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BTA hears top project ideas for ‘Blueprint’ effort

Posted by on October 19th, 2012 at 12:53 pm

BTA Blueprint meeting at City Hall-3

Steve Hoyt-McBeth jots down his group’s ideas
at yesterday’s event in City Hall.
(Photos © J. Maus/BikePortland)

At City Hall during the lunch hour yesterday, the Bicycle Transportation Alliance (BTA) enlisted the help of Portland’s brightest biking minds to prioritize the “world-class bikeways” that will act as the organization’s ‘Blueprint‘ for the future.

The event was hosted by the City of Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) as part of their monthly “Bicycle Brown Bag” discussion series. Around 40 people showed up for the participatory discussion (10 of which were women, if you’re counting). BTA Executive Director Rob Sadowsky and Advocacy Director Gerik Kransky opened the event by offering some historical context.

The BTA is looking re-do their 2005 Blueprint for Better Bicycling; a document that listed 40 priority projects the BTA and their members wanted to see completed (they released a status report back in August). The goal of the Blueprint, said Kransky, is to have a focus for advocacy and leverage to tell politicians and policymakers, “Hey look, this is what the bike people want.”

As for what makes the BTA’s new list, that’s what they asked for help with yesterday.

bta blueprint eventb

Attendees (many of them professional bike planners and/or agency staffers) broke into small groups to hash out their top projects. Each group had a scribe to record the ideas and then the top three were shared at the end. Eavesdropping on all the groups, I heard similar (and not unexpected) themes emerge. More separated facilities on major streets, more funding, more multi-use paths. (Note: The Blueprint will try to include projects from all 25 cities and three counties in the Portland region.)

Two groups put the North Willamette Greenway Trail on the top of their list (and specifically called out using the Ash Grove “cement road” route). The Sullivan’s Gulch project also ranked high. Extending the cycle-track on SW Broadway came up several times, with one group calling for a dedicated bikeway couplet on Broadway and 4th. Outside the central city, two groups ranked a major bikeway on SW Barbur Blvd in their top three and one group wanted to see more bikeways on east Portland arterials.

Here’s a look at some of the lists…

BTA Blueprint meeting at City Hall-7

BTA Blueprint meeting at City Hall-6

BTA Blueprint meeting at City Hall-5

BTA Blueprint meeting at City Hall-4

When one group reported back that someone wanted a tunnel for bicycles through the West Hills, many in the room laughed. How is that funny, I wondered. MAX has a tunnel, so do cars (and a freeway too). Big ideas are what we need! If we laugh at them, how can we ever expect policymakers to take our “world-class” dreams seriously? Sorry, I digress.

The BTA says they’ll take the feedback from yesterday’s event, run them through their strategic plan and share them with their Board of Directors. They hope to have the list ready to go before April 2013.

On their blog yesterday, Kransky put their effort into perspective: “The day the new Blueprint goes public is the day the hard work starts. It will likely take millions of dollars, thousands of hours, and dozens of years to achieve the bold vision we have in mind.”

— Learn more about the BTA’s Blueprint on their website.

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  • Bike-Max-Bike October 19, 2012 at 1:13 pm

    We need big ideas to excite us. Our big ideas for cycling are not laughable; we should take our ideas seriously if we expect others too do the same. A tunnel under the west hills (in more than one spot) is fine notion: a nice grade and out of the weather are something the “interested” crowed would appreciate.

    How about bike/ped only bridges over the Columbia (max ready?)

    What other Big Ideas do you have?

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    • AlanG24 October 19, 2012 at 9:08 pm

      I was scribe for the second flip chart shown in this article AND was one of the many who laughed when the tunnel idea was raised. Jonathan lept on the laughter with the same questions he posed in the article. IMHO, Jonathan misread the reaction. I thought the laughter was more about delight with the idea – like WOW, that’s awesome. Nevertheless, I also very much appreciated the challenge to think big. (That’s the whole reason many of us were there!)

