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Guest article: Envisioning a ‘commercial greenway’ along 28th Avenue

Posted by on May 20th, 2014 at 12:02 pm

Detail of “commercial greenway” concept
for NE/SE 28th Ave.
(Graphics by Paulsen/Falbo/Davis)

This post is part of our ongoing coverage of the 20s Bikeway Project. It was written by Kirk Paulsen, a member of the project’s stakeholder advisory committee. (He’s also a traffic analyst for Lancaster Engineering by day.)

Hello fellow BikePortland readers, we want your opinion!

But first, a bit of backstory…

I’m a member of the Stakeholder Advisory Committee (SAC) for PBOT’s 20s Bikeway project. As you know, the project so far has spurred a lively discussion, especially surrounding the central section along 28th Avenue.

Once the petition that was signed onto by dozens of businesses along and near 28th was brought up for discussion at the last meeting, I could sense the discussion was taking a step away from being rational. One reason was because all the attention became focused on the language within the petition that stated:

“We support a bikeway that does not remove curbside parking on 28th Avenue. We will continue to support any alignment that does not impact parking on 28th Avenue and in the meantime will continue to provide our own extensive accommodation of bicyclists in our district.”

The important bit of text missing in that phrase was “an entire side of” so that it would have then read: “We support a bikeway that does not remove curbside parking on an entire side of 28th Avenue…”

That exact phrase was never mentioned out loud or asked to be amended to the petition. I sensed that it was what the business representatives had meant to write/say, but never did. Through various discussions at the meeting, what they did ask for was a slower street that would be easy and safe for people to cross. They also wanted the street to be good for biking — they certainly don’t want to see all the bike traffic disappear and shift to 30th Avenue. And yes, the business owners on the committee also want car parking kept on both sides of the street.

The thing that stuck out to me though, was when they explicitly stated they’d be willing to give up some car parking spaces at many of the intersection approaches so that people could be seen when attempting to cross the street (this is known in the planning profession as “daylighting”). That’s when I realized the wording in their petition led people astray from what we could achieve as a group.

Potential signage elements.

To achieve all of those goals on a street that is only 36 feet wide is extremely tricky, especially when all of the proposed design options suggest that the only way to provide a comfortable and modern bike facility is by separating modes. PBOT’s initial design recommendation would have provided that modern bike facility in only one direction of travel (southbound). No matter which design would eventually come to fruition, each option would result in painful losses for a portion of the stakeholders.

I’ll admit, I was disheartened to be involved with this public process only to find out that we wouldn’t be able to spend much time considering what could be done with the space where cars currently park on the street. Since the first meeting, I have spent much time thinking about what we could do with 36 feet of space that would please everyone. A plan that would: be seen as a huge win for biking; be feasible given our current state of politics; and convince business owners that dedicating a small portion of space on the roadway just for biking would be smart for their future.

This project is for 28th, but in many ways it is also a model of what could/should be done along Alberta, Division, Mississippi, etc.

The more I thought about it, the more I started to fear that the committee’s process was heading towards a solution that would introduce faster, unimpeded car speeds in at least one direction, more lanes (with varying traffic speeds) of traffic to walk across, and a bike facility (a buffered bike lane) potentially associated with reduced safety in the form of right-hooks (some from cars entering the neighborhood streets to search for parking that used to be on the main street). All of that in exchange for the loss of car parking on one entire side of the street.

Is that, I wondered, the best way to convince businesses that separating bikes and cars is a good idea? I understand, support, and advocate for better separation where it makes sense (i.e. Barbur, 33rd Avenue, etc.), but I’m not so sure it makes sense for this narrow of a street.

Delving deeper into shared space: Introducing the commercial greenway

The one design option that seemed to be missing from the table was the concept of ‘shared space’. Technically, 28th Avenue is already ‘shared space’. However, for the sake of comparison, let’s consider that to be one end of the spectrum. Jonathan recently wrote about a shared street that he experienced in the Netherlands. That street is ‘shared space’ on steroids and let’s consider that the other end of the spectrum.

Now, let’s take the “enhanced shared roadway” PBOT has proposed for 28th. If it was implemented today, it’d likely consist of sharrows, marked crosswalks, fire-friendly speed humps, and 20 MPH speed signs. That ‘shared space’ would be an improvement on today’s conditions, but we know we can do more to make the street more vibrant and livable. The unanswered question is what level of ‘shared space’ would the business community support?

After talking with a couple of the business representatives on the SAC, I had a good list of individual transportation components that they would likely support. Collaborating with my friends and colleagues Brian Davis and Nick Falbo, we took this list of individual components and combined them together to create a draft version of what could be Portland’s next big breakthrough for biking within town: ‘Commercial Greenways’

Basic details of the commercial greenway concept can be seen in the images below:

(Click to enlarge)

Graphics created by Kirk Paulsen, Nick Falbo, and Brian Davis.
(Click to enlarge)

The commercial greenway concept acknowledges the concerns from the various stakeholders involved in the process, and in most cases turns these concerns into advantages that will make the street more pleasant and comfortable for all of us.

We think it’d be ideal to implement all those features as a part of this project, but that is simply not financially feasible. However, this vision of what the street could be like over time is necessary to understand what we need to do now in order to progress towards that vision. Overall, the design goal is to slow things down as much as possible keeping in mind that emergency vehicles are required to travel through the area.

We feel that the benefits below are just a sample of what could easily be achieved through an interim build-out of the proposed design, in addition to being even more robust once it’s fullly built-out:

Walking

  • Curb extensions shorten the crossing distance.
  • Marked (and possibly artistic) crosswalks increase visibility.
  • Daylighting of intersection approaches increase visibility.
  • People crossing 28th are only required to cross two lanes of traffic, all of which will be going a fairly slow and predictable speed.
  • A physical barrier of parked cars between traffic and the sidewalk remains.

