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Can we fix SE Foster while saving room for auto parking?

Posted by on June 6th, 2013 at 2:37 pm

The wide sidewalks at SE 78th and Foster seem well-suited to a walkable commercial district, but the four-lane street does not. (Photos © M. Andersen/BikePortland)

The Bicycle Transportation Alliance announced Tuesday that Southeast Foster Road is among its top priorities to become one of the city’s best bikeways. But at an open house Tuesday night about rethinking the street, there was only one type of bike infrastructure on the menu.

White paint.

What happened to the ideas for a cycle track separated by plastic bollards and an auto parking lane? Or a shared bike-pedestrian sidewalk like on the Hawthorne Bridge? The city project manager says there’s just no room to do them right unless you also remove either a lane of auto parking or a center turn lane.

Here’s the most bike-friendly example presented Wednesday night for what would be the most bike-friendly stretch of Foster, between 72nd and 80th Avenues:

A six-foot bike lane with a three-foot buffer would be one of the most comfortable bike lanes in the city. But note that this is only possible here without auto parking on either side of the street — something commercial landowners are likely to resist.

Closer to downtown, where the street is a bit wider, none of the concepts floated Tuesday night included room for a buffered bike lane. Here’s what the four-lane Foster looks like right now:

Foster Road today, between 52nd and 72nd avenues.

And here’s one way that wider stretch of Foster might look with three lanes:

A possible three-lane Foster Road, between 52nd and 72nd avenues.

Note that the main auto travel lane here is 11 feet wide. Project manager Mauricio Leclerc said that’s the width needed to comfortably run the No. 14 TriMet bus on Foster — and also the minimum width required to someday run a streetcar down Foster, as the city is theoretically planning to.

But even if the city narrowed Foster’s auto travel lanes to 10 feet, the street wouldn’t have the eight feet required for a separated bike lane.

As for a Hawthorne-style bike-pedestrian sidewalk, Leclerc said that’d require narrowing the pedestrian space to just five feet and winding the bikeway so frequently that even bike advocates who saw the plan didn’t like it.

City traffic studies show that Foster has great potential as a bike corridor, in part because it cuts such an efficient diagonal between the city center and the relatively lower-cost neighborhoods of Lents and Foster-Powell. Simply striping a bike lane onto the street would cause bike traffic on the corridor to jump 58 percent to 1,900 riders per day, city engineers calculate. (That compares to about 22,000 autos per day, a number that isn’t expected to change dramaticallly whatever the city does.)

Many people who showed up at Tuesday’s open house were enthusiastic about buffered bike lanes, and frustrated with the current four-lane alignment. Here’s a detail shot with a representative sampling of comments:

Many comments endorsed good bike facilities on Foster.

“As a very confident cyclist, I don’t need bike lanes for me, ever,” Vivian Satterfield, an East Portland transportation advocate whose day job is with OPAL Environmental Justice Oregon, said Tuesday night. “That’s not to say I don’t see a benefit for the most vulnerable users.”

People who say that East Portland doesn’t need bike lanes because few East Portlanders ride bikes, she said, “aren’t riding bikes in East Portland.”

Also at issue is the lack of pedestrian space east of 82nd Avenue, where the Foster Road sidewalks are only five feet wide.

“The sidewalks in East Portland suck ass, and we’re not doing anything about that,” said local resident Nick Falbo. “We have the opportunity to change that.”

Cora Potter, another local who serves on the Lents Urban Renewal Advisory Committee, pointed out that the city’s data clearly show that the most Foster road crashes happen near 82nd Avenue — but the plans presented Tuesday would spend most of the money west of 80th.

Bike and pedestrian crashes are most common near 82nd Avenue.

“I think the perception is that Lents wants speeding cars and lots of auto lanes, and that’s not really the case,” Potter said. “The process is being driven by folks who live west of 82nd, and they’re leaving us with what we have.”

It’s a lack of money, according to Falbo, that is forcing the city to choose between on-street auto parking and separated bikeways. Moving street curbs is very expensive.

“It would be awesome to get a cycletrack, but it all comes down to whether we’re willing to move that curb,” said Falbo. “Foster has a lot of space. If we can do this anywhere, it should be Foster, right?”

The Foster streetscape planning continues, and the options presented Tuesday weren’t a final list: there’s room for more changes. For more information on the plan, including the full set of posters on display Tuesday, see the project website. To express support for one part of the plan or another or other suggestions, write project manager Mauricio Leclerc:

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. Also, if you comment frequently, please consider holding your thoughts so that others can step forward. Thank you — Jonathan

  • Mark P June 6, 2013 at 2:48 pm

    It should be noted that “suck ass” is a technical transportation term!

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    • ScottB June 7, 2013 at 9:41 am

      Meanwhile, if you were to combine those 10 feet in the middle turn lane with the bike space you’d have 22-28 feet to work with (10+18 or 10+12). 22-28 feet in the middle of Foster for a bike rapid transit median could also have trees for shade and left turn pockets at regular intervals for the major crossings or auto u-turns to access commercial properties. Medians are one of nine proven safety measures identified by the FHWA to make roads safer. The median also becomes pedestrian refuge crossings at every minor intersection along Foster, another of the nine proven safety measures (road diets are another).
      Jonathan, how to I post a graphic?

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  • Craig Harlow June 6, 2013 at 3:08 pm

    Lord. Even the best scenario above is what we’re hoping to move away from, or perhaps better put–evolve beyond. This is a big project and it’s likely PBOT won’t take another look at this road for a very long time to come.

    Is there not a big enough vision to address the ROW width to accommodate a grade-separated or bollard-separated cycle track?

    If not, then how about sharrowing the outside traffic lanes and forgoing bike lanes altogher? This would fit the prescribed use of sharrows, and I think it’s a treatment that Portland is sorely in need of–potentially along roads like Foster, Sandy, NE Broadway/Weidler, etc., where ROW won’t be widened, and businesses won’t submit to parking removal.

