the project going, and keep the community/race issue separate. That’s activism, not just journalism. His prerogative, to be sure, but not “just reporting” as you suggest.

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        Paul Johnson July 23, 2011 at 10:18 pm

        I can’t help but to think that given the context of the situation, having grown up in that neighborhood, won’t be construed as extremely condescending and lacking insight in that neighborhood.

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    Mark Allyn July 22, 2011 at 4:28 pm

    My comment was a bit late on the other article, but could we suggest that one of the elements of this project would be to impose a hard freeze on any gentrification related evictions in the area.

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      Andrew Seger July 22, 2011 at 4:46 pm

      What does that even mean??? No one’s actually been, “pushed out” and the city lacks an legal means to prevent selling houses to white people. Discrimination based on race for rentals is already illegal, although the city could certainly do a better job enforcing it (eg, http://www.oregonlive.com/portland/index.ssf/2011/05/a_portland_housing_audit_finds.html)

      The thing for me is that we have money for our neighborhood right now to spend on safety improvements. Not a whole lot of money but enough to make some changes. If the neighborhoods want to push for a full street redesign and a larger amount of money from the city that might be one option. Doing nothing is another, though I don’t think it’s a very good one. Third we could implement some incremental changes, like eliminating one travel lane, and continue this good conversation with the upcoming other projects in our neighborhood, such as the Dawson Park updates and the Lower Albina/Rose Quarter portions of the Central City plan.

      In the meantime you’ll find me in the right travel lane on Williams. I feel bad about making you wait if you’re in a car, but I’m not endangering myself or anyone else by using the inadequate bike lanes on Williams.

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        Paul Johnson July 22, 2011 at 10:07 pm

        Folks are being pushed out of not just the neighborhood in question, but the entire Portland Metro area, and not just on the basis of race, but rather that of economic status. There just isn’t a lot of affordable housing around, and in the Williams area, is some of the last remaining affordable housing in the area. Not everyone is rich and can live in Alberta or Hawthorne or west of the west hills.

        Removing affordable housing and replacing it with mixed use yuppie magnets is blockbusting based on economic status.

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          Andrew July 23, 2011 at 12:02 am

          Portland needs more affordable housing for sure. The only way to accomplish that is to build denser housing…like whats happening in Williams right now. If we really cared about housing prices we’d relax the zoning height restrictions and allow taller buildings. Somehow I feel like this would not be welcomed by the older african-american residents.

          But my point was that specifically banning gentrification evictions is both illogical, illegal, and immoral.

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            Hugh Johnson July 23, 2011 at 7:10 am

            Sorry but sounds just like “the projects”. Not sure that’s where Portland wants to be.

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            Alex Reed July 23, 2011 at 11:15 am

            Hugh, there’s a huge difference between well-made multifamily dwellings and “the projects.” The fact is that there’s a lot of demand for housing in inner Portland, causing both single-family homes and apartments are being bid up to high prices/rents. We can’t fit very many more single-family homes into inner Portland, so multifamily housing seems like a good solution.

            I think some work on how to make units in multifamily buildings foster “neighborliness” like front porches and front yards on single-family homes do would be worthwhile though.

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            Nickey Robo July 25, 2011 at 12:33 am

            While this sounds logical in terms of supply and demand, I don’t think there’s much evidence to back it up. Think of the densest neighborhoods in Portland… the Pearl, Nob Hill, South Waterfront. Are any of those affordable? Hardly.

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    • tonyt
      tonyt July 22, 2011 at 7:41 pm

      I second that. What DOES that mean?

      Impose? How?

      How do you define what a gentrification related eviction is?

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        Paul July 25, 2011 at 10:03 am

        The Pearl has more affordable housing buildings than any neighborhood in Portland.

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    jeff July 22, 2011 at 4:37 pm

    I’m still confused as to how a single bike lane (essentially a strip of paint) has anything to do with the history of “racial injustice” in the neighborhood. Some here will probably tell me I’m missing something, and yes, I’m missing something. I have yet to hear any specifics however. Its easy to spout off blanket bullet points and emotionally charged rhetoric. Would they prefer more car traffic? What are these ‘social injustices’ everyone keeps talking about? Is there something the long time residents would like to see first, before this proposed change in infrastructure? Would they like to be more proactively involved in the decision making (last nights meeting was NOT an example of how to go about integrating)? Honestly, I just don’t get it.

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      Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) July 22, 2011 at 4:47 pm

      jeff,

      that’s a good question.

      The reason this project has become embroiled with that history of racism is because some people in the neighborhood feel like it’s just another change that they are not comfortable with and that they did not ask for.

      One person explained the sentiment that exists as, “First they took away our houses, then they took away our businesses, now they want to take away our street!”

      One woman at the meeting the other night said bluntly, “This is just another example of SOSDD (Same old stuff, different day).”

      But it’s not that clean and simple. Some people who have been very vocal about the race issue have also said they don’t support any loss of motor vehicle access on Williams. Others have said they don’t currently feel there’s anything wrong with the street to begin with.

      So, it’s complicated… and it’s made even more complicated in my opinion, because PBOT is in a position where they have to solve not just a complex traffic situation, but they also have to solve even more complex socio-economic-historical issues.

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        jeff July 22, 2011 at 5:03 pm

        I’m always puzzled when I see communities that are so resistant to change (under the guise of ‘progress’) because I’ve seen the long term results of such resistance. Infusion of new people and new money are the only two things that help keep a community alive. There are examples of making either choice all over this country. I personally love new things in my neighborhood, I embrace change and infrastructure “improvements” whenever I see them occuring in S.E. PDX, whatever they are or whichever specific group they may cater more to (Powell just received ADA compliant street crossings, I was stoked for my neighbors confined to wheelchairs). I didn’t bitch, I didn’t bring up decades of injustice for physically disabled folks. No, not everyone is like me. I still don’t get it. If folks want to air grievances (for reasons I still don’t get), a PBOT meeting is the wrong platform to do so.

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          cyclist July 23, 2011 at 12:50 am

          Remember, when they built I-5 through the middle of North Portland that was change under the guise of progress. That made a lot of people really happy, and the people in the immediate vicinity very unhappy. This of course is not nearly the same magnitude as the I-5 debacle, but you’re using the same language they used, and I hope the above example illustrate why this community might be resistant to change after having been sold the same “progress” bill of goods before.

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            Oliver July 25, 2011 at 8:23 am

            “They” are doing it again. It’s called the CRC, and we don’t want it either. I’m white, and that is not going to make a damn bit of difference.

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      Paul Johnson July 23, 2011 at 10:24 pm

      It’s not the bike lane specifically. Just a guess, but I bet it has something to do with being perceived as being part of redevelopment efforts that have gone in along Williams, displacing affordable housing and neighborhood shops with substantially more expensive housing and shops that are only of interest to people in a far higher tax bracket.

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    captainkarma July 22, 2011 at 4:45 pm

    If I-5 cut-thru could be prevented by hardwired hardware solutions, perhaps traffic levels on Williams would be such that bike lane safety would not so desperately need improvement. Could that be the compromise “cyclist” would desire?

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      Andrew Seger July 22, 2011 at 4:48 pm

      If I-5 cut through could be eliminated we wouldn’t need that second travel lane at all. Would that be a compromise “motorists” would desire?

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      BURR July 22, 2011 at 4:59 pm

      regardless of the traffic diverted from I-5, the current bike lane on Williams is inadequately sized to safely accommodate all the cyclists using it today, and it needs to be wider.

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        Paul Johnson July 22, 2011 at 10:10 pm

        To that end, moving the I 5 bypass route for cyclists to Interstate Avenue and making that a bike boulevard might be an easier win, since motorists already have a difficult time on that street, and take it out on cyclists and pedestrians trying to use that space currently. Williams is a bit more car-centric having more motorist lanes, so keeping the existing Williams bike lane and making Interstate the easier through route for cyclists seems like a no-brainer.

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    Chris Smith July 22, 2011 at 4:45 pm

    I believe decision making on this project can proceed as soon as the local community feels they actually have an appropriate voice and level of power in the decision-making process. I don’t think we’ll get to that place if we position gentrification as a “separate issue”.

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      Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) July 22, 2011 at 4:51 pm

      Chris… Again. I did not say say gentrification should be a “separate issue”. Like I said in the post, it should remain a piece of the project, but a smaller piece that it is right now. … and then perhaps PBOT should spin off the existing race talks into a larger and more appropriate forum where they can happen concurrently with the traffic project. Heck, maybe they even report back to the traffic project to help inform the outcome.

      But I like what you said about how the decision making might proceed once a certain “level of power” is reached. i’m not sure what form that would take — Chair of the SAC perhaps? — but it’s interesting.

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      Alexis July 22, 2011 at 8:26 pm

      Chris — I feel like this is a middle position that I’ve heard a couple of very thoughtful people articulate, but it’s not very clear to me what it entails, and I’d like to understand better what you think it would mean, or how you think we’d figure out what it would mean.

      The worry that keeps coming up for me is how to continue addressing both the concrete safety issues and the larger social issues together and in parallel, so that forward movement is possible. RIght now it seems like a real possibility that the project will be halted by an ill-defined objective of the neighborhood “having an appropriate voice and level of power in the process” that can never be achieved because it’s never defined and agreed on, and that’s an outcome that seems useless to me on all counts — no agreement on how to correct the problem in the future, and no progress on dealing with the specific situation.

      Also, I don’t think I’ve ever appreciated the BikePortland comments section as much as I do with the posts on this project. There are a lot of informed, able, and valuable perspectives floating around here.

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        Chris Smith July 22, 2011 at 8:37 pm

        Alexis – the simplest mechanism might be to expand the stakeholder committee to include significantly more representation from the community members expressing concern. But I doubt the correct answer will be simple 🙂 We should be engaging with the community members and the existing SAC to try to figure out a good structure.

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          Joe C July 23, 2011 at 1:24 am

          I think something falling between what both Chris and Jonathan are proposing is the best way to move this project forward. Ultimately, this isn’t a bicyclist project, this is not an anti-auto project; it’s a safety project. (If anyone may benefit most from it, it’s pedestrians–which we all are.) A calmer Williams will be safer for everyone biking, driving, walking & otherwise using it. Period.

          We (Portlanders of all classes & colors) can expand and continue the larger, macro dialogue taking place around this project. This dialogue should include robust and frank discussion of race relations in this city. This discussion can include grievances over the initial process that drove this project, and the iniquities inherent in it and other, historical processes.

          But this discussion needs to take place at the City Hall / Office of Equity level, not PBOT’s. And, as was pointed out elsewhere in these comments, the dialogue could seek to address iniquity in the practices of PDC, developers, the banks, police, businesses, speculators, landlords, local hospitals, etc. These dialogues need to have teeth–i.e., they shouldn’t just be gab sessions, but should result in real, tangible actions, changes, programs, policies that benefit the communities which have seen active divestment over the decades, especially this one.

