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BTA gets behind push for bike lanes, road diet on SE Division

Posted by on February 19th, 2013 at 2:41 pm

SE Division. Time for a diet?

After months of working with the Mt. Tabor Neighborhood Association to make SE Division Street safer, the Portland Bureau of Transportation now plans to open up a road diet project for further public feedback. And today, the Bicycle Transportation Alliance (BTA) stepped in to throw their organizational weight behind it as well.

Dubbed the Division Street Lane Reorganization Project (road diet must not poll well), the project would transform SE Division betwee 60th to 80th from its existing four standard lanes into three standard lanes and two bicycle-only lanes.

SE Division east of 60th is a classic urban arterial. Despite being adjacent to bustling residential neighborhoods, the speed limit is 35 mph and PBOT says 44% of people faster that that. Division is also statistically one of the top ten most dangerous streets in the city. In 2011-2012, it was one of three streets chosen by PBOT for their annual High Crash Corridor program. In a neighborhood presentation this past November, PBOT said they expect 8-9 fewer crashes per year after the road diet goes into effect (based on national studies showing a 29% reduction in crashes).

Adding bike lanes onto Division would help spur bicycling in the Mt. Tabor area. An article on the project published in the SE Examiner on February 1st pointed out that, “People on bicycles use Division St., but they often ride on the sidewalks to avoid the car traffic and make pedestrians feel unsafe.”

The BTA not only supports the project proposed; but they’re calling for extending the bike lanes eight additional blocks all the way to 52nd. In a blog post today, they wrote: “We applaud PBOT for their design. In fact, we like their design so much that we encourage the city to extend the bike lanes west to SE 52nd Ave, where the new 50s Bikeway will soon cross.”

Not only would extending the bike lanes make that vital connection to the forthcoming 50s Bikeway, the BTA points out that it would also connect them to several nearby schools.

It’s also worth noting that SE 60th and Division is the intersection where a man towing a bicycle trailer was rear-ended while attempting to cross southbound on Division back in December.

If this project continues to get community support, PBOT has the funds (estimated $80-100,000) to complete it by this summer.

Consider showing up to share your feedback on this project at an upcoming open house UPDATE: We have learned that the events below are not open houses. They are neighborhood association meetings.):

    Wednesday, Feb 20 and Mar 20, 7pm, Mt. Tabor Presbyterian Church (SE 54th and Belmont)
    South Tabor NA: Thursday, Feb 21 and Mar 21, 7pm, Trinity Fellowship (2700 SE 67th, rear entrance)

Learn more:
Official PBOT project website
– BTA Blog: Speak up for a safer Division Street
– SE Examiner: Proposed “Lane Reorganization” for Division St.

NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Thank you — Jonathan

  • Dolan Halbrook February 19, 2013 at 2:47 pm

    This would be a wonderful thing if it happens. The initial designs I saw were one lane in each direction with a turn lane in the middle, which I think would have a hugely calming effect overall on the area, and make the transition from east of 60th to west of 60th much smoother overall.

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  • John R. February 19, 2013 at 2:50 pm

    Great news, long over due. This same treatment could (and should) be done to Hawthorne.

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  • bike me February 19, 2013 at 3:04 pm

    Everyone has given up on Hawthorne eh? “They” will not allow for road diets on every road.

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    • Nick February 19, 2013 at 3:08 pm

      It could be worse, like N Lombard. There’s no hope in sight for Lombard, as ODOT controls the street with an iron fist and their top priority is auto throughput.

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    • BURR February 20, 2013 at 11:27 pm

      The city totally caved to business interests on Hawthorne and has bailed on their promise to add sharrows once they were approved and in the MUTCD.

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  • OnTheRoad February 19, 2013 at 3:11 pm

    I guess things are evolving. About 15-20 years ago, the exact same 2 lanes and a turn lane for Division east of 60th was proposed as part of the Division Corridor traffic calming project. That project put in place some of the curb extensions and barriers on Lincoln/Harrison, SE Clinton and in Ladds Addition.

    The road diet portion of the project east of 60th met with vehement neighborhood opposition and was dropped.

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  • Mindful Cyclist February 19, 2013 at 3:12 pm

    Can we do the same thing on E Burnside from at least 60th to about 68th? I would prefer 47th, really, but the short 7 blocks would be very nice and past 68th there is already a decent bike lane and slower speeds to begin with. There are far too many people that use that street as a freeway at rush hour.