    I know 35 MPH speeds are probably too high to be compatible with a sharrow treatment, so lowering speeds would likely be required (along with advisory signage, a la St. Johns Bridge).

    Even if that idea is half-baked, can someone with (1) some vision and (2) some sway please come to the table and get our evolution back on track? (ahem, Mr. Novick)

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    • Spiffy June 6, 2013 at 4:11 pm

      E 4th Plain Blvd in Vancouver is 4 lanes with a center turn lane and sharrows in the outer lanes… I wouldn’t bike on that road if I wasn’t already in the brave and fearless crowd… you’d never get an interested but concerned person out there…

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    • davemess June 7, 2013 at 7:25 am

      It’s not an issue of vision. It’s an issue of money and people’s interest. Many people at the meetings have dismissed the cycletrack option (myself included).

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      • Nick Falbo June 7, 2013 at 9:50 am

        To be fair, the cycle track option presented was more of a “how do we design a cycle track on the cheap.” It had major issues, and it didn’t take advantage of the true possibilities of Foster.

        I think a good cycle track design could be proposed, but that was certainly not it.

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        • Cora Potter June 7, 2013 at 11:19 am

          They presented a crappy execution of the cycletrack option because they wanted to convince the committee to reject it. I even sent them 94″ ROW schemes from a project in Dehli that would work perfectly and they wouldn’t even consider them because it involved moving the curb in ways that aren’t standard (and probably because it involved moving the curb at all).

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          • Paul in the 'couve June 13, 2013 at 5:01 pm

            So essentially (SOP) the project was scoped in such a way from the get go that any option of doing something really good was ruled out?

            There was predetermined “no money to move power poles” and “no money to move curbs” even for a shorter stretch?

            Sounds a lot like the CRC… here are options we will let you consider….

            You can have “crap sandwich” or a “giant douche” thanks Cartman and Kyle.

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          • wsbob June 14, 2013 at 12:21 am

            Several, practical cycle-track configurations for Foster, with some rough cost estimates, ought to be at least be drafted and put on the table, so people have something to make a legitimate comparison to the make-do choices PBOT apparently finds itself compelled to leave people in the area with.

            Whatever the project, there’s always somebody that’s going to come up with a dozen excuses for why a, to them, off-beat, unconventional, difficult, more expensive idea shouldn’t be seriously considered; and in so doing, they can sometimes stop further discussion of such ideas. Creative advances towards constructive transportation congestion resolution are at stake here.

            If the city and its residents are seriously interested in ever realizing an example of relatively close-in bike infrastructure that will draw the 8-80 group…riders ranging in ages from eight yrs old to eighty yrs old…for a thoroughfare like Foster, serious consideration of a distance separated cycle-track is essential.

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      • Craig Harlow June 7, 2013 at 10:36 am

        davemess, I see what you mean.

        However, I don’t mean “vision” strictly in relation to design concepts.

        I mean “vision” exactly in relation to the funding of significant construction projects. That’s the kind of vision that I want our civic leaders to acquire and espouse. That’s the kind of vision I want donation-driving advocacy groups to the champion fearlessly.

        That’s the kind of vision that I mean.

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        • davemess June 7, 2013 at 12:44 pm

          True. I agree, but I think the time to act is when electing people, not just jumping from project to project and hoping they will eventually listen.

          I think we want the same things though.

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  • Craig Harlow June 6, 2013 at 3:12 pm

    Can we get big-dollar construction interests to get politically behind the kind of full-scale roadway makeovers that are needed in cases like this, in the same way they’re behind the dumb-bunny CRC?

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  • spare_wheel June 6, 2013 at 3:12 pm

    Regardless of which option they choose (and I hope its the buffered lane) the speed limit on Foster should be lowered. IMO, Portland needs a sane maximum speed limit.

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    • jeff June 6, 2013 at 3:35 pm

      I live in this area and have attending most of the community meetings about the proposed designs. Everyone is telling the city to lower the speed limits..and they really don’t seem to be listening that well.

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      • davemess June 7, 2013 at 10:52 am

        Really, I’ve been to four of the meetings and I think I only heard speed limits mentioned once (and I think it was by me!)

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      • Cora Potter June 7, 2013 at 11:21 am

        Most of us are aware that the city doesn’t lower the speed limit, ODOT does in response to changes in the street engineering that reduce the 85% percentile speeds.

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        • spare_wheel June 7, 2013 at 1:53 pm

          ODOT has a consultative role, not a decision making role. Moreover, given the completely unnecessary carnage and death on Foster I don’t think PBOT would have any problem lowering the speed limit.

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          • Unit June 7, 2013 at 8:35 pm

            Nope. ODOT sets speed limits statewide via the OR Speed Board. Even on city streets. Totally illogical, but welcome to OR.

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          • spare_wheel June 8, 2013 at 3:39 pm

            the speed zone board is an independent board that has nothing to do with ODOT.

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    • Spiffy June 6, 2013 at 4:13 pm

      “20 is plenty” should be for every street in the city that isn’t a freeway…

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      • davemess June 7, 2013 at 7:27 am

        I’m sorry, I ride a bike 95% of the time, but 20mph on arterials is just silly, and you’re going to get maybe 1% of the population to go along with that. They’re arterials for a reason: You want to encourage cars to drive on them.

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        • "Fake Cyclist", apparently June 7, 2013 at 9:22 am

          Umm . . . yeah . . . I’m going to have to sort of . . . disagree with you, there.

          It works in many cities all over the world with streets similarly-sized to Portland’s. Arterials are where the majority of injuries and deaths occur. Whenever speed limits are lowered and enforced on arterial roads, traffic fatalities and injuries drop dramatically.

          35mph+ on streets with a lot of foot traffic is pretty dangerous. A lot of these kinds of streets have on-street parking, too. So we not only have vehicles routinely traveling 40mph down crowded corridors, but the visibility of pedestrians and other vehicles is obstructed by parked cars (frequently parked within 20 feet of an intersection, which is really dangerous and illegal).

