Urban Tribe - Ride with your kids in front.

Editorial: A pro-bike-lane argument that seems to work – ’23 Powell Boulevards’

Posted by on February 24th, 2014 at 3:01 pm

If it doesn’t reduce the use of cars for short trips, the Portland of 2035 will need room for the equivalent of 23 more Powell Boulevards.
(Graphic by Roger Geller, Portland Bureau of Transportation)

Roger Geller, one of the most respected bicycle professionals in North America, was not having a terrific afternoon. His baritone had slid up to a tenor.

PBOT staff at NACTO conference-1

PBOT Bike Coordinator Roger Geller.
(Photo by J. Maus/BikePortland)

“This is beneficial,” he said to the roomful of owners of retail businesses along 28th Avenue near Burnside, gathered at Coalition Brewing Wednesday afternoon. “This is a good thing for your business district.”

Portland’s bicycle coordinator for the last 14 years — a confident and amiable man, but always known more for his groundbreaking analyses and head for numbers than for a silver tongue — was pitching the benefits of replacing auto parking on one side of the street (including a couple blocks in each direction, it’s maybe one-eighth of the district’s auto parking) with a buffered bike lane. Geller made one argument after another as to why there was no reason to think the district would suffer. But for each fact he cited, someone had an immediate rebuttal.

“Those parking spots are dear,” one man at the bar said, to wide agreement. “The very limited parking that remains in this district is really being stressed.”

“Is it the City of Portland’s job to reduce people’s use of their cars?” one woman asked. Geller didn’t answer directly.

But in response to a different question about future traffic patterns, Geller flipped to a new page in his presentation and showed his audience a map that, for a moment, seemed to leave them quiet.

It was a picture, he explained, capturing what Portland would need to look like if it doesn’t decrease the likelihood that people use cars for their errands and commutes.

“Powell Boulevard carries 45,000 cars each day, more or less,” Geller said. If Portlanders keep driving cars as much as they do now, he noted, and if the Portland’s area’s population grows by the 1 million people that Metro expects it to by 2035, the additional auto capacity needed would be the equivalent of 23 new Powell Boulevards lacing through the city.

Everyone looked at the maps for a second. And everyone seemed to understand exactly what they meant.

The moment of silence didn’t last long. The conversation moved on to other, more easily rebutted details. Geller’s proposal still lost an advisory straw poll of attendees, with two in favor, five undecided and 10 opposed. But of all the arguments Geller made on Wednesday, it seemed clear that this one had hit closest to home.

I’m just a journalist who was covering the event for this site. But the reason this idea had power, it seems to me, is that it was the only one that really forced the people in the room to confront the long-term choices faced by Portland, and by every growing city.

Here’s the thing: we already tried Plan A. Portland’s 40-year experiment with auto dependence, from 1940 to 1980 or so, didn’t work any better than any other American city’s did. It turned the east half of the city into a husk.

In the long run, a growing city can hollow itself out to make room for more and more cars. It can spend tens of millions on three-story parking garages and hundreds of millions on wider streets and freeways. It can build parking lots that push every destination further from the next, further increasing the need for cars. It can deal with the noise, pollution, danger and expense that all those cars and hours behind the wheel create.

Or, alternatively, it can make it desirable for people to more frequently get around in ways other than cars.

And here’s the thing: we already tried Plan A. Portland’s 40-year experiment with auto dependence, from 1940 to 1980 or so, didn’t work any better than any other American city’s did. It turned the east side of the city into a husk. People who could afford to move to suburbs did so.

It’s a time that many longtime Portlanders, including most of its business owners, probably remember. In fact, one of the owners, John Taboada of Navarre restaurant, had alluded to it just a few minutes before Geller had flipped to his map.

“15 years ago, it wasn’t that great,” Taboada said of the 28th Avenue district. “There was a parking lot and a blood transfusion center.”

Taboada, who said his top concern is auto travel speeds, is still undecided about the city’s proposal. But he’s only one of the many people in the 28th Avenue district — entrepreneurs, landlords, residents — whose future depends on its continuing to be a place people want to spend their time, even if the parking is a hassle.

If we don’t keep making bicycle transportation in the city more efficient, safe and simple, will that be possible? That’s the choice Geller’s presentation forces every Portlander to think about.

Northeast 28th Avenue in 2013.

