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Parking power prevails (for now): PBOT pulls plug on 28th Ave bike lanes

Posted by on April 25th, 2014 at 9:11 am

A ride with the family-6

The city’s new “interim solution” for the Buckman/Kerns commercial district (that is, keep things pretty much like they are now).
(Photo by J. Maus/BikePortland)

The Portland Bureau of Transportation on Thursday backed off from its proposal to replace about 100 auto parking spaces on 28th Avenue near Burnside with a buffered bike lane.

Available auto parking is “a very, very big deal” for neighborhood commercial districts like this one, project manager Rich Newlands told the 20s Bikeway Project stakeholder advisory committee at their meeting last night.

The city completed its first multi-street count of the neighborhood’s parking demand in time for Thursday’s meeting, which had been slated as the committee’s last. The results showed that many nearby blocks in the free-parking neighborhood were near capacity.

Below is PBOT’s “Parking Demand Map” showing that both sides of 28th through the commercial district are at “100% observed parking utilization”:

Detail only. Full size PDF here.

Instead of further straining the area’s free parking, Newlands said, the city is recommending an “interim solution” for the commercial district that takes three steps to improve biking through the area:

“What is the right amount of parking? We can agree or disagree. But people who actually have skin in the game are businesses. They will have a very loud voice at city council.”
— Rich Newlands, PBOT

  • Improve 30th Avenue into a neighborhood greenway between NE Oregon and SE Stark streets, creating a lower-stress alternative to pedaling on 28th (but forcing north/south riders to head two blocks out of their way and back)
  • Preserve a “line on the map” on 28th Avenue that would theoretically be improved for riders of all ages and abilities after the city has overhauled its parking policy.
  • Use several traffic calming tactics on 28th Avenue between Oregon and Stark: fire-truck-friendly speed bumps, zebra crosswalks, a posted 20 mph speed limit and possibly green-backed “super sharrows.”

Unfortunately, Newlands and two city traffic engineers said, the first two strategies are likely to limit the possibilities for the third.

Because the city is spending much of its $2.4 million budget creating new traffic signals for the new side-street greenway (which will run parallel to the “official” bikeway at various points south of Interstate 84) it has less money to spend on traffic calming measures such as textured pavement. And because the city is still trying to preserve street space for a future bike facility on 28th, it’s recommending against new pedestrian bump-outs, pillars or other physical obstructions there.

Newlands said the city’s reversal was informed by what he described as a negative response to parking removal at a series of public open houses. (He interpreted some of the comments differently than we did.)

Detail from photo of the city’s new staff proposal for the central section. Digital copies were unavailable Thursday night.
(Click to enlarge.)

Another factor: a petition, signed by almost every business on the strip, that urged the city to scrap its buffered bike lane plan through the district in order to keep auto parking (a plan that the Bicycle Transportation Alliance called a “step in the right direction”)

“What is the right amount of parking?” Newlands asked Thursday. “We can agree or disagree. But people who actually have skin in the game are businesses. They will have a very loud voice at city council.”

Sarah Holliday of Staccato Gelato at 232 NE 28th, who said she bikes to her storefront herself, said she’d started the process thinking differently.” I was willing to maybe give up parking on 28th; it didn’t seem so onerous to me,” she said. “But the more I learned about 30th Avenue, the more I didn’t see, if that is there, why removing parking on 28th is necessary.”

“We don’t have public transportation down 28th any more, and it’s kind of a hard neighborhood to get to,” Holliday went on. “People drive.”

BTA: ‘Couplet’ had been a compromise

The city’s opening bid for a 28th Avenue bikeway: one shared lane and one buffered bike lane, plus a nearby neighborhood greenway.

Carl Larson, the Bicycle Transportation Alliance’s representative on the committee, said the “nine-mile neighborhood greenway” that the 20s Bikeway has largely become will be “a much-needed north-south route.”

But Larson was disappointed to see the so-called “couplet” proposal fail. Even that, he said, had never actually been a great bike facility.