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          • davemess June 7, 2013 at 9:30 am

            I’m just saying that sitting in on these meetings, it has been enough of a contentious issue to even get to the point where can actually discuss a lane reduction. A reduction of speed limit from 35 to 20, would be a complete nonstarter.
            And as someone who also occasionally drives on Foster, I don’t want it going to 20 either. 30 would seem more reasonable to me. Again, what would distinguish an areterial from an any other street if the speed limits are the same (and 20 is not even the speed limit for many other non-arterial streets). The point of the arterial is to get people off the other surface streets.

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            • Cora Potter June 7, 2013 at 11:23 am

              Well, based on the information that came from PBOT’s “ooops we undercounted” analysis that was emailed the day before the open house…the average speed on Foster will be 14 mph by 2035 if the auto lanes are reduced.

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              • Cora Potter June 7, 2013 at 11:24 am

                Just to put that in perspective – the average speed in Downtown Portland is 12.5 mph. I avoid Downtown Portland as much as possible when driving.

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              • Nick Falbo June 7, 2013 at 11:56 am

                The 14 mph number is a corridor average that includes time waiting at signalized intersections such as 82nd. You can expect the actual speed of moving cars to be significantly higher.

                As an example, note that “average corridor travel speed” today is 19 mph, while the vehicles are moving at 35mph.

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              • ScottB June 7, 2013 at 1:22 pm

                Modern roundabouts are another way to reduce delay at intersections. The FHWA has a video about modern roundabouts that is mostly accurate ( ).

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              • BURR June 10, 2013 at 3:25 pm

                I doubt 14 MPH is the projected 85th percentile speed on Foster, but would guess that 14 MPH on Foster is projected to be the peak (i.e. ‘rush’) hour speed; the other 18-20 hours of the day volumes are appreciably less and speeds appreciably higher.

                If you’re a traffic engineer, you design for those 4-6 peak hours, and engineers freak out when their models show low speeds and congestion, because that means they aren’t maintaining a high enough ‘level of service’ for motorists.

                Unfortunately, there are no such ‘level of service’ considerations for cyclists, nor are cyclists easily included in the traffic models.

                Plus the engineers have to make assumptions about future traffic volumes that could be completely wrong. What if, for example, a lane was removed to provide facilities for cyclists, and cycling increased exponentially while motor vehicle use declined significantly? Without modeling for this alternate scenario, they don’t have a clue. Have they modeled an alternative scenario like that? I don’t know, but I tend to doubt that they have; if not, someone should really insist that they do so.

                So I would take all this with a grain of salt, because it sounds like the PBOT traffic engineers are freaking out over Foster the same way they freaked out about SE Hawthorne 15 years ago, which is why there are still no bike facilities on the two-way section of SE Hawthorne from SE 12th to SE 50th today.

                Remember that, despite all the political and upper management changes at the City and PBOT, pretty much the exact same engineering managers that were in control at PBOT then are still in control now.

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      • whyat June 7, 2013 at 11:25 am

        20 mph is way too slow for a road like Foster. If you want to make 99% of SE Foster Rd users criminals, lower the speed to 20mph. This is coming from someone who bikes every day and lived a block off Foster for over 4 years.

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    • John Lascurettes June 6, 2013 at 4:35 pm

      The problem is you can’t just post a lower speed limit and expect people to heed it (even with enforcement). The street is engineered such that it encourages the speed. Without doing something beyond just restriping it, I don’t think you’ll ever get the majority of drivers to mellow out on SE Foster.

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      • spare_wheel June 6, 2013 at 6:31 pm

        Speed cameras are a revenue generator in europe…

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  • John Liu
    John Liu June 6, 2013 at 3:20 pm

    How about a three-lane Foster Road, but with the bike lane next to the curb and the car parking between the travel lane and the bike lane, with a narrow raised curb physically separating the parking from the bike lane.

    This creates a separate bike lane and retains street parking.

    There is still the problem of doors opening into the bike lane, but since most cars are occupied by only the driver, it is a much reduced problem.

    Eventually, if need and budget coincide, the bike lane can be elevated in the same location, which would allow it to have a bit of extra width.

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    • Michael Andersen (News Editor)
      Michael Andersen (News Editor) June 6, 2013 at 3:25 pm

      Here’s what Falbo (who also serves on a committee related to the plan) said about that: “there just isn’t quite enough room. The minimum dimension needed for a cycle track is 8 ft (5 ft + 3ft door zone). If a lane of parking were removed, or if the curb-line was reconfigured, then we could make it happen.”

      You may have a point about the right-door zone being less dangerous than a left-door zone, but if you assume he’s right about the space required, Falbo’s right that there isn’t enough: you can do the math looking at the cross-sections marked above with the orange “W.”

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      • Pliny June 6, 2013 at 3:53 pm

        What if the cycletrack was in the middle of the road instead of buffered?

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        • Paul June 6, 2013 at 4:43 pm

          Why not put diagonal parking in the middle of the road and lower the speed limit? Have some open spaces for occasional middle turn lane and there should still be room for a cycle track.

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        • Paul June 6, 2013 at 4:49 pm

          Similar to this middle parking idea, only 1 parking lane in the middle, accessible by both sides, and no parking in the right lane – except bikes:

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          • Cora Potter June 7, 2013 at 11:30 am

            That’s called a Ramblas design and I’ve seen it implemented in California. It works pretty well as long as you have a strong up to the property line series of buildings. It would work well on Foster between 63rd and 65th, as well as between 84th and 87th. I think the other factor is it has to be raised in grade somewhat and have a scoring pattern on concrete or brick pavers – for the full effect.

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      • Kris June 6, 2013 at 11:16 pm

        So why is it that we need more buffer when dooring is less likely to send a cyclist flying into the midst of traffic than when it’s only likely to send her onto the grass or sidewalk? I’m also curious why we can’t use the 12ft of bike lane space for a 2-way cycle track with 2 5ft lanes and a 2ft buffer even without moving a curb.

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  • Nick Falbo June 6, 2013 at 3:21 pm

    The Foster Rd. bikeways will be presented/discussed at the June Bicycle Advisory Committee. It is a great place to hear more about the project, and potentially ask some questions.