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  • MaxD February 24, 2014 at 3:13 pm

    Vancouver BC has made it the job of the city to “reduce people’s use of their cars.” They do it by investing in public transportation, having an excellent (and COMPLETE) ped/bike network throughout the city, they invest in extensive, well-,maintained parks and high density, and they have no urban freeways, they have ped-activated signals, parking is limited, expensive and highly enforced, and traffic enforcement is no joke (like in PDX). Vancouver has been named ‘most-livable’ a few times, and I think it makes a great model for Portland. For many reasons, Portland is NOT Vancouver, and shouldn’t try to be, but discouraging car use and encouraging alternatives has been proven to be very successful

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    • Anne Hawley February 24, 2014 at 5:13 pm

      I’m disappointed by Geller’s silence on that question myself. I realize that he can’t make impromptu policy; I only wish that sometime in the last five or six years, PBOT and the City could have gathered the political will to start saying, “It’s certainly our job to reduce people’s RELIANCE on cars in the city.”

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  • Charley February 24, 2014 at 4:09 pm

    The irony here is that rents are higher (indicating greater commercial value) in places like the Pearl and downtown. . . where parking is the least easy of all of our neighborhoods. Rents are lower (indicating lower commercials value) in places like Lents and Gresham, where parking is easy to find.

    I wish someone would have asked those business owners where’d they’d rather be located: in happening places with lots of money flowing or on loud street corners with open-air meth markets?

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    • jocko February 25, 2014 at 11:50 am

      Obviously lives in inner SE… Lents is not that bad bud, no we don’t have $7 ice cream cones but open air meth markets is a huge stretch. Mostly it is just slightly less wealthy people who live there. I’m gonna give you a pass though since i probably thought the same thing until i found a very affordable house to buy out in Lents…..on a bike boulevard.

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    • 007 February 27, 2014 at 7:27 pm

      Yeah, tourists don’t visit Portland because it’s car town. It is because of foot and bicycle traffic that these businesses on 28th even exist. That’s what makes the street and Portland interesting. These businesses must be clueless about how much of their business is foot and bike traffic.
      Dear business owner, take your business to Vancouver, WA or East Portland, see how well you do.

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  • Jeff February 24, 2014 at 4:56 pm

    Any way of knowing which businesses were for, against, and undecided? We a) spend a lot of money in that neighborhood, b) almost never drive there, and c) really hate the current biking setup on 28th. I approach this with some trepidation – I’m worried that some favorites will show up on the ‘opposed’ list.

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    • 9watts February 24, 2014 at 5:28 pm

      You could ask the owners of the establishment the next time you’re there. Use the opportunity to let them know that you patronize them without relying on a car and so do your friends….

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    • Michael Andersen (News Editor)
      Michael Andersen (News Editor) February 24, 2014 at 5:29 pm

      The straw poll was, as far as I know, anonymous. (I asked the city but haven’t heard back yet. Their lead planner is off for a few days.) I’ve heard exactly two companies’ owners say on the record that they support the city’s plan: Zim Zim (an “alternagift” shop) and Crank (a bike shop just off 28th, on Ash). I don’t think either of them were present last week but I’m not sure. You can read more about other businesses’ diverse perspectives in this post:

      The biggest landlord, Bitar Companies, is officially undecided on the issue. But I’ve heard from several people unaffiliated with Bitar that behind the scenes, Bitar is extremely dubious about any proposal that would remove auto parking. They’ve hired a prominent local consulting firm, Kittelson and Associates, to watchdog the city’s proposal and maybe advance a counterproposal of their own. That’s a pretty expensive proposition! In this highly charged situation, tenants who might support the plan or be on the fence are less likely to speak up than those who oppose it. No retailer wants to risk pissing off his or her landlord without a very clear reason.

      That said, it’s clear that many if not most of the retailers on 28th currently oppose removing one lane of parking from 28th, even if it brings more and safer biking, which many of them also support.

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      • 007 February 27, 2014 at 7:42 pm

        I just read the article included within. It appears that employers want a lot of the parking for their employees. I don’t understand why ERs do not hire EEs that take public transportation or live close enough to walk or bike.
        I’ve wondered about all kinds of Portland area ERs. Someone in the ‘burbs will hire someone from Portland or Vancouver…An ER in Portland will hire someone from Vancouver, Troutdale or Tigard. Makes no sense.

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  • Kittens February 24, 2014 at 5:29 pm

    I think it is really a shame that most Americans equate the hustle and bustle of car traffic with commerce. It’s almost like they can’t imagine what a pedestrian and like dominated transportation network would look like because it is been drilled into their heads for so long that cars equal customers. The commercial real estate industry feeds this ridiculous notion. Maybe PBOT can buy round-trip airline tickets to Denmark for all these small minded business owners on 28!