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  • BURR October 19, 2012 at 1:19 pm

    Forget the SW Broadway cycletrack, and just make the Park Blocks bike-ped only.

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    • spare_wheel October 20, 2012 at 8:47 am

      but also sharrow Broadway for faster riders. the hotel zone bike lane is a complete fail.

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  • Rol October 19, 2012 at 1:33 pm

    It’s actually something of a crime of shortsightedness and siloing that the TriMet tunnel was built without a bike lane. Certainly would’ve been cheaper to add one into the project than to try to build a separate dedicated tunnel now.

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    • was carless October 20, 2012 at 3:44 pm

      I highly doubt that. I don’t think that anywhere in the world there is a 3.5 mile underground bike-only tunnel. The liabilities would be too great – not to mention homeless encampments! I doubt any except the few diehards would ride it. The roughly ~$1 billion for a tunnel would be better spent funding every single piece of proposed bike infrastructure in the state of oregon. And would likely cover it all.

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  • Heather October 19, 2012 at 1:48 pm

    I’m sorry I was not able to join yesterday’s discussion but I would like to know if the Blueprint is specific to the Portland area or if it is meant to serve all of BTA’s service areas. I only saw two projects on one of the brainstorm lists that are in Washington County (Fanno Creek and Crescent Connection trail). Although some of the broader concepts like 20 MPH roads could affect a larger area if there is jurisdictional buy-in. It looks like some great ideas were generated from these discussions and I would encourage the BTA to strive for equally successful outreach events in our region’s suburban counties.

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    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) October 19, 2012 at 1:59 pm

      good question Heather. Yes. Rob said it’s a region-wide project. I added a note to the story.

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    • Rob Sadowsky October 20, 2012 at 12:18 pm

      We plan on holding sessions throughout region with partners, neighborhood associations and members. We will definitely have a session (or more) in Washington County as well as Clackamas and East MultCo.

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  • David October 19, 2012 at 2:01 pm

    I was at the meeting and FWIW I didn’t realize that Trimet/Max actually had tunnels through the West Hills (I guess I’m a noob)–basically what I was picturing was instead of Burnside rising up the hill, there would be a tunnel straight through, which is a pretty funny proposition!

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  • Andrew N October 19, 2012 at 2:14 pm

    Glad to see the 7th Ave bike/ped bridge on one of the lists. Jonathan, it might be time to finally do a post on that one 😉

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    • Max D October 22, 2012 at 9:53 am

      has anyone considered or pushed for a bike route along 2nd Ave that goes under 84 instead of over at 7th? This would extend Water, connect to the future Sullivan’s Gulch trail, Lloyd could easily be improved, and it would link to the Eastbank Esplanade and the future NP Greenway! I would use 7th, but I think 2nd may be just as useful and provide a better link for the imminent bike network (esp. if Lloyd becomes the Central City and the newly christened Produce Row n’hood becomes the Pearl 2.0!

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  • JR October 19, 2012 at 2:45 pm

    We already have a world class cycling and ped network. Just need to remove the cars. Presto.

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  • Rob October 19, 2012 at 8:44 pm

    “Note: The Blueprint will try to include projects from all 25 cities and three counties in the Portland region.”

    -So does this mean that this workshop at the City of Portland will also be repeated in other communities? It would be nice to hear about what process of engagement the BTA is going to be using, e.g. whether the BTA would like to extend this process of engagement, geographically speaking. Otherwise it would be hard to implement this commitment, right?

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  • Pat Franz October 19, 2012 at 10:34 pm

    How about a demonstration Netherlands class cycle path that actually went somewhere? Just one, to start. Truly world class, not with all the car centric shortcuts that are always made. Show people what things could be like, and see how many people use it. Not a MUP, not a bike boulevard, not some paint on the street, a real cycle path.

    I think the results would blow people away.

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    • spare_wheel October 20, 2012 at 8:59 am

      i say we fly some dutch traffic engineers out to pdx and give them a few million and carte blanche to show pbot how its done.