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    • Terry D February 20, 2013 at 8:53 am

      We are neighbors, “Mindful Cyclist” since 61st/East Burnside is also our corner. My partner and I have called 911 for accidents MANY times there over the past 9 years and almost all could be solved by putting Burnside on a road diet. Burnside has been declared a High-Crash Corridor. There is the first of multiple public outreach meetings on Feb 27 and here is the link to the flyer.


      We also manage a new group on Facebook called


      This group has a much larger project of working toward a half-mile grid of connected greenways for the “central city”…as in the city west of 82nd to the river (we are still working on migrating our information out of google to new more professional mapping software).

      More specifically to our neighborhood concerns, On Feb, 5 we posted a detailed plan for the East Burnside corridor from the top of the hill at Gilliam to the river. This plan initially calls for a road diet form 61st eastward to the top of the hill using existing funding. Since the traffic counts on this stretch of road are around 18K a day, a three lane configuration has plenty of capacity. Long term, we have come up with a detailed plan, down to the crosswalks including costs, to improve safety for all users for this eastern half of the Burnside corridor. It includes a road diet all the way to 32nd including multiple crosswalk improvements and parallel greenway improvements westward to the Burnside bridge.

      You should check out our plans!! We are looking for more community involvement and likes, suggestions to improve our routes locally and help to push the city and neighborhood associations. We have already made contact with North Tabor, but Mount Tabor will also be involved of course since Burnside is the divider. We would totally be interested in your opinions and any help moving this along. Since this is the first outreach meeting, Burnside is about a year behind Division in its “planning.”

      We are shortly going to canvas the block or two around our house to hopefully gain support for doing the Burnside “road reorganization” from 60th to Gilliam ASAP.

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      • Mindful Cyclist February 22, 2013 at 1:27 pm

        Thanks for the info on this, Terry. Yes, I live across the street from you and I think if I am correct, I am probably looking out the window at the top of your house now as I type this.

        I will see if I can make it that night as I do like the idea of a road diet and one from 61st to Gilham would be very nice. I think this current configuration with no parking on one side of the street during peak hours encourages people to drive too fast. Along with the road diet, I am not sure why the speed limit does not get dropped to 30 once past 32nd as well.

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        • Terry D February 23, 2013 at 7:55 am

          Agreed. A 30 MPH speed , limit is also a request…with all the curves…..it needs to be changed. And yes, I am sure you can see the top of our house from your window. We like the cat that sits in the sill.

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  • ScottB February 19, 2013 at 3:17 pm

    I predict many more road diets in Portland’s future. For one thing, the bike lanes and center turn lane need less maintenance.

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  • kevin February 19, 2013 at 3:18 pm

    While I think these ideas are ok especially for slowing traffic, I really do not understand why anyone would think riding down Division or Burnside is a good idea especially when Clinton and Davis/Ankeny are a few blocks away. Bike riders get caught in the same speedism as cars.

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    • NF February 19, 2013 at 4:29 pm

      I think this case has more to do with on the ground reality than ‘speedism.’ Most of Portland’s bike boulevards disintegrate as you head eastward. Clinton turns into Woodward (taking you further from destinations on division) and it really turns into a puzzle after 75th.

      Division, on the other hand, is a direct connection to destinations on 82nd, existing bike lanes starting at 78th, and the I205 path.

      The bike lane proposed here will not be as comfortable as the nearby bike boulevard, but it will probably be more useful.

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    • A.K. February 19, 2013 at 4:42 pm

      One weird issue that part of town suffers from is side-streets that cross busy streets (such as Division and 82nd) that don’t line up, and don’t have lights.

      Thus trying to use side streets and bike boulevards for everything doesn’t always work, because inevitably you need to cross these streets at some point. On a weekend it isn’t much of a problem, but these streets can be a mess when you’re traveling during commute time.

      Just as an example, when I bike to work (from Brooklyn to out on Airport Way about a mile east of 205), I take the Clinton/Woodward bike boulevard from my ‘hood all the way up into the Mt. Tabor area.

      But somewhere around 74th/76th-ish, the paved streets turn to dirt and potholes and you need to reroute.

      Since I need to cross 82nd, it’s easier just to get onto Division at that point. I bike for a few blocks in the right lane then use the bike lane when it appears.

      I also need to hook up with the 205 bike path. There aren’t as many entrances/exits from it in the neighborhood south of Division as there are North. Again, this makes it easier to just take Division, as I can then easily get onto the 205 path.