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    • Reza February 25, 2014 at 12:08 am

      Buy them one-way tickets instead.

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    • 007 February 27, 2014 at 7:44 pm

      Don’t spend my tax dollars on small minds. Besides, why dump them on Denmark, even for a short time.

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  • Roger Geller February 24, 2014 at 5:57 pm

    There was a lot going on at that meeting. Michael is an excellent reporter but I believe he missed my response, which was, as I recall, delayed by a few moments following the question. I responded that it is the city’s goal to reduce reliance on the automobile. That is our official city goal (Goal 6: Transportation), which can be read here: http://www.portlandoregon.gov/bps/index.cfm?c=34249&a=141421

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    • Evan Manvel February 24, 2014 at 6:11 pm

      You rock, Roger!

      It is also State of Oregon policy.

      Oregon Administrative Rules 660.012.035:

      “(e) The transportation system shall avoid principal reliance on any one mode of transportation by increasing transportation choices to reduce principal reliance on the automobile. In [Metropolitan Planning Organization] areas this shall be accomplished by selecting transportation alternatives which meet the requirements in section (4) of this rule.

      “(4) In MPO areas, regional and local Transportation System Plans shall be designed to achieve adopted standards for increasing transportation choices and reducing reliance on the automobile. Adopted standards are intended as means of measuring progress of metropolitan areas towards developing and implementing transportation systems and land use plans that increase transportation choices and reduce reliance on the automobile. It is anticipated that metropolitan areas will accomplish reduced reliance by changing land use patterns and transportation systems so that walking, cycling, and use of transit are highly convenient and so that, on balance, people need to and are likely to drive less than they do today.”


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      • 9watts February 24, 2014 at 6:12 pm

        You both rock. And so do the people who wrote that OAR.

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    • Michael Andersen (News Editor)
      Michael Andersen (News Editor) February 24, 2014 at 7:03 pm

      Thanks, Roger – maybe I did miss this. My notes had you saying that reduced driving was going to happen whether or not it was the city’s job, but it’s a fine line and I might have misinterpreted, too. I’ll be honest: I was expecting an immediate “yes”!

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      • 9watts February 24, 2014 at 7:40 pm

        “I was expecting an immediate “yes”!”

        We here in this country have developed a particular way of having this conversation. There’s always someone in the room ready to crucify anyone merely talking positively about bike infrastructure or negatively about free car parking. The question always boils down to a variation on the one heard at this meeting:
        “Is it the City of Portland’s job to reduce people’s use of their cars?”
        or the slightly less circumspect: “Are you proposing to take my car away?”

        It isn’t a sincere question, but a rhetorical strategy to entrap the speaker. The statement-masquerading-as-a-question runs right over the bike-friendly infrastructure discussion by changing the conversation from increasing opportunities for those not in cars to diminishing them for the rest of us. Zero sum. Let’s cut to the chase. Enough happy talk.
        The interlocutor dreams up a Soviet-style, central car-zapping authority, and invites you to distance yourself from this caricature.

        I’m glad you didn’t blink, Roger.

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    • Anne Hawley February 25, 2014 at 11:03 am

      Thanks, Roger. That’s good to know.

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  • Gezellig February 24, 2014 at 6:06 pm

    I’m curious if he also brought up stats showing that people who arrive by bike to commercial strips tend to spend more money than those who do so by car:


    As for the actual design…just a shot in the dark but I wonder if merchants are against something like removing one lane by making at least parts of 28th a one-way street (with a parallel street or streets also getting the one-way treatment for the opposite direction)?

    Cars would still have full access to commercial stretches, you could keep the two lanes of parking (as ridiculous as that is) and it’d free up space for bikes, too.

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    • spare_wheel February 24, 2014 at 7:56 pm

      nimby residential property owners would nix this for sure. small business owners and nimby property owners are a scourge on our society (imo).

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      • Gezellig February 24, 2014 at 8:36 pm

        Totally! Even deeper to the root of the problem as I see it is that NIMBYism + hyper-democratic city planning processes are a terrible mix. Projects to help the greater good can and do regularly get derailed by a small minority with not-greater-good intents.

        To some degree I really admire New York City’s progress in recent years–in a few short years they’ve done tons of things such as close down intersections to cars to create new plazas, roll out a lot of new and better bike infrastructure, implement transit/bike/ped improvements even when it meant loss of parking, etc.