          At the same time, more outreach and bridge-building between the active transportation community and the historic community could occur. Whether this is more of the kind of work CCC has been doing, a promotion of Sistas Weekend Cyclers or push for/creation of similar groups, donating bikes to places of worship and installing racks, doing free bike safety seminars for the community, volunteers shuttling churchgoers from their cars in bike taxis, organizing carfree/active transpo events or events celebrating the street’s vibrant history, or just sitting down to talk with residents in living rooms, businesses, churches & public spaces around N Williams, I don’t know. But I think with time, patience and a lot of elbow grease, we can make the case that these changes will not be and are not a “white value.” Health and safety are universal. We have a fantastic opportunity here. Right now the perception of bicycling in this city is at the “Lance Armstrong” stage. As Jan Gehl says, if we want Copenhagen, we have to prove to citizens who aren’t young white males clad in Lycra that biking and walking are a good fit for them, too, and we have to show that it’s the case by making streets safer and more human scale.

          I live on N Williams. I walk on N Williams. I see it from eye-level every morning, afternoon and night. If N Williams changes, everyone wins. If we channel our passion and outrage into positive, constructive action, we can secure the changes necessary for a safer street, and a better city!

          (Sorry for length. Past 1am the virtue of brevity is often forgotten.)

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          q`Tzal July 25, 2011 at 5:30 pm

          Right or wrong gentrification and racial issues apply not only to this project but to EVERY government project.
          Silly as it is to try to apply it to politics: logic dictates then that we argue gentrification and racial issues for EACH and EVERY thing the goverment does,

          OR

          We have a single discussion about this issue, how it applies to all decisions and attempt to arrive at a agreement/compromis of some sort such that daily governing doesn’t grind to a halt.

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      halfwheeled July 24, 2011 at 12:59 pm

      Chris nailed it on the head: too many white folks are commenting who are not part of the immediate neighborhood. What percentage of locals are on this discussion? IMHO, very few from what I’ve been reading.

      I’m a minority, lived in the area for 30+ years, and been a cyclist for almost just as long. Never have I heard my neighbors push for more bike lanes.

      So the question is: Has there been a grassroots “neighborhood” movement pushing for more bike
      lanes? No.

      From what I have been hearing, it’s the mostly white bicycling community that want changes.

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        Matt July 25, 2011 at 2:52 pm

        You could like at it like cyclists are the minority in the world of traffic flow and simply pursuing their rights. Doesn’t matter where any of us live.

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    Champs July 22, 2011 at 4:48 pm

    If the community’s got much larger concerns than transportation, then it needs to go to the mayor’s office. PBOT doesn’t do redress for social injustice.

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      BURR July 22, 2011 at 5:01 pm

      good point, but the mayor’s also the transportation commissioner, so what difference would it make?

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        Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) July 22, 2011 at 5:05 pm

        BURR brings up an important point… I think some bike projects in Portland are more difficult to get traction on and prone to controversy precisely because Mayor Adams is in charge of PBOT… especially in a run-up to an election.

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        Champs July 22, 2011 at 6:38 pm

        Maybe Adams needs to step up, I just know that it’s not where (possibly perceived) institutional racism should be addressed. There’s nothing PBOT, Parks and Recreation, the fire department, or Animal Control can do alone to take on a systemic problem.

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    Patty Freeman July 22, 2011 at 4:53 pm

    I think the Williams safety project needs to continue with the African American community at the table. And I think the bigger conversation needs to move to the Mayor’s office, and have PBOT, PDC, etc. at the table to develop a strategy to ensure that the African American community has a voice in the priorities set for Portland.

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      Steve B July 22, 2011 at 6:11 pm

      I like the sound of that! Great suggestion.

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      sabernar July 23, 2011 at 8:50 am

      But why just the African-American community? You need to also include the Hispanic community, the Asian community, the Jewish community, etc.

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      middle of the road guy July 25, 2011 at 8:05 am

      You are suggesting that 5% of the population should have more than 5% of the say?

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    Todd Boulanger July 22, 2011 at 5:06 pm

    Nice photo of the existing traffic conditions.

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    dan July 22, 2011 at 5:06 pm

    Is the bike lane on Williams slammed during the peak commute all year long, or just during the summer?

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      rider July 22, 2011 at 8:40 pm

      Even when not slammed with bikes the narrow traffic lanes, coupled with the narrow bike lanes and dooring lane, it’s not safe. I ride this route year round and I have many times found myself with a bus hugging the white line to my left and a car door opening to my right. Right now there simply isn’t enough real estate to accommodate bicyclists safely. The issue is exacerbated in the heavy summer bike traffic, but it doesn’t go away when the rain comes.

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      Paul Johnson July 22, 2011 at 10:11 pm

      Most cycleway facilities are slammed year round in the city.

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        dan July 23, 2011 at 1:33 pm

        This is only anecdotal, but I have to disagree about my route into work: Lincoln –> Ladd –> Madison. It’s rarely crowded, and never in the winter. In the winter I sometimes have the whole bridge to myself.

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          Paul Johnson July 23, 2011 at 10:29 pm

          I gotta wonder if you’re hitting those at off-peak times.

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      Mindful Cyclist July 23, 2011 at 2:04 pm

      I think the main reason Williams is so crowded during rush hour is because it is the easier way to access N. Portland. Mississippi, Interstate and Greeley all have pretty steep hills to climb.

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        Paul Johnson July 23, 2011 at 10:30 pm

        Portland has hills. If you didn’t want hills, you’d live in Kansas. :oP

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          q`Tzal July 25, 2011 at 7:28 pm

          Hills there too; no mountains though.

          Topography of American Great Plains (including Kansas): Sahara sand dunes with grass on top. Steep grades around ancient river basins.

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        Oliver July 25, 2011 at 8:30 am

        Apart from the grind that is the hill on Greeley, you have four lanes of high speed (some 55+) traffic and a major freight terminal.

        It’s more miserable than riding 30 through NW.

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    OnTheRoad July 22, 2011 at 5:08 pm

    I am bewildered how postponing the development of an expanded bike lane (including the loss of a car traffic lane) would do anything to rectify historic racism.

    Have the people in this neighborhood not heard how the increased traffic and pollution levels caused by the Columbia River Crossing project would affect the health of this corridor’s residents? Why don’t they raise their voices about those negative health issues rather than the improved health and safety environment engendered by more bicycle traffic and a more calmed arterial shopping street?

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      BURR July 22, 2011 at 5:19 pm

      the bike lane is a much smaller and easier target than the CRC

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        dirt_merchant July 22, 2011 at 5:28 pm

        You said it. Bicycle projects are an easy and tangible target. AND we want to listen and include everybody too.

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      David Parsons July 22, 2011 at 5:24 pm

      I’d suspect it’s not just historic racism, but ongoing racism in the form of “make it easier for young white professionals to get into and out of the area, and then the property owners can shove the current (black) tenants out and rake in the dough selling and/or renting to well-heeled white folk.”

      Terrible traffic and inaccessability to bicycles make the neighborhood less desirable, and thus preserves the existing community.

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        sabernar July 23, 2011 at 8:51 am

        and we want to keep neighborhoods less desirable because…..???

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        middle of the road guy July 25, 2011 at 8:08 am

        That was the exact reason I moved into North Portland….specifically so I could force another minority out. Sure, I could have bought a nicer home in the suburbs, but the institutional racism manual that all white guys are given at birth dictated that it was my duty to live in a less safe neighborhood just to that one more minority could be disenfranchised from the house they were letting fall apart.

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      Edie Spencer July 23, 2011 at 11:06 am

      Actually people in that neighborhood have raised concerns regarding those very issues…only to be ignored because no one wants to see how racism and classism contributes those issues.

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        middle of the road guy July 25, 2011 at 8:09 am

        Part of that conversation should include WHY the community has let things fall apart.

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      Oliver July 25, 2011 at 8:32 am

      Likely because you don’t have the neighborhood churches making noise about it on Sundays and Wednesdays.

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    andy July 22, 2011 at 5:34 pm

    If we are talking about the gentrification of an entire neighborhood, why is the discussion only focused on Williams? Why not MLK? Why not Mississippi? Or any of the east-west streets? I don’t know the mode share for the neighborhood as a whole, but I would guess that at least 80% of the traffic is by automobile, and that’s probably being generous. That’s 80% of the white, middle class population taking advantage of a quick commute from downtown. That’s 80% of the white, middle class population looking for a good parking spot along one of the commercial strips. If we are going to have a discussion about gentrification and transportation, then we need to look at the neighborhood as a whole, not just the one street with a relatively high percentage of bike traffic.

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      Paul Johnson July 23, 2011 at 10:32 pm

      Because the damage has been done to MLK and Mississippi already, and the odds of being able to fix that against the desires of profiteering land developers and their friends in government are somewhere between 0 and and matching all five numbers and the powerball on a 9-figure jackpot.

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    Joe July 22, 2011 at 6:30 pm

    Ironic that bikes and affordable transportation are considered part of gentrification. Also ironic that most of these bicyclists probably have less annual income than the noisy residents dwelling on the past. Another irony is associating (literally) poor bicyclists for past racism by an entirely different (wealthy) generation. Yet another irony is that all parties involved in this discussion (including myself) are disgusted at past racism and the people that enabled it.

    But I know these loud neighborhood “activists”. They come in every hair color, height and shape. This has less to do about race and more to do about an established population opposing change, in any form. This is also about a generational gap. While I don’t want to forget about the errors of our elders, I don’t think this “conversation” about race with the current younger generation is moving us forward. Quite the opposite. I’m hoping racism, in all forms, dies with the last generation.

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      Paul Johnson July 22, 2011 at 10:15 pm

      Part of it is the image put out by a lot of the cyclists in this city. You don’t find many folks just going about their business on a bike. What you do find a lot of are hipsters right out of the stereotype catalog using a bicycle as a fashion accessory and Lycra-clad, special-clipless-bike-shoes wearing gearheads. As a result, it’s really hard for the average Joe of any stripe to relate to cyclists in this city, even when you are an average Joe cyclist.

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    Joe Adamski July 22, 2011 at 6:35 pm

    The backlash regarding Williams is really frustration about gentrification issues being directed towards bike commuters. Missing in this backlash is the City, PDC, the ranks of developers, large and small, speculators and bankers, the folks that actually had some actual involvement in gentrification.
    I can understand the frustration some may feel about gentrification. Directing it at bike commuters is striking out at a visible symptom, not the cause. I suspect it is because the bike community has been much more adept at their voice being heard, and the City responding than those who opposed the gentrification happening in their neighborhoods, and did not get any meaningful response from the CIty.
    Cyclists had nothing to do with what happened in North and Northeast regarding gentrification but are somehow being asked to sacrifice their safety and a safe and convenient route to atone for a perceived wrong committed by others.