    Next Tuesday, June 11th. 6 p.m.
    City Hall (1221 SW 4th Avenue), Lovejoy Room

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    • davemess June 7, 2013 at 10:58 am

      Nick thanks for all your hard work on the SAC. I know we don’t totally see eye to eye on the cycletrack idea, but you’ve been an invaluable asset to the committee and we all appreciate your service.

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  • Justin June 6, 2013 at 3:27 pm

    There is plenty of room for plenty of options on Foster. You don’t need a turn lane for the entire stretch of it, for example, and can bump parking where you do need it. Some intersections already don’t allow left turns and others probably shouldn’t because they’re not safe. Not everywhere needs parking on both sides of the street, either. The Gateway District stretch doesn’t have it, even though it could merit more parking, and other areas could do with less parking.
    Between turn lanes and parking, you’d more than cover a shy zone or door zone or faux cycle track.

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  • Chris Mealy June 6, 2013 at 3:31 pm

    With a proper cycle track and underground utilities you could make that sidewalk a lot narrower and it would be more pleasant that it is now. Also, those trees could go. Move them to the center of the street where they’ll slow down drivers.

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    • jeff June 6, 2013 at 3:36 pm

      Keep in mind there are quite limited funds for the first phases of this project.

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      • Nick Falbo June 6, 2013 at 3:53 pm

        Jeff – you raise an interesting point. Would it be possible to design a street that can have painted bike lanes today, and still allow for modifications later to create a better bikeway in the future?

        The project does involve installing street lights, trees, and other new streetscape elements. Perhaps we can install them in such a way that will let us upgrade the bikeway later without having to undo all of the work we do in phase 1.

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    • Granpa June 6, 2013 at 5:12 pm

      When you say trees can go you eliminate a feature that has both aesthetic and functional value. For pedestrians, which cyclists also are, the shade on a sidewalk, is important. The reflected heat and light mitigated by shade trees make sidewalk users experience much more pleasant. The shade also benefits salmon which are listed species by keeping runoff cooler during rain events. Thermal pollution is a real thing. The obvious environmental benefits of trees in the urban area are that they physically intercept particulate pollutants produce oxygen and sequester carbon. If you really think trees are ornaments with no value there will be words. On top of that there are street tree requirements that would take a serious (and knowledgeable ) argument to overcome. Finally, look at the Foster streetscape… It needs the beauty and grace that trees bring to a neighborhood.

      Cycling can be accommodated without eliminating trees.

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      • wsbob June 6, 2013 at 6:26 pm

        Existing trees can be taken down…new trees located nearby to provide room for needed infrastructure, can be planted to replace them. Too bad moving utilities isn’t as easy as taking down and replanting trees.

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        • granpa June 6, 2013 at 6:41 pm

          @ wsbob-Agreed, Trees can be replaced. Eliminating them is wrong in many ways

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  • BURR June 6, 2013 at 3:55 pm

    What’s wrong with a six foot bike lane? That’s wider than almost all existing bike lanes in the city and way more than most arterials have on them, which is nothing.

    The people who insist on buffered cycle tracks should lower their expectations just a bit and we’d all be better off.

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    • davemess June 7, 2013 at 9:34 am

      Amen Burr. We’ve had this debate at a few of the meetings. Most pedestrian/neighbors don’t want bikes on the sidewalk, as that is one of the things they like the most about the area. Many cyclists (myself included) don’t want a cyclepath on the sidewalk, due to safety (against pedestrians and autos at intersections), speed, and just general flow of the area. And using the Hawthorne bridge is a great example, how many times have people on here complained about the crazy dangerous things that happen on the Hawthorne on a daily basis? I don’t really think this is the model we should be looking to emulate.

      I agree that a sidewalk cyclepath may get more families and the interested, but concerned crowd out riding on Foster. But with all the issues a cyclepath presents I just don’t think Foster is the place for it.

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      • BURR June 10, 2013 at 3:30 pm

        And a neighborhood cycle path on the sidewalk would be just about useless for commuters or anyone wanting to cover longer distances faster. Besides, it’s already legal to cycle on the sidewalk in that part of town.

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        • davemess June 10, 2013 at 3:50 pm

          Which frankly is one the things some of us are trying to encourage people to stop doing.

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    • Alex Reed June 7, 2013 at 10:33 am

      That’s the same width as the bike lane on Hawthorne between Grand and SE 12th. That bike lane is still stressful and encourages door-zone riding. It’s not somewhere I would take a ten-year-old on their own bike, nor my sixty-year-old mom. Six-foot bike lanes on Foster would allow most people who currently bike for transportation to use Foster. But it would do very little to expand the set of people who see bicycling as a comfortable and viable option for them. I think expanding the set of people who bike for transportation in Portland is extremely important, which is why I’m pushing for a separated bikeway.

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      • davemess June 7, 2013 at 12:20 pm

        You mean the downhill section of Hawthorne that is three lanes of one directional traffic? WIth a ton of right hook opportunities? I don’t really think that comparison is fair. Yes, Foster with bike lanes will probably not be the place to teach someone to ride a bicycle, but what’s wrong with setting up some bike arterials in addition to neighborhood greenways.

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        • Alex Reed June 7, 2013 at 1:35 pm

          I don’t think anything’s *wrong* with adding bike lanes! A bike lane would sure be better than the nothing we have now, and a buffered bike lane better than that! I just think a cycle track would be even better and I want to see the City at least show one as an option to the public.

          I think those of us in the neighborhood who favor better bike facilities are in danger of fighting among ourselves rather than spending our time putting our opinions out there to the wider community. I respect those who are doing the hard work of trying to hash out a workable compromise between all parties. I haven’t been there for all those conversations and I know that. But I think there’s also a role for people who will keep on asking for bike facilities that the majority of Portlanders would feel comfortable using.

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          • BURR June 10, 2013 at 3:41 pm

            A sidewalk cycle track would absolutely not serve commuters or other transportation riders. Go ahead, put a sidewalk cycle track in; but also provide in-road facilities for those cyclists who want them.