      The other option is to go up Lincoln and over Mt. Tabor then taking Mill on the other side to the 205 bike path, which I enjoy doing on my way home from work (when I’m getting a good workout and exercise) but not on my way to work when I want to get there relatively “fresh” and not all worn out and smelly.

      Lastly… why is it bad that someone wants a direct route somewhere?

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    • Mindful Cyclist February 19, 2013 at 8:31 pm

      I live around 61st and E Burnside. If Ankeny extended way out to there, no problem. I would gladly take that to get downtown. However, Ankeny ends on 41st. There are a few other segments of it, but that is where it basically ends for the purpose of a bike thoroughfare. Once Ankeny ends, I have to go to Davis, then Everett, back to Davis and then try to cross Burnside to get to my place. I have no problem taking Burnside in the morning downtown since that portion is downhill and there is no parking on the North side of the street then. Sure, I get the occassional honk or the super close buzz, but for the most part, people give me plenty of room. And, if I can be the last person through the light on 60th, I have pretty much smooth sailing down to 47th. Going home which is a lot of uphill, however, is a whole other story.

      East Burnside past, say, 32nd is really no longer a business district street. It is mostly residential. Sure, there are a few businesses sprinkled around. I have a difficult time crossing the street the days I do not drive and take the bus to work because so many folks in cars speed along Burnside to avoid the back up on 84.

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      • Terry D February 20, 2013 at 8:58 am

        We ride this route all the time and do the same thing. Isn’t it fun living on a commuter corridor?

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    • Reza February 19, 2013 at 10:04 pm

      Because Clinton/Woodward is a pretty mediocre “bike boulevard” outside of the diverters at 39th? Does anyone really feel comfortable on Clinton anymore? What with all of the neighborhood cut-through traffic and people looking for parking spaces to hit up restaurants on Division?

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      • Terry D February 20, 2013 at 4:17 pm

        After the Division repaving project is finished the city REALLY needs to invest in some Clinton Traffic diverters… 26th and 50th come to mind with north-south diverters at 34th…..Plus, southbound bike conductivity from SE 16th once the new 17th street Powell overpass is open.

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    • Rithy Khut February 20, 2013 at 10:47 am

      I live on Lincoln and getting east requires me to travel through Mt. Tabor which is rather hilly. I much rather go down hill and take Division to get to 82nd than take the hills of Mt. Tabor to do the same.

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    • spare_wheel February 20, 2013 at 12:31 pm

      i also don’t understand why cyclists are in such a rush. cycling is not about transportation, its about meditation, smelling the roses, breathing in the fresh air, and/or communing with nature. if a cyclist is really in such a hurry, they should just drive. not only does speedism demean cycling but it unnecessarily antagonizes motorists. just think how much safer it would be if cyclists only biked designated bike routes!

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      • Dolan Halbrook February 20, 2013 at 12:44 pm

        “cycling is not about transportation”

        huh? Or am I missing the sarcasm.

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        • spare_wheel February 20, 2013 at 1:06 pm


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          • Dolan Halbrook February 20, 2013 at 1:20 pm

            Apparently my sarcasm detector needs a tuneup 🙂

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  • Ashley February 19, 2013 at 4:27 pm

    Why pursue the needs of the few (bikes) at the expense of the many (cars/neighborhoods)?
    I don’t understand how “slimming” this section of Division down will be beneficial to the residential and business blocks of lower Division below 60th. As it stands now (meaning today, not tomorrow, not yesterday – today) hundreds, if not thousands, of cars use this section of Division to get onto I-205. Even more cars use I-205 to get home but get on via other SE on-ramps. Decreasing the driving lanes going out to I-205 will create a traffic snarl up 60th to Belmont (even worse than there already is) while causing bumper-to-bumper traffic slowing below 60th all the way down Division. This will ultimately make drivers take alternative routes to I-205 thru neighborhoods, side-streets, and other routes more traditionally used for biking. I don’t understand why the city and the biking community continues to believe that reducing lanes on major traffic routes will somehow make biking safer and increase the quality of life in surrounding neighborhoods. It does neither. Tempers flare and drivers make bad decisions when stuck in traffic. That makes biking more dangerous.
    And also, what kind of crashes is PBOT talking about? Fender benders like the one on Division and 60th? Are they nuts? That makes Division a “High Crash Corrider?” That’s the reason you decrease a major traffic artery in the city? What utopian goal are we pursuing here? Sounds like government types making a lot of noise in order to justify the so-called validity of their jobs.
    If it’s not broke don’t fix it. Don’t invent problems where there are none.

