It’s an anomaly in Southeast Portland’s parking wars: a group of homeowners is asking the City of Portland to please remove a row of auto parking spaces from their street.
They’d rather have a bike lane, the group says. But it’s not yet clear whether their request will be granted.
“It’s a street where nobody’s been killed, but many, many near misses,” said Mark Zahner of the street where he lives, 34th Avenue between Clinton and Division streets. “We feel like it’s only a matter of time.”
That’s why Zahner, an architect, has drawn up a pair of 12-foot-long scale representations: one of the block he lives on, the other of the block he wants to live on.
The problem, Zahner says, is that the street just can’t safely fit two parking lanes plus traffic in both directions.
“It’s very uncomfortable for a bicycle and a car to be in the same lane,” he said. “Very narrow.”
His concept for the one-block stretch of 34th Avenue (huge PDF) has seven fewer auto parking spaces along the west curb, two new ones along the east curb, and — this is the key to the design — no southbound auto traffic.
Instead, bikes would get a dedicated southbound lane of their own, set off by a painted stripe and “no entry” signage at the Division Street intersection. Cars (and bikes) could continue to head north from Clinton to Division, and people driving to the street would have to access it from the south.
“I’ve gotten almost everybody on the street on board,” Zahner said in an interview last month. “Even people who rely on street parking feel that the safety aspect and the traffic flow is more important than the losing five parking spots.”
Of the 11 houses on the street, he said, there are only two holdouts.
Though this block of 34th isn’t marked with sharrows, it is marked as a bike route on city maps.
“The bicycle numbers through here are pretty phenomenal,” Zahner said. “It’s a major connector to the Clinton bikeway.”
Bicycle Transportation Alliance Advocate Carl Larson said that in general, 34th is one of the best north-south bike routes below Stark Street: straight, flat and mostly low-traffic.
But Zahner says his block, where the street narrows from 36 to 24 feet from curb to curb, is a problem.
“There’s a light right at Division and 34th that gives people the idea that this is a major throughway,” he said. He said delivery truck drivers in particular, bound for Clinton’s commercial district, often turn right at 34th and then find themselves awkwardly navigating a street that can barely fit a car and a bike, let alone a truck.
Zahner wants to fix this by forbidding southbound auto traffic from Division.
“It’s bringing bikes to the bike boulevard and cars to the arterial,” he said.
Zahner said he’s approached city bike coordinator Roger Geller about the redesign concept. He said Geller was intrigued, but hesitant to push forward without a letter of endorsement from the Richmond Neighborhood Association.
The RNA, a hotbed for auto-parking-related conflicts, hasn’t offered a full endorsement of Zahner’s plan. Zahner said it’s because neighborhood co-chair Allen Field is opposed to any removal of auto parking from the neighborhood’s increasingly crowded streets. Correction 1/11: RNA co-chair Jeff Cropp comments below to say he thinks this is because Zahner never asked for a full endorsement. RNA did not actively withhold its endorsement.
Zahner and two neighbors I spoke to don’t deny the street is crowded, and only getting moreso. But they said they’re willing to accept the annoyance of a bit less parking in exchange for a street that feels safer.
Zahner and Larson are right that active transportation is heavy on 34th. In the 20 minutes I spent on the street on a Saturday afternoon, as many bikes and skateboards passed as cars.
“It’s just one block,” Zahner said. “But it could be improved considerably.”
Zahner is gathering signatures from people who use 34th — or who would like to — for a petition to the city. To add yours or learn more, email him: firstname.lastname@example.org.
please please do this… that street suuuucks. any street where residents need to tuck their side mirrors in is too narrow for two way traffic.
I’m hopeful that the influx of new renters will change the demographics enough that the richmond neighborhood association ceases to become a bastion of limo liberal nimby obstructionism.
How active are you in the NA? I have been going to mine on and off for a few years. Now I am on the board and am co-chair of the transportation/Land use committee. It has only been a few months, but I have been pleasantly surprised at how well things have gone so far. Sometimes you have to work with the system and slowly argue your case.