Biking

  • This provides a direct, safe route through a main commercial district that will be comfortable for most riders – arguably the first such route in Portland.
  • No risk of being right-hooked.
  • Traffic will be much slower than today.
  • People will be encouraged to ride in the middle of the lane through the use of tactile treatments within the door zone.
  • The smooth portion of the lane should be wide enough to accommodate social riding of two abreast.

Driving

  • The roadway will inform the driver that this is a very slow street through a number of roadway treatments used in conjunction.
  • For being a slow street, it’ll be an easy street to understand what people are expected to do – go slow. It is one lane in each direction, simple as that.
  • People biking will be in ‘easy to see’ areas, directly in front of or behind the driver, never beside the car or in blind spots.

Parking

  • The overall parking supply will be increased, as bike corrals would replace some car parking spaces at intersection approaches to daylight the intersection and make it safer for people walking across the street.
  • People biking along 30th will know that they can turn onto any minor street and bike corrals will be greeting them at most every intersection along 28th.
  • People biking along 28th will have much more parking available to them as bike corrals will be at most every intersection.
  • People driving will have most of the curbside parking retained along 28th. If that is full they’ll then be able to enter the neighborhoods to search for parking without any chance of right-hooking a person biking.

Ultimately, the moral of the story is that business owners are not against all options that would make 28th Avenue more comfortable for everyone. They like the individual ideas in our design, and hopefully they’ll be open to using many of them in combination. If that’s the case, we’ll need to convince PBOT that this would be a smart investment (both financially and politically). With any luck, they’ll consider replicating this concept on other narrow commercial streets throughout the city.

And the clock is ticking. We have just over 15 years until it is 2030. I believe we’ll never reach our goal of 25% of all trips by bike if we settle for this same fight every time we try to improve bike access on (and around) commercial corridors. As one BikePortland commenter recently put it “…for cycling to really go mainstream it has to go main street…” I wholeheartedly agree.

Thanks for staying engaged on this project. Tonight (Tuesday, May 20th) is the next (and possibly last) SAC meeting for the 20s Bikeway Project. We’re excited that PBOT will allow us to present this idea to the full committee.

The meeting is open to the public and takes place at Pacific Crest School (116 NE 29th) Colonial Heights Presbyterian Church (SE 28th and Stevens) at 7:00 pm.

Before the meeting tonight, we’d love to hear what you think. What’s the general consensus around the idea of a ‘commercial greenway’ along 28th Avenue? Let us know, and stay tuned!

— Read all our coverage of the 20s Bikeway Project here.

NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. 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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Chris Smith
Guest

Kirk, I appreciate the creativity of this approach. Do you think the “interested but concerned” demographic would be comfortable riding in this environment?

Kirk
Guest

Thanks Chris. Personally, I think calming the entire street will allow a larger portion of the ‘interested but concerned’ demographic to feel comfortable riding their bikes in this environment as compared to the other design options that have been presented so far.

I can say with certainty that it won’t make the entire ‘interested but concerned’ demographic comfortable on this street, but my gut feeling is that this type of a design will attract more folks than the other options we are currently exploring. Sure, a buffered bike lane (likely in only one direction) will have the perception of being safer, but will an 8-year old be comfortable looking over their left shoulder at every intersection for a possible right-hook at the same time they are supposed to watch for oncoming turning traffic? Probably not. Then again, will an 8-year old be comfortable on a shared street – possibly not.

That’s why I felt like this concept should be explored further with regards to an American context, which hasn’t really happened yet as a part of this project.

Zef Wagner
Guest
Zef Wagner

This is exactly the kind of thing used all over the Netherlands, where I have personally seen little kids and older folks riding comfortably. Once you slow speeds to 15-20 mph and make it so cars can’t pass bikes, it is good for interested but concerned. The most important elements here are the pavement markings that effectively narrow the lanes and discourage passing, and the raised crosswalks on side streets that ensure cars treat pedestrians and through traffic (bikes and cars) as having priority.

Paul
Guest
Paul

But not so much on their busier streets. 28th is very busy during commute hours. And even on the narrow canal streets in NL cars will still pass you. Cyclists usually move over and the car squeezes through without much though to the situation.

catbot
Guest
catbot

I think I might constitute an interested but concerned rider, and I’ve recently been starting to ride with traffic (ie, take the lane) on slower streets, and it’s way better than trying squeeze to the right on streets and watch out for doors and have people passing me way to close and fast. I kind of love it. And I quite like this approach to NE 28th.

Anne Hawley
Guest
Anne Hawley

I’d categorize myself as an “interested but concerned” car-free daily bike rider: that is to say, at present, I go a block or more out of my way to avoid riding on 28th (or Alberta, or Mississippi). If they became commercial greenways as described, I think I’d be much more likely to ride on them, especially in company with other people on bikes.

gutterbunny
Guest
gutterbunny

“Interested but concerned” is a Lousy description. It should really be “will bike only once it becomes as convenient as automobiles”

Nothing would be more inspiring to the “IBC” than realizing bikes are getting to their same destinations as fast (perhaps faster), easily and safely as a car. And keeping the bike traffic off into the shoulder- or worse yet a couple blocks away from traffic, never gets this point out to the public.

Just like a tree in the forest, does anybody hear a bike riding on the greenways?

Mike Owens
Guest
Mike Owens

And once again BikePortland reverts to the 6% telling the 94% how great it is to take the lane and ride among cars.

There is a reason the 94% aren’t coming along…and why families with kids choose the greenways or separated. And no, “teach the kids how to take the lane” is not the answer if you’ve seen what happens to those of us who are brave enough. It can work, but it isn’t for kids.

davemess
Guest
davemess

I think you completely misunderstood what was written.

mike owens
Guest
mike owens

Noticed that, I just missed where I replied! Sorry.

are
Guest

almost incredibly creative

John
Guest
John

Build it.