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      BURR July 25, 2011 at 12:56 pm

      well stated, Joe!

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    dwainedibbly July 22, 2011 at 6:45 pm

    PBOT is not in charge of dealing with racism or gentrification and, as such, it is not going to be able to do much about these issues. Given the frustration expressed, I have no doubt that there are problems, I just don’t see how the PBOT plans for North Williams are going to be able to address 90+ years of history.

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    Barney July 22, 2011 at 7:22 pm

    Just scrap the plan for Williams and move on to the next project in line. Let entities other than PBOT deal with the “social injustice” issues and don’t waste time on unwilling participants in improving the community. Maybe they will come around some time in the future!

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      Hugh Johnson July 22, 2011 at 7:47 pm

      so sad if it comes to that.

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      Paul Johnson July 22, 2011 at 10:16 pm

      No kidding. Easier and cheaper to move on and deal with bigger fish to fry, like getting the dedicated bicycle infrastructure that isn’t tied to existing motorist infrastructure out of Parks & Rec’s claws and into PBOT’s…

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      Suburban July 24, 2011 at 2:27 pm

      Agreed. Just operate your vehicle in the wider lane, and put planning energy into another street that needs safety upgrades.

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    tonyt July 22, 2011 at 7:53 pm

    I think that this is an example of a community that struggles to be heard, finding an opportunity to stonewall something so that they can demand to be heard.

    As the woman at the meeting said, “I understand what you’re saying, I’m just pissed.”

    She doesn’t really have any real justification for opposing the safety improvements other than that she’s pissed about the past. And because the city IS changing the way they do things, and IS inviting the community to offer input, she, and others exploit the city’s desire to improve things, by standing in the way to protest how they USED to do things.

    I understand that these issues are complex, but the hijacking of traffic safety issues to seek redress for previous wrongs is short-sighted and frankly immature.

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    rootbeerguy July 22, 2011 at 7:56 pm

    if NE Portland were entirely white, i am sure some people in the neighborhood would object to that PBOT plan. 50’s and East Holgate are good examples. Anyway, landlords imposed higher rent so they could replace non-desirables with better tenants. A few years real estate market In Portland was ridiculously high. NE houses were cheap to buy. Guess who: white people bought and spruced them up. But the certain group of people felt slighted by whole thing because they did not have opportunity to better themselves. Banks historically denied them to get loans for home ownership and business. Job discrimination. Low pay jobs. landlord slums, etc… They feel stuck like a broken record. How could they go forward with the whole sh+t? That is why they feel we do not understand their struggles.

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      Chris July 22, 2011 at 8:18 pm

      You are correct, good explanation, but this seems a lot less to do with race and more to do with wealth. I’m sure whites felt the same resentment if they were pushed out of their neighborhood by the ”haves.”

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        Paul Johnson July 23, 2011 at 10:35 pm

        I might be red, but I still feel that way about most of this city.

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    Chris July 22, 2011 at 7:59 pm

    When I was looking for a neighborhood I wanted something in Portland, close to my work, low priced, and family/bike friendly. Over the years I have lived here I am seeing young families move into my neighborhood en mass, probably for the same reason I did. The neighborhood is drastically improving; shops are moving in, community groups are forming, and crime is down.

    I didn’t realize I was such a horrible person!

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      Paul Johnson July 23, 2011 at 10:37 pm

      How much higher are rents now than they were before the neighborhood was redeveloped? Would you have considered it before that? If you answered anything greater than zero, or no, respectively, then pat yourself on the back for being part of the problem and being proud of it.

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      Mindful Cyclist July 24, 2011 at 12:18 pm

      Chris: Gentrification goes well beyond a couple of white families moving into a minority neighborhood. It is about developers buying houses on the cheap and flipping them. Or, buying up an apartment complex, landscaping the outside, slapping in IKEA kitchens and calling it a condo.

      Then comes the Yoga studios, the restaurants, and coffee shops that really never fit in the neighborhood before, but will still set up shop since the rent is cheap.

      Also, crime rates didn’t go down. They just moved.

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    Sam July 22, 2011 at 8:12 pm

    Come to the NE 8th and Holman intersection in Woodlawn this Sunday to meet your neighbors and celebrate the new painted intersection. Fun starts at 2.

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    Alison July 22, 2011 at 8:17 pm

    I have been reading all of your comments and I think turning this into a racial discussion is not only unnecessary, but counterproductive. The residents of the N. Williams neighborhood should have a say and a place in the discussion about any issues in their neighborhood, especially when it comes to removing an entire lane from this major artery and replacing it with a bike lane. It really doesn’t matter whether their skin is white, black or purple, for that matter. If it means a major change in their neighborhood, they should be involved in the discussion and the decision-making process–period.

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    Charley July 22, 2011 at 9:03 pm

    This project should go forward as planned. PBOT is not capable of righting the centuries’ many wrongs against black people, and the safety of the cyclists who ride the substandard facilities on Williams shouldn’t be held hostage. If these neighborhood activists are “just pissed,” then there’s nothing PBOT can do, except to let them vent their anger.

    They don’t seem to have any solutions (other than encouraging transportation wonks to attend hug and cry sessions), so let them have their anger, and then get on with making the streets safer for people, white or black or whatever.

    Maybe, eventually, they’ll turn their attention to tackling gang violence or economic stagnation. With so many new businesses opening in the neighborhood, why not focus on getting young black people into all the new jobs? Then maybe they could afford to stay in the neighborhood and stem the tide of apparently predatory white people.

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    Kronda July 22, 2011 at 11:44 pm

    Jonathan,

    I like your idea of community based events. I doubt the people who think everything is just fine on Williams have ever ridden in the bike lane at 5pm.

    Riding the mile in the other shoe so to speak would be a good start towards moving people towards dealing with reality instead of perception not based on experience. I’d be willing to take passengers on the Dummy, for those too intimidated to ride it themselves.

    On the other side, you’ve mentioned several times that you feel PBOT staff should go through sensitivity training. I’m wondering if you’ve ever considered doing the same?

    You keep saying that you’re sensitive to the race issues, and I do believe you mean well– but from where I and a lot of other people (not just black people btw) sit, you seem to be steeped so deeply in the middle of your white privilege that you can’t see it, any more than a fish sees water. Personally, I find that attitude more frustrating than being refused service in a restaurant (yes, that has happened).

    You said, “I will never fully understand the racial issues on this street to the depth that I think some feel is necessary because I am white.”

    Maybe not, but I think you could get a lot closer than you are now. This might be a good place to start.

    If this project is ever going to succeed, I think it will start with everyone putting aside their assumptions, at least temporarily, and being willing to step out of their entrenched ideas before we talk about compromising.

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      KJ July 23, 2011 at 10:40 am

      That is a fantastic link. Thank you for sharing it. I wonder how many people will check it out.

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      halfwheeled July 24, 2011 at 1:09 pm

      THANK YOU KONDRA!! You eloquently said what was on my mind, and didn’t have the words to put it in writing.

      I too think Maus means well and is a stellar individual in the cycling community, but there definitely is a racial disconnect that prevents a meaningful dialog on this issue.

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        Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) July 25, 2011 at 10:51 am

        “I too think Maus means well and is a stellar individual in the cycling community, but there definitely is a racial disconnect that prevents a meaningful dialog on this issue.”

        halfwheeled,
        Thanks for those kind words. Like I asked Kronda, can you please share with me more specifics/examples on why/where you think there is a “racial disconnect.”

        Also, I disagree w/ you that I haven’t facilitated “meaningful dialogue” on this issue.

        Perhaps you missed my interview with Sharon Maxwell-Hendricks a few months ago? Or my previous reporting on this exact issue several years ago? Or the reporting from Williams project meetings where I shared verbatim comments from people opposed to this process/project so that a larger swath of the community could hear and try to understand their concerns?

        I would love to hear your thoughts about how I could present this issue better so that more meaningful dialogue could result.

        Thanks.

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      Natalie July 24, 2011 at 6:55 pm

      Thank you for posting this link! It’s frustrating when people think that racism is this dichotomy–you either are or you aren’t (and the same goes for sexism, homophobia, classism…). Prejudice and naivete go hand in hand–just because you aren’t a hater doesn’t mean you “get it.” Now if only OregonLive commenters could read this article…

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      Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) July 25, 2011 at 10:45 am

      Hey Kronda,

      Thanks for your comment and your thoughts on this. I would really like to hear a specific example of how you think I have practiced the type of “liberal racism” that is described in your link.

      I am open to your criticisms and I want to understand them better and be a more effective reporter/community leader… I consider myself very honest and open to seeing/acknowledging my shortcomings and I would like to understand in more detail why you think I have racial disconnect.

      If you can point to something specific that I’ve said, perhaps that would help.

      Thanks.

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        Esther July 25, 2011 at 11:57 am

        I know you’re asking Kronda and her opinions may differ vastly from mine. But thre are a few ways the discussion has gone, which leave a sour taste in my mouth. (I actually have tried not to follow it too closely- I border on having anxiety disorder and it works me up too much). Not all of it is you specifically Jonathan, a lot of it is commenters, but I see you tweeting links to comments that promote some of this. And of course, this is all very much IMHO.

        1. “Hey! look! Black people bike TOO! See, here’s a picture! That means bike lane= GOOD FOR BLACK PEOPLE!” No, I am not saying you have said that explicitly, but there is a LOT of this “bicycling IS equitable –> good for poor & black people –> black people SHOULD LIKE IT!” talk flying around.
        Yes, I think everyone reading bikeportland would agree that bicycling is generally good for health, the environment, increases equitable income and expense distribution etc etc etc., and yes, people of color bike and we DO need to put more of a spotlight on them & their needs (and I feel like you try to do this Jonathan!); but that doesn’t mean it is the highest priority as The Solution for people.

        So people make (to us) specious comparisons to money that’s spent on gang reduction or education or potholed roads in Cully or whatever. Yep, apples and oranges in terms of funding, BUT to a lot of people, having your family members-especially your teenage/20something family members-in danger of being killed daily (and worse, having the police, another taxpayer funded enterprise, totally ignore you when you file reports, as happened early in the case of Yashawnee Vaughn; or even having them killed or put in terrible danger BY police, see also Calbruce Jamal Green, Aaron Campbell, Keaton Dupree Otis) IS a bigger deal than trying to lose weight or prevent some future semi-theoretical diabetes by bicycling.
        That’s just an example, and I don’t claim to speak for anyone who is black or part of that community, but I feel like the response that “you are comparing apples or oranges, one is one pot of funding, this other is another source of funding” minimizes VERY REAL life or death issues for some people. Minimizing is not a way to be an active listener or to work towards partnership. And no, throwing numbers around doesn’t just fix it.

