Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on September 14th, 2011 at 12:17 pm
(Photos © J. Maus)
At the end of August, Portland Parks & Recreation (PP&R) began a large-scale project to restore and renovate the turf on Waterfront Park. The grassy area between Naito Parkway and the shared-use path along the Willamette River is closed. Work has begun to bring the turf back to life after the succession of summer festivals left it trampled and dead.
To keep people off the grass, PP&R has put fences that have narrowed the already-congested path by a few extra feet. Now PP&R is urging the community to walk bikes and take extra caution in the area.
concerns were raised.
On August 30th, PP&R received a call from a man who says he was brushed closely by someone riding a bicycle in the project area. “No injuries, nothing major,” says PP&R spokesperson Mark Ross, “but he indicated some concern about the narrowed path mandated by our project.”
A few days after that incident, PP&R installed a sign that reads, “Congested Area: Please Walk Your Bike.”
I rolled by the location this weekend. As I expected, the area was crowded with market-goers, tourists, joggers, and of course people bicycling through (many people bike on the Waterfront path as a preferable alternate to Naito Parkway, which has high-speed motor vehicle traffic and only standard, 5-foot bike lanes). Some people obeyed the sign, others didn’t.
The narrowing of the path brings to light several issues. Courtesy for other people on crowded paths in Portland is often in short supply. The City of Portland has grappled with this problem in the past and while continued public education is always helpful, it has limited impact on changing behavior. Ultimately, as the number of people biking and walking grows, wider facilities and additional, high-quality, bicycle-friendly routes will be needed to handle the congestion issues.
From PP&R’s standpoint, they just want people to relax, slow down, and obey their sign.
“We understand the inconvenience that this necessary and important project may cause in the short term,” wrote Ross via email, “and appreciate the community’s understanding and abiding by the signage and fencing.”
The turf project and path narrowing is expected to last until the end of December 2011.