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At 20s Bikeway open houses, narrow support for bike lanes instead of auto parking

Buffered Bike Lane with a bike symbol and arrow pointing forward

Riding with traffic is currently the only safe option through the 28th Avenue commercial district.
(Photo by J.Maus/BikePortland)

“If parking is so valuable to business owners that our right of way can’t be used for traffic (bike traffic) flow, then that parking should be priced,”
— Open house attendee

Trying to summarize all the opinions of Portlanders who came to last month’s trio of open houses on the 20s Bikeway would be “like summarizing 250 essays on 25 or so different subjects,” project manager Rich Newlands wrote in an email Wednesday.

But on one high-profile issue, it’s actually not too hard to tally attendees’ opinions: should the west side of 28th Avenue between Stark Street and Interstate 84 have a buffered bike lane, or auto parking?

At its public open houses, the city got 90 direct comments on the subject. Of them, 48 supported at least one buffered bike lane, while 42 preferred to reserve the space for auto parking.

Tallied from comment cards at PBOT’s three open houses.
(Chart by BikePortland.)

“If parking is so valuable to business owners that our right of way can’t be used for traffic (bike traffic) flow, then that parking should be priced,” one attendee wrote on one of the comment cards that were available. “28th is on the bike master plan for a reason. People riding bikes want to patronize those businesses and 1 street crosses the highway.”

Other commenters, including a few who said they personally are “frequent” bike users, disagreed.

City bike planning coordinator Roger Geller, center,
at an open house last month.
(Photo by M.Andersen/BikePortland)

“I am very opposed to eliminating parking or any 1-way streets,” one comment said. “I am happy to drive 10 mph with speed bumps.”

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the results suggest that people who live or work very close to the 28th commercial district are closely split on the issue, with a slight preference for preserving parking. Attendees of the central open house preferred parking over bike lanes, 34 to 30. And the results also suggest that people elsewhere in the city feel less strongly about the 28th Avenue area but (if they have an opinion at all) clearly prefer to devote the space to bike access and mobility rather than auto storage. Comments about the central stretch of 28th from the north and south open houses favored bike lanes over auto parking, 18 to 8.

The vast majority of comments at the central open house (78 percent) included a clear opinion, one way or the other, about the parking question.

The city promoted the open houses with a postcard mailing to thousands of homes near the project area. KGW-TV also did an on-air report before the first open house, though the station inaccurately reported that the plan would “end street parking.”

Categorizing attendees’ 238 comments, which took me a few hours, required several judgment calls. For example, one person said they opposed having “no parking on 28th.” Because the city’s lead proposal is to remove parking from only one side of 28th, and only through the commercial district, I counted that comment in neither column. On the other hand, many comments said more generally that parking is essential on 28th. I assumed these comments meant that every parking space is essential, and chalked them up as opposing a buffered bike lane.

Also, many comments expressed general support for the city’s plan. I didn’t count these people in either camp, unless they seemed to be referring specifically to the city’s plan for the 28th business district.

Finally, here are some of the comments that jumped out to me as most interesting, on both sides of the issue.

I own the laundry at NE 28th & Glisan. I have had four parking spaces removed by the city of Portland in the winter and spring of 2011. They were replaced by bicycle parking and bioswales. This greatly improved business for the restaurant owner as he can now have serving tables on the curbside. It took 16% off the top of the laundry business as parking is key to a laundromat. People won’t carry loads of laundry a block or more, they will simply go elsewhere. Two of the corners at this intersection have been taken away, one for Zipcar, and one to make life easier for TriMet. I have talked to the city about this many times but to no avail. If the parking, as inadequate as it is, is taken away on the west side of 28th avenue, our business will be incapable of making a profit. I have worked hard for 37 years to provide a clean and dependable facility. I need more parking, not less. I know that many other businesses will face the same situation. I hope and pray that the city of Portland will support businesses that provide important services to their citizens.

I was “doored”while riding my bicycle at 28th & Davis several years ago. The incident resulted in a brain injury with vision / balance difficulties, inability to rotate my neck for months, car paint chips from the driver’s door embedded in my lips and gums, broken teeth, multiple plastic surgeries, job loss and extensive rehabilitative treatment. I have not used a bicycle since the accident. I do not want other cyclists on 28th Ave. to suffer the same fate. I am glad that you are taking steps to make this narrow, busy street safer for cyclists but I am concerned that the painted markings on the street may not draw enough attention from drivers who are not from Portland (the driver who doored me did not live here). Would encourage you to use the most vivid colors possible (neon or glow-in-the-dark paint?) to gain the attention of drivers and alert them to the presence of cyclists and the deadly “door zone.”

Cyclists need safe access to commerce, and routes that are intuitive! Please!, Please!, Please! use a 28th Ave option that gives bikes space / lanes in both directions, not just one!!!

It scares me to hear all the people here barking about parking. Their fear should be tested as we need to move forward with creating a great place to live that is unprecedented in the US. Caving into their fears turns Portland into anywhere USA. We can do far, far better.

Bike traffic at SE 28th and Ankeny in 2009.
(Photo by J.Maus/BikePortland)

I don’t go to businesses on 28th north of Burnside b/c it is so inconvenient & unsafe. I frequently go to businesses on 28th south of Burnside (N of Stark) b/c they are easier to access from Ankeny & there are corrals for me to lock up to.

As a homeowner on 28th I can’t begin to express my serious concerns regarding the possibilities of removing parking on 28th from Stark to Broadway and replacing them with bike lanes. Just on my block from Stark to Oak there are two 4 plexes without parking, a duplex without parking and 2 single family homes without parking. My house and two others facing 28th have driveways. Because of the many businesses within a block of my house, it is nearly impossible to find parking near my house when my bridge club comes on a Friday night – many people have to park near Central Catholic. Street parking begins filling up around 4 in the afternoon. There is some parking during the day after 9 AM and before 4 PM. It is true that bicycles need a clear pathway to go north and south, but why on a street filled with locally owned businesses?

The city’s lead proposal for 28th, facing south. A new neighborhood greenway, mostly on 30th, would provide a side-street alternative for northbound traffic.

I agree with you. I really like the idea because it goes right next to my house on 28th and Alder and we will have a lot better time riding bikes to school and other bike rides.

I run a General Contracting business by bicycle, and my business name is Builder by Bike. I use SE 28th frequently to access the north and NE neighborhoods. Safety, calm streets, and direct routes, are important to me as a business owner, and I might add that routes with slight grades are preferable. I know businesses along this corridor are given “sacred cow” treatment, and I ask the same treatment be extended to business owners who are dependent on SE 28th for transit.

I would prefer to see 28th Ave either all on-street parking removed and replaced with buffered bike lanes and a rebranding campaign for the businesses or no on-street parking removed and a shared street environment created w/ enhanced sharrows, fire friendly speed humps, and raised pedestrian crosswalks.

(Because that last person was open to removing parking from both sides, I counted him or her in the “bike lanes” column.)

I’ll close with one of the comments I didn’t categorize either way on the parking issue, from a commenter who reported that they “never” ride a bicycle:

Looks well thought out – limited impact on neighborhoods. Might make me more likely to get on my bike!

More info on the 20s Bikeway Project:
Past coverage on BikePortland
PBOT’s official project page