            BTW, which do you think will get installed first, an inexpensive striping scheme, or a much more expensive hard-scape cycle track, and which do you think has a lower environmental impact to construct, a couple hundred gallons of paint vs. hundreds of cubic yards of cement or asphalt? (Hint – cement manufacturing is extremely energy intensive and asphalt is, well, an oil product).

            It is a disservice to all cyclists who would be well-served by a striped in-road bike lane TODAY, to delay doing so in the hopes of providing a much more expensive, less utilitarian, and potentially more hazard-prone facility at some vague future date, provided funding can be obtained and everyone who wants in on the ‘process’ can agree on a final design.

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    • ScottB June 7, 2013 at 10:35 am

      1,000 vehicles per hour during the peak, going 35+ mph, maybe.

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  • Jim Lee June 6, 2013 at 4:08 pm

    I do not know where you live, Michael, but Foster has just about the widest ROW in Portland, including two 12 foot plus sidewalks that presently are the only safe places to ride.

    Nothing in the drawings exhibits utilization of the full ROW, and PBOT is not going to produce something worth having until the FULL sidewalk widths on both sides of Foster are made inherent in the design.

    Why are these sidewalks sacredly conserved in their present configuration? We could do tremendous good for all modes of travel with complete, thoughtful, pragmatic design that incorporates them as vital elements. In fact, THE DESIGN SHOULD CENTER ON THE SIDEWALKS!

    Worse yet is the problem caused by Foster’s diagonality. It is necessary for cyclists to check SIX incident directions at nearly every intersection. I see no evidence that the designers were even aware of this.

    And by the way, trees never should be planted near a bike lane. They make for pretty drawings, but dreadful riding.

    All in all, I am consumed with great sorrow by the nearly complete absence of anything resembling normal human intelligence in these presentations. But I am happy to have misplaced my yellow flyer announcing Tuesday’s meeting, and so by not attending avoided amplification of great melancholy.

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    • Nick Falbo June 6, 2013 at 4:22 pm

      “Why are these sidewalks sacredly conserved?”

      It’s because of the immense cost necessary to relocate telephone poles, drainage and other utilities that comes into play when the edge of the sidewalk is moved.

      This process is updating a plan from 2003. The neighborhoods have waited a decade to finally start seeing the possibility of funding for the project, and there is concern that adding $4 million to the cost of the project will delay it that much longer.

      I agree with you though. To truly make the best Foster possible, we should be looking from building face to building face, and making the best use of the entire right of way.

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    • wsbob June 6, 2013 at 4:51 pm

      ” “Why are these sidewalks sacredly conserved?” Jim Lee

      It’s because of the immense cost necessary to relocate telephone poles, drainage and other utilities that comes into play when the edge of the sidewalk is moved. …” Falbo

      So, the possibly right way to do the project is outright dismissed, with the end result likely to become another piece of mediocre infrastructure that many people won’t use because they don’t cotton to riding right alongside motor vehicles. An aversion to making serious investment in active transportation infrastructure may be why the U.S. seems to be slow in beginning to create at least some of the types of cycle tracks common to Amsterdam that are so idolized here in comments to bikeportland.

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    • Michael Andersen (News Editor)
      Michael Andersen (News Editor) June 6, 2013 at 4:59 pm

      I think the other folks are replying to you as well as I could, Jim, but for anyone who’s curious, I live near NE 65th and Glisan.

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    • Granpa June 6, 2013 at 5:14 pm

      Trees make for dreadful riding?????????????

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      • Granpa June 6, 2013 at 5:17 pm

        [sarc] I hate riding through Ladds Edition or Irvington. Those trees are dispicable [sarc off]

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    • davemess June 7, 2013 at 10:50 am

      Also it should be mentioned that the development of sidewalk space for businesses has been brought up a number of times as a reason to keep the sidewalks their current width.
      Personally I believe this isn’t just a project about bike accessibility, but potentially more importantly about pedestrian safety and Foster commercial development (both of which are benefited by wider sidewalks).

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      • jeff June 7, 2013 at 2:17 pm

        You’re correct..the city is attempting to draw in the “right” businesses to the area and there is a lot of potential if they do it right. It could be a potentially great corridor. Bike access is not the top priority, as much as pedestrian use, but there are many overlalpping factors in those two goals.

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  • wsbob June 6, 2013 at 4:19 pm

    “…It’s a lack of money, according to Falbo, that is forcing the city to choose between on-street auto parking and separated bikeways. Moving street curbs is very expensive.

    “It would be awesome to get a cycletrack, but it all comes down to whether we’re willing to move that curb,” said Falbo/quoted in bikeportland

    Creating more room in part by moving the curb to allow for a separate cycle track, sounds to be the right way to accomplish the objective of a safer, more functional street that many people feel the need for. At least, it would be worth getting some numbers representing what such an expense might be.

    If that 8 block section of Foster between 72nd and 80th…with a cycle track…would happen to provide a well needed connection to points within the neighborhood, that could be a strong argument in favor of somehow overcoming the obstacles and raising some additional funds to create a cycle track there.

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  • Joseph E June 6, 2013 at 5:29 pm

    We could keep the parking and still have room for a cycletrack if we eliminate the center turn lane. In the wider stretches there is room for an 8.5 foot cycletrack (minimum dutch standard), 8 foot parking, 11 foot lane on each side, and in the narrow parts there is room for that if there is only parking on one side.

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    • Zach June 7, 2013 at 12:55 am

      A two-lane arterial without a turn lane would either require lights at every intersection or be in near-constant gridlock, with long lines of drivers behind folks waiting to make a left turn across a busy lane of oncoming traffic. It’s a non-starter.

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      • davemess June 7, 2013 at 10:06 am

        exactly, I don’t think most on here are realizing what a hurrdle it is just to get a lane reduction down to three lanes. Down to two lanes is a whole other level of reduction, that would likely face even more opposition.