        1a. When Proposion 8 banning gay marriage in CA passed, tons of people blamed it on black people being religious and turning out the vote and black people voted for it at a higher percentage yadda yadda yadda. Yet somehow a similar measure in oregon passed with a white majority; even if all black people had voted against 8 it still would have passed; a majority of whites voted for it; etc. There is this perception that one minority group should then be able to see how difficult it is for another minority group (in this case, bicyclists) and therefore identify/support their cause or needs. I feel there is some of this going on as well.

        2. Equity discussions shouldn’t be put in a separate room from other discussions. Equity is a meta discussion but it should be a component of EVERY “real” discussion. It has to be integrated, not just shuttled over the Office of Equity to fix.

        It is not fair that developers and private homeowners/landlords and investors and all those people who built up Williams with a lot of $ and drove up home prices DIDN’T have to talk about or answer to equity in the same way, but that doesn’t mean that transportation (or any of our publicly/taxpayer funded projects) get to leave out that component of the discussion. People get into saying that every transpo improvement discussion in Portland, e.g. Holgate, would get bogged down forever if they had to answer these kinds of questions. Maybe, but I find it specious to compare projects like outer Holgate, which hasn’t changed AS significantly in the last 20-30 years (everywhere has changed, don’t get me wrong), to a neighborhood like Williams which has experienced severe/extreme class AND race stratification (and racism and gentrification) both in the recent past and for the last half century or more. Ignoring that the neighborhoods around Williams are VERY DIFFERENT from other parts of Portland and has an entrenched history of white people coming in, saying they know what’s best for everyone and taking land away from black people, …well, doesn’t taking a car lane away seem an awful lot like that? Even though “we know” it’s really different? (Even though BLACK PEOPLE BIKE TOO! … see #1.)

        3. Honestly, speaking as a mixed white/POC person, some of the comments I see on here are truly chilling in their narrow mindedness/racism. I think you would do well to make a bigger effort to fight back against those or comment distancing yourself (and the rest of us). Like people saying “well I see an awful lot of black people jaywalking” or Jay’s comment above bascially saying black people need to STFU. They border on Oregonlive shit.
        LIke it or not, you are a journalist and an activist, and though you and I agree there is no singular monolothic “bike community,” you are a spokesman for what other people perceive to be the “bike community” and you’ve recently been on 2+ radio shows speaking to that end. Your site is BIKE PORTLAND. People who don’t care about or don’t even like or support bicycling infrastructure are referring to this site to gauge how those of us who support bicycling infrastructure feel….and it sickens me to think that I could be associated with some of those comments.

        Thanks for listening.

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          Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) July 25, 2011 at 12:26 pm

          thanks Esther,

          I’m really learning a lot by yours and other people’s comments. I appreciate you taking the time to share those thoughts.

          One thought about the comment from Jay that you reference. I re-read his comment, and I don’t see it the same way as you do. As moderator I want to let everyone express themselves. I realize some people’s opinions do not sound very nice to others… But in Jay’s case I hear frustration and — although it is close to my delete threshold — I feel it deserves to stay up.

          I really am trying to check my liberal/white privilege perspective as I make editorial decisions around this story so I appreciate your comments as always.

          Thanks.

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    biking mom July 23, 2011 at 1:50 am

    I’m curious about what tangible, concrete complaints people have expressed, besides general feelings of annoyance at “SSDD”, gentrification, emotional expressions. I think if we can get to nuts and bolts about what specific concerns exist that would be a way to find middle ground. I wish I’d been at the meeting. For instance, were there business owners there that are concerned about less parking for their businesses? That is a tangible problem that we can at least start to problem-solve.

    I’ve heard that some of the church leaders that were there expressed concern that some of their attendees would not be able to park close to their church. Is this correct?

    At first glance, it would seem that safety for many, many people on Williams trumps a handful of people’s right for close parking. However, I do think this is a logical outreach from the past. Many churches in NE have long-time members that used to live in the area, and for one reason or another no longer live in the area. I’m sure some of them were pushed out when eminent domain happened with Emmanuel and/or rising rent costs. So they come back to the one tie they have to the neighborhood, their church. I know that many of these folks are elderly and/or not in great health and really do need to park close.

    This to me is a reasonable and valid concern. We should certainly do what we can to preserve these community members ties to the area. It was bad city policy and racist policy that helped drive them out and that was unfair. Though it may seem to folks at PBOT and other city-types that its unfair to give special exception to church-goers to park, I think that in light of the fact that in the past folks of color in the area got a particularly unfair deal, its fair enough they get special consideration now.

    I don’t think its logical to say that because of rotten past history, we can’t move forward with a much-needed safety project. I think it is logical to say that it is appropriate to give area residents, who were treated badly in the past by the very same agencies, should get special consideration now.

    For instance: creation of a special parking lot for church-goers with a shuttle bus, paid for with a combination of funds from various sources.

    I also like the idea of a community mural detailing the history of the area, along Williams.

    What I would like to see, however, is some sort of outreach effort FROM the city, not just neighbors and activists. City officials, from PBOT on up, helped in the push-out gentrification process. Not just banks. The city has a duty to make extra effort now when they carry out projects in this area.

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      spare_wheel July 23, 2011 at 9:37 am

      if we want to right the wrong we need to lower property values, not build fancy new infrastructure that helps inflate them. and this is not a safety issue, its a convenience issue. there are plenty of alternative routes for people who feel that williams is unsafe.

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        Paul Johnson July 23, 2011 at 10:38 pm

        THIS. I wish we could +1 individual comments, because this wins the thread over and over.

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        Mindful Cyclist July 24, 2011 at 11:56 am

        BINGO! This is very much a convenience issue more than a safety issue. As I stated before, Williams is simply the least physically demanding way to access NoPo. I take different routes home on my commute and occasionally will take Williams (but turn off at Tillamook) and see what the bike traffic is like. I also just go out at times for a ride at non-peak hours and basically have the bike lane to myself.

        If the cycling community really wants to make it safer and wants to remove the comment complaints about the dooring hazards or playing leap frog with Trimet buses, let’s make it easy and build a bike boulevard on NE Rodney. Not much change to existing infrastructure and put one of those crossings like they have on SE 41st and Stark (http://tinyurl.com/3dje6ke) or even a HAWK crossing. The door hazard will go down, you will breath less exhaust, and there are no buses.

        I don’t feel like asking bike commuters to go 400 feet out of their way is too much to ask to avoid some hazards that we cannot change. And, before I get hit with “but, what if my destination is on Williams?”, this is to ease the bike traffic concern of people commuting to their residences. If you are heading to Tasty and Son’s, take the cross street closest back to Williams or use the existing bike lane.

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          Mindful Cyclist July 24, 2011 at 12:07 pm

          That crossing would be on Fremont.

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        peejay July 25, 2011 at 8:06 pm

        How, exactly, does the city reduce property values of a neighborhood? And how, exactly, do the property owners — including the original black residents — go along with this?

        There is one tool the city has to prevent a community from being priced out of their traditional neighborhoods, and that is to allow for the kind of density that takes pressure off housing costs in spite of rising property costs. Anything else would be unworkable, or unfair to those who actually want to improve their neighborhood.

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    Hugh Johnson July 23, 2011 at 7:19 am

    I grew up in North Portland and for years lamented the run down houses and boarded up old buildings. Seems like sour grapes from a very vocal group now that things have improved.

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      spare_wheel July 23, 2011 at 9:27 am

      that “vocal minority” should be happy to have been forced out of their neighborhood by tax payer-funded real estate development projects. their new apartments in gresham are far nicer than the run-down old pdx homes on tree-lined streets they used to live in.

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        spare_wheel July 23, 2011 at 9:38 am

        /sarcasm

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    sabernar July 23, 2011 at 8:56 am

    I agree with some of the above commenters: this seems more of a class issue than a race issue. Replace them with a poor Hispanic neighborhood or a poor white neighborhood, and they’d probably be treated the same way. Wealthier people still would have bought up cheap real estate and opened up businesses in low-rent districts, pushing out the poorer, more established community. It might not be race that’s the issue, but class.

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    Shawn Kolitch July 23, 2011 at 9:16 am

    There seems to be an assumption that “the residents” of the Boise-Eliot neighborhood have a particular view of resisting improvements in bicycle infrastructure. This is not the case. For better or worse, gentrification started a long time ago in the Boise-Eliot area. Therefore, a large fraction of Boise-Eliot residents do not share the same views as the vocal group that opposes the elimination of a car lane. I am among them and so are many, if not most, of my neighbors. We all live one block from NE Williams.

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      Paul Johnson July 23, 2011 at 10:46 pm

      No doubt this is probably a representative opinion for anyone who grew up in Boise-Eliot or lived there prior to various gentrification efforts. Granted, what the neighborhood was prior to that wasn’t anything wonderful, but at least it wasn’t trying to be a Disneyland version of itself. I’m a pretty firm believer that if the neighborhood wasn’t severely wronged by the Minnesota Freeway, and the MLK and Mississippi redevelopments, adding another bike lane to Williams would have been a no-brainer non-issue today.

      (I remember when Boise-Eliot were two different adjacent neighborhoods; I was born into that neighborhood and my middle name is Eliot)

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    spare_wheel July 23, 2011 at 9:20 am

    “This project should go forward as planned. PBOT is not capable of righting the centuries’ many wrongs against black people, and the safety of the cyclists who ride the substandard facilities on Williams shouldn’t be held hostage.”

    The gentrification and “cleansing” of nopo is not a century old wrong! It is a very recent abysmal failure by a city that pretends to have progressive values but is really entirely aligned with the interests of developers, lenders, brokers, and the wealthy “creatives” they cater to.

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      Charley July 25, 2011 at 8:10 am

      I guess, alternatively, the city could refuse to improve any element of a minority-majority neighborhood: refuse to improve schools, transportation infrastructure, public safety, parks, you name it. Then the property values would stay down, and the economically depressed would have nowhere in the neighborhood to work. Then, I suppose, they’d rightfully complain that the city has showered money on wealthy neighborhoods, in order to raise their standard of living, while ignoring the plight of the minority neighborhood. It’s a classic Catch-22. If the city tries to lift the neighborhood up, the neighborhood will be more attractive to non-black house buyers.

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        grimm July 25, 2011 at 3:01 pm

        I kind of agree with this, PBOT is in a sort of lose lose.

