Special gravel coverage

Williams project committee struggles, mulls new options

Posted by on March 7th, 2012 at 3:35 pm

Committee Chair Debora Hutchins.
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

The citizen-led committee tasked with how to improve bike access and traffic safety on N. Williams Avenue met for the 14th time yesterday. And as the clock winds down on making an official recommendation to PBOT on how to move forward, they appear no closer to reaching consensus.

Committee member Steve Bozzone, summed up his thoughts about the meeting on Twitter last night: “Overall there remains broad agreement about safety outcomes on Williams Ave, but process to decide on options is muddled, confusing.” In addition, it appeared that the specter of mistrust of PBOT and concerns that community feedback was not being heard, have reappeared.

The goal of the meeting was to move forward on feedback of the design options PBOT presented with at the last meeting on February 21st. PBOT also introduced new designs yesterday that included an interesting “shared” left lane option…

This design is considered a variation of “Option 1” (a left-side cycle track and one-lane for motor vehicles the entire way) and was put forward as a way to alleviate concerns about having one lane of motor vehicle traffic in the busy stretch of Williams between Cook and Skidmore (known as Segment 4).

PBOT project manager Ellen Vanderslice described this option as “one-lane plus.” Unlike a cycle-track, it wouldn’t be dedicated solely to bike traffic, it would be a narrow lane (nine feet wide) that bikes would share with cars. Cars would enter the lane to park, to pass another car, or to turn left. PBOT says they’d mark the lane with a sharrow and there would be a hard median in the parking lane in the northwest corner of each intersection to prevent through car traffic (see graphic). In some ways, it seems like it’d be a neighborhood greenway-like feeling on a main street. Here’s another look…

This left-side shared lane would be a downgrade (in terms of bike access and safety gains) from the left-side cycle track; but it’s a compromise solution to people with concerns about traffic congestion and auto access in Segment 4.

Another option put on the table was a left-side buffered bike lane with the shared lane in Segment 4.

After discussing the new design options and hearing about development/zoning issues from a Bureau of Planning and Sustainability rep, the chair of the committee, Debora Hutchins, said, “I’ve heard from many of you that you want to move past disc and move toward a recommendation.”

At that point, several committee members voiced concerns with the left-side cycle-track idea. Jrdn Freeauf, a daily bike rider who works at a cabinet-making shop on Williams, shared several concerns. His company’s delivery trucks, Freeauf said, might end up blocking the lane. “My friends are the cyclists… But the last thing I want are cyclists giving me the finger for blocking the lane.”

Another committee member (who is also daily bike rider), Shara Alexander, agreed with Freeauf. “[With the left side cycle track] you eliminate the bus/bike conflict, but you throw in a whole bunch of new conflicts.”

With momentum waning for the left side cycle track and uneasiness about how it might work, the committee spent quite a bit of time discussing whether or not PBOT could just experiment with the concept first, before making it a permanent fix.

As feedback from the committee went around the table, Jarrell Waddell, assistant pastor at Life Change Christian Center, spoke up in opposition to the one-lane option. (Note: Mr. Waddell is the man who joined me on OPB radio back in July.). Waddell said it is “frustrating” to him that the concerns of people who drive motor vehicles on Williams “are not represented here.”

“I believe there’s a contingency of people that want to use the street that may not be bicycle users,” said Waddell. His main contention is that since the “predominant mode is vehicles at all times of the day” the one-lane option shouldn’t be on the table. “I don’t want to spoil this… But there are people who want to drive on the street as well,” added Waddell. And, given the booming development on the street, by 2035, he said “that’s going to be a nightmare.”

Waddell’s stance didn’t seem to have any support around the table. The two committee members that responded both disagreed with him.

But another woman, Noni Causey, openly questioned whether the City had taken community feedback opposing the one-lane option into account. “Whatever happened to those community meetings and input people gave between one lane and two lanes,” she asked, “Do those people count?”

Committee Chair Hutchins quickly pointed out to Causey that community feedback was used to come up with the list of project outcomes, a list that is supposed to drive all design decisions from here on out.