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        • jeff June 7, 2013 at 2:19 pm

          If they’re going to 3 lanes, they will desperately need Trimet pull outs or buses will clog traffic flow badly. another consideration when mixing 3 or 4 types of transportation modes…

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          • davemess June 7, 2013 at 4:19 pm

            The turning lane could work to do this (if they position the bus stops well).

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            • Cora Potter June 8, 2013 at 10:19 am

              Except, legally, the turning lane is not a passing lane.

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  • BoogieWoogieB June 6, 2013 at 5:47 pm

    Why does it all have to come down to what is best for the bikes? The sidewalks are fine in size and most comfortable for pedestrians AND bikes. They just need a boob job, but the sidewalks are already there and just fine.

    The speed limit needs to go down to 30 mph. More traffic lights are necessary, the sidewalks need some beautification (trees, benches, lights, etc…), and the property owners need incentives to improve the condition of their buildings. This will make a better pedestrian friendly Foster.

    There’s plenty of room for bikes. A bike lane should be sufficient. Streets are designed for automobiles, sidewalks are designed for pedestrians AND bikes, and bike lanes are solely designed for bikes. Each person has their designated space per their mode of transportation. Now let’s move forward with bringing Foster out of the Portland slums!

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    • gl. June 7, 2013 at 1:34 pm

      “The sidewalks are fine in size and most comfortable for pedestrians AND bikes.” not in my experience! it’s barely enough for one person, especially when a pole is set into the sidewalk. add a bike and it’s terrifying. i hate being on the sidewalk but if i have to, i want to treat pedestrians w/ respect. on foster sidewalks that’s impossible.

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  • Jim Lee June 6, 2013 at 8:51 pm

    Trees obstruct sightlines, create high contrast patterns of light and dark, drop slippery sap and leaves, and break pavement.

    Psuedotsuga taxifolia is my favorite plant, but that did not stop a juvenile specimen shadowing a 4 inch high double hump root bump on the Vernonia trail from pitching me 15 feet over the bars and into my one and only ambulance ride.

    The money argument is completely phony. Bikes move many more people than Portland Streetcar, but that did not stop Charlie Hales, Michael Powell, Rick Gufaston, Chris Smith from blowing $150 million on the wholly dysfunctional eastside streetcar. (Not entirely true; it does function to crash cyclists.) Imagine what $150 million could have done for improving Portland’s streets for EVERYONE. Start with SW Main from 1st to 3rd.

    PBOT has a very mixed record on accommodating cyclists. Green paint, white stripes, bollards, planters are about the limit of its cognizance. Cheap’s the word! Read Jonathan’s posts from Denmark and Holland to see how bad we really are. Steve Novick needs to clean house.

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    • wsbob June 6, 2013 at 11:56 pm

      “…Psuedotsuga taxifolia is my favorite plant…” Jim Lee

      ‘Tish!…That’s Latin!!’ (apologies to Gomez Addams). Oregon favorites, Doug Fir’s is mighty big plants.

      “…Cheap’s the word! …” Jim Lee

      Where it comes to bike infrastructure, the city’s efforts can leave that impression. The city, if not necessarily for a better reason at the moment than it being an experimental working prototype, should make an effort to build at least one, first class Amsterdam style separated cycle track from an inner neighborhood to downtown. Or, build one in Beaverton. People would love out here if there was one.

      People like to make all kinds of fun of the WES interurban rail oddity Trimet built. If it didn’t work out quite right, ridicule of a Portland cycle-track probably wouldn’t be much worse, and the cost to build and maintain may be a bit less than that for WES.

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      • davemess June 7, 2013 at 10:45 am

        Problem is that Foster is not an inner Portland neighborhood. And many around it don’t want a cycletrack. I mean we just had a huge debate on here not three weeks ago about the merits of cycletracks, with no major concensus.

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        • wsbob June 8, 2013 at 10:45 pm

          Close-in neighborhoods for Portland, I suppose, would be within 2-3 miles from Downtown, everything from Downtown to about to 52nd. I-205 is about 6 miles from Downtown via Foster and Powell,. Foster at 52nd…a couple blocks from where Foster intersects with Powell, is about two and a quarter, two and a half miles from Downtown.

          In other words, the 2-3 mile section of Foster in question, is mostly just outside that 2-3 mile distance from Downtown; 2-3 mile distance generally being the trip length considered by the Amsterdam folks, that many people are likely to use their bike for transportation.

          While on this basis I would agree then, that neighborhoods along this section of Foster, aren’t close-in neighborhoods in the sense of being easy to attract the 2-3 mile type of rider, this section of Foster is so close to that 2-3 mile distance from Downtown, that it gives the cycle-track idea some merit.

          And of course, a cycle track paralleling Foster, may be very beneficial to people making bike trips within the section of Foster between 52nd and I-205. Neighborhoods to either side of Foster’s diagonal path through the city, have not been equipped with continuous secondary streets paralleling Foster, streets that could serve as bike route alternatives to Foster.

          No surprise that many people in the area don’t want cycle-tracks on Foster. In setting out on new ideas that present significant obstacles, or run counter to the convention people are comfortable with, that’s a common reaction. How important it is to keep a relatively radical…for our area…idea like cycle-tracks and suspended bike bridges in people’s minds, is who it is it’s hoped will ride the completed project. Even a three lane configuration with painted bike lanes would be more supportive of biking than the current configuration is, but if it’s people anxious about riding alongside motor vehicles that is hoped for, the cycle-track is probably the ticket.

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          • davemess June 10, 2013 at 3:47 pm

            Bob, you’d be hard pressed to find many who actually live in Portland putting the dividing line of inner east side way out to 52nd. 39th at the furthest.

            This example was not due to people being afraid. We saw the presented design and didn’t like it. There are many who post on this website who are VERY familiar with cycletracks and still don’t think they’re an effective infrastructure (not to mention the added expense).