        Do you want safety improvements (obviously some people on here do)? Ignoring improvements sounds more like SOSDD than not doing them. Frankly, you don’t always get what you want. And we don’t even know what you want.

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    maxadders July 23, 2011 at 9:22 am

    While the accusations of racism seem misguided, I’m still not sure removing a traffic lane is an ideal solution. Getting rid of a car lane 24/7/365 to accomodate high volumes of bike traffic that really only occur for two hours every weekday? At almost every other time of day, the current bike lane is perfectly adequate.

    I know a lot of commenters roll their eyes at the mention of sharrows, but not just blot ’em up the right auto lane and call it done? Drivers will be aware that bikes will be jumping into their lane and cyclists will know that it’s allowed– though completely optional.

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      NF July 23, 2011 at 10:06 am

      The car lane is also only need to accommodate volumes two hours every weekday. All things being equal, shouldn’t the city be prioritizing the more effective, efficient and mode of transportation?

      As for ‘jumping’ into the car lane to pass others, that rarely happens. Most of the time, people dangerously split the lane to pass. Taking the lane on a high-volume and speed road is also not for the faint hearted, and will not reach the interested but concerned riders.

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      Paul Johnson July 23, 2011 at 10:49 pm

      maxadders
      While the accusations of racism seem misguided, I’m still not sure removing a traffic lane is an ideal solution.

      A bicycle lane is a traffic lane. So are bus lanes, tram lanes, taxi lanes, fire lanes and any other kind of restricted lane you can think of.

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    Justin Morton July 23, 2011 at 10:49 am

    I just want to say that the issue of gentrification is not unique to Portland. It is something that is taking place in almost every major city in America.

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    Ross July 23, 2011 at 11:16 am

    I think we are fortunate to have a bike like on a street like this….many cities do not.

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    Edie Spencer July 23, 2011 at 11:38 am

    In my research for my documentary, The Rose Quarter and construction of several highways destroyed a number of working class neighborhoods, many of them with African American residents. Vanport was flooded and not rebuilt- instead turned into a industrial dump. So, the idea that racism, classism and PBOT policy can be separated is a big NO. It seems foolish to think that residents that have a very long and distrustful history with City Hall and PBOT is going not bring up past injustices.

    In terms of the bike lane, were people in the neighborhood itself consulted or polled about this? Judging by the reaction and language used in describing the meeting a couple of nights ago, it seems that it was not. More frequent bus service and links to downtown and Beaverton seem to be the desire here- so that people can get jobs. There is also desire for patrols, lights and tree trimming as well. Bike lanes are seen as part of the transport link issue.(this is based on my own research of the area over the past year for my film project.)

    Neighborhood streets are not merely conduits to get to point A to point B. They are also social spaces. Regarding these people as nothing more than inconvenient obstacles is precisely the issue that grips the community here. By going on about bike lanes without tying that in with the needs of the community AND recognizing historical mistrust, bike advocates who would like to see biking improvements will not win allies.

    We are going for a gestalt here, not just one point.

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      middle of the road guy July 25, 2011 at 8:40 am

      Edie, race is a secondary factor. Highways always go in to the areas with the lowest property values…and there is little incentive to rebuild a poor neighborhood when things are destroyed.

      When they plan highways in Norway, who is getting displaced?

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    dmc July 23, 2011 at 12:26 pm

    I can’t afford to live in my old neighborhood. :\

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    Hooper July 23, 2011 at 12:39 pm

    Make Williams Car Free!

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    Harvey July 23, 2011 at 2:13 pm

    What if we gave (out of our $600 million taxpayer funded bicycle dollars) bicycles to all of the long time residents of the neighborhood, inviting them to participate in the activity that we all seem to think is so important.
    This could include tricycles for the older adults, and even those multi-person four wheeled bikes to the local churches.
    Get the neighborhood riding.
    I would imagine that some of the larger bicycle companies would be happy to turn out some asian made inexpensive units at a very good price.

    If we can’t beat ’em, have them join us.2500 bikes would cost less than $250,000. It worked for Ikea, go out to Cascade station and you see a ton of them locked up at the bike racks.
    http://consumerist.com/2010/12/ikea-gives-out-bikes-to-12400-employees.html

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      Chris Smith July 23, 2011 at 2:33 pm

      Harvey, putting aside the fact that there is no pool of $600M approved by taxpayers, your questions raised important points of how complex this issue was.

      When in a private meeting I suggested more outreach to help the African American community realize more of the benefits of cycling (more affordable than auto ownership, health benefits, etc.) I was accused of stuffing my culture down someone else’s throat.

      There is ample reason for distrust of “good ideas” from the majority culture (even if they are indeed manifestly good policy from my point of view and yours).

      There are also subtler issues. I can show up in my workplace in casual street clothes that are suitable for low-effort cycling. But it’s been pointed out to me that many African Americans feel they have to show up to work neater and more put together than their white co-workers due to historical prejudices.

      Several centuries of discrimination leave lasting effects that are pervasive and can’t be easily dismissed. That’s why we need to slow down this process and make room for a lot more trust-building and empowerment.

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    Yo Mama July 23, 2011 at 2:39 pm

    Improved bike lane accessibility on Williams isn’t accessible to all. It’s systematically rooted in race/ethnicity and class. Therein lies the problem.

    I have been in the neighborhood for 20 years. As a very poor bike commuting single mom, I raised my kids here. We can’t afford to stay, and my kids will never be able to afford to buy into the area. We remember the CCC when BL started it and depended on its resources. We remember the first Critical and Kidical Masses from all those years ago. We took advantage of the cheap food at the local markets on Killingsworth St and 15th Ave, and with the great food deals at the local burrito joints, I could take my family out to eat on $8.

    Now for the current shops in the hood, as wonderful as they are, I can’t afford fabulous wheels from the wheel shop. I can’t afford a bike from that awesome bike builder. I can’t afford Yoga at whatever studio and I can’t afford to eat at Pix Patisserie or drink at the Lompoc. I can barely afford coffee at the place next to the fancy pubic hair waxing studio.

    It is an issue of racism where racism intersects with class issues, ownership, and entitlement. And the racism is very current as well as historical.

    The recently displaced and at-risk residents of the neighborhood we all love to love can’t benefit en masse from the recent and proposed changes. I don’t want to move to Gresham or Vancouver. This is my home, but rents are still going up.

    PS. Neighborhood people of color have always depended on bike transportation. More jobs just tend to be much further away now.

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    Harvey July 23, 2011 at 3:05 pm

    All I am saying is that bicycles are fun, give people bicycles so they can have fun, and join in on the fun that is already happening, and then maybe they will want williams to be fun too. It’s a good ol’ buy the vote scheme, simple and tidy.

    No need to face race and history here.

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      dmc July 23, 2011 at 10:45 pm

      I share your thought/Idea/dream Harvey.

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    sd July 23, 2011 at 3:19 pm

    The Williams restructuring is a correction of prior road design that disregards the local nopo community.

    The Williams design now, divides the residential, small business area with fast-moving traffic. The members of the community, which include myself and my family, are negatively impacted by its current design. If one wanted to argue that streets are designed with lack of respect for marginalized or traditionally black communities, Williams current design would be a great example of racism or classism in city planning.

    The changes proposed for Williams correct these prior wrongs. They are an investment in the health and quality of life of the local community. The vocal opponents should consider the well-being of the people they consider their community.
    The negative health impacts of city planning that disregard the needs of impoverished communities is well documented. Primarily, design flaws decrease active transportation and access to essential services. The changes proposed for Williams are a step in fixing these flaws that were engineered into Williams during Portland’s unsavory history.

    I am concerned that the vocal oponents that have opposed this project know more about being vocal oponents than they do about the health of their communities, transprotation infrastructure, basic facts about the project or racism and gentrification.

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    Lazy Spinner July 23, 2011 at 4:00 pm

    So much hand wringing and armchair sociology involved with this! If you fear the hills on the other routes in North Portland then:

    A. Improve your fitness and learn to freakin’ climb!
    B. Get an e-bike or a triple
    C. Deal with N. Williams since it is your choice to take this “easier” route.

    I have to commute over the West Hills, where’s my dedicated bike tunnel under Washington Park?! I shouldn’t have to have burning quads or be sweaty!

    PBOT should just let this project slip into obscurity and work on the next one in line. If the neighbors don’t really want it then so be it. I am sypmpathetic as this is just another example of the city spending a great deal of time and money to make a few more caucasian trendsters happy while losing sight of the big picture. Maybe in future years we can all slurp our synthetic applesauce at the nursing home and debate whether the slighly revised 2030 Bike Plan now called PDX Social Justice, Equality, and Green Byways 2060 plan will ever get built for our grandchildren?

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    Joe July 23, 2011 at 5:48 pm

    Yawn.. City needs to mothball transportation projects in this area since residents refuse to even discuss the transportation issues, and put the limited dollars to better use elsewhere. It’s unfortunate, but hey, it’s not hard to find a pressing transportation need elsewhere.

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      Chris I July 25, 2011 at 8:54 am

      Then they will complain even more…

      But seriously, what kind of percentages are we talking about here? Is the majority of the community against this? Or are we just dealing with a few vocal folks, here.

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    elle July 23, 2011 at 7:05 pm

    It’s sad to see some area residents so in the grip of the victim mentality that they would oppose concrete actions to improve the neighborhood. Someone called it immature. It is. It’s childlike. You cannot succeed if you think like that. And indeed, they havent. Many other non white minority groups have immigrated to the US and been successful. That “you just don’t understand my pain”‘ attitude is deadly. I shudder to think of subjecting kids to that. Break out of that rut.

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      spare_wheel July 23, 2011 at 9:11 pm

      its vey sad to see the entitled and wealthy denigrate the people they have uprooted and marginalized.

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        dmc July 23, 2011 at 10:43 pm

        these are assumptions.

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          spare_wheel July 24, 2011 at 8:09 am

          *woosh*

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            Chris I July 25, 2011 at 8:56 am

            Assuming that the cycling community is “wealthy” is rather silly. Most the riders I see on Williams/Vancouver do not look “wealthy”. I would say middle class. They might even earn as much as the people complaining about being marginalized, but they don’t waste money on cars.

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      are July 23, 2011 at 9:24 pm

      interesting use of the word “immigrated”

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        dmc July 23, 2011 at 10:43 pm

        +1

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    marshmallow July 23, 2011 at 9:43 pm
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    Paul Johnson July 23, 2011 at 10:22 pm

    Hugh Johnson
    Sorry but sounds just like “the projects”. Not sure that’s where Portland wants to be.