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    • Dolan Halbrook February 19, 2013 at 4:54 pm

      I don’t buy that reducing the number of lanes will inherently reduce the throughput. As someone who lives very nearby and drives that road often, what I see slowing people down is largely unexpected left turns. A dedicated left turn lane will do a lot to ease that. I could see some potential issue with right turns now that drivers would have to be a little more careful cutting across a bike lane, but all things being equal I just don’t see that being a deal breaker. Sorry, just don’t buy the argument that it would be bad for the neighborhood. Is SE 39th to 60th on Division somehow worse off than SE 60th to 82nd?

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    • Art Fuldodger February 19, 2013 at 5:00 pm

      crossing the street on foot safely is *a bit * of a problem (see recent tragic event at NE Glisan & 78th) – going to 3 lanes would allow for pedestrian crossing refuges, so you can cross one lane of traffic at a time instead of trying to cross 4 unprotected. Not to mention that walking on Division’s narrow sidewalks will be far more pleasant next to a bike lane than 35+ mph traffic.

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    • John R. February 19, 2013 at 5:08 pm


      Really? Maybe because my neighborhood street should not be used as a feeder for suburbanites hoping to save some time to get to the freeway. Maybe because I actually have to bike on Division to access the many excellent neighborhood businesses. Cyclists are not second class citizens and we should be able to walk and cycle without fear in our own neighborhoods.

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    • ScottB February 19, 2013 at 5:09 pm


      You’ve made the assumption that the number of lanes matches the traffic demand. A typical lane can move about 1,000 cars per hour. If the peak demand is less than that, the road has more capacity. One reason for doing a road diet is to reduce crashes. left turning vehicles block through traffic or cause those following to switch lanes to go around. crashes will be inevitable in such a situation. putting in a left turn lane means the left turning motorists can move out of the way and the through motorist should have less friction to deal with.

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      • jj February 19, 2013 at 10:08 pm


        Really? Maybe because my neighborhood street should not be used as a feeder for suburbanites hoping to save some time to get to the freeway. Maybe because I actually have to bike on Division to access the many excellent neighborhood businesses. Cyclists are not second class citizens and we should be able to walk and cycle without fear in our own neighborhoods.

        John R, and you make the assumption that everyone who uses the freeway is a suburbanite, rather than a working class stiff who lives east of 82nd or in outer NE Portland or even Gresham (basically a working class and Hispanic suburb). You do realize that working class folks are being driven farther and farther out into the periphery, right?

        I understand you don’t want your neighborhood street used as an arterial. But if we end up with no arterials at all, we’re only going to penalize the people who can afford it least and choke off our economy.

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        • oliver February 20, 2013 at 9:09 am

          Gresham is a suburb. Regardless of social class, people who live there are suburbanites.

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        • davemess February 20, 2013 at 12:42 pm

          jj, I’m not really understanding how dieting Division between 60th and 80, would impede people from east Portland and Gresham from getting to 205?
          I would say you might have a point if you were talking about the east side of 205. However on the west side of 205, residents have access to Powell, a dedicated state highway to get them to 205.

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    • el timito February 19, 2013 at 6:03 pm

      To illustrate what ScottB said – This graphic shows why reorganizing the lanes actually causes smoother traffic flow. Note the “before and after” traffic counts for 3 Seattle streets that received this type of treatment.

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      • Dolan Halbrook February 19, 2013 at 10:27 pm

        Thanks for that graphic. It strongly reinforces my hunch that three lanes wouldn’t impede traffic flow.

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    • Reza February 19, 2013 at 10:10 pm

      It sounds like Ashley was truly heartbroken when the Mt. Hood Freeway was cancelled…now she has to cut through urban neighborhoods on surface streets instead of an 8-lane depressed freeway.

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    • Allen February 20, 2013 at 7:34 am

      If you “don’t understand how slimming will be beneficial” you should attend one of the upcoming meetings to see how these kinds of projects are evaluated and how they function. I did.

      While it may seem counter intuitive that reducing the number of lanes, (while adding a critical turn lane) can improve throughput, traffic engineers have loads of data that shows this treatment works. They also have (and presented) the types of accidents that occur on Division, the number of injuries and fatalities, the current and projected capacity of road with a given number of lanes, and a history of outcomes when these treatments are applied.

      The end result will be to make this stretch of road safer for people in cars, on bikes, and on foot. It won’t sacrifice the “needs of the few”, in this case everyone wins.