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    • Granpa June 7, 2013 at 9:01 am

      @ Jim Lee
      “Trees obstruct sightlines, create high contrast patterns of light and dark, drop slippery sap and leaves, and break pavement.”
      I sorry you hit a bump and got pitched off your bike. but if you couldn’t see a bump capable of throwing you 15′ you might have been riding at a pace beyond what was safe and prudent, or not paying attention. It is not the tree’s fault you crashed.

      Tree planting guidlines account for sitelines. Patterns of light and dark: most people dislike urban settings with no shade. Trees are characteristic to this region ….Welcome to Oregon. Current best thinking on planting urban street trees includes the use of root barriers that protect pavement. and regarding your notion that trees deposit lubricating slicks of sap….BS!

      OH and by the way, Pseudotsuga taxifolia is not the accepted latin name for Douglas fir. Pseudotsuga menziesii is correct, named after Archebald Menzies the scientist on the Vancouver expeditions.

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      • wsbob June 7, 2013 at 9:45 am

        “…Tree planting guidlines account for sitelines. …” Grandpa

        Portland city code? Whose guidelines? Coming to mind are a couple examples in Beaverton, in which the design review people allowed trees planted in the planting strip between curb and sidewalk, to block cross-street road users view of oncoming traffic. Barely can see up the road past the tree trunks without nudging into the intersection and craning one’s neck forward to see if the way is clear: Millikan Way eastbound at Hall Blvd (near Bike Gallery).

        Trees in the city are great, but sometimes, responsibility used in their siting to sustain critical sight-lines, goes out the window, for various reasons; I’d guess…determination to not sacrifice any more land than absolutely necessary, land property owners intend to be used for parking or other business related activity, is one of those reasons.

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    • davemess June 7, 2013 at 10:36 am

      This is a perfect example of not dealing with reality. Yes I think almost all of us on this site would agree that we wished way more money was spent on bike infrastructure. We wish more could be spent on this Foster project. But the bottom line is this is the money available and I’d much rather see SOME improvement to Foster (the addition of buffered or not bike lanes, lane reductions, ped. crossings), than just continuing to pout and rant about how we’re not getting enough funding.

      I would encourage all on this blog to attend some of these types of meetings and see the other opinions and constraints (physical and financial) that are out there (I know many already do). Likely it will change your perspective a bit. Might also change the narrative of “well they do this all the time in other countries”. And yes the city needs dreamers, big thinkers, and progressive projects. But not EVERY project in Portland is going to be able to accommodate. And frankly I’d rather see ANY improvement on Foster than hold out for pie in the sky and continue on with the same broken street that we currently have (note: my sticky is on the far left in the picture, saying Foster is broken).

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  • Alexis June 6, 2013 at 9:52 pm

    Is the center turn lane required? I usually see that on 4-3 conversions, but maybe more limited turns would be a better choice, as others have suggested.

    And seriously, money is not the issue. I want to hear PBOT stop getting away with that excuse. Don’t accept it and don’t quote it. Political will to reconfigure the street is the issue (including looking at options to remove parking). Living up to our plans is the issue. Making the street not suck ass for everyone but cars is the issue (thank you Nick!).

    The buffer configuration seems fine to me — Portland’s cycletracks so far are not very well implemented, and I’d rather see good stripes than bad concrete put down. But unbuffered 6′ lanes next to parking on an arterial are not 8-80 stuff.

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    • davemess June 7, 2013 at 10:43 am

      Not required, but due to the volume of traffic on Foster (which will be beyond predicted capacity with a three lane configuration, causing the contentious issue of neighborhood spill over), it will still increase capacity over a straight up two lane configuration (which has never really been considered to my knowledge).

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    • spare_wheel June 9, 2013 at 9:49 pm

      the buffered bike lane option is not flanked by parking.

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  • John Liu
    John Liu June 6, 2013 at 10:17 pm

    Perhaps if the physically separated, curbside bike lane was in the opposite direction to the parked cars? Car passengers would see oncoming cyclists, better than cyclists approaching from behind, before opening doors. Similarly drivers would see oncoming cyclists, better than cyclists riding behind them, when making right turns.

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  • Psyfalcon June 6, 2013 at 10:21 pm

    Why do we need to maintain car access? You can drive down Powell and 82nd at 35 (+) mph. Leave the diagonal street for the bikes who don’t often exceed 15 mph.

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  • John Liu
    John Liu June 6, 2013 at 10:50 pm

    You know, most of the businesses on this part of Foster have off street parking. The street parking is hardly used. I think the street parking should be removed (mostly removed – see below) and a proper, physically separated cycle track installed. Leave a short section of street parking (5 or so car spaces) in each block, have the cycle track shift closer to the buildings, and the sidewalk narrower, at those residual parking sections. Locate those parking sections to minimize relocation of poles, trees, etc. The cycle track will be sinuous rather than dead straight, but that’s fine, and maybe better or more pleasant to ride.

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    • davemess June 7, 2013 at 10:38 am

      The study showed that parking is underutilized on almost all of Foster, which is why they have some of the proposals, that only have parking on one side of the street.

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      • Justin June 7, 2013 at 10:54 am

        There really is a lot of space between the existing curbs. The only three-lane configuration in which there isn’t enough room for buffered bike lanes is the one with parking on both sides. You gain 8 feet for each parking strip you reallocate, and 10 feet for each spot where the turn lane goes away (the bigger intersections).

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        • davemess June 7, 2013 at 4:22 pm

          Good points. I should say that Michael didn’t mention that there are multiple segments of Foster that are being done and they all have different widths. So the entirety of the project will not look exactly the same.

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  • Alex Reed June 7, 2013 at 6:05 am

    I emailed Mauricio and cc’ed Steve Novick. I’m tired of the City giving lip service to a high cycling mode share but not following up with the kind of infrastructure that will make the average citizen comfortable cycling. Let’s at least see a better option for Foster, then we can push for action!

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  • AndyC of Linnton June 7, 2013 at 6:23 am
  • Dave June 7, 2013 at 7:26 am

    Why are our law enforcement agencies so timid about speed trapping, cameras, etc.? What would it take to separate automobile use from protections of the US Constitution and Bill of Rights? Drivers need to feel fear of law enforcement to obey laws. I don’t care if another meter of road is ever striped for a bike lane–driver behavior has to be changed and police power is the only thing that will do it.