        Sure, neighborhood merchants and NIMBY-types exist there, too, but the common thread to all those things getting done? The city is structured in a way so that people know the city will more or less move ahead with these things regardless of what some NIMBY thinks, encouraging those types to accept it and at least consult with the city for the inevitable since they don’t have the power to just shut it down.

        I think that’s what it comes down to. Plans are structured as inevitable. You have some input or suggestions? Sure, we’ll consider it. But the project’s going to happen. These plans are not mere conceptual suggestions that can be totally derailed by a few NIMBYs with dubious aims.

        Below, a report on a now-supportive merchant who had formerly opposed a project in Brooklyn as a knee-jerk reaction to the fact that it would remove some parking:

        Another thing she learned from James was that the project was not likely to be stopped. “She at some point determined that the money was there and there was nothing that could be done about it,” Kamau said. At that point, the merchants association decided to work with the transit planners, rather than against them. “We’re going to embrace it and make the best out of it,” she said.


        Wow. What a difference.

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        • Justin February 25, 2014 at 8:59 am

          And there were some extremely powerful opponents in NYC, too, ranging from the moneyed interests of Senator Chuck Schumer’s wife (and her elite gang of Park Slope cohorts) who lost a preferred limo pickup zone to a bike lane, to hordes of taxi drivers who lost a good number of their shortcuts to pedestrian areas.

          Opponents in Portland don’t need to be nearly as powerful or organized to derail bike improvements….

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      • Reza February 25, 2014 at 12:40 am

        Let me get this straight…we all agree that an increase of auto traffic on a bike boulevard is a travesty. But if that same increase happens on a random residential street (and that’s what every surrounding street is here), all of a sudden people are being NIMBYs? And this isn’t a minor increase, we’re talking probably a FIVEFOLD growth, at least, in passing traffic if you make a parallel street a couplet to 28th. I’m sure you would be perfectly fine with that happening on your street?

        Regardless, none of those streets have either the capacity nor the connectivity to a be a suitable one-way street. Even 30th, which is what makes the City’s plan here to put northbound bikes on there regrettable.

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        • John Liu
          John Liu February 25, 2014 at 12:45 pm

          The north-south streets immediately adjacent to 28th are not suitable to be made into a one-way “couplet” with a one-way 28th. First, they don’t go through – 29th stops at Ash, 27th stops at Da Vinci and at Hosford schools, 30th jogs repeatedly and stops at Fred Meyer, none of them cross the 84 fwy, etc. Second, they don’t have traffic signals at the major east-west streets, and building 7 or more signalized intersections would cost way too much. Third, they are not wide enough for two lanes of one-way traffic plus even one side of parking. Fourth, giving over two streets to heavy auto traffic, where now we have one, is going in reverse.

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    • Spiffy February 25, 2014 at 8:21 am

      please no more one-way streets! they’re not friendly to anyone or anything except the movement of motor vehicles…

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  • spare_wheel February 24, 2014 at 6:52 pm

    Deja vu?

    In the late 90s bike lanes were proposed as an option for Hawthorne but due to an outcry from local businesses no additional bike infrastructure was installed (not even the measly sharrows depicted in the 1997 plan).

    (See alternatives 3 and 4 for what could have been.)

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  • Michael February 24, 2014 at 7:03 pm

    why not have folks go to each business in that area, asking the owners and staff whether they support the proposal or not? It could be the same basic question that was posed at the meeting. This would serve to inform the owners that the bike community is organized and passionate about this issue and willing to engage in action (I think its premature to specify what action might be in the cards) to promote a safer biking / pedestrian friendly environment.

    The responses to our more comprehensive survey could then be tallied – and the bike community would know who our allies are, who is on the fence (but open to persuasion) and from whom we can expect the most resistance. We could then ask those owners and staff (who support the transformation) for guidance and support on how best to persuade others…

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    • Spiffy February 25, 2014 at 8:23 am

      please get right on that and let us know the results…

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      • Michael February 25, 2014 at 11:07 am

        If I were a student or if I could fit this into my current work, then I would do this. I assume that some people who read this blog would have an easier time suggesting to their boss that they’d like to undertake such a survey (for example, perhaps someone at bike portland or Crank on 28th and Ash or at BTA could do this?). Hire me, Spiffy, and I’ll do it.

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  • Pat Franz February 24, 2014 at 9:31 pm

    28th wants to be a destination. The rest of the city wants/needs it to be a thoroughfare. It can be both. It’s not currently functioning as either.

    Parking doesn’t make something a destination. A reason to be there makes it a destination.

    Removing a few parking spaces will not make 28th less of a place people would like to go. Making the street better for people when they are not in their cars WILL make 28th more of a place people will want to go.