We have had an influx of younger individuals lately that are much open. Example: I was elected in November on a platform of “pedestrian safety and let’s give Burnside a safety modernization.” Last night the committee gave me authority to start going public to get as many people on board as possible. I am talking about connecting the bike lane drop off at 71st with the 53rd bikeway at least and hopefully long term 41st…..including parking removal. This is just a start to a LONG process, but the point remains….the Neighborhood Associations NEED younger members to go and be active.
terry D, i’ve gone a few times in the past but decided to stop participating due to the overt classism. i should give it a try again since there are literally a thousand new college party dorm residents…erm…renters in my community. 🙂
I understand class issues completely…I have a meeting with hospital executives tonight. Maybe I will trim my beard.
See RNA co-chair Jeff Cropp’s comment below and my correction above: RNA didn’t, in fact, “withhold” endorsement of the plan. Cropp says one was never directly requested. I regret the error.
Don’t classify by age. One of the most pro-bike, pro-pedestrian board members is in his 60’s, and I dare you to find a better advocate for the RNA. If anyone is close to as good, I hope they join the board.
You are absolutely right and I did not mean to generalize too much. Our biggest problem in our neighborhood is that we are 60% renters, which are majority younger, yet the board has historically been made up of almost entirely home owners which are generally older. I know nothing about Richmond’s NA at all.
Demographically, NA’s tend to be dominated by those with time…and in many cases retirees. Right now we are Actively trying to get renters involved …especially those of lower income, one of whom I am recruiting is in her late 50’s.
On that subject, if any readers out there live in North Tabor we are looking for more board members and want everyone to get involved. Look us up. 🙂
Cam you explain the limo nimby stuff?
I didn’t make the original comment, but my understanding is that you have a very liberal neighborhood who love to talk about sustainability and the environment on one hand, but on the other, cry about the inconvenience of too few parking spaces in their neighborhood. They love the idea of sustainable transportation, but aren’t going to take the step of actually transporting themselves sustainably. On top of that, they refuse to support low-car development styles when they are next door to them. Such development is probably fine somewhere outside of their neighborhood though..
Yeah- citizen action sucks, and we need a bunch of wage slaves who will not question their small space, high rent and lack of parking for the car they use to get to their wage slave job. As we know from Outer SE Portland, our planners are god-like in their competence and equity.
Planning sucks so bad here that you can expect a backlash. Looking forward to learning about the anti-gentrification candidate running against Fish.
There’s one now!
75% of the renters in PDX apartments have cars. Not a single renter came out in favor of no-parking apartments at the big city hall meeting re: parking minimums. No- Wally Remmers new tenants are just going to clog the streets off Division with their cars. Remember- biking mode share has flatlined for years because the avid bikers are already here.
As a group (ask the anti-fluoride folks, or anyone else who has mounted a city-wide campaign) renters aren’t that politically active.
So- you are going to have to live with the fact that long-term residents and homeowners have the most skin in the game, and will sabotage many city efforts because the city has never united the voters behind it’s growth policies.
Me, I am just waiting for the tech bubble to burst. Now, SE Division & Mississippi Ave. will be interesting once tech employment falls by 30%. If you have watched the tech industry you will know that it is boom and bust.
Collapse of tech will take lots of cars off the road …..
It’s about 75% of renters, but not 75% of apartment dwellers and certainly not 75% of apartment dwellers in the central city.
Wasn’t there a study by David Evans and Assoc. looking at apartments on SE Hawthorne- and they came up with the 75% figure? If I got the figure wrong- please tell everyone what percentage of renters in apartments have cars. It’s still enough to cause problems …..