Art Fuldodger
Guest
Art Fuldodger

I like the concept a lot – rather than the zero sum “my bike lane vs. your auto parking” scenario, you have something that potentially works well for all street users, and the adjacent businesses. Whether it will work in actuality, particularly for bicyclists, is the question, but the only way to find out is to try it out.

Mark
Guest
Mark

I would definitely ride that street with my 11 year old kid. A bike facility like that would entice me off the Ankeny greenway for a snack. Intersection treatments will be key, however, for the interested but concerned majority.

OnTheRoad
Guest
OnTheRoad

I like the cobblestone treatment to push bicyclers into the main travel lane while also hinting to drivers thy should drive slowly. A twofer.

Before they repaved 28th recently, there was uneven pavement that served the same purpose of getting drivers to slow down.

spare_wheel
Guest

“A physical barrier of parked cars between traffic and the sidewalk remains.”

in my experience, a bike facility is a far more pleasant barrier than a wall of cars. in fact, very few pedestrian friendly areas are noted for their parking capacity.

“The overall parking supply will be increased.”

a step in the wrong direction.
parking reduction was a huge part of europe’s cycling renaissance. in fact, it’s probably one of the few things policy-wise that germany, belgium, the netherlands, denmark, and sweden share in common.

El Biciclero
Guest
El Biciclero

But the “overall” in “overall parking supply” includes a hefty increase in bike parking; auto parking spaces would still be reduced slightly to “daylight” intersections.

spare_wheel
Guest

kirk and el biciclero, thanks for pointing that out. i can support more bike parking. i’m still not a fan of the way this preserves existing parking.
curb extensions cement the need for car parking and decrease the likelihood that space for peds and bikes will be increased in the future. the original buffered bike lane gave space for bikes on the busiest direction and also preserved the opportunity to take space for bikes in the other direction in the future.

Kirk
Guest

I absolutely hear you loud and clear about the risk that curb extensions literally ‘cement’ in place the dedicated space on the side of the road for parking well into the future. The irony of dealing with PBOT’s minimal budget on this project related to features like that mean that your concerns related to concrete curb extensions wouldn’t be an immediate worry.

The costs associated with concrete curb extensions would be enormous (not just for the concrete, but for dealing with drainage issues as well), therefore, what they could instead do in the near-term is set aside the space for curb extensions by painting them in place (as shown in the second image within the post) to act as an example of HOW the roadway would operate. If it doesn’t work well, it would be easy to tear them out.

Out of curiosity – for roads that are 36 feet wide and already have concrete curb extensions in place, such as NE Alberta Street, would you be supportive of this concept implemented there?

spare_wheel
Guest

paint for the curb extensions and paint for the rumble strips? that’s probably going to be controversial for some. will you propose this as a replacement for the greenway?

Kirk
Guest

Thank you Spare_Wheel for the comments.

I, too, agree in my experience that a bike facility acting as a buffer is much more *pleasant* to experience as a pedestrian. However, the separated bike facility proposed as a part of this project is simply paint, which doesn’t hold up all that well when trying to stop cars that are out of control. The pleasantness of the street takes a backseat when the driver doesn’t follow the stripes on the road, see: http://buildsafe.tumblr.com/

Personally, I love to seek out car-free areas to enjoy my time while walking, and would love to see more of that. However, I can also respect the planning perspective regarding using parked cars to slow the street down. This is an extremely tough ROW to work with.

In regards to ‘increasing overall parking supply’, this is achieved through replacing some car parking spaces at intersection approaches with bike corrals. If we are going to get to 25% of all trips made by bike, we’ll need to provide lots of bike parking for all of those bikes, hence the push to increase *overall* parking supply.

Brian Davis
Guest
Brian Davis

There are certainly more options and opportunities available if all parking were removed; I don’t think anybody would argue that. But a key part of our approach to this is that removing any amount of parking significant enough to achieve separation was a non-starter. Recall that the last proposal removed only enough parking to achieve good bike access in one direction, and even that did not fly.

Given that, we tried to approach the problem asking how we can turn this constraint into a key potion of the design. The size and solidness of a car definitely deflects noise and emissions, and their presence also narrows the ‘feel’ of the roadway, making quicker speeds less comfortable. I’d rather have the space to work with, but that wasn’t available so we had to start from there.

The increase in parking supply, as El Bicyclero points out is actually due to the conversion of some auto parking to more space-efficient bicycle parking. This plan would remove 1-2 auto spaces per block face, converting them into something along the lines of 12-16 bicycle spaces. The Dutch would certainly approve!

It’s also worth noting that removing parking on one or both sides of the street in favor of buffered bike lanes would introduce extra turning movements across the bike lanes as people looked for car parking on the side streets.

gutterbunny
Guest
gutterbunny

You also forget to mention, that as the population of the neighborhood grows, parking won’t or at least won’t easily grow with it. Just isn’t possible without developing parking structures in the area.

As a result future growth in the area will likely be even less auto dependent, especially if a plan like this goes through where a car is needed less than it is now within a mile and half or two mile radius.

Mike Owens
Guest
Mike Owens

Instead, they turn in and out of the parking spaces on the street in front of you. Then open the door into the next biker to come along.

Ideally, maybe more for areas like NW 23rd parking structures anchor the beginning and end of the business area. Cars have a destination at the margins. City takes a tax on the parking for bike/ped construction/maintenance.

What happens if the city were to tell these businesses “No. The on street parking goes”. As a business owner, I complain and state I’ll just pick up and move my business elsewhere? (just as the business picks up with the increased bike/ped traffic…)

Why do we have to ask their permission? (I’m totally ignorant on this, educate me!)