    The difference between what Portland has but has been losing continually since the 90s isn’t “the projects.” Nobody’s suggesting tract high-rise apartment housing disconnected from the community at large like “the projects.” Just quit eliminating the quality low-cost housing that currently exists just for the sake of “cleaning up the community.” That almost universally results in higher property rates, which in turn, gentrifies the neighborhood.

    Like it or not, Portland is not made up entirely of rich, white people. Tulsa figured this one out 70 years ago; I’d like to think that Portland is less about class warfare than the south, but the redevelopment of the MLK corridor suggests otherwise, and I’m pretty sure the folks along Williams are afraid they’re about to get worked over like the MLK strip.

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    Mike July 24, 2011 at 7:41 am

    Is improving a community considered gentrification?

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      Mindful Cyclist July 24, 2011 at 2:15 pm

      Depends on what you mean by “Improving.”

      The neighborhood residents getting together to pick up trash and cover gang graffiti: No

      Outsiders coming in and flipping houses or doing other (sometimes tax-payer funded) renovations: Yep!

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        Andrew July 24, 2011 at 10:02 pm

        Reallocating a car travel lane to bikes would seem to fall on the decided “no” part of the line for me. Which is kinda where this debate is centered around, isn’t it?

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    bumblebee July 24, 2011 at 8:25 am

    It seems that emotions are playing much too heavy a role in this controversy. If this proposed project makes the residents feel marginalized and oppressed then, by their estimation, it must be wrong, and it’s their duty to fight it. It’s a mistake to allow emotions to dictate safety measures. I have to wonder if they aren’t trying to derail the improvement to N. Williams simply because it’s within the scope of their power to do so.

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      cyclist July 24, 2011 at 10:45 am

      Consider for a moment the residents in the area don’t consider these changes an improvement. Maybe that will help you to understand why they’re fighting the change.

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        halfwheeled July 24, 2011 at 1:12 pm

        Exactly, maybe its just me, but I have yet to see a local movement for changes to Williams. If anyone has seen otherwise, please do let me know.

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    Jay July 24, 2011 at 9:41 am

    I’m a 32yo white college-educated gay male who lives in Nob Hill and sometimes uses Williams for weekend/recreational riding. Look, I mean no disrespect but I’m not someone wracked with “white guilt” who tiptoes around issues like this because I’m afraid of offending people. I’ve had more than one brush with a few people in Portland who claimed to be so liberal and tolerant but who’ve basically spat on my rights one way or another.

    I understood the tone and the meaning behind the comments and the issues brought up at the recent meeting by certain black “civic leaders” but like most of you, I was just a tad annoyed after a while that these issues, while valid, were being brought up at a meeting whose main purpose was to discuss a bike lane. At no point, did I ever actually “get” from these leaders that they didn’t want the bike lane. So I think we can stop debating about whether or not PBOT will build one. I did however, “get” from these people that they were upset about the changes to the N Williams neighborhood and about how they feel they’ve been systematically denied a voice in any discussion regarding changes to the neighborhood.

    The problem is that no one in the meeting had the balls to say “hey look, thats sad; but that isn’t why we’re here, so unless you have an opinion about whether or not we should build this, kindly shut up.”

    (I can see the shocked looks on your faces)

    A bike lane on Williams has nothing to do with race and “social injustice.” And I’m sorry but that meeting was the WRONG place to try to give a voice to these concerns. N Williams has ALREADY “changed” demographically nearly 10 years ago so I’m not sure why these “black civic leaders” who hijacked the last meeting suddenly just now noticed that.

    Also, I really am getting sick and tired of how gentrification is such a bad thing when it displaces black people but its not a bad thing when it “cleans up” a formerly dangerous neighborhood that had been full of white people (Pearl District, Nob Hill, Fairview, Wood Village)

    The fact of the matter is that gentrification happens. And you only truly have power over “where you live” when you OWN your home. Getting your rent raised is unfortunately, part of the capitalist society we live in. If you want rent that doesn’t go up; live in one of the WAY-TOO-MANY rent-restricted new properties that keep springing up downtown. That, (and this is directed at the poster “Andrew”) is where all the “affordable housing” is now.

    Thanks

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      middle of the road guy July 25, 2011 at 8:51 am

      +1. Well stated. Sadly, it means more coming from you as a gay man that it would coming from me as a straight one.

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      Mindful Cyclist July 25, 2011 at 2:06 pm

      “(I can see the shocked looks on your faces)”

      That is an embarrassed look on my face since I am also a gay white guy and people are going to assume I feel the same way.

      Being from a minority group doesn’t mean you know what’s best for people of other minority groups.

      Maybe the gays and lesbians that fought against the inclusion of homosexuality as a mental illness should have just been told “hey look, thats sad;” but that isn’t why we’re here and we don’t care if feel marginalized, so “kindly shut up.”

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      Kristen July 25, 2011 at 2:06 pm

      Very nicely done, Jay. Thanks for posting.

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      cyclist July 25, 2011 at 11:40 pm

      The Pearl District was never dangerous, it was an old industrial district that got emptied out when manufacturing jobs left the city center. If you can’t figure out the difference between what’s happened in the Pearl and what’s happened in N/NE Portland then perhaps your college education didn’t serve you very well.

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        Julien D July 26, 2011 at 9:23 am

        Oh give me a break. The Pearl District was a crack den when I first moved to Portland back in 1996; abandoned warehouses, homeless people sleeping on the streets and in those abandoned buildings and drug deals happening in plain view. Nob Hill (the NW 23rd area) where I live now used to be (back in teh 70’s) a a run-down, hooker-boulevard populated by mainly truckdrivers and transients–mostly white–since hey; this is Portland.

        The point I’m trying to make (and the one that I’m quickly losing patience with most of you about, given your apparent “white guilt”) is that you dont get to claim a neighborhood belongs to you when you’re a renter. Sorry; but you can’t–and that applies to EVERYONE–black, white yellow or green. If you don’t own your home and the real estate values around you suddenly jump because of neighborhood improvements and “urban renewal”–you can bet the person who owns your property is either going to sell it; forcing you to move or your rent is going to skyrocket. If that happens to you..OH WELL. If anything; this is just another incentive into home ownership. If you’re not able to afford to buy your home in that neighborhood anymore..you move. Thats what the human population living in cities has done for years–we’re just now making an issue out of it because a specific group of people is currently being affected by it. How is that fair?

        I’ll give you an example of other forms of “gentrification” that I too could make an issue out of if I want to but the same principle applies. Downtown is now rife with “Section 32” housing. Housing that is “rent-controlled” into rents that are far below the real “market value” for property that is in such a great location. However, the owners of these properties get countless tax benefits and apparently are able to make more money reliably by keeping these properties at such a low rate. The problem is the “income requirements” to live in these buildings are so ridiculously low that any person making at least a livable annual income or better doesn’t qualify to get in! On the other extreme; almost all of the other properties downtown that AREN’T rent controlled have some of the absolute HIGHEST rents on the market. My point—the chasmic socio-economic disparity among downtown residents has also created a “forced out” feeling when trying to live downtown but I’m not bitching to the local government that my rights as a citizen are being trampled or that I’m being discriminated against — it just boils down to economics; so what gives the few blacks left in N Williams the right to claim that this PBOT project is trampling their rights? It has nothing to do with recent departure of some of the “original residents” and it isn’t “forcing out” the few left from this population.

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        Paul Johnson July 26, 2011 at 1:12 pm

        Your memory fails you; it was a sketchy place when the brewery was there.

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    jim July 24, 2011 at 11:05 am

    has anybody brought up the question of gentrification on the cully project? I know that there are a ton of immigrants that live there. Personally I think it must be nice to have a sidewalk to walk on now instead of having to either walk in the street or in the dirt/gravel/ mud puddles. many of those people do walk as they dont have cars, or some ride bikes…
    I would be happy if the city made improvements in my neighborhood and I didn’t get a direct bill for it.
    With the increase in property values in the Williams neighborhood a lot of people have cashed out and moved to nicer places that they couldn’t afford before all the gentrification started.
    If they were smart they would jump on this now while it is available. The news is reporting that the east side of the city where 25% of the people live are not getting their fair share of money spent over there.
    The city still needs to deal with what to do with all of the car traffic? It will be years or perhaps never before crc happens. so how do they fix I-5 and keep those cars from using the north south streets for cutting through?

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    Hooper July 24, 2011 at 12:45 pm

    Make Williams Car Free or at least give one lane to bikes and buses. It will help the local area because at present it is Clark Count commuters trying to beat the jam on I-5 that cause problems on Williams. Make it difficult for cut through commuters then you make it easier for locals.

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    bumblebee July 24, 2011 at 4:37 pm

    cyclist
    Jonathan,
    To resume the conversation you exited in the last thread, I’d like to give you an opportunity to respond once again to the idea that you might make some sort of compromise with folks who want to maintain a traffic lane.
    You accused me of playing “gotcha” by quoting your earlier statements* and concluding that you are unwilling to make compromises in your position to help strike a N Williams deal. Can you explain what compromises you are willing to make on this particular project?

    I came across this bit of wisdom from G.K. Chesterton: “Compromise used to mean that half a loaf was better than no bread. Among modern statesmen it really seems to mean that half a loaf is better than a whole loaf.”–from “What’s Wrong With the World,” originally published in 1910 but still applicable today

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    Natalie July 24, 2011 at 6:33 pm

    Really productive blog post, thanks for keeping the conversation going. This is such a tough issue but the fact that so many of us aren’t shying away from it is incredibly encouraging.

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    jay July 24, 2011 at 10:26 pm

    They should scrap the right side parking lane, convert it to bike lane, and call it a day. Then you still have 2 lanes of vehicular traffics, one lane for parking, and one glorified bike lane.

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    Andrew July 25, 2011 at 12:48 am

    Nickey Robo
    While this sounds logical in terms of supply and demand, I don’t think there’s much evidence to back it up. Think of the densest neighborhoods in Portland… the Pearl, Nob Hill, South Waterfront. Are any of those affordable? Hardly.

    That’s not true on several levels! There’s affordable housing in the pearl. Granted with a long wait list, but I’d chalk that up to being desirable low income housing. South Waterfront is also getting its mixed income housing, eg, http://www.bizjournals.com/portland/stories/2009/08/17/daily50.html. Just give it time and the development of more high density inner city housing. The more high quality high density housing we create the better it is for all of us. There are still a ton of grass lots for sale along williams/vancouver that we can turn into, say, 8 story attractive housing (which is Paris level developments vs Vienna level housing if you’re comparing) if we just relaxed the zoning rules.

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      Paul Johnson July 25, 2011 at 10:12 am

      Show me a family-size two-bedroom for $600 in the Pearl.

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        Andrew Seger July 25, 2011 at 2:15 pm

        That’s a bit unrealistic. But for $800 a month you can get a two bedroom apartment in the Ramona Apartments.

