Support BikePortland - Journalism that Matters

Checking in on the 20s Bikeway Project

Posted by on July 31st, 2013 at 10:26 am

NE 28th Avenue and Davis commercial district

The commercial district at NE 28th and Davis is popular
and pleasant for humans in part because
it was developed as a streetcar suburb in the 1910s.
(Photo: M. Andersen/BikePortland)

One of the big annoyances of getting around Portland’s inner east side by bike is the shortage of good ways to get north or south. A project that could become Portland’s best such link (and might thereby improve the route for driving, too) is about to kick off.

The project won’t reach its full design for a year, but it already has a few detractors, and there are a few significant hurdles on the horizon. After a reader tipped us off about neighbors who are concerned about how the project will impact parking and auto access, we figured it was time to check in and bring you up to speed.

The 9.1-mile 20s Bikeway Project is one of the centerpieces of the Bicycle Master Plan passed in 2009. Right now, it’s mostly just a line on a map, a federal grant for $2.5 million, and a target completion date of 2015.

20s bikeway map

Proposed alignment.
-Click to enlarge-

The route connects Northeast Lombard Street to the north and the Springwater Corridor to the south, running directly through many of Portland’s fastest-growing neighborhoods, plus Reed College, Concordia University, Grant and Cleveland High Schools and two major grocery stores. It’s already a very popular bike route due to the lack of alternatives, but it’s not much fun for most people to use that way:

A ride with the family-6

NE 28th is a popular route, but like many of Portland’s commercial streets,
it lacks dedicated space for cycling and is uncomfortable for less confident riders.
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

City Project Manager Rich Newlands said Tuesday that the route might be tweaked, but that the bikeway is too important to do without. He’s halfway through collecting traffic counts on the corridor.

“Clearly, for it to be a high-quality bikeway, we’re going to need to make improvements to enhance safety for cyclists,” Newlands said.

The grant will improve the bike crossings of Interstate 84 at both 28th and 21st Avenues, which are arguably the best two such crossings in the city. But the main 20s route, Newlands said, will run over the 28th Avenue bridge.

Just north of that bridge and south of Broadway, there’s a particularly difficult corner — a blind turn for northbound traffic that can hide a person on a bike from someone in a car:

This tricky bend in the road is just south of Broadway.

Further south, between Sandy Boulevard and Stark Street, is one of the east side’s liveliest commercial districts, with crowded, city-sponsored auto parking on both sides of the street and two lanes of shared traffic that often back up along 28th Avenue.

Between Southeast Division and Taggert, there’s another popular commercial district, and another notable lack of bike lanes:

More sticking points might emerge. At the southern end of the route, some people from the Eastmoreland Neighborhood Association (notably the group’s president Robert McCullough, who sat on the committee behind the City Club of Portland’s recent report endorsing Portland biking and was one of two members to endorse the “minority report” calling for bike licensing) are worried about traffic safety and loss of publicly provided auto parking.

In a post on the Eastmoreland Neighborhood Association Facebook page, McCullough wrote that his neighborhood’s representation on the project’s advisory committee should not be considered a “fait accompli” in terms of their support. “Although Eastmoreland residents have bicycles,” wrote McCullough, “the average age is above 50 and increasing four months each year. This makes the area car rather than bicycle centric (bicyclists tend to be you white males in their 20s). Obviously, “calming” access to the west would make many residents unhappy. It might also slow police and fire response coming from the west.”

Newlands said he expects the solutions to all these problems are likely to include a combination of striped bike lanes, neighborhood greenway style sharrows and speed bumps on low-traffic streets, and possibly separated cycle tracks on the busiest stretches.

Newlands says he’s currently recruiting stakeholders to join a committee that will meet for four to six months starting in October, aiming to finish next year with a plan endorsed by neighborhood and business associations. This would let the bikeway be completed by 2015.

“I’m mildly confident that it’ll be a sufficient amount of money that we’ll be able to do what we need to do,” Newlands said. “But, again, it all depends on what kind of issues we find during the plan process.”

NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. BikePortland is an inclusive company with no tolerance for discrimination or harassment including expressions of racism, sexism, homophobia, or xenophobia. 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

69
Leave a Reply

avatar
22 Comment threads
47 Thread replies
0 Followers
 
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
36 Comment authors
PaikikalaArthurDoug KlotzChris AndersonAlan 1.0 Recent comment authors
  Subscribe  
newest oldest most voted
Notify of
o/o
Guest
o/o

SW 37th from Crystal Springs Blvd could be a better route to Springwater Corridor. But it is partly graveled just before entrance of the corridor and is also extremely steep right at the path in the corridor. I think both could be fixed. Anyway I am looking to see it happen. I live in Milwaukie.

sean
Guest
sean

By far the most integral stretch of this bike-way is 28th between Glisan and Stark. All else fails without this. Sharrows simply will not do here as traffic, both car and bike, is regular throughout the day. It will be a painful transition if decided, but I can see no alternative to removing parking on one side of the street. With the two bike corrals already on the East side of the street, likely the west side parking will go from Glisan to Burnside. Whether or not residents and businesses will allow this is anyone’s guess.

John Liu
Guest
John Liu

I am familiar with 28th between Fremont and Division, less familiar with the parts further north or further south.

In general, I think many or most parts of this street are not wide enough to accomodate north and south separated cycle tracks or buffered bike lanes, and in many portions it would be difficult to fit even standard bike lanes in the door zone.

In a few particularly dangerous spots, parking can be removed and a buffered bike lane created. I don’t think it is politically feasible, commercially sensible, or equitable to the residential neighborhoods, to eliminate most of the street parking on 28th.

For most of the road, I think the focus will have to be on making drivers slow down, drive more safely, and ultimately choose a different north-south route. Cars have many equally good north-south routes in this part of Portland (11th/12th, 20th, 33rd, 39th, etc); bicycles should have at least one.

That suggests a lot of traffic calming, traffic diversion, lower speed limits, more traffic signals synchronized to that lower speed, signage and markings, enforcement and outreach. Perhaps there can be median barriers on a few of the major east-west streets that 28th crosses (e.g. Burnside, Glisan), that cyclists can go through but that would make the route inconvenient for drivers.

Paikikala
Guest
Paikikala

20’s bikeway is a bit ambiguous, since there are two of them in the 2030 plan. The low 20’s, 22nd Avenue Greenway – Lombard to Ankeny, and the high 20’s, the 26th/27th/28th/29th route of this story.

Mark
Guest
Mark

This proposed route connects so many things that need to be connected, I’m giddy with anticipation, but also wary that one of the more essential sections, through the business district on either side of Burnside, will be watered down. As a Reed College grad proud of my alma mater’s high academic standards, counterculture ethic, and affinity for essential oils, I propose the section from Hawthorne to Woodstock be named the Patchouli Highway.

John Liu
Guest
John Liu

“I can see no alternative to removing parking on one side of the street. With the two bike corrals already on the East side of the street, likely the west side parking will go from Glisan to Burnside.”

I think most of the businesses are on the east side of the street, especially between Burnside and Glisan. Would that suggest greater need for parking on the east side?

gutterbunnybikes
Guest
gutterbunnybikes

olo – not sure how’d you’d fix that 37th street path onto Springwater. It would require a lot of excavation. Plus in the current set up you’d still have access to that path from the existing plan, it’d just still be unimproved and hilly, though some signage announcing the hill and intersection might be in order because I can see traffic down this path increasing due to this route.

Though I do wonder if instead of the current jog on 28th if Kroger (ie Fred Meyers) could be convinced to ditch some of that parking on the West end of their lot for a cycle track that spilled out onto 28th near NE Wasco where there is already a marked crosswalk. After all, of all the Portland businesses that might “get it” as far a bikes goes around here it would be Fred Meyers (look at the Hawthorn racks any given day, same with the less extensive Foster store racks which is often full). I’d think they might be interested in having hundreds of daily riders passing by, in exchange for a few less than ideal parking spots.

You’d still have a jog going the opposite direction, but it might be a decent option if done right.

Anne Hawley
Guest
Anne Hawley

As a longtime resident of inner NE, I’d be thrilled with *any* consistent, connected, safe(r) way south, even if it meant routing bikes one block east or west of the main business district around Burnside-Glisan. I don’t see how PBOT could sell reduced parking in that zone and I don’t want to ride in traffic there–sharrows would NOT do for me. A safe way across the Banfield and Sandy would trump the slight inconvenience of going around the block to get to one of the shops or restaurants on 28th.

Joe Reistetter
Guest
Joe Reistetter

Anyone want to identify business along SE 28th that don’t support removing parking from one side of the street to accommodate bikes? A boycott against those businesses might convince them that more bikes equals more business.

28th between Stark and I-84 really should have some kind of dedicated bike lane. Bikers have to use the road, and that slows down traffic for everyone.

gutterbunnybikes
Guest
gutterbunnybikes

Most those businesses on 28th are local taverns, bars,cafes and restaurants. Many of which already get many riders as patrons. I’d think most of them would support a few less parking spaces on the street for more traffic of any kind.