There are lots of ways to measure this figure, Oregon Mamacita. The City of Portland commissioned a study of the ratio of households in apartments without off street car parking who have/don’t have a car. Urban Development Group also did a study of this in their building without offstreet car parking at 17th and Hancock. The results were widely divergent and I’m not aware of any effort to reconcile the two figures. My sense is that if you amble past one of these newer buildings the parking armageddon that was foretold hasn’t materialized. I’m working on a small study of this question in a building without offstreet car parking near where I live. I’ll be sure to report if/when I manage to get some good figures.
What I know is that in the census tracts within Multnomah Co. that I’ve catalogued (W of 205, mostly) the share of renter households who told the ACS they don’t own a car in 2010 was about 24%. The share for homeowners was I believe about 6%.
You’re right, Mamacita – the finding was that 72% of units at the central-city apartments and condos studied had at least one car. These were all new buildings within the previous few years, so pretty posh digs, and there was a lot of variation in car ownership among them (see p. 9 of the PDF below).
But it’s the only data I know of that looks specifically at car ownership among apartment dwellers in central Portland, so I stand corrected. Thanks.
Cheering for job layoffs now, are we?
Also, I’m not aware that the tech sector exactly dominates the meager market of professional jobs in Portland.
Never thought it needed bike lanes or one way. Pretty slow with people going only one way at a time. Could be nice, bringing up average speed while keeping it pretty safe.
It does need no trucks though.
the drawing i am looking at indicates bikes southbound only, is that the concept? where are northbound cyclists supposed to go? and frankly, you almost cannot get better traffic calming that what you already have here, which is pretty much courtesy queuing.
They would share the northbound lane with drivers.
Yep. I’ve added a clarification to this effect above. Thanks, Are.
Clinton is already pretty dicey with ever-increasing auto traffic looking for parking or bypassing congestion on Division. This proposal seems like a great recipe for even more drivers to use Clinton in order to access this block.
People who need to use the public right of way for private purposes should be taxed accordingly.
So, if you have on-street parking in front of your house, your property is worth more and the property taxes should be higher. Interesting idea. I wonder if the property assessors office uses this as a criteria for setting taxable value.
The property taxes already are higher. Mine went up $600 this year. That’s quite a jump. Several neighbors’ went up even more. Retired homeowners on fixed incomes face the prospect of eventually being taxed out of their houses. The problem close-in city homeowners are facing is modest houses being replaced with McMansions, causing neighboring property evaluations to increase and, thus, taxes.
Most of this jump is the school bond. The McMansions though is a problem in our neighborhood as well. I would like to see zoning changes that encourage additions and adding on duplexes/adu’s instead. These tear downs are not sustainable.
34th is supposed to be a bike street (albeit in a parallel universe it would seem, given the gargantuan amount of car traffic on it every day).
Putting bike lanes in would only encourage *more* auto traffic. What is needed on this street are diverters -nothing more, nothing less. Clearly, the existing speed bumps on the street do jack-s**t to discourage car traffic.
I think the elephant in the room question here nobody seems willing to address is – why is the car traffic using a street that is supposed to be prioritized for bikes?
Why is the car traffic not driving where it is supposed to be – namely, the arterial and district collector streets of 39th, and 30th, respectively? That is the question I want answered.
I think we’re talking specifically about the stretch from Sen Yai to Clinton St. Market.
I completely agree. I don’t understand why the City isn’t doing more to discourage all the cut through traffic on Bike Boulevards, like Clinton. These streets should be safe enough for little kids to bike on.
I think the best thing we can do right now is to complain to email@example.com and to take the lane. If more cyclists were riding in the middle of the bike streets, it would make it much harder for cars to pass and they would be forced to use other streets.
I agree that people who use Clinton must take the full lane. I often see my fellow cyclists hugging the door-zone as to not be an inconvenience to people driving cars. In my opinion, this is displaying weakness and causing drivers to think that where not supposed to be there.
When I ride Clinton I stay in the middle of the road. People driving cars speed past only to have me catch up at the next light. Looks like endangering my life because they “Must Get In Front” wasn’t necessary.
Clinton needs to be inconvenient, so that motorists chose an alternative. (Powell/Devision).