But even though the committee agrees about the importance of safety, whether or not they can compromise on an actual design and agree to a recommendation for PBOT before time expires, remains to be seen.

After 13 months of meetings, Chair Hutchins said, “I don’t think we’re at a point to make a decision.” “We all need to go back to our places and look at these options… And evaluate what is the most comfortable thing you could realistically live with.”

The next meeting is on March 20th.

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  • Todd Boulanger March 7, 2012 at 3:40 pm

    The concern about double parking in a proposed cycle track for deliveries should trigger locating a loading zone near by, assuming there is not alley access for this property…vs. [potentially] blocking a lane or scuttling a safer design.

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  • Todd Boulanger March 7, 2012 at 3:47 pm

    The new proposed 2 lane with sharrows and buffered dooring zone will be a lower quality bike facility versus the previous proposal. Other than the lack of a buffer the other issue is the higher speed differential between the slower bikes and faster motorized vehicles that a two lane layout will create.

    This could be minimized if speed cushions were added to the left side shared lane. A 15 mph operating speed (85th) could be had depending on the spacing of the speed cushions. This would create a basically car free lane in the non peak hours (other than parkers) since most drivers would rather use the right side lane without the speed cushions. During the peak congested periods drivers would use the left lane two as speeds dropped due to more traffic using the street.

    Yes, this is a bit of an unorthodox use of this vertical deflection tool.

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  • AC March 7, 2012 at 3:49 pm

    people asked to be involved and are now realizing they aren’t qualified or fully ready to propose solutions with real consequences

    there is no solution where everybody wins

    compromise and move on

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    • Nom de Plume March 8, 2012 at 10:36 am

      I disagree. They are not reaching that moment of realization and still considering themselves experts. It’s unfortunately human nature. I know this, as I’m an expert!

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  • Rick March 7, 2012 at 3:54 pm

    >> since the “predominant mode is vehicles at all >>times of the day” . . . “by 2035, he said “that’s >>going to be a nightmare.”

    Actually, by 2035, there are going to be far more bikes on Williams – and elsewhere – than cars. I guarantee it.

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    • 9watts March 7, 2012 at 4:09 pm

      Yes, indeed!
      There are going to be ***no cars*** driving on Willams in 2035. Someone please explain the probabilities of this to Mr. Waddell (and PBOT while we’re at it).

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      • 9watts March 7, 2012 at 4:49 pm

        After the Car, Juhn Urry Kingsley Dennis

        “It is difficult to imagine a world without the car, and yet that is exactly what Dennis and Urry set out to do in this provocative new book. They argue that the days of the car are numbered: powerful forces around the world are undermining the car system and will usher in a new transport system sometime in the next few decades. Specifically, the book examines how several major processes are shaping the future of how we travel, including…”

        “…The authors look at changes in technology, policy, economy and society, and make a convincing argument for a future where, by necessity, the present car system will be re-designed and re-engineered.

        Yet the book also suggests that there are some hugely bleak dilemmas facing the twenty first century. The authors lay out what they consider to be possible `post-car’ future scenarios. These they describe as `local sustainability’, `regional warlordism’ and `digital networks of control’.

        After The Car will be of great interest to planners, policy makers, social scientists, futurologists, those working in industry, as well as general readers.

        Some have described the 20th Century as the century of the car. Now that century has come to a close — and things are about to change.”


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        • Al from PA March 8, 2012 at 5:33 am

          Many thanks for the reference, 9watts. Looks like a good read.

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      • middle of the road guy March 8, 2012 at 7:43 am

        Then there is not going to be a lot of funding for bike projects either.

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        • El Biciclero March 8, 2012 at 1:20 pm

          Good thing bike projects are so cheap, then. Especially when they don’t have to be designed for cars to drive on…

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        • 007 March 8, 2012 at 10:03 pm

          We won’t need bike projects. We’ll own the streets.

