BikePortland

Learn what’s coming to N Williams Ave at final open house


Most of N. Williams Ave will be converted
into this cross-section.
(Graphics: Fat Pencil Studios)

Finally.

This Saturday (5/19), PBOT will host the final open house for their North Williams Ave Traffic Operations Safety Project.

As we shared back in March, after 13 months of public process, a citizen committee finally made a decision last month about how to make the street safer. The open house will be the public’s first opportunity to see detailed maps and drawings of what we can expect to see once PBOT implements the changes.

Those changes — as recommended by the committee on a vote of 22-3 — include a left-side buffered bike lane for most of Williams between Weidler and Killingsworth, with the busiest section of the street (between Fremont and Skidmore) to get what PBOT refers to as, “a novel shared left hand travel lane treatment.” In that shared section, people on bikes and in cars will mix. People in cars will be required to turn left at the end of each block (or run into a concrete barrier), while people on bikes will be able to continue north.

Here’s a drawing of how it might look mid-block:

And here it is at an intersection (note the concrete barrier at northwest corner):

The committee has also urged PBOT to:

That’s a tall order, and not all of these things will happen. At least not right away. PBOT says they’ve got about $370,000 to spend on this project and they hope to begin rolling out some of the changes this summer.

While there was a super-majority that voted in favor of the recommendations, some members still voiced major concerns about certain aspects of the plans.

Committee member Jerrell Waddell, a pastor at Life Change Christian Center, objected to a recommendation that through traffic be encouraged to use “more appropriate arterials.” In a footnote included in the final recommendation, Waddell is quoted as saying:

“Williams has been used as an arterial for more than 30 years. Demand has grown for vehicle traffic as well as bicycling, and overall use of the street should not dictate that we encourage traffic to use other streets.”

Wadell also voiced a strong opinion to the committee’s recommendation to honor the history of Willams Avenue through walking tours, photographs, and so on:

“Regarding honoring the history of Williams Avenue, I believe this decision to change the street is dishonoring the people who were historically engaged in commerce and who lived in this area, by creating a venue designed to be used by a particular population of younger, white professional people who bicycle.”

Committee member Paul Anthony from the Humboldt Neighborhood Association, voiced concerns with the recommendation to allow City of Portland traffic engineers to, “determine best design speed” for the street.

Anthony said that he doesn’t trust the City to lower speed limits to what the neighborhood wants:

“The Stakeholder Advisory Committee had heard a significant body of testimony to the effect that traffic engineers have not been honest brokers and have pursued an agenda radically at odds with the safety and livability of the community around North Williams… The speed limit on North Williams must be lowered to reflect the needs and realities of the schools, churches, social service agencies, businesses, and residents around the Avenue.”

You can download the final recommendation of the citizen’s advisory committee here (PDF)

At the open house, PBOT will have detailed design drawings and 3-D animations of the proposed plans. Attendees will also be able to speak with committee members and ask questions about the process and next steps.

Here are more details:

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