    Pleasant sidewalks/slower traffic/clearly welcoming pedestrian spaces/and dare I say it- the presence of cyclists- are each big improvements over the narrow, tense, auto clogged free for all that 28th is now.

    So people arriving by car will have to park a little ways away. So what? If their destination is more pleasant, it will be worth it to them. And all the other people arriving on foot and by bike will find it much more attractive.

    And the rest of the city will have a more pleasant time passing through.

    If the merchants were thinking at all, they would band together and arrange for parking someplace nearby, and HAPPILY take the new street improvements as an opportunity to turn their little corner of Portland into a destination. They are staring a true opportunity in the face and missing it entirely.

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    • wsbob February 25, 2014 at 10:47 am

      “…So people arriving by car will have to park a little ways away. …” Pat Franz

      The merchants may be afraid customers that arrive to their businesses by car, won’t come at all if they’ve not got a chance of parking on the street near their destination.

      And, that somehow, people arriving on foot or bike to the street and businesses there, won’t make up the difference in income lost from customers traveling by car.

      A single car parking space can park 10 bikes, which can be seen as possibly representing a ten-fold increase in business. Merchants and the city, ought maybe to consider trying out at least a temporary street reconfiguration to see if increased access for bike travel and bike parking could increase business earnings.

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    • wsbob February 26, 2014 at 12:17 am

      “…If the merchants were thinking at all, they would band together and arrange for parking someplace nearby, …” Pat Franz

      If it really wants to offer an incentive to merchants to approve this project, the city could consider providing parking, in the form of an attractively landscaped, well lit parking lot no more than a couple blocks away, equivalent to the number of parking spaces that would have to make way for the proposed project.

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  • Allan Folz February 24, 2014 at 10:09 pm

    Not one person to question the underlying assumption that the city of Portland should have another 1 million inhabitants in 20 years time? If Portland’s (and the entire country’s for that matter) population wasn’t growing so rapidly we wouldn’t have these types of problems in the first place.

    The majority of the country’s population growth is from foreign immigration, both legal and illegal. The citizens of the US first responsibility is to each other and our posterity, the latter being enumerated in the explicit text of the Constitution.

    I believe we, the people, should stand-up to the bullying from Washington D.C. and demand a breather on immigration until we can have an honest assessment of what we, the people, want for our country. Or we can pretend like it’s an inevitable and unstoppable force of nature which nothing can be done about, and give up without even trying because that’s what the business lobby and national politicians repeat so many times it must be true.

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    • 9watts February 24, 2014 at 10:16 pm

      Alternatives to Growth Oregon questioned this. Every day. But many people unfortunately consider this one of those issues it is easier to skip over, pretend it doesn’t concern us.
      Another million people here is completely ridiculous. One more of those let’s extrapolate the past into the future, like VMT growth.

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    • Gezellig February 24, 2014 at 11:56 pm

      Allan Folz
      The majority of the country’s population growth is from foreign immigration, both legal and illegal. The citizens of the US first responsibility is to each other and our posterity, the latter being enumerated in the explicit text of the Constitution.

      Portland’s growth has actually mostly been due to domestic migration from other parts of the US.

      —> In 2000 about 91.6% of people in the city of Portland were US citizens (86.95% natively so + 4.65% naturalized).

      —> In 2012 about 92.1% of people in the city of Portland were US citizens (86.50% natively so + 5.60% naturalized)

      —> During that period the city of Portland’s population jumped from 529,000 to an estimated 603,000.


      In other words, Portland added more than 70,000 residents and even slightly increased its already high percentage of US citizens. So where are most of these people coming from? The rest of the US.

      Regardless of how you feel on international immigration and even if you could somehow totally block it, you can’t block US citizens from moving throughout the Union or reproducing in their current locations.

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      • Allan Folz February 25, 2014 at 8:10 pm

        Meh. Why are people moving from California to Portland? It’s not the weather.

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        • Gezellig February 25, 2014 at 9:21 pm

          The full reasons why are probably beyond my ken and certainly the scope of this site, but the fact that it’s a neighboring state probably doesn’t hurt.

          Using the US Census Flows Mapper (http://flowsmapper.geo.census.gov/flowsmapper/map.html) you can track movement to/from any US county–like Multnomah–from any other US county with the most recent dataset being from 2007-2011.