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    • 007 March 8, 2012 at 10:00 pm

      Maybe PBOT could show “The End of Suburbia” at the next meeting. ha ha

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  • Alex March 7, 2012 at 4:22 pm

    This solution seems worse than the current situation. I can’t imagine feeling safe riding up during rush hour with cars wanting me to get out of the way.

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  • Steve B March 7, 2012 at 4:23 pm

    I am optimistic that we will achieve some great outcomes for improved safety on Williams, especially after developing our outcomes based on community feedback. The Williams SAC is a large, diverse group with a lot of options in front of us. With patience and perseverance, I believe we will reach a decision soon.

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  • Matt H March 7, 2012 at 4:27 pm

    Good grief. What a colossal waste of money and time.

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    • are March 7, 2012 at 9:45 pm

      what would you propose instead? where exactly has money been wasted, and whose time? be specific.

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  • Zaphod March 7, 2012 at 4:29 pm

    The utilization of this route by cyclists to date shows that it is needed. Demand has already caused the right lane to be effectively overtaken by cyclists during peak hours fairly frequently. It seems that it is time to modify infrastructure to support this so all of us can safely commute to our destinations.

    It’s worth mentioning again where someone else posted this on a similar topic a few weeks ago that the commerce on Williams really needs non single-occupancy-vehicles to survive. Bicycle parking is the only mode compact enough to get bodies into restaurants and shops such that they thrive. And visit Por Que No on Mississippi and take note of completely packed bike corral out front.

    Bikes are extremely good for business. There’s empirical and anecdotal evidence to support this.

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    • spare_wheel March 7, 2012 at 6:34 pm

      The inner SE has even more bike traffic and manages just fine with inexpensive and less controversial greenways. The amount of time and effort spent on Williams when there are far more important needs elsewhere (outer PDX and truly dangerous intersections) is becoming silly.

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      • Alexis March 12, 2012 at 10:57 am

        I don’t think it makes sense to compare this to inner SE directly. This area is a relatively narrow corridor between I-5 and MLK, and it has many more street and property barriers resulting in discontinuous streets. Williams is the primary through route, the location of most destinations in the corridor, and the connector to other bike routes such as Broadway and . And it already allocates space for bikes. This is an opportunity to use roadway space in a way that makes sense and enhances the use and community feel of the area.

        I’d love to see a greenway in the area too (Rodney has been informally suggested), and more connectors into the area of NE below Going (there are some nice residential streets already marked as bikeways, but without any street enhancements) but I see that as something that should be done as well, not instead.

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    • Case March 8, 2012 at 8:48 am

      Depends on the business. I patron Wax On on Williams but I don’t ride there because riding home after a leg wax isn’t ever the recipe for comfort. There’s the vet out there, there are a number of businesses with legitimate concerns about diverting traffic into a single lane, especially if there are no increases to parking availability.

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  • NW Biker March 7, 2012 at 4:36 pm

    Anybody want to bet that this will come down to a lot of noise and no changes. I agree with Matt H. This is going nowhere any time soon, if ever.

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  • rider March 7, 2012 at 4:39 pm

    I’m not a safety first kind of gal, but this project seems to have a safety never kind of mentality.

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  • Andrew N March 7, 2012 at 4:42 pm

    I feel like PBOT has been way too timid during this process. At the very least I think they should present two simple options to the folks who are concerned about less access for cars. My phrasing would be “Look, we *are* going to create more space for bicycles on Williams for the entire length of the study area and it’s going to be high-quality. We are either going to take away a lane of traffic *or* a lane of parking. Period.”

    The shared left-side lane looks like the antithesis of “safe” to me. It looks like a bad combination of terrifying and infuriating for all involved. WTF…

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    • Spiffy March 7, 2012 at 10:11 pm

      this, exactly!

      the government needs to grow a pair and give the people what they need, not what whiners want…

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    • are March 7, 2012 at 11:25 pm

      is that also how you want decisions to be made with which you disagree?

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      • Matt H March 8, 2012 at 9:28 am

        Isn’t that part of what true leadership is all about? Not saying that leaders should not hear others opinions, but eventually, they need to take action. Not everyone is going to be happy all the time.