“We saw the couplet as a good compromise, but what’s truly best for bicyclists and 28th Avenue businesses is a direct two-way connection on 28th,” Larson said. “It’s clear that the city has a lot of work to do and more tools to develop in order to make 28th the major city bikeway that it has been slated to become since the 70s.”

Larson, who seemed visibly depressed after Thursday’s meeting, had an interesting take on the possibility of adding sharrows to 28th.

In most other cities, he noted, sharrows mark shared lanes on busy streets. Portland’s decision to use them instead to mark low-stress neighborhood greenways had been “noble,” Larson said, a reflection of the city’s belief that it could “do better” than other cities by installing European-style separated bikeways along big commercial streets.

But when it comes to major commercial streets, Larson said, Portland has actually failed to do better than other cities, except in its choice to avoid dangerous door-zone bike lanes.

“This outcome here shows that we’re actually unable to get that protected facility,” Larson said. “We need to admit that we need to use sharrows, because people need and want access to businesses.”

Some argue less parking would help business

Bike corral on SE 28th at Ankeny-10

SE 28th and Ankeny.
(Photo by J.Maus/BikePortland)

Though none of the bike-lane supporters on the committee vocally protested Newlands’ recommendation Thursday — some seemed to accept that the writing was on the wall — several questioned the premise that parking removal would hurt businesses.

Jeff Mandel of the Kerns Neighborhood Association cited instances from New York City and Santa Barbara in which projects that removed auto parking in favor of other street uses had increased revenue in business districts.

28th Avenue’s businesses, Mandel said, will never be able to grow unless their area can continue to reduce its dependence on auto parking.

“If you think parking is saturated today and you’re depending on people to come by car – well, guess what? [Your business] is not going to grow any more than it is today,” Mandel said. “The only way it’s going to grow is if you change that. … The fact is that a car takes up a fixed amount of space. And you can’t jam any more of them onto the street here.”

Garlynn Woodsong said the underlying auto parking problem isn’t that there’s too little of it, but that it’s being given away too cheaply.

“If my business model was to brew beer and give it away for free, and I ran out of beer, my solution would be to start charging,” Woodsong said. “This shows that this giving it away for free is not working.”

PBOT hopes for parking reforms

Parking meters or permits are two options, but there may be others.
(Photo by M.Andersen/BikePortland)

Newlands seemed to agree. He predicted that for PBOT, reforming the city’s auto parking system will be “the next big issue that we take on.”

“We’re asking a lot of the public right of way,” Newlands said. “The future strongly suggests that parking will be at the bottom of the totem pole. Moving people, getting people to places, is going to be more important than storing cars.”

As we reported last fall, PBOT has received a state grant to examine the city’s auto parking policy. That project, now managed by city staffer Grant Morehead, is preparing to select its lead consultant, and the possibilities are already being discussed.

There are many other details about the 20s Bikeway beyond the 36-foot-wide central commercial section that has been subject to so much debate. The advisory committee decided Thursday that it’ll meet one last time to hammer them out. Look for a follow-up post here once we have digital copies of the current proposal.

The fate of the central section, however, seems to be determined until at least the end of summer 2015. At that point, Newlands said, the city will reasess.

Even then, of course, the fundamental challenge with the street will be the same.

“Goddamn it, why our forefathers didn’t give us 38 feet [of street width]?” Newlands joked, to frustrated laughter. “We can blame it on them.”

Correction 4/28: An earlier version of this post misstated the California city cited by Mandel as a case of successful parking removal.

— Jonathan proposed a different way to approach NE/SE 28th yesterday. Find that and all our coverage of the 20s Bikeway Project here.

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

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davemess
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davemess

Weak PBOT. No surprising, but weak.

I’m so tired of the “skin in the game” argument. We all have skin in the game, we choose to live here and make this our home.

“The future strongly suggests that parking will be at the bottom of the totem pole. Moving people, getting people to places, is going to be more important than storing cars.”

Ha! At this point seems very doubtful.

Robert Burchett
Guest
Robert Burchett

a. Make NE 28 safe for bikes by riding bikes through it, taking the lane, and;
2. not parking, because parking is for cars. There’s nothing on NE 28th that I can’t find somewhere else!