          It’s clear that geographical proximity plays a huge role. Lots and lots of people are moving to the Portland area from other counties in Oregon and Washington. For example in the period of 2007-2011:

          —> King County, WA sent a net 671 people to Multnomah County
          —> Lane County, OR sent a net 959 people to Multnomah County
          —> Marion County, OR sent a net 376 people to Multnomah County
          –> Ada County, ID sent a net 324 people to Multnomah County
          —> San Francisco County, CA sent a net 113 to Multnomah County
          —> Los Angeles County, CA sent a net 865 to Multnomah County

          So roughly speaking that means that even though Los Angeles County is the most populated county in the entire nation (~10 million residents), Greater LA still sent 100 *fewer* people to Greater Portland than did Greater Eugene!

          The point is, Portland clearly has a regional draw. So might as well plan for the growth and build smartly accordingly.

          This is also one reason to nip the car-as-king mentality in the bud now. Most of these “donor” counties are highly auto-dependent and though I’m sure a fair amount of those people do move to Portland precisely *because* of its relative bike-friendliness (the positive-feedback loop addressed here: http://bikeportland.org/2013/07/02/what-caused-portlands-biking-boom-89491), some of them are probably expecting easy driving and parking by default. And some of them will probably buy homes and unfortunately bring some anti-change NIMBYism along with.

          Build the great bike infra and complete streets now so it becomes inevitable as That’s What Portland Is And What It Does. The further engrained into the fabric of Portland’s urban DNA this is, the better.

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    • Spiffy February 25, 2014 at 8:26 am

      I had to check to make sure I wasn’t in Arizona…

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    • Chris I February 25, 2014 at 9:43 am

      You should ask the Native Americans for their opinion on foreign immigration.

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    • Pete February 25, 2014 at 10:22 am

      Many cities have “growth” as their number one goal, as the ensuing development leads to a stronger tax base. They subsidize “economic development” agencies who then equate “growth” to “jobs” and lower unemployment as an answer to their budget shortfalls. “Growth”, as we’ve discovered, instead stresses planners’ abilities to position and move people to and through their communities, quickly and safely. Therein lies the crux – planners are forced to burn more budget tackling the challenges that lie in “growing” a community (i.e. undoing previous planning decisions based on outdated population projections).

      To your point on immigration, much of the bullying doesn’t come from Washington, D.C., it happens to Washington in the form of business leaders pushing to raise H1B Visa quotas. Their war cry is that they are starved for educated employees that will fuel technology and innovation and therefore must import Masters- and PhD-level graduates from overseas. Here in Silicon Valley business leaders often correlate the raising and lowering of H1B quotas to the dot-com boom and bust of the mid-90’s through ~2002 – and it tracks nicely. (Downtown) Portland’s demographic seems different to me, though… it seems like the incumbents who profited from that H1B spike took their money and headed North…

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      • Ryan Good February 26, 2014 at 12:36 pm

        As Ed Abbey told us, growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of the cancer cell.

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    • spare_wheel February 25, 2014 at 11:10 am

      ¡Viva la reconquista!

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  • dwainedibbly February 25, 2014 at 4:56 am

    Scroom! Ignore 28th for now. There are a lot of other parts of the City which could use redesigning. Find another district that is more open-minded and make changes there. Wait 5 years for the benefits to become apparent then go back to 28th and see if opinions have changed. If they haven’t, move on to somewhere else and come back in another 5 years.

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    • Chris I February 25, 2014 at 9:43 am

      They don’t need to do anything other than point to Williams/Vancouver. We’ve already been through this. It works.

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    • Cold Worker February 25, 2014 at 4:11 pm


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    • Cold Worker February 25, 2014 at 5:25 pm


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  • Jeremy Cohen February 25, 2014 at 9:06 am

    I wonder how those business owners would feel if the response to the “is it the city’s job to reduce auto dependance” question was another question: Is it the city’s job to provide free parking for cars? The business owners want it both ways–they want the city to provide parking, at well below market value for the space, but they don’t believe the city should provide a safe travel situation for an important segment of the population. I would argue that more people bike that road every day than could possibly park there in the same day.

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    • davemess February 25, 2014 at 11:42 am

      I’m curious what their general response to “Would you rather have parking meters or removed parking?” would be. I’m guessing the meters?

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      • Michael Andersen (News Editor)
        Michael Andersen (News Editor) February 25, 2014 at 12:57 pm

        I asked a bunch of the businesses this question in December. Some liked meters, some didn’t; few seemed to have even considered it. I’d estimate that in general, yes, meters all along the strip would be a bit more popular with businesses than removing one lane of parking.