I hate to say it but Clinton will be a car highway until all the fair weather riders return.
We’re not talking about Clinton here, we’re talking about one block in between Clinton and Division…
But if you make that block one way, from the south, you would need to use Clinton to access it if you’re coming from Division.
like if you lived there or wanted to park in one of those spots? yeah, I suppose so.
Or in the driveway of your house?
i’m guessing this isn’t a bike v car issue so much as a residential neighborhood vs. booming commercial/restaurant district area issue…i’d wager that the increase in traffic in the area is in line with the uptick in restaurants over the past 5yrs…nearly none of which offer parking solutions…a lot of out-of-neighborhood traffic (like me) trolling for already limited parking places on the side streets….
suggesting that parking “in the driveway of your house” is not actually a solution to this problem.
that’s what I meant when I said “lived there”… are you saying this could create some sort of traffic loop going west on Division, south on 33rd Pl, east on Clinton north on 34th… or east on Division, south on 35th, west on Clinton, north on 34th… creating extra car traffic on Clinton in between 35th and 33rd pl.? totally a possibility.
Informing you that it’s just as illegal to block “normal traffic” on Clinton as it is on Chavez is causing me to feel some schadenfreude.
@#$% ORS 814.30 and 814.20!
I disagree, I see the potential of car doors being opened into my path as a “hazard” per the Oregon statute allowing me to leave my far-right position as it is not longer “practicable” on Clinton. The same is not true on most of Chavez due to the lack of parked cars.
I was responding to this comment:
“When I ride Clinton I stay in the middle of the road.”
(An unambiguously illegal behaviour that I both agree with and personally practice on Clinton and Chavez.)
If you take the lane are you under some obligation to ride at a speed that doesn’t impede the flow of traffic. There is nothing better than getting stuck behind someone cruising along at 10mph while taking the lane.
Cyclists should have priority on bike boulevards regardless of their speed.
Clinton has not received the neighborhood greenway treatment yet that would include traffic diversion to achieve the goal of under 1,000 autos per day.
The more we divert cut through traffic from bike boulevards the more traffic will move over to other thru neighborhood streets like SE 37th, with no slowing devices, which happens to be my street.
Interesting idea, SE 26th could use a similar treatment north of Division, lots of traffic headed from the traffic signal towards Hawthorne on a comparable neighborhood street.
Nice work getting (almost all) the neighbors to sign on. I hope this happens. Symbolic victories are also important (all you who think this is silly).
Sounds like theyre just trying to make cars go faster there. Maybe we can petition to pair this with a speed limit decrease there?
how did you get to that conclusion?
It seems safe enough as is, as long as cars travel slowly and share the road with bikes. Widening lanes and forcing bikes to the side is a classic “let the cars go faster” technique.
I don’t think you understand the layout of this particular block. If a car the size of say, a Ford F150 drives down it, nobody is going anywhere any time soon. The truck has to nimbly avoid hitting parked cars while any traffic in the other direction has no hope of passing. anything larger than a Honda Fit snarls everything.
This new design would alleviate all of this squeezing, at no detriment to bikes, and no increase in speed over the neighborhood speed limit.
I agree with the elitism comments about the Richmond Neighborhood Assoc. I own in the neighborhood and attended several meetings. At one I brought up the parking issues for the apartments that were being built where the Egyptian Room was. This was early on. I was sneered at and told I must want to kill local farming and forget growth boundaries as I obviously didn’t want in-fill. Not the case at all. I was so glad when a new group started up to oppose multi unit apartment/condo buildings with no parking. They were a nice bunch of people and I contributed financially to help support their efforts. I never went back to another Richmond neighborhood meeting. Sad, because everything they decide affects my property too.
Judith: Sorry you had a bad experience at the RNA. You might want to read the “Real Estate Beat” series here on BikePortland, for another perspective on auto parking requirements, “low-car” apartments, and other views on the subject.
I tend to drive on 34th as the best way to get to Belmont. You can’t make a left to Belmont from northbound 39th.