MaxD
Guest
MaxD

on the other hand, a separated bike lane is just another lane of traffic for peds to cross. Ex: Broadway through PSU; there are always peds standing in the cycle track trying to cross the street

spare_wheel
Guest

i think the wall of parked cars (!) and pbot’s decision to allow drop offs/bus stops has a lot to do with that problem. the williams bike lane is a success story and it’s narrower than the proposed buffered bike lane on 28th. imo, mere paint on the road is better than *nothing* for 5, 10, 20, 30 years.

Patrick Barber
Guest

I too wonder about the interested-but-concerned. The shared-street/cars-as-guests idea is strong, but it’s hard to know how well it will work in real life, especially with people who don’t drive down 28th often, or don’t drive in Portland often (i.e. tourists). Strong visual cues (such as the trees, bulbouts, and common auto road markings like SLOW that you have indicated in your plan) will work a lot better than an erratic collection of green paint and sharrows.

This is some nice work and I am eager to hear about how it goes over. Thanks for doing this.

Kirk
Guest

Thank you very much! I, too, am eager to hear about how this goes over 😉

Chris Anderson
Guest

This was what I was hoping for from the beginning of the discussion. Thanks for drawing up what needed to be said.

Kirk
Guest

You are very welcome 🙂

Glenn
Guest
Glenn

I think the proposed trees in the bumpouts would limit line of sight. Or will they be limbed up to say about 8 feet before being allowed to spread?

MaxD
Guest
MaxD

They would have to be limbed up to 7 feet over the sidewalk and 14 feet over the street. In this way they would help enclose the street, have a pleasant presence (albeit largely in one’s periphery), intercept storm water and provide shade! love it!

maccoinnich
Guest

I like it. I actually like it a lot better than the original proposal. I hope that they can build some support around it.

Dawn
Guest
Dawn

I like it. I’m a daily bike commuter (about 10 miles round trip from SE Division area to OHSU on the hill) so I count myself as more than “interested but concerned”, however even as a confident daily commuter, I have issues with taking the lane on 28th as it is now. I agree with Patrick above that strong roadway paint and signage will be more important than visual cues such as trees and curb extensions.

Also, I’m interested to see how this idea could work on a road like Division. It is a nightmare right now (and has been throughout the past 2-3 years of construction). How much of this could be implemented on a street that is used as a Trimet frequent bus route?

Charley
Guest
Charley

This is more like it. If PBOT is dead certain not to remove parking, this could be a way to do something both creative and safer.

Joshua Cohen
Guest

I believe that actual cobblestones would very expensive to install. However, a similar effect could be achieved at much lower cost with the “tactile rumble strips” shown on the second poster board. When I ride with my kids, I find it difficult to explain the concept of the “door zone”. Having a physical deterrent on the street would help, because I could just say “don’t ride on those”. A secondary benefit to keeping the door zone clear of traffic is that parallel parking a vehicle becomes easier and safer.

Most of the improvements proposed here could be implemented on a trial basis. This is one way to address the Fear/Uncertainty/Doubt (FUD) that comes along with trying something new. Install the new striping, pavement treatments, signage, and bike parking… and then study the results. If the changes are deemed an improvement, there will be a strong case for grants to fund more expensive work (curb extensions, landscaping, and storm water improvements). If the pilot project turns out to be a big screw-up… it won’t cost much to put things back the way they were.

AMA
Guest
AMA

I sure don’t like how those rumble strips look though. I hope if we go this direction they’d be an interim step on the path to eventually getting something like the cobbles.

Paul Cone
Guest
Paul Cone

I believe the City has a stash of cobblestones hidden away, from streets like NW Marshall where they were taken out to put in a concrete paving strip for bikes (unfortunately on that street they put it in the door zone) and other streets that used to have them. I don’t know how big the pile is but maybe it could be used for a project like this, thus saving some cost of materials.

Ian
Guest
Ian

Fantastic.

Spencer Boomhower
Guest

Very cool! Kind of a bike boulevard / woonerf hybrid.

It’s really important to the vitality of the bike network that we use this kind of innovative thinking to better open commercial streets up to bikes. It’s just crazy that, say, Hawthorne is such a great destination for the surrounding bikeable areas, but is pretty uncomfortable to bike on. And taking a kid along Hawthorne on a bike (whether on a bike seat, or riding on their own) is, for me at least, a non-starter.

One thing I’ve been thinking about as I look at 28th and think about streets like Hawthorne is something I read in Jeff Speck’s Walkable City book, with regards to on-street parking; Speck makes the point that on-street parking helps create a comfortable walking environment for the pedestrian spaces by providing a buffer from passing cars. So as little as I might care about providing private auto storage on the public right-of-way, I think solutions like this one that make a space bikeable while also accommodating cars and their on-street parking, are really valuable at a time when we need to find ways to give all sorts of bike riders better access to commercial streets.

Anne Hawley
Guest
Anne Hawley

Thank you for referencing Jeff Speck’s excellent book. I was going to point people to it; it completely changed my thinking about curbside parallel parking. I highly recommend Walkable City to all BikePortland readers.

Buzz Aldrin
Guest
Buzz Aldrin

Trying to please the most fearful of the interested but concerned crowd is simply playing to the lowest common denominator and will never result in widespread improvements due to cost and space constraints, and ultimately is a lose-lose situation.

Guthrie Straw
Guest

Is this SAC meeting open to the public tonight? I’d love to sit in and see how the discussion goes.

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)
Guest

Yes, it’s open to the public.