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  • paikikala February 25, 2014 at 9:53 am

    Why not use some of the side streets to mitigate parking loss on 28th? A 36-ft street can have parallel on one side, angle on the other and a one-way lane. the angle side parking adds 20%-30% more car size spaces on that side of the street. reverse angle parking (aka, back-in) would help enforce the one-way operation. There will be some localized neighborhood circulation added, but nothing like a new collector. BTW, car size spaces could be used for something other than a car.

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    • spare_wheel February 25, 2014 at 11:14 am

      I really like your idea. I hope this gets pitched to businesses and other “stakeholders” at the next meeting. (Some residential areas in Seattle have angle parking and it works well.)

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    • Gezellig February 25, 2014 at 12:00 pm

      Yes! This is the kind of thinking and flexible approach which should be considered whenever possible.

      Imagine being able to present a project as “hey, we’re actually *adding* car-parking spots on the cross streets.” Then these types of projects could hardly be branded as “anti-car.”

      I know it’s kind of ridiculous but if that’s the way to truly achieve a complete street and it’s either that or the whole thing being torpedoed in situations like this then I’ll take it.

      Hey, perhaps even better if going this route…what about making the one-way cross streets shared-space Bike Streets with:

      –> Low Speed Limits + street-calming visual cues for reinforcement
      –> One-way Cars Allowed As Guest movement for autos
      –> Two-way, street-width, continuously striped green super sharrows
      –> Parallel parking on one side, as Paikikala suggests
      –> Angled back-in parking on the other side, as Paikikala suggests

      Basically this kind of one-way Bike Street (http://wiki.coe.neu.edu/groups/nl2011transpo/wiki/50b93/images/__thumbs__/e32ec.JPG) as base template but with the above modifications

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      • Michael Andersen (News Editor)
        Michael Andersen (News Editor) February 25, 2014 at 12:58 pm

        This is a pretty interesting idea. One possible issue is that the more traffic has to turn on and off the street, the more dangerous it becomes. Any thoughts on this?

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        • Gezellig February 25, 2014 at 2:22 pm

          That’s definitely something to consider, for sure. Though if the design is successful at truly forcing cars to go at slow speeds (including while turning) throughout the Bike Streets then it should help minimize danger to those on foot, bike, wheelchairs, etc. when those cars turn.

          Maybe a demo of this first might really help to do some trial-and-error to see what works/doesn’t–including the turning issue. I wouldn’t be surprised if by doing this you’d be discouraging prolonged through car traffic on these cross streets with the end result perhaps even being reduced car volumes.

          Especially since most of the surrounding areas are a grid it could even probably be possible to implement one-way (for cars) Bike Streets that change flow every block or two (for cars).

          For a Manhattan example of the flow-change thing, 110th St. is a one-way that flips flow direction at Madison Ave (http://goo.gl/maps/jPSfC). This allows local access for cars to drive and park while preventing it from being a prolonged throughway there. And of course the surrounding grid is able to compensate for the “oddity” of this kind of design.

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      • paikikala February 25, 2014 at 3:48 pm

        PBOT actually has done this before. NE Fremont, 42nd to 52nd. Parking clearances for the marked crosswalks were mitigated with angle parking on some of the side streets.

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  • SD February 25, 2014 at 11:36 am

    28th is also a route to Davinci middle school and Central Catholic high school. They should be at the table as well. Perhaps moreso than the businesses on 28th. An email address list of the businesss that are involved in this would be nice.

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  • resopmok February 25, 2014 at 6:48 pm

    Frankly I find this is why consensus is a dead-end in the political decision making process. Businesses are not going to readily agree to change, because change, whether forecasted as good or bad, is always perceived as bad – it adds uncertainty to the business model. The city should just do what it intends to do, and build good, needed bike infrastructure here. Yes, they are in a popularity contest where ultimately their jobs are at stake if people don’t like the actions, but the businesses there are not the only voices at the ballot box. And if those businesses can’t adapt to the new environment then it is probably true that they should be replaced by businesses that can. Maybe that seems cold, but it still complies with one of nature’s primary laws – survival of the fittest. Less marketing and more action will bring better infrastructure quicker.

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    • Gezellig February 25, 2014 at 9:52 pm

      Excellently put about businesses having a natural tendency to immediately be against change (even if it could potentially help them) due to its introduction of uncertainty into the business model. And indeed they are not the only community stakeholders. So while the city should be transparent with its plans and take input into consideration it should present public projects like redoing streets as inevitable.

      Of course the more pervasively this happens, the better. Maybe it truly *would* hurt a few businesses in a commercial area if theirs were the only one to lose parking whereas all the commercial districts within a few miles were allowed to “keep” all “their” street parking.