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  • Lenny Anderson
    Lenny Anderson March 7, 2012 at 4:47 pm

    A shared left lane will become deadly as Clark county commuters race to pass traffic in the slower right lane. For maximum safety for all users, especially pedestrians who may have arrived by car, the entire length of Williams needs to go down to one motorized lane and one big bike lane. But be careful, motorists will use that big bike lane! But, let’s get out the paint and give it a try.
    Or let’s not do anything and just let the inevitable “critcial mass” of bike commuters take over the right lane in the peaks and calm this street down and make it safe.

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  • Babygorilla March 7, 2012 at 4:56 pm

    Are there traffic counts for this roadway on the percentage of cars with Washington plates or any other study on where too, where from people in cars are going? I use this route a couple of times a week anywhere from 5-6 pm and can count on one had the number of Washington plates I see from Broadway up to Alberta.

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    • joel March 8, 2012 at 6:30 am

      on one hand? perhaps if it has an unrealistically large number of fingers. i ride the full length of williams every week, at rush hour, and id say that at times up to half the traffic is washington-plated cars which can be presumed to be avoiding the traffic on mlk or interstate, which is itself dodging traffic on i-5.

      and as a sometimes driver messenger whos had to try to get to vancouver during rush hour, the time advantage to using williams as a cut-through is basically nonexistant – its entirely a placebo for drivers.

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  • Joe Rowe March 7, 2012 at 5:19 pm

    Could someone ask Pastor Waddell to share the details of his concern. I hear him voice that 2 lanes are needed, and one lane is not acceptable. But what is the detail?

    And same for Noni Causey. Please give detail about what concerns are being ignored.

    There has been adequate time, so at this point it feels like an abuse of power to veto a efforts to seek consensus.

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    • Paul Johnson March 8, 2012 at 10:36 pm

      I would also press him for credentials. Is he a licensed traffic control planner or civil engineer?

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  • dwainedibbly March 7, 2012 at 5:45 pm

    The new proposal is completely unsafe. That “shared” lane is going to be bikes only during high-traffic times, so how do motorists gain? The big problem with it will be in low-volume times when there will be a few cyclists riding in what will be perceived by motorists as the left lane. Care to guess how often cyclists are going to get mowed down by speeding motorists passing other cars during those times?

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    • are March 7, 2012 at 9:49 pm

      with a diverter at every intersection? i don’t think so. not that i am advocating the particular idea, but it does show some creativity on PBoT’s part.

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  • daisy March 7, 2012 at 5:53 pm

    My concern with that left lane as shared bike lane is that drivers, especially those who don’t drive through there regularly, won’t understand it and will get mad at bikes in that lane, since they’re accustomed to passing on the left. I see this a lot during Blazers games–cars who aren’t used to the traffic patterns for bikes around the Rose Quarter end up blocking bike lanes all the time.

    I also share the frustration here that car advocates need to compromise: would they rather give up a lane of parking or a lane of driving? What if they can’t have both? Bikes aren’t going away, and right now it’s not a good situation.

    I wish we could somehow go down to one lane of traffic with two lanes of parking temporarily, just to show folks it might not be so awful for them as drivers.

    I live in that neighborhood, and I don’t understand why some residents don’t see the traffic as a safety problem for pedestrians. They live there but seem so worried about car access, when we should all be hoping our neighborhood gets safer.

    My other frustration is what Babygorilla alluded to–my understanding is that one of these studies showed that a lot of traffic from Cook north includes many Washington car commuters who are trying to bypass I5. Well, I don’t want those folks driving through my neighborhood. If that traffic emptied out–as in, if those folks had a disincentive to take Williams and thus stayed on I5, perhaps because Williams was only one lane–that might resolve some of the predicted traffic nightmares.

    Has PBOT attempted to predict what would happen if through-traffic lightened?