But only later at night. During heavy traffic hours it is very congested and too narrow for car parking on both sides + two way car traffic.
The RNA board voted to ask PBOT to study the issues on the street. I notice there are now counting hoses on the street.
PBOT I have noticed is pretty good about taking counts when asked. I also have noticed a sigificant diffierence in quality and level of detail in their responces to my communications now that I have moved from “community activist” to “NA Transportation Co-Chair.” Before, polite form letter with some data…now, real and fast responses with real information. Very Professional.
This proposal makes me uneasy. Bike lanes would indicate they are essentially saying “Yes, it’s okay to have ridiculous amounts of auto traffic on this little side-street – now, here’s your consolation prize”.
I thought 34th was a bike boulevard? If so, why on earth would you put a bike lane on it? How is that supposed to appeal to PBOT’s target audience they are trying to encourage to get out and bike? Seniors, children biking to Sunnyside Elementary, moms and dads with trail-a-bikes. A bike lane flies in the face of all of this.
I’m sorry, but I see this proposal as an attempt to literally erode our precious, tiny, tiny little pieces of quiet, bike infrastructure for ALL (not just the fast and confident bicyclists) for the sake of YET more auto capacity. And frankly, it makes me sick.
I agree with other posters here – if you want to drive your car through this neighborhood, get off of 34th, and onto 39th, or 30th, where you are supposed to be.
” because neighborhood co-chair Allen Field is opposed to any removal of auto parking from the neighborhood’s increasingly crowded streets”
… and what are they crowded with? Mostly, parked cars. Plenty of moving ones as well, but really- is the best use of the public space to provide free car storage?
I ride that block somewhat regularly and I think the idea is brilliant. Something needs to be done to control traffic on Clinton, too, of course. And obviously all the development on Division is changing everything. This is a reasonable response to some of that change.
I ride that quite a bit and I don’t like the idea of being put into a bike lane so a car can pass me just as I need to get over to take a left. Eliminate one lane of parking and have two normal lanes of traffic so bikes can take the lane. It’s so short that I really think a bike lane is a bad idea.
Look at the drawings again. If a car were to pass you with this re-design, they would be doing so illegally.
Got it. Sorry, I missed that part. Then I’m all for it!
As noted on the plan, there is a very generous curb cut along 34th adjacent to Sen Yai–therefore, a fairly consistent stream of small trucks/delivery vehicles parallel park in that area adjacent to Sen Yai on 34th–sometimes extending into the sidewalk. If this redesign were to go forward, it would be important to narrow the curb cut to Sen Yai’s parking lot from 34th, so the newly developed bicycle lane would not get blocked by parked delivery vehicles.
If you look at a street view map of NE 22nd Ave between Sandy Blvd and NE Irving you can see a real world example of how this would work. North-bound is mixed bike and car with parking. South-bound is bike only.
34th is a fantastic bike street as it is. Yes, it gets narrow in parts, but this slows the car traffic. I would love to live on a 24′ street with parking on both sides.
It could definitely be improved with some more traffic calming and maybe diverters. This is doable with or without removing parking.
There is no reason to give up parking on the street. Just make it a one-way street for cars, and two-way for bikes. Should be enough room for that. People who live in houses, for the most part, have cars and have guests with cars – they need a place to park – it’s not a want – it’s a need. OR if it’s only one block, make it 10 mph speed limit with LOTS of warning signs AND speed bumps – bikes could easily keep up with cars and they could “take the lane”. At 10 mph, the narrow street should be safe.
A question I have is: If the residents (except 2 homes) of the street are willing to give up parking, WHO is parking on the street? All the willing residents could park in their driveways/yards if they really are willing to help the situation. With only a couple cars on the street, the problem would mostly be eliminated, but slower speed limit would be appropriate for that one block.
On-street parking does provide some protection for peds on the sidewalk.
Another option might be to make the sidewalks on that one block really wide so bikes and peds could use them.