      This reminds me a bit of California’s experience with smoking bans in bars–in the 90s when there were only piecemeal city-by-city bans on smoking in bars some businesses really did lose customers to neighboring cities’ bars that didn’t have such an ordinance. So naturally all the trade organizations vociferously opposed the statewide ban on smoking in bars.

      But when it went statewide? Bar sales went up across the board. It was perhaps surprising to bar owners that a lot of new people went *because* it was smokefree. I think bar owners overestimate how many smokers there truly are (less than 20% nationally) just like they may overestimate how many drive to their businesses. And plus, people don’t just stop going to bars.

      Similarly, people won’t just stop shopping. And businesses may not even realize how many people are currently turned *off* of their commercial stretches due to auto-centricity. Auto-centricity isn’t cute. It doesn’t invite you to stick around as long. And it can be a hassle even with a car.

      And of course with good inviting bike infrastructure some of the people with cars will even start realizing they *can* ride their bike the 1/2 mile to go get a coffee when it’s a pleasant experience.

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  • jacque February 26, 2014 at 11:23 am

    28th ave is a good route by bike. The lights are timed so that a cyclist can ride at a reasonable pace, and not hold cars back because going faster would only make the car get to the red light faster. I love riding along there and waving to the stopped cars that have passed me with frustration, as I ride past *them* without having to stop.

    But The VERY dangerous behavior of cars- using the on-coming lane, at high speed, to pass cyclists going “too slow” makes it VERY scary-whether you’re on foot, bike, or in a car… or sitting at a table on the sidewalk!

    I have a solution… Let’s reduce the speed limit in this highly congested area to 20 MPH, and designate it as a SHARED road. The city could use signs to make that clear… bike symbols could be located in the middle of the lane letting cyclists know that that is where they belong. Time all the lights to accommodate 20 MPH. It could be a great learning experience for everyone… 20 mph is a speed that allows for people to exist alongside cars. Leave the on street parking. According to the research, pedestrians feel safer when there is a barrier to the cars moving past, and side street parking functions that way. This project could be a model for other congested marketing streets to learn from.

    As an aside, it is It’s is a bit amusing to me to hear a bike lane is proposed for 28th ave. Several years ago I was commenting, here on BP I think, how bike lanes seemed to be put in on routes that were already good for, and being used by cyclists. I commented then that 28th ave, a much used bicycle route, would probably be next.

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    • spare_wheel February 27, 2014 at 10:11 am

      “<b<The VERY dangerous behavior of cars…”

      Sorry but in my experience 28th is a lot like Hawthorne — an inner PDX commercial street where the vast majority of motorists treat cyclists with respect. This is not to say that it does not urgently need improvements that accommodate already significant bike traffic (and encourage those who are more cautious to start using it).

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      • davemess February 27, 2014 at 3:46 pm

        We’ve already determined that your subjective definition of “scary” and “dangerous” are different than others on here.

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    • Jeff March 1, 2014 at 4:05 pm

      Honestly I dont know that this would work all that well …I think the goal should be to get more folks cycling on the route and cars aren’t going to change their behavior because of some paint and reduced speed limits without heavy enforcement

      I ride down Clinton a lot and its no 28th but it seems like there are more cars speeding past me then was intended for the route

      I’m just skeptical that 28th as a sharrow can be made to be safe enough to generate new usage of the route

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  • jacque February 26, 2014 at 11:30 am

    I very much agree with “gezellig’s comment above mine^. With her/his comments in mind, I would love to see this be a project that really facilitated a shared road and enforced reduced speed limit. A place where cyclists can learn what it feels like to ride *with* traffic, and *as* traffic. And for car drivers to see how it works and get used to it.

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  • Dan February 27, 2014 at 8:14 am

    There are lots of low-car or car-free shopping areas in Portland that do just fine. You park far away and walk to the shopping area, then you walk from store to restaurant to movie theater to ice rink, etc. Lloyd Center, Pioneer Place, Washington Square, Bridgeport Village, Clackamas Town Square, Streets of Tanasbourne, etc.

    Cars whizzing by your front door are not necessary for customers.

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  • chris February 28, 2014 at 4:56 pm

    Almost all new cars will be self-driving/autonomous by then, which throws a wrench into this prediction. The problem with these predictions is that they attempt to extrapolate current trends on to infinity.

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    • 9watts February 28, 2014 at 7:02 pm

      All 5 of them.
      In 2035 we’re going to have more carless drivers than driverless cars.

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