The meeting takes place at Colonial Heights Presbyterian Church (SE 28th and Stevens) at 7:00 pm

spare_wheel
Guest

i predict that aspects of this proposal will get a thumbs up from stakeholders but that improvements will be shelved due to lack of funding. and while we wait for funding to materialize (see hawthorne for timeline) we get to enjoy the 26th-27th-28th-29th-30th-32nd greenway!

spare_wheel
Guest

that came across as more negative than i intended. i would be happy to see something like this be built but at this late stage it seems to me like snatching “a plan that we will implement some day” from the jaws of defeat.

Lance P.
Guest
Lance P.

I love it.

Alan 1.0
Guest
Alan 1.0

That looks generally acceptable to me as a bike rider. A minor detail in the rendering are the cars following within 10 feet of bike riders. Even at 10mph I find that uncomfortable; a driver looks away for one second and they drive four feet over my stopped bike and me.

Mike Owens
Guest
Mike Owens

What a fantastic effort to appease all stakeholders. Way to go.

In my Amsterdam experience, Woonerf design was low-traffic side-streets. They were all over the neighborhoods.

However, the major carriers of traffic (auto, tram, bike and ped) were in no way appropriate for woonerf. These did skirt past many, many business areas many of which were so dense it had become pedestrian only.

How does 28th fit this approach…neighborhood or major traffic route? I’d think the latter. Which means shared space would be a disaster.

I’m just too much of a separated bike path fan, having lived and biked in a great city with my kids on their own bikes at 7 and 8 year old to not pine for a similar living experience.

Buzz Aldrin
Guest
Buzz Aldrin

Portland is not Amsterdam and the sooner people realize this the better off we will be.

AMA
Guest
AMA

It’s not Amsterdam, yet…

Buzz Aldrin
Guest
Buzz Aldrin

and never will be…

9watts
Guest
9watts

I don’t know. Being significantly more dependent on *cheap* oil than the Dutch are, we may lose our automobility sooner than they will. Another benefit of hefty gas taxes. They can weather price shocks much easier. Turbulent times ahead.

gutterbunny
Guest
gutterbunny

And the Amsterdam or Copenhagen weren’t the Amsterdam and Copenhagen of 40 years ago when they started the process of improving the safety of the streets. They just figured out that cars are the biggest problem in terms of safety on the roads and sidewalks much quicker than the rest of the world. Now notice they didn’t get rid of cars, they just put them on the leash so to speak. The leash was so short, that bikes now competed equity as a mode of transportation for most destinations throughout the cities. And as a result, the population started riding bikes.

You all seem to think that these cities intent from the beginning was to push bike infrastructure. But in fact they slowed down the cars for the benefit and safety of pedestrians. And in doing so that opened up bikes to the general population. Why bother driving, when biking is just as fast or perhaps even faster?

We’re actually somewhat lucky, because they’ve got decades of experience in doing these kind of things that we don’t have to study. We’ve let them do most the hard work, now all we have to do is “Americanize” it.

They got to where they were by trying new things, looking at worked and what didn’t and changing it when it didn’t. They did it by doing exactly what this plan calls for. Turning the “public roads” into a “public space”…Those two terms should really share the same meaning, but they don’t…yet.

Brian Davis
Guest
Brian Davis

FWIW, 28th is actually classified as a “Neighborhood Collector.” The Portland Transportation System Plan includes language discouraging either parking removal or right-of-way acquisition along these route types.

I prefer separation too, but given the right-of-way constraints and the intersection density along this stretch, true Dutch-Style separation that ‘separates’ with more than paint and engineers out right-hook conflicts at intersections is probably not practical politically or financially here.

9watts
Guest
9watts

“The Portland Transportation System Plan includes language discouraging parking removal …”

Then how in the heck did PBOT ever cook up their proposal to do just that here on 28th? Hard to imagine they just forgot it was classified that way.

Todd Hudson
Guest
Todd Hudson

Yes, the “Amsterdam this, Copenhagen that” argument is not useful. Both are cities which much higher population densities than Portland (Copenhagen is 5x dense) in countries with insanely high income and transportation taxes.

Mike Owens
Guest
Mike Owens

Not to be argumentative, but if Indianapolis can do it the only thing lacking here is the will to do so. And without it, we will NOT get those 8-80 year olds on the bikes. Indy even has snow removal. Just like Amsterdam.

If you don’t like Amsterdam at 800k vs. PDX at 500k as a comparison, then try Rotterdam or The Hague. Yes, their giant networks have been built over many decades as the density/cost increased and forced autos out much more but I see absolutely no reason PDX can’t get it right even once.

You just have to remove the on-street parking. It’s takes political will, or one visionary. These half-ass efforts are embarrassing, as thoughtful as the best of us can be.

Kirk
Guest

No worries, I didn’t take that as an argument.

I’ve read many great things about Indianapolis and their recent developments. However, I haven’t looked into detail at the width of the streets that they retrofitted with bike facilities. Do you have any good examples of what they did with 36 feet of right-of-way?

Mike Owens
Guest
Mike Owens

Just like NYC, DC, Chicago (all of whom are leading the way with protected bike infrastructure) there are different solutions for different widths from what little I’ve been able to read. That’s a big topic. Even here on BP there was link to a debate about a section in Indy that bypassed a business area concerned about losing parking and the increased traffic/business to areas that did give it up.

The protected bike lane funny enough takes up just about as much space as car parking…

Mick O
Guest
Mick O

Excellently creative thinking. Kudos, kudos, kudos. Thanks for keeping focused on solving problems rather than defeat.

MaxD
Guest
MaxD

This looks great and provides a far superior alternative IMO. One minor suggestion: move your “fire-friendly speed humps” to mid-block locations or move them closer to the intersection and use them as crosswalks. Their current position seems too close to the intersection/too busy

AMA
Guest
AMA

I like that idea a lot.

