Support BikePortland - Journalism that Matters

E Burnside project adds auto parking, leaves out bike lanes

Posted by on October 8th, 2014 at 9:35 am

E Burnside lane redesign project-11

The new design on East Burnside requires westbound cars to enter the new turn lane while passing westbound bikes.
(Photos: J.Maus/BikePortland)

Saying that any removal of on-street parking during a redesign of East Burnside Street would have required more time and money than the city could afford, the Portland Bureau of Transportation is boosting on-street parking instead.

The East Burnside Transportation Safety Project between 14th and 32nd Avenues, part of the city’s high-crash corridor program, has converted one westbound lane west of 32nd into a center turn lane and converted the rush-hour-only lanes east of 32nd into permanent parking lanes.

For people who ride bicycles west on Burnside, one result is that space that often functioned as a de-facto bike lane — the curbside auto lane — has been eliminated.

Another factor: East of 32nd on Burnside, the city’s Bicycle Master Plan calls for “separated in-roadway” bike lanes to eventually be installed on Burnside east of 28th Avenue. Last weekend’s restriping makes the “pro-tem” (non-peak-hour) parking in that stretch permanent, meaning it’ll have to be removed again before bike lanes can be added.

The new plan also creates 15 new pro-tem and permanent curbside parking spaces between 14th and 30th.

burnside bike plan

Detail from city bike plan map. The dashed blue lines represent “separated in-roadway” bike lanes.
(Click for a very large PDF of the bike plan map.)

On the other hand, crossing Burnside north and south by bike or foot is likely to be safer and more pleasant.

PBOT touts big safety benefit

It’s worth noting that this is a fairly dangerous stretch of road. Between 2002 and 2012, this stretch of Burnside saw 346 reported traffic crashes. At least 14 people were injured walking across Burnside on this stretch, and one was killed:

ped crashes burnside

The city estimates that this project will reduce crashes by 30 percent by reducing lane changes, shortening crossing distances and slowing auto speeds. With longer estimated auto travel times and increased auto congestion, some drivers are likely to use Ankeny and Couch as cut-throughs. Both of those streets are popular bike routes. PBOT says they plan to make “Ankeny bikeway improvements” in spring 2015.

City: no room for new bike lanes

But why didn’t the city add bike lanes, as it usually does on safety-related road diets? Clay Veka, who managed the project for the city’s crash-reduction program, offered two reasons.

First, at current traffic volumes, traffic engineers calculated that removing an eastbound travel lane would have caused significant congestion. Here’s what they calculated traffic counts would look like, hour by hour, with only one standard travel lane in each direction plus a turn lane:

one lane traffic projection

Traffic counts in the red zone would represent stop-and-go traffic during the corresponding hours.

Second, assuming both eastbound lanes are needed, there’s no room for a bike lane on Burnside without removing at least one lane of auto parking. City officials decided “early in the public process,” Veka said, that this wouldn’t be possible without an extensive public process.

The city held open houses on these changes in spring and fall 2013.

“This is a safety project on a $120,000 budget with expected crash reduction of 30 percent,” Veka wrote in an email Friday, defending the decision to keep the high-crash corridor project quick and lean.

Advertisement

Veka also said the bike lanes wouldn’t be well connected to the rest of the city’s bikeway system.

“While there would be a good tie with the 20s bikeway, we didn’t have a tie-in to the east leg,” she wrote. “It was determined that we would move this project forward for the safety benefits and build it in such a way that wouldn’t preclude bike facilities in the future.”

What the new design looks like

Though Burnside is one of the city’s most important biking arteries east of 82nd Avenue, its bike lanes currently end at 68th Avenue before picking up again (in a couplet with Couch) west of Sandy. Burnside is, of course, a major commercial destination between Chavez and Martin Luther King Boulevard.

Jonathan rode the redesigned Burnside yesterday afternoon and captured photos of the new configuration:

E Burnside lane redesign project-1

E Burnside lane redesign project-2

E Burnside lane redesign project-4

E Burnside lane redesign project-5

As you can see, it’s possible for cars to pass westbound bikes by entering the turn lane. Next spring, the city will add crossing islands at 18th, 22nd and 24th, making passing a bit harder but probably reducing auto travel speeds.

E Burnside lane redesign project-6

E Burnside lane redesign project-8

Terry Dublinski-Milton, a biking advocate who participated in the public process, suggested in an email that bike lanes on Burnside weren’t seen as essential with two neighborhood greenways so close by.

“There is Couch and Ankeny one block over,” he said. “What WAS on the table from the beginning, and is still in the ‘may be funded’ stage, is an eastbound diverter for Ankeny to cut down on the traffic from 12th east. PBOT is waffling on this and really needs to be pushed.”