    Finally, I have seen no discussion during this process about MLK, which is designed exclusively for cars with no bike lanes. Most cyclists avoid it. And MLK is only two blocks from Williams in some sections. Why can’t drivers accept that MLK is the through-street with more commercial activity? I live on an east-west street in between MLK and Rodney; Williams is just one more block over. I already feel like we’re swamped by car traffic on both ends. My kids don’t have great options for biking around the block on their bikes if I’m trying to keep them away from the fast traffic on MLK. So I’d really like to see traffic calmed on Williams, even if it means an increase on MLK.

    And it’s baffling to me that other residents of this neighborhood don’t perceive all this traffic as less than positive for the neighborhood.

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    • spare_wheel March 7, 2012 at 6:38 pm

      Its only baffling because you cannot put yourself in the shoes of someone who has little money and has watched most of their friends and neighbours leave.

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      • daisy March 8, 2012 at 11:31 am

        I disagree. I have been really supportive of many of my African American neighbors throughout this process and have listened to a lot of stories. I totally get why people resent the city coming through and doing more in the name of progress when, in the past, that progress has damaged the neighborhood.

        What I still don’t get is why my neighbors don’t want to slow traffic on Williams. It’d be better for all of us, regardless of why it happens.

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        • 007 March 8, 2012 at 10:07 pm

          They hate bicyclists.

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  • jim March 7, 2012 at 7:45 pm

    I don’t see any of these ideas as anything better than what is there right now. The problem does continue to get worse, that much everybody agrees to. Most of the problem would go away if they would fix I-5, which seems like it is going to happen when pigs fly. Williams got worse when they screwed up Interstate ave by making it into a 2 lane road. Making Williams into a single lane road is going to worsen that affect on the other streets, kind of like backwards progression. It makes too much sense to move the bike arterial over to Rodney. Messing with Williams is going to be a disaster, Garbage trucks and delivery trucks will still need to double park, emergency vehicles will be slowed down to the point of people not getting emergency services in time… mixing bikes with increasing traffic does not make any sense at all.

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    • daisy March 8, 2012 at 11:32 am

      Making Rodney into the bike thoroughfare is only going to please people who don’t live anywhere near Rodney. It’ll have some of the exact same problems.

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  • KJ March 7, 2012 at 8:35 pm

    “Whatever happened to those community meetings and input people gave between one lane and two lanes,” she asked, “Do those people count?”

    I am sure those voices were heart but ‘count’ and ‘heard’ doesn’t mean your option is the one that will get chosen to go forward. Input was received I am sure.

    Of course this goes for all of us.

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    • Jack March 8, 2012 at 7:29 am


      Someone at PBOT needs to be keeping a log of the people who claim, “My voice has not been heard”. Then PBOT should seek them out and hear from them, and mark them in the log as having been heard. Then when that same person once again claims, “My voice has not been heard”, we can all know that really, they just didn’t get what they wanted.

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  • Jack March 8, 2012 at 7:25 am

    Someone at these meetings needs to be in charge of occasionally holding up a big red flag that reads “Are we over-thinking this?”

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  • Jacob March 8, 2012 at 7:50 am

    With projects like this unable to make substantive progress, Portland is slipping behind other cities. Without protected bike facilities, biking in Portland will continue to be dominated by young men, the “confident cyclist” group. Since the cyclists showing up at these meetings mainly represent that group, the bike facilities that result only cater to “confident cyclists”. No one is going to let their kids ride to school in a shared lane on a busy road, which is used by cars for passing or left turns. Nor will they want their kids to ride in a regular bike lane where cars whiz by only inches away and buses and cars parking must cross the lane. Concerns about protected lanes are valid, but there are a plethora of examples of how to build them correctly.

    As for planning, if the city is actually dedicated to creating better conditions for cycling, then it needs to step up and actually do something about it instead of proposing a zillion options, and letting non-engineers and planners haggle about the details. Yes, community input is needed for some details and project goals, like “we want to create a biking corridor that is comfortable for all ages” or “we do not want to cause traffic jams” or “we want to maintain as much parking as possible”, but the community does not know best practices in bike lane design and should not be expected to. The way this was done, the city passes the buck on planning and engineering decisions, which require expert knowledge. In my opinion, this is not good planning and engineering practice.