Kirk
Guest

Thanks for the suggestion. We wanted to visually display most of the major elements in a simple image (some minor elements are left out to avoid having the image get too busy), which does result in a lot of elements being in close proximity. If constructed, the final design would likely look a bit different, and I am sure PBOT has their own ideas about how they’d like to do it 😉

Ciaran
Guest
Ciaran

I like this design a lot.

NW 23rd is the example of how vibrant a slowed-down shared-space street could be. And it doesn’t have half of the benefits that are built into this design (though I like imagining how much better it would be if it did). Creating this sort of space would make this section of 28th a destination. Business owners should love that.

Also, I think this sort of environment is a perfect sort of confidence-building environment for the so-called interested but concerned set. I can see riding down neighboring greenways with my kids, then pulling into this slowed down shared space as an excellent way to get them some experience in riding in traffic with relatively fewer risks.

davemess
Guest
davemess

I think this is an interesting idea, but what kind of cost would this be? Surely much more expansive than painting different/new lanes. PBOT claims to be so cash-strapped, are pie in the sky proposals like this even feasible in today’s transportation budget environment?

spare_wheel
Guest

the cost of those tactile cobblestones alone would bust the budget and curb extensions are very expensive. moreover, pbot indicated that the current $2.5 million grant can fund the greenway *OR* 28th . so i assume that supporters of this plan eiother want to nix the greenway which would be fine with me. i sure hope this is not being proposed for some undetermined future date. the “wait for world-class” pacifier is tasting pretty nasty after all these years.

spare_wheel
Guest

premature “enter”.

i assume that the proposers of this plan want to fund this by nixing the central portion of the greenway (which would be fine with me). i sincerely hope that this is not being proposed for some undetermined future date because the “wait for world-class” pacifier is tasting nasty after all these years.

Kirk
Guest

Fully built out it would cost a lot. Much more than what PBOT has allocated for this project. However, it is also a vision of where this street could be in the future, with ideas of how to get there with an interim approach.

Who knows when it could get fully built out, but if the Street Fee passes council, maybe the neighborhood/businesses would be demanding some of that money be used here and you’ll see this result sooner than later. Or maybe not…

davemess
Guest
davemess

The “street fee” if it gets passed at all is not going to raise that much for bikes, and I could easily see this single section of road eating up the “bike facilities” budget for a couple of years at least.

I agree it would be ideal, but some of us want things that are tangible, affordable, and can be done within the next decade. Bike lanes, while not ideal for some, are a magnitude (or two) less expensive than this proposal, and really cost a lot more in political capital (ie. being will to be bold enough to reduce/eliminate on street parking).

spare_wheel
Guest

after attending multiple town halls it’s pretty clear to me that the street fee is focused on road maintenance and ped safety improvements.

davemess
Guest
davemess

http://www.wweek.com/portland/blog-31648-portland_street_fee_goes_to_city_council_next_week.html

This scares me a lot. So all the “we’re taking our time” and “we’re getting good feedback from the public to alter this plan” talk appears to have been a bit of a farce. They clearly are looking to ram something through quickly. I think this will have very bad consequences for the mayor and council, as MANY people don’t like this plan for a variety of reasons.

Ryan Sullivan
Guest
Ryan Sullivan

This is awesome!!!

Noah Brimhall
Guest
Noah Brimhall

I really like this design, but I’m not a big fan of the Bike Warning Sign/10 MPH advisory speed limit combination of signs. I feel like this combination doesn’t say “Bikes are around, please go about 10 MPH” as I think was your intent, but instead says “Bikes should only go 10 MPH” and I don’t know if that sends the right message. I think the bikes may use full lane and compulsory 20 MPH sign do a much better job of communicating that this is a shared space for bikes and cars where the speed is slow.

Kate Drennan
Guest
Kate Drennan

Great job Kirk (and Nick & Brian)! This is a really nice compromise for the space. I agree that leaving automobile parking for those commercial establishments is important and increasing the bike parking is overdue. This is an excellent combination of treatments. I really like the two block strip in the Pearl near Tanner Springs that has this street treatment, I always feel legitimized for taking the lane because it’s so clear to drivers that’s where I’m supposed to be.

Forum Law Group LLC - Bicycle Law
Guest

Looks great, but…

The reasons to try it are (1) it is absolutely gorgeous, and (2) it offers a political win-win. Businesses like people to pass by slowly, and slower speeds are also much safer and more inviting for everyone.

To work, though, it can’t be half-baked or half-funded. If the implementation doesn’t actually bring speeds down and create a compelling shared “greenway” environment, less-than-conscientious drivers will inevitably attempt dangerous passes, and slower roadway users will quickly be scared away.

John Liu
Guest
John Liu

I think 28th would make a fine “shared street” and I feel that is the best direction for the project. The narrowness of the right of way, while a negative for separated cycle facilities, is a positive for a shared street because it naturally pacifies car traffic. The additional treatments proposed – speed humps, pavement markings, signage, curb extensions, street trees – would pacify car traffic even further.

This street is already not far from being a peacefully shared environment; the “shared street” goal is well within reach.

My only reservation is the cobble strips intended to make the “door zone” unpleasant for cyclists. Sometimes riding near the parking zone is the best choice – e.g. when there are no cars parked there, when those cars are empty, when a left-turning car is blocking the traffic lane. As a cyclist, I want the freedom to decide for myself when to ride there. As an aside, drivers won’t understand why the cyclists avoid riding on cobbles.

Timur Ender
Guest
Timur Ender

This is the most feasible and well-thought idea for this commercial corridor. Thank you.

RJ
Guest
RJ

Nice spec work, LancAlta! Great visualizations of a great idea.

The biggest worry about implementing this is PBOT’s traffic diversion policy (TSP Policy 6.13.E): “Implement measures on Neighborhood Collectors that do not result in significant diversion of traffic to
streets of lower classification.”

https://www.portlandoregon.gov/transportation/article/370467

If you re-code 28th (Neighborhood Collector) as 10mph for motor vehicles and run a traffic model, you are definitely going to get motor vehicles cutting through on parallel local streets. The good news is, the City is about to update the TSP, and I think there’s some openness to softening this policy.