Take a closer look at the situation. The street from curb to curb is 24′-0″. parking strips are 2′-0″ and sidewalks are 6′-0″ there is ZERO setback. The reason this stretch of 34th is so narrow is because the houses were originally built very close to the street. As it exists, there is no room for a car and a bicycle to comfortably pass or travel side by side.
So bicycles and peds on the sidewalk is not an option.
There are typically plus/minus 6 cars street parked in the morning (residents) when there are 20 available street spots. The demand for parking by those who live there is minimal. Albeit the people who work and patronize the nearby businesses need parking. But as Roger Geller w/PBOT off the record has said about this specific situation, “removal of five parking spaces is a minimal impact”. Hell two thirds of the west side of the street is already no parking because of the two way street and obsolete, out of code compliant curb cuts. Make it a one way street, remove 5 parking spaces and create a southbound counter flow bike lane separated by a double yellow line.
based purely on my observations, there’s at least one or two outdoor enthusiasts who have really big trucks and trailers that they prob can’t get in their steep narrow driveway, or their driveway already has a smaller car in it… i’m not being judgmental here, just stating that there’s some of your typical Oregon recreation gear out in the street…
“PBOT I have noticed is pretty good about taking counts when asked. I also have noticed a sigificant diffierence in quality and level of detail in their responces to my communications now that I have moved from “community activist” to “NA Transportation Co-Chair.” Before, polite form letter with some data…now, real and fast responses with real information. Very Professional.”
Actually, that’s exceptionally UNprofessional. They should give all citizens their full and undivided attention – we PAY their wages.
Just make the one problem block 10 mph. Problem solved.
I hate the volume of auto traffic on Clinton, but I am not worried about this change causing a significant increase. There are no destinations on 34th on this block other than homes, so the number of autos would be small. I think the problem on Clinton is cut-through traffic going longer than a few blocks on Clinton, not people accessing houses in the immediate area. The fix is to make Clinton less convenient to drive on and I think that needs to happen regardless of this proposal.
I also blame the tendency of cyclists on Clinton to cede right of way. Bike boulevards in Germany have no more mitigation than Clinton but the signage giving priority to cyclists was respected by everyone. Physical mitigation is a band aid. We need to make it illegal to use these roads as a cut through.
Mr. Andersen – please consider talking with an organization before publicizing that they won’t endorse a project. I’m a co-chair of the Richmond NA, and I can confirm Mark Zahner has NEVER ASKED for our endorsement of this project. He requested we send a letter asking the City to investigate the matter, which we approved unanimously. I personally support Mark’s efforts, particularly since my son and I were nearly run down by a driver while biking on this street. I know my fellow co-chair is opposed to the project, but he has one vote out of 15 on the Board. I think Mark would get the RNA’s support if he asked for it.
I live on 34th just south of Clinton St. If the Clinton to Division block were to become one-way going north, I would no longer be able to drive from Hawthorne or Belmont on 34th,, cross Division and drive straight to my house. I would have to turn at Division and then continue south on one of the neighboring streets. And guess what, I would drive all the way up to Woodward and then come down 34th to my house.
I wouldn’t drive my car on Clinton, and never have, because it is a bike boulevard.
People who live on Clinton have to drive there, but I only ride my bike on it. And I bike on 34th to get across Division when heading north. But I always feel unsafe in that Clinton to Division block, both on my bike and in a car. One time a big truck was filling the entire street heading north, and I was trying to go home driving south and already in the street when the truck started through without looking. I think one-way cars on this block is a great idea, with bikes being able to go either way. For cyclists’ safety, they would need a marked lane for going south, since cars would not be able to go that direction. I would be happy to take the extra drive up to Woodward and down to my house in order to achieve greater safety and less congestion on the Clinton-Division block of 34th. Sacrifice of 5 parking spots seems like another worthwhile compromise to achieve these ends. In these situations where there is no perfect solution, one should weigh all the variables and see what is the most important. I vote for safety.