    Meanwhile, New York City is building an impressive network of protected lanes through the densest parts of the city, with good community input to make sure the lanes work in the existing context. It hasn’t always been pretty, but they’ve done a ton in a short timeframe. Chicago is beginning to do the same, just outside of the loop, with an ambitious goal of 100 miles of protected lanes in 4 years. These facilities are already showing increased use by children, who are rarely seen using standard bike lanes. Portland seems to have no such ambition for protected lanes. As a result, biking will grow quite slowly there compared to these other cities, which is really a shame.

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    • John P. March 9, 2012 at 2:25 pm

      Portland’s density is not even in the same universe as NYC and Chicago. Our mass transit usage is also light years lower than NYC, Chicago, Washington DC. Should we also worry about “slipping behind”?

      Portland is a relatively low density mid-sized city with 60% of residents in single family or detached housing. We should make alternative modes of transportation safe and convenient but we should not set unrealizable goals by focusing on cities that are drastically different than we are.

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      • Jacob March 10, 2012 at 1:03 am

        True. Portland is much less dense than NYC. So what. Amsterdam and Copenhagen are way less dense than NYC also. So is Davis, CA. My point was (is) that other cities are striving to make networks of facilities that are comfortable for all sorts of riders to bike on, not just the confident. Yes, Portland has done some amazing things with neighborhood greenways, which do accomodate a wider range of users. However, there remain many areas with significant gaps for non-confident users, and Portland has had a hard time bridging them, as seen with this project. Regardless of what other cities are doing, if you want to keep bicycling growing as a city, you’ll need to address these gaps one way or another. By punting on the issue now, it just pushes the problem further into the future and maintains the existing gaps for less confident cyclists.

        From what I’ve read, the non-confident cyclists aren’t very well represented at public meetings and even in online discussions, even thought they account for the overwhelming majority of potential cyclists. This, I think, is a big problem for cities of any density.

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  • Jimmy P March 8, 2012 at 8:08 am

    This is the downside to community input. Now, you’ve got so many voices and competing interests that nothing can get done. At the end of this, someone’s going to be unhappy with the solution. Really, probably everyone. Are cyclists going to like the solution? Not uniformly. Long time residents? Almost assuredly not. Pedestrians? No one really seems to care about them in this whole process anyway.

    I agreed with Jonathon at the beginning of this process. This should never have been made into a battle over past injustices in society. Once it became that, the main issues – safety and usability – flew out the window. We’re at the same spot we were when this whole thing started. And once it’s all done, people are still going to complain that the city didn’t do what they wanted. Residents will now say instead of not being consulted, they were ignored.

    The opponents to the change have accomplished one thing they set out for, though. 13 months of no change to Williams, with no real ending in sight. Burying the city in red tape and meetings seems to have accomplished their goal.

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  • Rick March 8, 2012 at 8:15 am

    I’m glad this issue is being discussed. It’s somewhat representative of the many conflicts all cities will face as we switch from car-centric to bike-centric travel. The two modes of travel are not completely compatible, yet must co-exist for a time. Eventually bikes will represent the dominant portion of traffic as they are clearly the much better alternative (most of the time) for the coming “new economy”. And it will happen much much sooner than many people think. Keep the faith.

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  • Steve March 8, 2012 at 9:14 am

    The “shared” left lane option looks like it could easily lead to back-ups for cyclists at intersections. If a left turning car is waiting for pedestrians to cross North-South, then it will be difficult for the thru-moving bicycle traffic to move freely without veering into the adjoining East lane.

    I prefer to current bike lane over this latest concept.

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  • random_rider March 8, 2012 at 10:17 am

    I ride this every weekday year-round during rush hour. I don’t like dealing with buses, poorly parked cars intruding into the bike lane, opening car doors, slower cyclists (NOT saying they are wrong in any way, just that it does create another traffic issue for me). These are all inconveniences, but Williams is still far and away my best option for getting home from work. I grumble, complain and have the occasional close call, but it’s doable.