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    JF July 25, 2011 at 5:57 am

    There is existing bicycle infrastruture on Williams. And there are alternate routes besides Williams if people are uncomfortable riding along this route during higher taffic/biker volume periods.

    There is now a bicycle rush hour too. During these periods bicyclsts need to have patients and ride a little safer and be more allert.

    Just becuase someone’s car is faster does not mean they should bob/weave between traffic to get ahead. The same goes for bicyclists. Stay in line, pass when safe and be alert.

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      Kronda July 25, 2011 at 11:01 am

      + Freakin 1!

      I find it interesting that cyclists complain all the time about drivers who ‘can’t wait 10 seconds’ until it’s safe to pass, and some of those same people are moaning in UTTER DESPAIR that they might not be able to get another lane so they don’t have to wait for slower cyclists. OH THE HORROR!

      I’m not saying there aren’t legitimate safety concerns with the street as-is, but let’s keep things in perspective. Rodney is two blocks over.

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        Dude July 25, 2011 at 11:28 am

        So is the highway and MLK. Why don’t you start asking the motor vehicle drivers why they don’t use adjacent streets instead of Williams?

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        davemess July 25, 2011 at 5:37 pm

        You both know that there is a much higher variability in bike speeds than auto speeds right? I mean you can literally have people going between 5-25 mph on a bike (faster downhill). Versus about 35-45 mph in cars).

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          JF July 25, 2011 at 9:06 pm

          You do know that the person in front has the right of way and it is up to the person behind to pass in a safe and respectful manner. Wether on a car or a bike.

          I mean you can literially have people driving/riding slower than the speed limit because it is not a speed minimum but the maximum speed someone can travel.

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            davemess July 26, 2011 at 9:57 am

            Sure and if the majority of cyclists were going 33mph (in a 35 zone of course) there probably wouldn’t be as much passing going on. Sadly bikes have a much more vaiable speed than cars.

            Some people’s respectful is other people’s insulted. Some people will be insulted regardless of how you pass them.

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    Spiffy July 25, 2011 at 7:34 am

    Williams needs to be fixed… just do it… the locals are worried about the myths of gentrification…

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    Dude July 25, 2011 at 8:17 am

    Unfortunately, the core problem here is that there is a group of people in the neighborhood who feel disentranchised and they hold a grudge against people they see as privileged. They don’t want to solve the road safety problem. They want to play on the history of institutional racism and rampant white guilt in Portland to get even. They’re going to derail and delay the project until everyone acknowledges how powerful they are and until they get some other sort of concession out of the city. They’re holding safe biking and walking hostage because they care nothing about safe roads, only retribution and some measure of perceived control over their neighborhood. Once again, self-interest trumps the public interest. Very sad. I don’t suppose they’ve ever stopped to think that they might actually be creating or encouraging racist sentiment with this cynical political manipulation. Or perhaps they just don’t care.

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    beth July 25, 2011 at 8:28 am

    i live in this community and want the project to move forward. living off stanton and williams i have seen positive changes in the neighborhood over the past two years. the bike lanes would help improve the health of the residents in the area and make it safer for everyone. i do think it would be a good solution to keep the two traffic lanes, but just eliminate the parking on the right side and widen the bike lane.

    on sunday mornings there could be parking allowed for the churches since bike traffic is lower during these times anyways.

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    velowocky July 25, 2011 at 9:30 am

    The take away lesson here will be for future opponents of bike infrastructure. Make enough noise, you don’t even have to address the merits or safety concerns and, voila gone.

    The problem is we, the bike community and people interested in improving safety and traffic efficiency, will be that much less effective the next time around. People here keep posting that we should just forget it and move on. I understand why someone would feel that way but there really is a principle at stake here as well as a legitimate safety interest. Isn’t that enough reason take a stand for something that you believe will improve lives in some small way?

    Everyone should be concerned that an important SAFETY improvement can be derailed by concerns that have not been firmly or directly tied to the specific merits of the project. Maybe I’m just missing some feature of the opposing argument that really does speak to why keeping a portion of one lane of parking is more sensible than protecting vulnerable road users.

    Think about this: even white-trendy-hipster-whatever cyclists are a minority and one that is unevenly accounted for in public works projects. It’s really too bad that there are people who appear unwilling to use this similarity as a starting point for moving forward with an intelligent project. I’ve heard some say this project can’t work until the black community is fully heard. What? Should we set transportation policy by popular vote then? Guess what group is going to come out on the short end of that approach: cyclists.

    I’m glad the transportation planners are working to listen to the community voices- something they are obviously not required to do. It’s just troubling that the argument opposing the safety campaign is not predicated on the merits of the project but seems to stem entirely from frustration with gentrification. These issues will take a very long time to sort out. Until then I support moving forward with the project with or without the support of minority locals. Is it intellectually honest to give up on this if you are convinced it will help just because some people insist it is somehow racist?

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      bsped July 25, 2011 at 1:28 pm

      Are you still a cyclists when you are sleeping at night, are you a cyclists when you are at your job, are you one when you fill out your taxes? No, you are not. Stop saying you are are a minority just because you chose to ride a bike. You can stop being a cyclists, real minorities can’t.

      Please stop this way of thinking. The more people keeping making statements like these the more you will sound ignorant.

      Remember when Chris Dudley told the Oregon Association of Minority Entrepreneurs that he knew what it was like to be a minority since he was a white guy in the NBA? Well that’s pretty much what it sounds like when someone on this site says they are a minority just because they ride a bike.

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        velowocky July 25, 2011 at 2:55 pm

        A minority is simply a group of people constituting a small part of the whole. That’s not my opinion, that’s the definition. I’m not arguing that ‘real’ minorities and cyclists are the same in any way except that both groups are subsets of a larger whole and as such can be loosely compared. That makes me ‘ignorant?’

        These are sensitive and important issues and I didn’t intend at all to trivialize the matter with the comparison. My explicit point was that the small similarity could be useful rather than divisive. I think extending the benefit of the doubt a little would be helpful given the issue don’t you?

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          bsped July 25, 2011 at 3:47 pm

          Honestly in my opinon I don’t think it would be helpful, sorry. I see why it would be seen that way but to me it comes across as condescending (but not in an intentional way). Go back to my example, that didn’t work at all for Dudley and ended up making some people mad.

          I see a better approach is just focusing on that the fact that making this area a safer area benefits everyone, no matter who they are. Sounds like at the meeting a group of people got some things off their chest and would be willing to move on after that. I took it as people in the neighborhood have been wanting more safety there for quite some time.

          I am gay, but I know not to say that I know what it is like to black because we are both minorities. We both have different experiences. Maybe that will be a better example on why it might not be such a good idea to say cyclists are minorities.

          Sorry if I came off as if I was singling you out in the first post, you are not the first person nor will be the last who makes a comment where they say being someone who rides a bike is a minority. I get a little worked over that and was not trying to start an anonymous internet flame war. It is a sensitive subject and it is hard to not step on anyone’s toes.

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    Alain July 25, 2011 at 12:34 pm

    cyclist
    What I’m saying is that the residents don’t want to remove a travel lane and you do. What sort of compromise solution would you support that would increase safety in the corridor without taking away a travel lane?
    That’s what I’m getting at.

    Hey Cyclist,

    Do you live on Williams? I do, I want a car lane removed and in its place a cycle track, wider lane or more cycling space period.

    There are plenty of other commercial strips in this city that do not have two lanes of traffic going in one direction, I see no reason for Williams to continue to be this way.

    Regards,
    Alain (Williams Ave resident)

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    beth h July 25, 2011 at 2:05 pm

    At what point does righteous indignation become a stumbling block rather than a teachable moment?
    Or, conversely, how much water has to pass under the bridge before Righting Every Wrong becomes not only impossible, but unpalatable and divisive in the attempt?

    Past a certain point, we cannot right the wrongs of several decades — or centuries — of discrimination and bigotry — for Afircan-Americans, or for anyone else.
    Instead, we can acknowledge that wrong was done, acknowledge the hurt; and then make a conscious decision to teach our children that there’s a better and more inclusive way, and simply agree to take that path together from here on out.
    Then we might get back to the business at hand, which I believe was originally — safety.

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    John Landolfe July 25, 2011 at 2:42 pm

    I live on, and travel on, the street. I support the improvements.

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    Diane Goodwin July 25, 2011 at 4:19 pm

    My fellow cyclists this is how these improvements are connected to racism.

    Any planner knows that these kinds of infrastructure improvements will attract development. William’s Bike-Oriented-Development is lauded across the country for a reason. Development in turn impacts property values (renters, homeowners and businesses). We know this, right, gentrification 101.

    We know from the census that African Americans in this neighborhood are being displaced. These infrastructure investments will further that displacement unless there is a plan in place to preserve African-American families, businesses and churches.

    Some may ask why it matters if African-Americans move to other parts of the city. Equity is not simply about traffic counts on the street, it’s about the impact these changes have on people’s lives. Specifically, once this becomes the premier cycling street in the city how many more families, businesses and churches will leave the neighborhood because of these investments and the development that follows? What is the social and cultural impact of dispersing African Americans throughout the region? We know from the census many families are moving to outer Southeast Portland, where they are likely paying more for transportation costs and raising their families in communities with fewer parks, sidewalks, businesses and churches. Is that equitable? Shouldn’t African-Americans in Portland have an opportunity to live in a community where their parents grew up or in a community where they are the predominant race?

    What these bike lanes are doing is building more livable communities for white people and creating less livable communities for the African Americans who have lived in this community for many years.

    Biking in the “white lanes” no matter how wide and buffered will not be a victory for livability for everyone in our community.

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      Andrew Seger July 25, 2011 at 4:51 pm

      Outer east portland needs infrastructure upgrades too. This isn’t an either/or discussion. Feel free to start here if you’d like more information: http://www.portlandonline.com/transportation/index.cfm?c=54306

      Also, it would be helpful to identify yourself as a TriMet employee in this discussion. Quite frankly your transit agency is one of the prime examples of inequitable investment of money and a prime driver of gentrified development.

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        Diane Goodwin July 25, 2011 at 5:35 pm

        Hi Andrew,

        My comments are as a N/NE Portland cyclist; I just road home on Williams and Going.

        My point is that African-Americans should be able to stay in this neighborhood with these improvements, but we risk more displacement to neighborhoods like to SE Portland if we don’t have a plan in place to support them staying. This is not about SE it’s about displacing and dispersing a community. It’s about building livable communities for everyone.

        I will note transit in this region does attract people from all communities in the region and helps build more livable communities for everyone!

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          Joe C July 25, 2011 at 5:39 pm

          “African-Americans should be able to stay in this neighborhood with these improvements, but we risk more displacement to neighborhoods like to SE Portland if we don’t have a plan in place to support them staying.”