Alex Reed
Guest
Alex Reed

Newlands can justifiably blame the street width on our forefathers, but the blame for lack of any truly bike-friendly commercial streets in Portland decades after we started installing bike infrastructure is squarely on current politicians, PBOT staff, and us as citizens for not demanding it strongly enough.

Emails to contact with your concerns about this plan:
Rich Newlands, project manager –
rich.newlands@portlandoregon.gov
Leah Treat, PBOT director –
director@portlandoregon.gov
Steve Novick, commissioner in charge of PBOT – novick@portlandoregon.gov

Bike-Max-Bike
Guest
Bike-Max-Bike

Abandoning any pretense at Bronze Level cycling status Portland reaches farther down the list and grasps “Tawdry Auto Lover” status. Well done I say PDX gov, well done.

Gregg
Guest

This street needs parking meters yesterday. That will help businesses with turn around customers. End free auto parking subsidies now.

I wish I felt safe riding with my kids north/ south on this route. I’d love to support the local businesses. I wonder if those business owners signing their petition passed around one of the many studies showing that business goes up when folks can safely ride bicycles to their shops?

zuckerdog
Guest
zuckerdog

NE 28th Avenue Critical Mass…

Joe Reistetter
Guest
Joe Reistetter

I would be highly appreciative of a list of pro-auto businesses so that I can stop going there and show them how much skin we bikers put into their game. 28th is one of my favorite parts of the city…i discovered it after biking through there.

BicycleDave
Guest
BicycleDave

The business owners that “have skin in the game” don’t understand what’s best for their own businesses. To restate Haggerty if businesses want more business they need more people on the street. Encouraging more bikes will add more people. Car parking is saturated and you only get about 1 person per car.

Hanne
Guest
Hanne

Is the petition signed by the business owners available? It’s not much, but I’d like to vote with my dollars and not patronize those businesses (and on the flip side, if there are ozone that didn’t, I will make a point to patronize those).

spare_wheel
Guest

so we get nothing. absolutely nothing on 28th.
this is my neighborhood and i am very pissed.

this weekend i am going to inform multiple businesses that they are no longer going to get my business.

boycott 28th!

some flyers are also going to be posted around local businesses.

i am absolutely up for a critical mass ride.

MaxD
Guest
MaxD

It is irresponsible to present 30th as an option or an alternative. It doesn’t safe cross any major streets or cross the interstate. PBOT has done a disservice to safe travel by including 30th in this discussion

MaxD
Guest
MaxD

If parking so valuable, put the parking meters in today! Free parking is horseshi^

Case
Guest
Case

Who’s got skin in the game when a car hits a cyclist or pedestrian on 28th?

Brian Davis
Guest
Brian Davis

“But people who actually have skin in the game are businesses.”

Businesses are people? With skin?? Sounds like Antonin Scalia’s idea of utopia.

Oh, I get it. It’s a metaphor, wherein I suppose the ‘skin’ must be ‘revenue stream provided by the immense public subsidy known as free parking.’ Which, strangely, no longer sounds like a Scalian utopia. Now I’m just confused.

Sounds like our metaphorical people need a metaphorical dermatologist. This has all descended into farce.

IanC
Guest
IanC

Well, I’ll be taking the full lane from here on out. Period. I live in the neighborhood and 28th is the best way to cross I-84. The street is too narrow to safely allow cars and trucks to pass me. Seriously, even if they DO pass me, they don’t save any time due to frequent stoplights.

So, chill out, motorists and watch me bike in front of you in a nice wide lane on OUR street.

John Liu
Guest
John Liu

On the positive side, sounds like traffic signals will be installed on 30th at major crossings? Is that correct?

For me personally, what is or isn’t done on this stretch of 28th makes no difference. I ride there frequently, with no problems and no concerns.

For others, 30th with traffic lights will be a quiet route to ride (or walk) from north to south.

The limited calming/slowing measures on 28th should have at least some positive effect there.