    My wife will not ride Williams during busy times and there are a lot of other people like her. The status quo will suffice for me, but is a big impediment for many. Here is an opportunity to make some improvements. I have no illusion that there’s an option that will completely satisfy everyone, but we all need to not let perfect be the enemy of the good.

    I agree there needs to be public process, but at some point there needs to be a decision. I think community input does lead to things overlooked by the engineers, e.g. the need for parking during Sunday services at some of the local churches. So let’s find a compromise. Maybe it’s restricting parking only during weekdays. Maybe it’s the left side bike lane. I don’t know what’s best, but there are definitely options that are an improvement over the current conditions.

    There is very little time or money for this project, it’s time to make a decision and implement it. And can we please mix in some speed enforcement? Just lowering traffic to the posted speeds would be a huge benefit for bikes, pedestrians and local businesses.

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  • mikeybikey March 8, 2012 at 10:24 am

    PBOT needs a reality check. Calling that a shared lane is a lie. Its a passing lane and its a downgrade from the facilities that exist even now. Our bicycle facilities need to be ACCESSIBLE for as many people as possible, otherwise why spend public money on it? I would have to stop riding on N. Williams if the shared lane goes in on segment four. I asked my wife her opinion and she said she would likely stop riding N. Williams as well. So what is it going to be PBOT? Are you trying to build bicycle facilities that accommodate everyone or are you just looking to use our tax dollars to create what is little more than a workout facility for the adrenaline seeking set?

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  • Lenny Anderson March 8, 2012 at 11:14 am

    Because 50% of the congestion on I-5 is due to incidents, its completely random when it is stopped up and traffic heads for Greeley,Interstate, MLK and Williams.
    A diverter at the mouth of Williams by the I-5 ramp allowing just one lane thru would help.

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  • Alain March 8, 2012 at 11:17 am

    Its only baffling because you cannot put yourself in the shoes of someone who has little money and has watched most of their friends and neighbours leave.
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    Regardless, two motor vehicle travel lanes will not remedy the situation of the racial inequities of the past. This social backlash, in the end, will cost everyone who lives and spends time in the area… black, white, whatever… from having a safer and more vibrant street.

    It’s a good example of how public process can go wrong. As others have said, if the goal was safety and equity of transportation modes, then the solution should be simple…. take way one parking lane or one driving lane and move forward.

    As it now stands, and will likely continue, this neighborhood street will be given over to movement and storage of private motor vehicles. The losers are those of us who live, work and play on this corridor and in the service of moving and storing cars.

    It’s been difficult to sit on the sidelines and watch as people respond and make decisions based on fear (of loss of parking, loss of patrons) rather than looking around at the vibrant streets that already exist in Portland – Alberta, Clinton, Mississippi, 23rd. Williams could be one of these streets AND with the added improved bicycle and pedestrian facilities, something these other streets lack, at least when it comes to bicycles.

    I hate to ride the bummer train here, but it’s tough not to be ticked off about the lack of vision being exercised here.

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    • spare_wheel March 9, 2012 at 11:39 am

      Williams and the rest of inner PDX (including where live) have had enough PBOT/PDC largesse showered on them. The thing that I find particularly galling is that a grab for limited money by one of the hippest and wealthiest neighbourhoods is couched as pursuit of “safety”. Where is the data showing that Williams should be a safety priority? And if safety is really the priority does it not make sense to convert Rodney (and/or 7th) into a greenway?

      I would be happy to support improvement of Williams after we calm Foster, 82nd, Barbur, and Multnomah. I would be happy to support improvement of Williams after we build world-class green ways that reach areas where many of the people who used to live in NOPO now live.

      Williams or close-in inner SE PDX (where I live) should not be our priority right now.

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    • was carless March 9, 2012 at 5:28 pm

      None of the streets you cited have dedicated cycling facilities.

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      • spare_wheel March 10, 2012 at 2:43 pm

        they should. and 300K spent on williams is 300K not spent on bringing basic infrastructure to some of our most important roads.