Brian Davis
Guest
Brian Davis

We’ve thought a lot about the potential for diversion onto parallel streets, but I just don’t see it being all that significant. Even if we were to design for 10 mph, the fact that the 20-ish mph parallel streets will have more stops, plus the out-of-direction travel required to access them makes it a wash.

My guess is that any diversion that occurs would be through-trips using either the 21st Ave or 32nd/33rd Ave bridge over I-84 in lieu of this one. If this occurs, it’d of course have the effect of reducing overall vehicular volumes on 28th (and since they’re through-trips they offer no benefit to local businesses, no nothing lost) which would make the street more comfortable for bicycles.

Chris Anderson
Guest

Next step: see how many of the signatories of the previous petition will sign an endorsement for this.

lahar
Guest
lahar

I can just feel my wallet getting ready to spread the wealth around 28th street once this route happens. I like that there are ways to solve problems instead of shamming store owners.

Kevin

Darin Wick
Guest
Darin Wick

Well done!

I hope PBOT and the SAC can make this happen, because it sounds like the best option for all concerned.

Eric
Guest
Eric

If we can’t get businesses on board for what the people want, this is the next best thing. Nice work. Reminds me of the quote: “A good compromise is when both parties are dissatisfied.” I’ll see you at the meeting tonight to voice my support for this if possible!

sean
Guest
sean

As an interim design for the next few years, I find this better than the status quo. It is, however much good will we pour into it, however much we focus on fixing the problem of safety on 28th, certainly not something my parents, friends who are kids or elderly, would consider biking on.

It is DOA for that crowd for one simple reason: semi-trucks and emergency vehicles.

But kudos for keeping the issue on intention instead of misunderstanding.

paikiala
Guest
paikiala

Kirk,
This looks very promising, but the devil is in the details. I can see the side street raised crosswalks working as long as the curb extensions are added at every corner on the 28th side. Curb extensions are in the $15k range while raised crosswalks are about $2500 each, so each intersection done this way is about $65k (4 CEXT + 2 RXW).
You identify 6.5 ft for a travel lane, but federal law permits 8 ft wide vehicles. This means that trucks will be driving on the roughened surfaces. Wear means a maintenance issue, when PBOT doesn’t have money for new maintenance, and any pronounced surface texture will generate noise. The lower, 20-mph business district, speed will offset noise to a degree, but during the night, say after 11 PM, when the lack of opposing traffic permits the impatient to cheat on the cushions, speeds are likely to increase and in the summer nearby residents leave their windows open for ventilation.
Don’t get me wrong, it looks like a great compromise, but also don’t fall into a common trap at PBOT and over promise, or sugar coat the potential downsides. Better to under promise and over deliver.

zefwagner
Guest
zefwagner

I agree, the driving area should probably be at least 8 feet wide, which is still 4 feet narrower than a standard lane.

paikiala
Guest
paikiala

Standard lanes in Portland are 10 feet for cars, and the preferred width for buses and trucks is 11. 12 feet is for freeways.

Jonathan
Guest
Jonathan

As a resident just a few houses north of Alberta, I would be very interested in the “Commercial Greenway” concepts being implemented along Alberta Avenue. There are similarities to 28th, such as a great established greenway two blocks away (Going Street) that could continue to serve as a car-free commute-oriented route and safety issues where cyclists are either forced to take the lane (making drivers swerve and/or angry) or be crammed between cars in the door zone. Currently, I never ride on Alberta, always preferring Going. I would most likely continue to predominantly use Going, but would be much more likely to use Alberta when friends visit or to reach the more distant shops/restaurants/bars on Alberta.

Admittedly a bit pipe-dreamish, but the idea of a network of Commercial Greenways connected by the current neighborhood greenways throughout the city that invite cyclists and pedestrians to and safely through the city’s great main streets seems like a worthy and inspiring vision of a greater bike city to me.

paikiala
Guest
paikiala

And Alberta west of MLK is Local Service and not a Major Response Route, so there is much more flexibility for design.

paikiala
Guest
paikiala

SE Stark, 12th to 60th, could work. Harold east of 92nd? N Albina/Mississipi?

Nick
Guest
Nick

The design strikes me as “deliberately cluttered” meant in the positive sense. Variable road surfaces, speed humps, lots of pedestrians crossings w/ good sightlines all will help slow auto traffic speed down to bike-traffic levels and ease the stress on crossing pedestrians and make bikes feel welcomed. Could be applied to NW 23rd to similar effect.

paikiala
Guest
paikiala

Busy looking places usually alert me to slow down. The road design might permit removal of some signing as well.

Rachael
Guest
Rachael

I applaud this creative thinking towards finding a solution for this stretch of 28th, and I think I would enjoy riding my bike in this environment. My concern, though, is that this is framed as traffic “calming” without considering that many people find driving an automobile in a narrow and restricted passage with other, more vulnerable, traffic modes to be a decidedly stressful experience. Although this proposal solves the issue of keeping automobile parking, I fear that it might only increase the tension between those in cars and those on bikes.

paikiala
Guest
paikiala

IMO, the stress comes from not usually being required to pay attention while driving. This form of stress is a good thing.

El Biciclero
Guest
El Biciclero

IMO, any “stress” of driving in a situation like this comes from driving slowly when one would like to be driving fastly. The stress comes from that inexplicable place inside drivers that says it’s OK to go slow if other drivers are holding you up, but it is intolerable to go the exact same speed if the “holdup” is caused by bicyclists or pedestrians.