And we can move on with the whole project and not remain hung up on this 10-15 block stretch.

Buzz Aldrin
Guest
Buzz Aldrin

Can’t we at least get some sharrows as an interim solution?

I completely fail to see why PBOT is opposed to this.

They could be out on the street tomorrow, and should have been there 5 years ago.

James Sherbondy
Guest
James Sherbondy

We’ll definitely reach “Vision Zero” by just doing the same things that result in us not having “Vision Zero”. Did my sarcasm come through enough?

JNE
Guest
JNE

I was hoping we could move all those carnivals from waterfront park to 28th this summer. Get me some bamboo sushi, funnel cake, maybe a little ride on the ferris wheel ….

AndyC of Linnton
Guest
AndyC of Linnton

Wow. So many things running through my head in reaction to this.
Thanks Portland, I’ll be driving my car over there then. That’s what you want, right? Cool. Maybe you can tear down some houses over there or something for a parking garage?

MaxD
Guest
MaxD

If PBOT is too timid to remove parking for protected bike lanes, what is their justification for not using sharrows on this street?

Todd Hudson
Guest
Todd Hudson

I forget…is Portland a progressive city being proactive about transit, or is Portland a city full of entitled libertarians who demand unlimited free parking everywhere they go (while claiming they are progressive)? I can’t wait until people vote to put the Water Bureau into corporate hands!

SD
Guest
SD

Incredibly short sighted. 28th could become more of a destination and less of a thoroughfare, instead businesses on 28th will struggle while other streets with better bike accomodations will thrive. And, an important route for kids to bike to school (Da Vinci and Central Catholic) will not be made safer. I would be happy to stop going to the businesses that held onto parking. Where is the list of businesses that opposed it?

peejay
Guest
peejay

Horrible. Just horrible. Anything else I say, based on what I’m feeling right now, will just get this comment deleted.

Psyfalcon
Guest
Psyfalcon

Bring on the meters. Too valuable to remove, too valuable to give away.

Lets see if everyone parking there is also working there.

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

As someone who occasionally drives to 28th, I’m glad to see that the city has finally seen that the parking utilization is so high. Since auto parking is clearly a priority, I expect them to immediately install meters so I can drive to the businesses that I want to visit. I haven’t really thought of 28th as being a parking district in the past, since every time I tried to drive there, all of the street parking was taken by employees of said businesses. Thanks PBOT, I look forward to driving to 28th and parking in front of my favorite local business in the near future!

peejay
Guest
peejay

OK, let’s just say it: the owner of any business that serves alcohol and who also opposes this project because of the loss of parking needs to think very carefully about the implication of their choice.

Todd Boulanger
Guest
Todd Boulanger

I commend the City for undertaking the parking study. This type of data is very important. And it shows that there is a parking problem as this parking as a resource is “undervalued” and poorly managed in this district. Where is our TDM superhero Rick Williams?

The City Leadership / PBoT should know all about Parking Management 101…the 85% utilization rule: if there is are no free parking spaces in a commercial district then customers cannot find parking in order to shop or they are circling the block causing congestion and waiting time, air pollution etc.

The solutions are well known: raise price, increase off street supply (cost born by X + add on street bike corrals), and or change management policy (enforcement, time stay, parking benefit district, etc.)

When a neighbourhood commercial district parking reaches 100%…one has to ask if all the parking is used by employees and business owners?

spare_wheel
Guest

Email addresses of businesses I frequent on 28th:

staccato gelato:
jessica@staccatogelato.com
tabla:
info@tmbistro.com
paadee:
info@paadeepdx.com
laurelhurst theater:
bogey@laurelhursttheater.com
bamboo sushi
info@bamboosushi.com
navarre:
info@navarreportland.com

My email text:

I am very disappointed by the petition that opposed pedestrian and cycling improvements in the 28th commerical area. I am now reluctant to visit a business on 28th until I see evidence that they support(ed) pedestrian and cyclist safety improvements.

I could not find an email address for ken’s artisan pizza, whole foods, or vino but i will contact these places in person.