          Definitely agree. The project is a needed investment, as is immediately and concretely addressing displacement.

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          Diane Goodwin July 25, 2011 at 5:44 pm

          Hi Andrew,

          And yes, transit investments have attracted development in this region, no question. Again, I am posting as a cyclist in this corridor, not as a representative of TriMet.

          I would love to see these improvements made, but with a plan in place to preserve the African-American community (homes, businesses, churches, etc.,).

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      kww July 25, 2011 at 5:18 pm

      I don’t agree that they are ‘white lanes’ (this is a polarizing comment, no pun intended), though I do agree that the unspoken issue is the raise in property values and the effect on african americans who live on a limited or fixed income in the neighborhood.

      That is why I have proposed in the last blog post that the african american community identify need based homeowners (fixed income, seniors and handicapped) and that the city offer a moratorium on property tax increases.

      There should be no reason why the african american community should not be the beneficiary of these improvements as well.

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        Diane Goodwin July 25, 2011 at 5:38 pm

        KWW, I was reflecting the views of some in the African-American community and acknowledging that white folks like me are the vast majority of users of bike infrastructure in this city. I wish it were different.

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    davemess July 25, 2011 at 5:32 pm

    So should we be trying to do more outreach to get more blacks on bikes, and using these infrastructure improvements (which could benefit them as well)?

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      Diane Goodwin July 25, 2011 at 6:04 pm

      Absolutely.

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    singletrack July 25, 2011 at 6:41 pm

    I’m trying to keep an open mind on this but it appears that the safety debate on Williams has been derailed by racism and white guilt pandering. Please do the bike improvements. ‘it happenED (gentrification). Now do the traffic improvements so that all forms of use can be served.

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      spare_wheel July 26, 2011 at 7:51 am

      its still happening and we should be doing everything we can stop it. and this includes zoning laws that lower property values and discourage trendy restuarants, organic brew pubs, coffee bars, and doggy day care centers from setting up shop.

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      Jay July 26, 2011 at 9:38 am

      Thank you; my point exactly. N Williams has already changed. It wasn’t really appropriate for the “hijackers” of the Town Hall meeting to force us to talk about institutional racism when we’re not the responsible parties for the neighborhood demographic change and the topic at hand was improving safety (a raceless issue) on N Williams. Simply put–the “input” from the neighborhood should have just been a “for” or “against” position. This isn’t the place, frankly–to give your 2 cents about whether or not gentrification is a good or bad thing. And to the rest of you (Jonathan included) who thought my post was “Oregon-live-esque” …I find that accusation more than insulting and I respectfully disagree with it. I’m not racist and I’m not classist; but I dont believe in tiptoeing around sensitive issues like this because nothing ever gets accomplished when people are afraid to speak their minds. I’d say all this in person just as easily as I say it online.
      Thanks!

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        Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) July 26, 2011 at 9:46 am

        Hi Jay,

        Please don’t mischaracterize my views. I never said I thought your comment was “Oregon-live esque”. If I deleted a comment of yours it’s because I didn’t feel it was appropriate or productive.

        You’ll notice that I am allowing a wide range of opinions on this issue… but I also need to be very careful with moderation due to how sensitive and emotional this topic gets.

        And, I happen to agree with you that one reason this topic never gets resolved is because of people being too afraid to speak their minds… which is precisely why I’m trying to speak mine openly and publicy and why I’m allowing many of these comments to be published.

        thanks.

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        Esther July 26, 2011 at 12:30 pm

        I was the one who compared your comments (and others) to Oregonlive commenters.

        Whether or not gentrification (and racism) should come up in a meeting around neighborhood street usage, allocation for lanes and safety (a point on which we disagree, and which Ms. Maxey has thoughtfully illuminated in her article), saying that “No one in the meeting had the balls to say…kindly shut up”, referring to “black civic leaders” in quotes (casting doubt or aspersion on their position as such), saying that safety is “raceless”, and calling neighborhood residents who have input “hijackers,” all smack to me of the arrogance and derision, that falls highly along lines of ethnicity. As do your concerns about (effectively) reverse racism saying no one cares about gentrification for white people.

        You’re not the only person I have seen making comments like this on here. I gave another example, people complaining about how so many black people jaywalk on Williams. (my response: I see TONS of white people jaywalking downtown. Ask any MAX driver. … So what??)
        If supporters of widening the bike lane (which includes myself and I assume most other readers on here) continue to cast aspersion, derision, and using tropes like “reverse racism,” we will never succeed in partnership with neighbors who have serious concerns and resistance to it.

        BTW, You first complain about how no one cares about gentrification in downtown/NW, then complain there are too many rent-controlled properties downtown (which are primarily in place to assist low income or no income people who would otherwise not be able to afford housing in popular areas that are otherwise expensive, i.e. they work to slow down gentrification). Well, which is it, too much gentrification or not enough? There are plenty of activists complaining about gentrification for white people. (except they are actually working on housing for ALL people, not just white people)

        By the way, the affordable housing waitlist is closed, and the wait for existing clients is several years long. Check out Street Roots, Sisters of the Road, Northwest Pilot Project, TPI, Central City Concern, they have PLENTY of volunteer/advocate opportunities for you if you’re concerned about gentrification and housing.

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    n williams resident July 25, 2011 at 11:08 pm

    as a resident of n williams i see no reason to remove a lane of vehicle traffic. i watch thousands of cyclists go by each week and most are able to stay in the bike lane. Those who cant are putting themselves at risk. N williams is a major thoroughfare and as much as i’d like less traffic, shit gotta move through. you have a bike lane. i have a bike lane. stay in the lane or you may get hit. btw i ride more than you do.

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      Joe C July 26, 2011 at 9:30 am

      “N williams is a major thoroughfare and as much as i’d like less traffic, shit gotta move through.”

      Shit gotta move through… to Washington, over the speed limit, at significant risk to pedestrians and all other road users.

      I was out watching N Williams yesterday evening. Radar’ed dozens of car drivers going well over the posted speed limit, and counted dozens more talking on their cells.

      Something’s gotta give.

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      Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) July 26, 2011 at 9:41 am

      Another thing you and many others need to understand is that N Williams Avenue is supposed to be a neighborhood street for car traffic and a major arterial street for bike traffic.

      That’s not my opinion, that’s in City of Portland planning documents that have been adopted by City Council and that are the current framework for how engineering decisions are made.

      The problem on Williams is too many cars. The street breaks down under such heavy car volume… Yet it can easily sustain much more bike traffic.. and not only that, much more bike traffic is actually what City plans call for.

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    spare_wheel July 26, 2011 at 8:00 am

    i was not assuming squat. i was miming the insulting and prejudiced assumptions of the original post.

    and the definition of middle class in this nation is infuriating. in the usa the quote unquote middle class actually signifies the upper quintiles — the people who can buy a home (and benefit from a disgustingly massive tax deferment), the people who receive generous health insurance (and benefit from a massive tax deferment), and the people who have discretionary savings (and benefit from tax deferments on cap gains, losses, 401a/k, 403b/457, IRAs, munis, bonds, annuities).

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      spare_wheel July 26, 2011 at 8:02 am

      the above was a responce to:
      Chris I July 25, 2011 at 8:56 am

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    beelnite July 26, 2011 at 8:13 am

    It’s been a long discussion… but I think “n williams resident” kinda captures the “spark” that started this issue and discussion:

    How are people are behaving in the bike lane and on the roadway.

    So I rode Williams last night.

    I noticed some things. Most of all:

    There’s a lot of dudes who think they are fast and they are riding like jerks – exhibiting the same behavior we decry from bad auto drivers.

    Jumping other riders at lights, leaving the bike lane to “get ahead” and more than a few are seemingly oblivious to the fact that some of us are being polite in traffic and at intersections – so we can coexist without incident, you know?

    The kid that buzzed everyone at Knott street for example… Nearly got himself right hooked, side swiped and cut off three riders trying to get moving in orderly fashion. The kid felt he was “Le Tour” leader I guess. Only problem: He wasn’t as tough, bad and as fast as he thought. In fact, none of the kids who decided to pass either on the left or the RIGHT!?!?! were anything to write home about in terms of “breakaway speed.”

    The kid… at 14 mph, struggling up the incline… it became annoying when the rest of the pack streamed out and got moving.

    So what’s up with all the posturing and testosterone and the “get ahead” mentality? Where is this impatience coming from?

    Everyone knows I am the fastest commuter on the planet. 🙂

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      Joe C July 26, 2011 at 9:36 am

      “exhibiting the same behavior we decry from bad auto drivers. ”

      With one significant difference: autos can kill someone at 5-10mph. Bikes are slower, weigh thousands of pounds less, and are more nimble.

      As a person who walks N Williams frequently, I’ve never felt threatened by a single wannabe Lance Armstrong, but every speedboat hurtling down the street leapfrogging other cars while its driver gabs on their cell or looks down at the gadget in their lap poses an existential danger to every person who steps into a N Williams crosswalk or who gets on their bike.

      This project is about safety. N Williams ain’t safe.

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      davemess July 26, 2011 at 9:48 am

      So your solution is that faster riders should just go slower to stay behind you? There is nothing illegal about going the left of the bike lane to pass someone. In that case YOU (slower rider) are the hazard in the lane, and the faster riders is simply avoiding you (like a pothole).

      I agree there are good and bad ways to pass someone, and the passer should definitely keep traffic in mind, but you’re kind of insinuating that no one should ever leave the bike lane and we should all go 12 mph.

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    craig July 26, 2011 at 8:23 am

    That first photo is just classic. Jonathan, you often seem to be in the right place at the right time–great stuff.

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    beelnite July 26, 2011 at 10:02 am

    davemess
    So your solution is that faster riders should just go slower to stay behind you? There is nothing illegal about going the left of the bike lane to pass someone. In that case YOU (slower rider) are the hazard in the lane, and the faster riders is simply avoiding you (like a pothole).
    I agree there are good and bad ways to pass someone, and the passer should definitely keep traffic in mind, but you’re kind of insinuating that no one should ever leave the bike lane and we should all go 12 mph.

    HEAVY SIGH.

    Read it again. Rude and dangerous. I don’t care if you pass. Bring it. Just don’t be that guy that adds to the chaos and splits through or squeezes or brushes my arm cuz you can’t hold up two seconds and let the peloton get moving. Then you can size up the other riders and pick them off, move up through the ranks in orderly fashion please. Don’t be a jerk.

    And if you do JUMP the light on the green and take the lane causing the car behind you to stop and then get in front of all of us who’ve been waiting… if you gonna act rude like that make damn sure you really are the fastest thing on two wheels. Please?

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