Especially bikes where the people going by are likely thirsty, and more prone to just stop and look around (as long as ample bike parking is available), get a drink, grab a snack etc… than someone passing in a car that even with on street parking is more of a hassle than it might be worth to the driver.

Will
Guest
Will

If the average age in Eastmoreland is above 50 and increasing, wouldn’t it make sense for the neighborhood to be safer to walk in? Most people I know who are nearing retirement are planning their living situations around the fact that walking (or maybe riding a trike) is likely to be their only option for independent travel at some point in the future. I wonder which will be more pleasant for grandparents to walk near: people on bikes riding at 10-15 MPH, or people bombing around neighborhoods in cars traveling 35-40 MPH (or regularly faster in some areas)?

Joseph E
Guest

I wrote to the project director:

28th is a route we often need to take, especially between NE Broadway and SE Stark, where there are no alternate routes for 1.5 to 2 miles to the east (47th) or west (12th). This is the critical section of this bikeway.

The two options are: 1) Divert car traffic off 28th between Sandy and Stark, and slow 85%car speeds to 15 mph, or 2) Separate bike and car traffic. Sharrows alone won’t work with the current speeds and traffic, as we experienced when trying to ride on the street once with a group of kids and families.

The rest of the route looks good, except at the ends. On the north, there is a clear lack options to continue north to Marine Driver or Vancouver. The budget won’t be big enough in this project, but there eventually needs to be an acceptable way to cross Lombard and Columbia. The current viaduct on 33rd is hair-raising or terrifying in either direction.

On the south end, it is quite a detour east to 45th or west to Hwy 99 to continue sout to Clackamas county. There is a short but steep path to the Springwater trail at 37th. Could a couple of switchbacks be added to this path as part of the project, to make it usable in the uphill direction?

Even better would be a route from 27th thru or around Eastmoreland golf course, to Tenino and Tacoma, and eventually 32nd. Since the city owns the golf course (right?), it would make sense to provide a path that would be more direct.

Erinne
Guest
Erinne

They picked a steep way up Alameda, I think. More direct but 27th to Ridgewood to Regents is more gradual. I hope this project includes some repaving because 29th north of Prescott is pretty miserable to ride on. And I hope they fix the bump on the nb 28th Ave I84 overpass BEFORE 2015.

kittens
Guest
kittens

Increasingly we are going to have to make more difficult choices to accommodate the expansion of the bike plan. We’ve done the easy part, now we got to do the hard stuff. Does PBOT have the balls?

John Lascurettes
Guest

McCullough, “the average age is above 50 and increasing four months each year. This makes the area car rather than bicycle centric (bicyclists tend to be you white males in their 20s).

Generalize much? As a year-round, daily commuter who is 45 years old, I take offense.

Spiffy
Guest

I was witness to anti-cyclist road-rage on the 28th ave crossing over I84 a couple years ago… grumpy old man in a pickup wanted to kill the rider in front of me… I was able to get the plate # and give it to the rider but not sure if anything came of it…

Christopher Sanderson
Guest

Does it occur to Mr. McCollough that this 43-year old contractor likes to have safety improvements to better serve his neighborhood. I have several clients in the Eastmoreland/Reed College area. His generalizations of bicyclists is laughable.

OnTheRoad
Guest
OnTheRoad

Would 28th work as a woonerf? Maybe in the core Ash to Everett section if not for the entire Stark to Glisan stretch.

Paikikala
Guest
Paikikala

28th, Broadway to Stark, apart from a collector street, is also a fire response street. No diversion, no regular speed bumps, minimal speed reduction.

Jonathan Gordon
Guest
Jonathan Gordon

“It might also slow police and fire response coming from the west.”

This sounds like code for: We don’t like bikes but can’t say that outright so we’re just going to throw as many excuses at the wall and see what sticks.

Paul
Guest
Paul

Many of our commercial streets are simply too small to accomplish balanced transportation needs. Sorry cars, you’re going to have go on a diet and get skinny if you want to stay 🙂

But seriously, these roads should really only have on car lane (one-way), with room for car parking, bike parking, a cycle track on both sides and replace our pathetically skinny sidewalks with wider ones if possible.

Arthur
Guest
Arthur

I’m 57 years old eastmoreland resident and I ride my bike allot.

When Mr. McCullough writes “Obviously, “calming” access to the west would make many residents unhappy.”

I totally disagree, in 2 years a light rail station will be at the west end of the neighborhood. Does he really want people from east Portland racing through the neighborhood to meet the train on time?