Livellie
Guest
Livellie

I share in the disappointment being expressed about this section of 28th. At a minimum, I hope sharrows will be placed on both North and South lanes between Stark and Sandy along with a slower posted speed limit. In the meantime, I will continue to take the lane along this stretch of pavement with a desire of getting through it as quickly and safely as possible. What I won’t be doing is stopping to partake in any of the business offerings. And that seems like a loss for all parties involved.

Mike
Guest
Mike

Wow. VERY disappointing news. Short-sighted. Completely at odds with the spirit of the Portland Bicycle Plan for 2030. And a real lost opportunity to finally put the “multimodal is best for business” model to the test.

That said, I can’t do without Bamboo Sushi in my life, so I will continue to drive my unsustainable car there, circle for parking forever while polluting the air, eat my fill of sustainable fish with their sustainably-harvested teak wood chopsticks, and then unsustainably drive away.

Welp
Guest
Welp

Because the way to build support for more bicycle infrastructure is to deliberately p*ss people off.

CaptainKarma
Guest
CaptainKarma

Speed limit should be dropped to 15 or 20 at most. All parking should be paid and for less than one hour. I will be taking the lane for safety, but not shopping.

sarah holliday
Guest
sarah holliday

i would have been up for removing parking on one side of 28th if we could have gotten bike lanes in both directions. but only a southbound bike lane and parking removal is not a great outcome in my opinion. i personally like the idea of a greenway on 30th, i prefer biking on low traffic streets, that’s just the way i roll. hopefully the traffic calming measures will make the cyclist that will continue bike on 28th a little safer (as well as safer for the pedestrians) and all of us traffic shy cyclists will have 30th to meander down. what we really need to do is charge $10/gallon for gas and make it extra attractive to bike/walk/bus. but i know i’m just dreaming.

megawonk
Guest
megawonk

you guys did notice they offered an alternative up 30th right? its not that big of a deal, 2 blocks over. the real dilemma is the sandy intersection, not the north south route. the highway, sandy’s werid alignment and laurelhurst all kind of converge in that triangular cluster#$%^. taking out the street parking would akin to removing the street parking on 23rd, probably not going to happen. im suprised they tried to float that option in the first place. the trick to riding down 28th or any road with alot of traffic and no bike lane is to let the car line up at the signal and let them run interference for you. no big deal. dont ride next to a vehicle, stay behind its right rear bumper and you cant keep up with traffic and break in time if he decides to cut your off and go right. id be more concerned with how they deal with sandy, not 28th…..

megawonk
Guest
megawonk

^^so you can’t ride west two blocks?

dwainedibbly
Guest
dwainedibbly

If the parking is in that much demand, it needs to be metered. Use the money for biking infrastructure somewhere else, perhaps on 30th. And if you’re riding on 28th, take the lane. They can’t expect you to ride in the door zone, can they?

Terry D
Guest
Terry D

I am going to hold off any boycott until I get a confirmed list, but any business that currently is in the “Chinook Book,” is supposed to be by definition sustainable. I know of a few few in that area that are…..if they signed the petition I am done with them as I do not do business with hypocrites. I will also write them, and the editors of that coupon book to tell them why as I spend much of my free cash in those establishments. It is one thing if you as a business stay apolitical, but if you pride yourself on sustainability and yet you prefer auto parking over a bikeway then you obviously do not understand sustainability and do not deserve my money.

I am STILL boycotting McMenemen’s due to their part in killing the SW 12th full-lane Bike lane and tell everyone when that place comes up as to why.

jim
Guest
jim

So you can’t ride on 27th or 29th?

gutterbunny
Guest
gutterbunny

Boy didn’t see this one coming at all (sarcasm).

The longer this all goes on (PDOTs designing solutions) the less it works.I mean come on all their idea have always been half-assed.

Really green ways on residential streets? Who’s great idea was that…little painted “stickmen in peril” painted on the roads and cute script topped street signs….awesome I feel safer already.