Still, he added, Metro’s Active Transportation Plan calculates that turning East Burnside into a bike route would have the best benefit/cost ratio of any street on the east side when it came to increasing bike traffic.

According to 2012 Census estimates, of the 73,057 Census tracts in the United States, the tracts running along Burnside in this stretch rank 38th and 149th for bike commuting. West of 28th Avenue, an estimated 20 percent of residents bike to work, while 35 percent drive. Between 28th and Chavez, it’s about 14 percent who bike and 48 percent who drive.

The Census doesn’t track the number of people who bike to other destinations such as the stores, eateries, venues and homes that line Burnside.

NOTE: Thanks for sharing and reading our comments. To ensure this is a welcoming and productive space, all comments are manually approved by staff. BikePortland is an inclusive company with no tolerance for meanness, discrimination or harassment. Comments with expressions of racism, sexism, homophobia, or xenophobia will be deleted and authors will be banned.

140
Leave a Reply

avatar
30 Comment threads
110 Thread replies
0 Followers
 
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
51 Comment authors
sorenEl BicicleroDanAndy KJack Recent comment authors
  Subscribe  
newest oldest most voted
Notify of
Scott H
Guest
Scott H

Yeah, Ankey and Couch, sure, but the city is adding street parking? That’s a flagrant misuse of space.

Kiel Johnson (Go By Bike)
Guest
kiel johnson

The bike master plan was a pretty extensive “public process”. Ignoring that is a slap in the face to everyone who participated in it. They should have at least added bike lanes on the streets where this project overlapped the bike master plan. Reminds me of the old picture of tucking the bike master plan back on the shelf.

Dan
Guest
Dan

Jonathan, you appear to be biking in the door zone.

Zaphod
Guest

This is a big win for bikes. Consider this… I’ve heard from drivers about how traffic is way backed up heading west. If those drivers then see an underutilized bike lane, it will create a high visibility failure which is the last thing we want. Better to simply reduce crashes and slow traffic such that driving becomes less attractive. With Couch and Ankeny a block in either direction, I’m really glad this is how it went down.

The only risk is if impatient motorists choose the aforementioned bikeways as cut throughs. This might be a very good time to introduce physical diverters to keep this from occurring.

GlowBoy
Guest
GlowBoy

They’d better put those diverters in on Ankeny before starting this project, or we’ll have another Clinton Street disaster on our hands.

Kyle
Guest
Kyle

I’ve driven this stretch of Burnside a few times since the lanes were changed and I find it much calmer as a driver. It’s also better as a pedestrian – westbound vehicle speeds seem slower at 28th and there’s a bit more separation between the sidewalk and the lanes.

I’m still a bit baffled as to why the city is dragging its heels on installing diverters for Ankeny. All we need is the simple concrete curb type found at 20th, and we need them placed at 28th and 12th. The amount of cut-through traffic has definitely been increasing in recent weeks and it needs to be culled.

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)
Admin

If PBOT estimates this project will reduce crashes on Burnside… What about the possible rise in collisions and overall negative impact of travel conditions that can occur on Ankeny and Couch if there is an increase in cut-through auto traffic?

Also, it pains me to hear Terry Dublinski essentially say “Bike riders don’t need Burnside, they can use Ankeny and Couch instead.” That is very frustrating. This is a very wide street with plenty of room for a dedicated bikeway. We absolutely must start claiming bike space on these destination-filled commercial corridors! It’s the only way we will see a significant rise in bike use.

I’d like to know more from PBOT about which types of infrastructure changes require “extensive public process” and which ones do not.

Also, I need to update my PBOT Excuses For Not Building Better Bikeways Bingo game to include: takes too long, requires public process, and doesn’t tie into existing bikeway.

Sorry for the rant, but to do a redesign of a street with such huge potential to be an excellent link in our bike network and not include any biking space — and actually make bicycling worse — is really frustrating to me.

I’m happy to hear from others why I shouldn’t be as worked up about this.

Cairel
Guest
Cairel

Here’s the problem: “traffic engineers calculated that removing an eastbound travel lane would have caused significant congestion.” If you want disincentivize driving into downtown, then you have to make it harder to drive, not easier. As for heading off potential driving cut-throughs on Ankeny and Couch, you can block off through driving traffic while allowing bike traffic, as is already done on a lot of the bikeways.

maccoinnich
Guest

That the bike lanes “wouldn’t be well connected to the rest of the city’s bikeway system” is a terrible argument. To the east, Burnside has bike lanes from 69th all the way to 181st, and from 199th all the way to the City of Sandy (as the Mt Hood Hwy). To the west, the Burnside Bridge is an important bike route into downtown. I recognize that we can’t connect these two sections overnight, but if we’re not willing to do it in pieces, how will we ever do it?