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    • Terry D February 20, 2013 at 9:07 am

      If your only purpose was moving cars to the freeway, your concerns might be valid. This is a residential road, with a community college, driveways, commercial activity and cross streets. A four lane configuration with the chaos of cars turning left and right creates bottlenecks and accidents while making crossing the street dangerous or next to impossible without a traffic light. A three lane configuration with bike lanes can handle the same capacity with a much safer result and be beneficial to everyone.

      Now, if you have the funding for $250,000 traffic lights every 2-3 blocks plus create a parallel bike route somewhere close (requiring buying up private property for road connections since there is no residential road conductivity), then create a plan!! If not, then this “road reorganization” is by far the best solution to this stretch of road.

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    • are February 20, 2013 at 4:05 pm

      from http://www.portlandoregon.gov/transportation/article/407142
      on southeast division betw. 11th and 174th, from 2007 through 2010, there were 1,698 crashes, including four fatalities and fifty incapacitating injuries.

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  • Craig Harlow February 19, 2013 at 4:38 pm

    Keep’em separated! :^)

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  • BURR February 19, 2013 at 4:45 pm

    Too litte, too late. Where was the BTA when we could have had bike lanes on lower Division, between SE 7th and SE 39th?

    Anyone who is used to cycling on lower Division is getting screwed by the Division streetscape plan right now.

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    • art fuldodger February 19, 2013 at 7:30 pm

      Baby, bathwater, i’d like to introduce you to : the drain.

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    • spare_wheel February 20, 2013 at 9:49 am

      i have had a fair amount of attitude tossed my way on division because the “bike street” is just a few blocks away. i guess i missed the underground separated bike tunnels that connect new seasons, gorditos, road runner and my barbershop to clinton.

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    • Unit February 20, 2013 at 12:32 pm

      The parked cars on Division are the buffer that makes it comfortable to walk along Division, shopping and supporting the local businesses. Take away that parking (which you’d have to do to add bike lanes) and watch the pedestrians flee and the retail die. Thank heavens BTA knows better than to ruin a vibrant street.

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      • ScottB February 20, 2013 at 4:42 pm

        I was under the impression that there are no parking lanes on Division east of 60th where the diet is proposed.

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        • BURR February 20, 2013 at 5:37 pm

          Exactly, there are no parked cars there now, so the city has a clean slate to work with.

          A bike facility would be at least as good of a pedestrian buffer as a row of parked cars.

          I guess it depends if you want to continue to devote the existing outside travel lanes to transportation, albeit repurposed from motor vehicle use to bicycle use, or if you want to dedicate that space to more motor vehicle storage.

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  • Befuddled February 19, 2013 at 10:30 pm

    I should very much like to know what a “road diet” is.

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    • GlowBoy February 20, 2013 at 12:24 pm

      Befuddled, road diets have been featured a number of times on BikePortland lately, including the recent implementation on NE Multnomah as well as proposals for SW Barbur.

      Wikipedia’s definition is as follows: “A road diet, also called a lane reduction or road rechannelization, is a technique in transportation planning whereby a road is reduced in number of travel lanes and/or effective width in order to achieve systemic improvements.”

      Using Google, you may find lots more examples of what that means in practice.

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  • Terry D February 20, 2013 at 8:13 am

    Great project. This will make the north-south greenway connections at 64th and the 70’s significantly easier and cheaper to build in the future since quarter million traffic lights could be replaced (in the case of the 64th street greenway crossing behind the park’s department at least, and in other cases as well) with $25,000 yellow flashing beacons with center refuge islands.

    We need more of these “road organizations”…it would help out our half-mile greenway grid significantly while making our “inner city” arterials much safer.

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  • BURR February 20, 2013 at 11:32 pm

    Actually, if you check your history, Division and Stark were the premier E-W bike routes in Portland in the early 20th century


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    • OnTheRoad February 21, 2013 at 8:07 am

      Thanks for that link, and also for your comments on the previous project on Hawthorne and the current project on lower Division.

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  • spare_wheel February 23, 2013 at 12:32 pm

    and the carnage continues:

    “Witnessed told police that a dark-colored SUV or truck was traveling eastbound on Southeast Division Street when it struck the woman as she was crossing the street.

    According to the witnesses, the vehicle never slowed down after striking the woman.”


    Its time to stop favoring the “convenience” of single occupancy (motorized) vehicle users over the health and lives of human beings.

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  • Ted Buehler October 23, 2013 at 3:35 pm

    Thanks BTA! Nice work!

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