What is the possible improvement of a greenway? Aren’t all neighborhood streets greenways already, really? Greenways are artificial, the don’t count for squat, but you know some planner/engineer get to put it on the resume.

The reality is that bicycling is safe, by far and away the safest form of personal transportation. Hiding behind “infrastructure” does no good. Doesn’t improve the safety of the roads, doesn’t make you a better cyclist, doesn’t improve pedestrian safety either. Riding in traffic is statistically what makes street safer. That is the “secret sauce” for Denmark and other cities with rates of ridership.

The real thing holding things down in this city and country for that matter aren’t issues of better design, but are issues of better laws and enforcements of those laws.

Everything else for the most part –is just fixing problems that don’t exist.

9watts
Guest
9watts

jim
So you can’t ride on 27th or 29th?
Recommended 0

By that logic the folks in cars should be on Chavez or Grand. It has to be *much* easier to skip over a few blocks in a car than on a bike, right?

Terry D
Guest
Terry D

Fine, keep parking in 28th…..eliminate parking completely then on 20th, augment with a north-south busline and connect the new MAX stop at 17th/Powel with NE Tillamook….no parking the entire stretch,there would then be room for modern buffered bike lanes. Meter
28th To pay for it.. It is an embarassment that there is no high quality inner east north-south route in the “most bikey” neighborhood in the country.

paul g.
Guest
paul g.

This is a very tough area. As a rider but also DaVinci parent who drives in a car pool, this could be an opportunity for the community to look for multimodal solutions, but it’s going to require some complex compromises between cars drives, cyclists, business owners, and homeowners.

Sandy comes in at an angle. Sandy, Glisan, Burnside, and even Stark are major arterials used for commuting. There are close access points to I-84.

There are two large schools–Central Catholic at 24th and Stark and DaVinci at 24th and Everett. Some readers here may not realize that PPS does not provide transportation to magnet middle schools, so it’s pretty inevitable that a large proportion of DaVinci kids are going to be transported by car. (My kids ride the bus two days a week, but it takes over an hour to get home, and often they are bypassed by Burnside buses that are already full. Few parents are going to put a 6th grader on a bus at 7 am to get to school.)

The big park just south of Central Catholic funnels traffic going N-S on 28th, while there is a major bikeway E-W on Alder.

A large complex is going in at 25th and Burnside. And the Burnside commercial area is popping.

The point is that the whole area needs a serious look.

Spiffy
Guest
Spiffy

as Carl Larson hoped “boosting the visibility of, and number of customers traveling through, a local business district” and as such I will do the same; pass THROUGH that local business district, slowly, on 28th, on my bike, in the middle of the lane, without stopping IN the local business district…

after all, I’ll be too concerned with my safety to pay attention to what the street offers to me in terms of business amenities…

Jeff
Guest
Jeff

Kathy
I live in the neighborhood (one block from Staccato) and I am a daily bicycle commuter. Personally, I never see any problems with cyclists taking the lane on 28th (which is what I do.) It’s a slow enough street that drivers seem to have no problem with driving behind cyclists. When I saw this proposal, I thought it was probably one of the dumbest things I’ve ever seen and most of my neighbors agreed. Taking parking off one side of 28th will only push parking to the residential streets and you can dream all you want about people not driving but the fact is people do drive and they do park and they will take any spot they can. We have enough problems with off-street parking as it is and it will probably only get worse.
P.S. Sarah – we love Staccato and with the warm weather coming up you’re sure to do great business, regardless of anything being said here!
Recommended 0

That’s great for you and other strong and confident cyclists but just because you feel like its safe doesn’t make it safe. People are going to ride on that stretch regardless to get to those businesses right now it doesn’t serve any road users very well the fact that nothing is going to be done to address this is pretty sad.

It sounds like parking is at a premium time to bring in the meteres and parking permits

Christopher Sanderson
Guest

I am just getting back from a trip to southern California, and I am bummed to read this. Here’s one business owner, who does not agree with this decision. Needless to say, I will still continue to pedal my slow-ass cargo bike and trailer down 28th to NE Glisan. Deal with it.