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  • Charles Ross October 19, 2012 at 10:38 pm

    A couple of thoughts. It’s worth pointing out that one can simply load their bicycle onto MAX and ride through the tunnel. Maybe, in the name of supporting bicycle commuting, there could be a “free-zone” between Goose Hollow and Beaverton T.C. for people traveling/commuting with a bicycle.
    Also, I was at this meeting and noted, that for me at least, I don’t need a bike lane when I’m going DOWN hill (as on a three block portion of N.W. Everett between 19th and 16th; I need it when I’m going UP hill and unable to maintain any comparable speed to automobiles.
    Also, how is the arrival of BikeShare next Spring going to change the need for infrastructure? Or does it?
    Finally, one prime goal of new infrastructure is to get the next 10 percent of the populace out there and on bikes for commute/recreation. What is the prime concern of this next 10 percent? Safety. This speaks to the need for lanes that are separated from auto traffic. This was the conclusion reached by several of the sub-groups in yesterday’s meeting.

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  • Dan October 20, 2012 at 8:21 am

    You can access 26 west by taking Jefferson past Reservoir 4 and joining the Sunset west of the Vista Ridge Tunnel. It is a signed bike route (I used to ride it when I lived in Beaverton many years ago). If the numbers of bike commuters is high enough, maybe we can get a way through the tunnel (east-bound from the zoo, you can ride through the (Columbia street exit, I think) tunnel and come out by the Goose Hollow Max).

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  • Rick October 20, 2012 at 8:28 am

    Great Work BTA on keeping relevant projects on the front burner.

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  • Ted Buehler October 20, 2012 at 11:41 am

    Thanks for doing this, BTA.

    I encourage ya’all to think big about what it would really take to have a world-class bicycle network.

    10′ lanes on several Willamette River bridges would be necessary to allow huge numbers of bicyclists, fast, slow, cargoed, hurried, to all coexist comfortably and efficiently.

    And a tunnel through the West Hills. It would probably carry almost the same number of people as one of the MAX tubes, but with zero operating expenses.

    Ted Buehler

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  • Lenny Anderson
    Lenny Anderson October 20, 2012 at 5:49 pm

    While the north Portland Willamette Greenway Trail via the Ash Grove Cement Road is near and dear, I do hope the 7th Avenue bike/ped bridge over Sullivan’s Gulch gets some action in the not too distant future. Another “out there” suggestion that I threw out was a bike/ped bridge over the Willamette somewhere between the Broadway and Fremont Bridges. The WGT should pass through the huge expanse of asphalt just north of the Broadway Bridge; that could be the east end of a beautiful arching bridge over the Willamette that could land over on NW 9th Avenue somewhere.

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    • Max D October 22, 2012 at 9:58 am

      Lenny, what do you think about a bike route north of NE 2nd Ave that heads under I-84, and just bridge over the tracks? This could connect to Lloyd and Multnomah, the Sullivan’s Gulch Trail, NP Greenway, Interstate, Vancouver/Williams, NP Greenway. I like 7th, but I think this may be an even better way of getting across I-84.

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  • Carl October 22, 2012 at 11:10 am

    Thanks, Lenny, for speaking up for a 7th Ave freeway crossing. For those of us who prefer straight routes to wiggly ones, 7th could give us a dead-straight, flattish route all the way from SE Division to Alberta. No other close-in route does that (except MLK/Grand).

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  • Lenny Anderson
    Lenny Anderson October 22, 2012 at 1:51 pm

    Max D. I prefer going over rather than under, and yes, Carl, the 7th Avenue Brigde is a key missing link on the Eastside. Could be a “signature” project.
    Was giving things a look as I rode over the Broadway Bridge…a bike/ped bridge over the Willamette could connect to the WGT at the “Grassy Knoll” just north of Broadway on the eastside and to 9th Avenue on the west via the parking lot of Albert’s Mill just south of the new riverside apartments.
    9th Avenue could be upgraded to a real bike friendly street to the Park Blocks which could likewise be turned into a key westside link to PSU and the new Milwaukie MAX bridge.

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