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    • ScottB June 7, 2013 at 10:30 am

      Photo speed enforcement, by state law, must be manned by a sworn officer and are limited to two hours in a single location, e.g., mobile, not fixed.

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  • "Fake Cyclist", apparently June 7, 2013 at 9:07 am

    I can’t believe they even need to talk about parking versus a bike lane. Prioritizing space to leave large, dense pieces of private property where there should be a functional traffic lane that will actually move people is outright foolish.

    Streets are for the movement of people. Allow that to happen first, then we’ll talk about a place to leave your car.

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    • davemess June 7, 2013 at 10:41 am

      I agree with you that parking shouldn’t be a priority, but where above does it mention prioritizing parking over a bike lane? Over a BUFFERED bike lane, yes, maybe. But I have seen the planes for over 6 months now, and have never gotten the feel that parking has been prioritized over bike lanes. (The only place this kind of debate has been an issue (and it doesn’t include parking) is the east segment where it more a debate of bike lanes vs. travel auto lanes vs. expanded sidewalk).

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  • Craig Harlow June 7, 2013 at 12:12 pm

    I like the space-saving benefit of a two-way cycle track, which eliminates the need for two buffers for two separate bike lanes on two sides of the road. It could make turning maneuvers trickier, but it would allow for greater separation from auto traffic.

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  • deborah June 7, 2013 at 12:45 pm

    Foster is a fast street with plenty of parking on residential side streets both east and west of it. Why would we even be encouraging people to park on Foster? Most all the houses along Foster already have driveways, and most of the businesses have parking lots….seems like a non-issue to remove the on street parking.

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    • jeff June 7, 2013 at 2:35 pm

      wrong. most businesses on Foster do NOT have parking. Very few do actually.

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  • John Liu
    John Liu June 7, 2013 at 1:32 pm

    I enourage all of us to email our views directly to PBOT and Commissioner Novick. Here is what I sent – but whether you think is exactly the same or 180 degree different, the important thing is that you make yourself heard.

    “I am writing to give my views on the redesign of SE Foster Road in the area of 70th and 80th Aves. I support removing most street (curbside) parking and installing a physically separated cycletrack.

    In most cases, I do not support the removal of street parking in dense central city commercial districts. However, in this area of Foster Rd is more suburban in density. Almost all the businesses have off-street parking lots. Almost none of the street parking is being used.

    For example, below is an image of SE Foster between 76th and 80th Aves. You can see the ample off-street parking and the non-existent use of street parking.

    The portion of the roadway currently set aside for street parking should be converted to a cycletrack, physically separated from the travel lane by a curb and further delineated with color and markings.

    In each block, a short strip of street parking should be retained. An audit of street parking usage can guide the exact dimensions, but I think space for four to five cars per block will be enough. At those locations, the cycle track should shift outward (toward the buildings) with the sidewalk narrowed. These retained parking strips can be located to minimize the disruption to poles, utilities, sidewalk trees, drainage, etc. This will protect the few businesses that use street parking, with the added benefit of making the cyclepath slightly sinuous and more interesting.

    It may also be appropriate to convert the traffic lanes to a three-lane design (east, west, and center turn lane), to keep lanes comfortably wide enough for bus service and future streetcar service. I find that three-lane streets work just as well as four-lane streets in most of Portland, without bottlenecks caused by left-turning cars blocking a travel lane.”

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    • davemess June 7, 2013 at 4:33 pm

      John, I don’t mean to offend, but I don’t think you have a very clear grasp on this project. The project goes from SE 52nd to 205. The segment that you’re suggesting for the cylcepath here (70-80th) is just a small segment, and actually the second narrowest of the segments. And I disagree with the author’s assumption that 72nd to 80th will be the most bike friendly of the project (the western segment is wider in spots).

      I appreciate your thoughts, but moving that curb at this point is going to be a nonstarter.
      I do agree with your support of the 3 lane design and think this is a very attainable goal though.

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      • davemess June 7, 2013 at 4:34 pm

        I should also note that the hispanic Mercado that they are planning for Foster and 72nd (what looks like two giant parking lots on google, as it was a used car dealer) will also change the parking needs of the area. It’s something that is being considered.

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  • ScottB June 7, 2013 at 1:51 pm

    For those advocating for auto parking removal, do any of you own a business there? If you looked closer you’d see most of the businesses do not have on-site parking.

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    • jeff June 7, 2013 at 3:07 pm

      precisely, its becoming apparent many commenting here have seldom visited the area. only some of the larger businesses have their own adequate parking, but most smaller businesses do not and have to rely on cross-street parking or direct parking on Foster.

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      • davemess June 7, 2013 at 4:28 pm

        True, the major loser I see is George Morlan (the waterheater king!) and a couple others. That said, I stated at one if not two meetings that the revitalization of the area is mainly going to be driven by neighborhood people frequenting newer businesses. Many of these people won’t need to drive, and if we continue to improve bike and ped access they’ll walk and bike from home. I’m not saying this a zero sum game and it’s bikes OR parking, but I think parking should be left in for certain sections of the road.
        The heart of Foster however should be parking free.

        Scott, they have done parking analyses and found that none of the segments was anywhere near capacity for parking. So certainly there is some fat to trim when it comes to on street parking.

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  • Cora Potter June 8, 2013 at 10:30 am

    63rd through 65th on Foster had really high utilization- like 70%. It’s the one area where retaining as much on street parking as possible is justified by the numbers.

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    • ScottB June 10, 2013 at 10:19 am

      It’s also one of the denser areas for small commercial uses, the kind of density the City would like to achieve along the entire corridor, hence the need for frontage, on-street parking. Could be bike parking.

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  • oregon111 October 23, 2013 at 3:29 pm

    did anyone think that as I-84 and I-205 turn into parking lots, MUCH MUCH MORE traffic will be using Foster in the near future?

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