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  • AC March 8, 2012 at 11:22 am

    this is my commute route everyday. on specific occasions, i have ridden with my 7yo on this stretch during commute time, and there is nothing special about the ride for cyclists.

    the facility is good now, maybe not perfect, but good

    it can be improved with:
    1) curb extensions at intersections so that pedestrians can be seen
    2) bus stops located away from cross walks to reduce crossing confusion
    3) and stoplights around the Fremont bridge access blocks

    the jockeying with buses is annoying at best, but not an impediment to a perfectly good setup. cars deal with the same delays for buses on streets all over the city. bikes don’t need special dispensation to be safe sharing the right side

    i see the current problems with it having more to do with pedestrians

    on the whole though, there are many more deserving places in the city to provide new facility upgrades

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    • daisy March 8, 2012 at 11:39 am

      I agree that it’s really difficult for pedestrians here. It’s really difficult to get across Williams and Vancouver to get my kids to their local elementary school. We would actually ride our bikes more if it was easier to cross.

      Supposedly stoplights are coming to the intersections with Cook, which will at least make getting to school a lot easier.

      We cyclists could also be much better about stopping for pedestrians (though I’ve noticed that sometimes when I do stop, cars keep zipping by).

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  • Alain March 8, 2012 at 11:36 am

    New York City is building an impressive network of protected lanes through the densest parts of the city, with good community input to make sure the lanes work in the existing context. It hasn’t always been pretty, but they’ve done a ton in a short timeframe. Chicago is beginning to do the same, just outside of the loop, with an ambitious goal of 100 miles of protected lanes in 4 years. These facilities are already showing increased use by children, who are rarely seen using standard bike lanes. Portland seems to have no such ambition for protected lanes. As a result, biking will grow quite slowly there compared to these other cities, which is really a shame.

    Hear, hear! Step up to the plate Portland.

    It’s radical projects like cycle tracks, protected and buffered bicycle lanes, and traffic calming that make a place, a *place*, somewhere people want to be.

    I wonder when the subcultural, boutique nature of bikes in Portland will dissolve into a mass mode of transportation, a regular thing. Hand-built bikes and bike craft are indeed things to celebrate, but it seems time to celebrate transportation projects that make our streets safer for all modes of travel and build on the idea of Portland as a truly special place.

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  • Paul Johnson March 8, 2012 at 2:01 pm

    How about “NO THROUGH TRAFFIC – EXCEPT BICYCLES?” Allows local automobile access, but only bicycles can use it as a through street. Strategic placement of street furniture at key intersections could physically enforce this.

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  • otis March 8, 2012 at 2:10 pm

    The “shared left lane option” would be a serious step backwards for safety and usability. I don’t even believe that it would reduce bus/bike conflict. When a bus is stopped on the right, all the motor vehicles will be compelled to move over to the left “shared” lane, creating a whole new conflict.

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  • Patty March 8, 2012 at 2:30 pm

    I am disappointed in this process. I think the fear of offending someone, anyone, is freezing PBOT. I agree with AC to some degree – I don’t think everyone will get exactly what they want. It’s time to compromise and make a decision.

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  • Joe March 8, 2012 at 11:06 pm

    How much money has been spent on this process?

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  • Lenny Anderson
    Lenny Anderson March 11, 2012 at 12:20 pm

    A lot less than the CRC! Portland needs to embrace congestion and not be afraid of it. Its a sign of increased economic activity and more people doing more things. Its what great cities have.
    When New Seasons is built and all the vacant lots around Fremont/Williams/Vancouer are replaced with places folks can live and shop and relax, things will slow way down to matter where the paint is. Sidewalks will need to be widened, travel lanes shared between motorized and non-motorized traffic…one each in each direction, and speed limits lowered to 20 mph max. Or maybe this is just the spot to experiment with the latest traffic management methods from n. Europe…no signs, no paint, just a street design that demands sharing the public space at very low speeds among all users.
    PDC has resources for economic development; the reconstruction of a neighborhood like this will create construction jobs, retail jobs and who knows what else. And before its too late we need to capture a prime corner for a some public space…a big plaza with a giant bike wheel sculpture/fountain, a Place.

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