I think perhaps the stress you are thinking of comes from driving on a poorly-designed, disorganized narrow street where pedestrians and bicyclists constantly “come out of nowhere” to surprise drivers because there are no facilities for them, so they ride/walk/cross anywhere they can with terrible sight lines due to parked cars and other clutter. If the street were organized as described here, cyclists and pedestrians were in plain view at all times–even if it made driving slower–and everyone’s movements were more predictable, it could reduce stress, except for those affected by the first kind of stress I mentioned above.

Dan
Guest
Dan

Like the stress I feel riding in the lane in the Pearl! Sounds more equatable to me!

gutterbunny
Guest
gutterbunny

Love it, it’s perfect… and this is what the plan should have been from the start and should be go to plan for all the commercial districts with speed limits currently 25 mph or less.

Like it or not, this is realistically the only approach that most American urban centers have. There just ins’t enough space in cities which are over 100 years old (hint all of them). To give equal and safe access to all users (and yes I’m including cars and parking- get real folks cars aren’t going away anytime soon).

This is how Portland stays on top for now, it’s the only way, the cheapest way, and the safest way. And if we don’t do it now, we’re going to let other cities do it. If I’m not mistaken Indianapolis already has something similar, and New York is clearly paving the way for this type of road access in the near future.

I still gotta wonder why so many in this town don’t take lanes on streets like 28th. It’s really not as bad as you think it is. But then again most of you have problems taking the lanes on Greenways where your expected path on the road is clearly marked (that’s what the chevrons over the bike symbol painted “in the middle of the lane” mean, it’s your expected route).

If you really think staying to the right of auto traffic is best, take a look around at cars that have damaged front ends and keep a tally of where the damage is. By far and away, the most damaged part of the front of the car isn’t the left side, or the center, it’s the right hand side. The right side is least visible side to the driver (your ability to focus is only roughly the 10 degrees in the direction you are looking after which it starts to degrade after that), and it’s usually the side that is preferred when it comes to making sudden evasive maneuvers.

spare_wheel
Guest

“To give equal and safe access to all users (and yes I’m including cars and parking- get real folks cars aren’t going away anytime soon).”

They are not going away soon but americans are driving less. Maybe we should start to acknowledge this long term trend in our urban planning.

gutterbunny
Guest
gutterbunny

By encouraging growth, while limiting (or keeping it same) parking you’re basically doing the same as taking spots away…it’s just not as obvious or as immediate, and thus also gets a lot less attention from detractors.

But you are still increasing pedestrian and bicycle riders in the area (the only proven way making bicycling in general safer).

Like Bob Dylan said “WE always did feel the same, we just saw it from a different point of view”

spare_wheel
Guest

this plan is vaporware proposed by two private citizens with absolutely no commitment from anyone with $s. it amazes me away that commenters actually believe this going to be implemented with *ZERO* dollars remaining in the 20s bikeway budget. then again the fact that people still discuss reaching 25% mode share by 2030 without being facetious kind of speaks to the collective denial of cycling advocates in this town. once a plan is shot down (again, and again, and again) we come up with plan “B” that mollifies “stakeholders”. ask anyone in europe if their bikeways got built by *accomodating* effing stakeholders.

davemess
Guest
davemess

Yes, I tried to address this above, but no one here really wants to think about the fact that this plan (for this section which makes up a small fraction of this 20’s bikeway) would completely eat the entire budget.

9watts
Guest
9watts

“get real folks cars aren’t going away anytime soon.”

We’ll see about that.

The Oregonian editors also recently said as much. I can think of only one reason why folks are starting to assert this.

davemess
Guest
davemess

I’m not even arguing that at all, I just think some of our main streets should be used for transportation and not parking!

Russ Roca
Guest

Are metered parking spots in this plan? If parking is as valuable as everyone believes it to be then they should be pay spots, right?

spare_wheel
Guest

“stakeholders” definitely value their taxpayer-funded parking subsidy. a free lunch is…a free lunch.

AndyC of Linnton
Guest
AndyC of Linnton

Really great proposal, and definitely rivals the original plan.
I love the idea of cars driving 10 mph around the block over and over again looking for parking all the while pedestrians and bicycles safely and efficiently make it to their destinations.
Good luck tonight!

zefwagner
Guest
zefwagner

I think this is a great design for 28th, but it would have to be modified to work on transit streets like Alberta or Mississippi. It’s fine for buses to also go slowly on these kinds of commercial streets and follow bikes rather than passing (they have to stop a lot anyway), but they are about 10 feet wide so they would need a bit more space. In those cases the visual narrowing of the lanes might be better as just paint rather than special paving or rumble strips. It would also be nice to have “bus friendly” speed humps on those streets.

Joe
Guest
Joe

once we design something like this seems like a driver handbook update might be needed? how to you show fokes how to drive in a urban green space like above? take clinton st and how ppl are cutting thru it now 🙁
study show that some drivers will take path of least resistance. Total lazy
way all to get somewhere fast. * ohh and drivers should stop for peds, but they will drive all the way up to the intersection and stop inches with ppl in crosswalk *

paikiala
Guest
paikiala

Clinton has not had the neighborhood greenway treatment yet. Diversion to reduce volumes would be a very likely proposal, as would a higher density of speed bumps.

Justin
Guest
Justin

I want these everywhere. 28th, stretches of 20th, Alberta, Mississippi, Stark, Division, stretches of Belmont… so many spots where this design would be a HUGE win. And I’d actually be willing to pay a street fee or some other new funding mechanism to make this happen.

How do we get behind this idea? Email Mayor Hales, Leah Treat, and every city councilman?

Any update on how the advisory meeting responded last night?

Jim Lee
Guest
Jim Lee

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, although few folk seem to catch the literary/pop culture allusion:

“Stakeholders” can and will kill anything.

And Elvis WAS a vampire.