County seeks input on Sauvie Island area transportation issues

Sauvie Island Strawberry Ride
Riding on Sauvie Island is sublime; but narrow roads without shoulders and heavy motor vehicle traffic can also make it challenging.
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

Multnomah County is looking for public input on transportation and land use issues on and around Sauvie Island. With the area being one of the most popular bike riding destinations in the region, this could be a golden opportunity to make the riding even better.

Sauvie Island is an agricultural and wildlife gem situation about 17 miles from downtown Portland. Its beautiful roads, expansive views, farm markets, and other attractions attract a lot of city traffic. There are also residents on the island who use the roads as part of their daily travels. As is often the case with narrow rural roads, sometimes tempers can flare between people on bikes and people driving cars. Locals sometimes resent people that don’t ride single file and visitors often complain about people who are rude when passing and/or who drive without regard for their safety.

Nearly seven years ago, in a story titled, Solving the Sauvie Island Problem, I wrote, “This is a problem that is going to keep getting worse until something is done about it, and I don’t think we should wait until someone is hurt or killed before focusing our attention on a solution.”

This planning process is our chance to address these issues.

Joanna Valencia, a senior transportation planner for Multnomah County told us today that they’d love to hear about bicycling issues. “We want to get an idea of what the issues are out there.” The input received will be forwarded to the Multnomah County Board of Commissioners. Valencia added that this process will help inform an update of the area’s Rural Plan and Transportation System Plan (TSP), which hasn’t been updated since 1997 and 1998 respectively.

That 1998 TSP (PDF) pointed out the area’s popularity for recreational riding. It also acknowledged the inadequate safety of the roads and recommended widening shoulders. Here’s an excerpt:

“Apart from U.S. 30, there are currently no roadways in the area with shoulders adequate to accomodate bicycles or pedestrians. Improved facilities are needed to accomodate pedestrians and bicyclists, particularly recreational uses. Projects to add shoulders will increase safety for these and other transportation modes.”

In addition to improvements to roads on Sauvie Island, we need real bikeways on Highway 30 and the St. Johns Bridge (both of which are ODOT facilities) to connect the island to St. Johns and the rest of Portland.

The County has a short online questionnaire and they’ve scheduled an open house for Thursday, March 7 at the Sauvie Island School (14445 NW Charlton Road). Learn more here.

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