Chris Anderson
Guest

Sounds like it’s time for another Bike Bill lawsuit. Where you at, BTA?

Buzz
Guest
Buzz

First it was SE Hawthorne, then it was SE Division, now it’s E Burnside. Thanks for nothing – and I do mean nothing – looking at you, PBOT.

Terry D-M
Guest
Terry D-M

To Clarify, metro estimated that East Burnside improvements east would have the biggest uptick in bike commuting in SE, it is second if you say East Side” as adding bike facilities to NE Sandy came in first. Burnside is a half million $ retrofit, Sandy is about $5 million If I remember my numbers right.

lahar legar
Guest
lahar legar

I really wish something could be done about the Ankeny Greenway and Sandy Street intersection in this process as well.

John R
Guest
John R

Lawsuit. Simple.

MaxD
Guest
MaxD

Burnside is the perfect street to add bike lanes on for the following reasons:
1. plenty of space
2. easy grades
3. connects lots and lots of places simply and directly, including a bridge.

It is truly a shame that PBOT missed this opportunity. Am I wrong to understand that the future addition of bike lanes on E Burnside will require either the removal of (even more) parking on both sides or the removal of a travel lane and the new concrete ped islands?

This “lean and fast” approach actually appears to be misuse of public money by dismissing planning efforts and not including space for (and, in fact, constructing permanent features in the place of) planned facilities.

Alex Reed
Guest
Alex Reed

Ugh, no bike lanes on Burnside itself sounds like a fait accompli for the time being barring a massive uprising. Critical Mass peoples?

On the other hand, this is a great opportunity to advocate through traditional channels for auto diversion off of Ankeny. Soren from BikeLoudPDX has been working with the Buckman neighborhood association to get to formally asking PBOT for diversion, and it sounds like the Burnside project will add urgency and perhaps funding to this. If interested in helping him with this project, please email me at bikeloudpdx@gmail.com and I’ll get you in touch!

Jayson
Guest
Jayson

Traveling from downtown to east portland (east of 60th) is nothing if not confusing. None of the bike boulevards are a straight shot, requiring multiple right and left turns and plenty of stop signs. If you’re driving a car, there are about 8-10 good east-west arterials to take. Burnside would’ve been one of the best east-west streets for a separated bikeway in my humble opinion because of the gradual grades and because it is already slims down to one lane in east portland whereas other streets get wider. I’m disappointed in the continued piecemeal approach to bike infrastructure in this city, but in this case, there wasn’t even a piecemeal approach – it’s nothing.

Adam
Guest
Adam

What else is happening as part of this High Crash Corridor Safety Project?

I am actually not too concerned about bike lanes ON Burnside itself, since both Ankeny and Couch are one block parallel.

I *am* concerned about lack of crossing opportunities for pedestrians, traffic speeds etc on Burnside. It is one of the worst roads to cross as a pedestrian. There are hardly any places to safely cross.

What has or will the project have in store regarding these features?

I would also LOVE to find out about the 2015 Ankeny improvements briefly mentioned in the article. Will a diverter be a part of that???

GlowBoy
Guest
GlowBoy

“City officials decided “early in the public process,” Veka said, that this wouldn’t be possible without an extensive public process.”

So they “decided” to skip the public process because it would require too much public process?

KC
Guest
KC

I am an avid bike commuter who lives a close to Burnside. Almost every day I cross Burnside by bike as well as travel east-west every day parallel to it for ~5 miles. I was also involved in some of the process that resulted in the restriping.

While I would like to have done more with the resources available, I’m happy with what was accomplished, because the problem I have with Burnside isn’t wanting to ride on it, but *crossing* it. It’s really hazardous. Many drivers treat this section is treated as a speedway. Ideally I would like there be lights every two blocks, but doing that was way outside the budget allotted for this project.

I think of the work that’s been done and the islands that are getting installed in the spring as important bike facilities facilitating north-south travel, and I’m surprised there isn’t more acknowledgement of that in the article or in the comments.

Adam
Guest
Adam

It says the City will be adding crossing islands at 18th, 22nd & 24th.

Firstly, there is already a crossing island at 24th. It’s the one right outside Screen Door. So why is there another crossing going in at this location?

Secondly – not a single crossing island planned between 24th & 32nd, which is also in the project’s scope?

It’s not like any vulnerable road users ever need to cross Burnside on this stretch to get to Laurelhurst Elementary School! Or Laurelhurst Park! Perish the thought!

sd
Guest
sd

This is another step toward dividing the city streets into bike and no-bike areas. Piece by piece it may appear justifiable, but the overall impact is very short-sighted and antithetical to the city’s goals of being more accessible to cyclists of different experience. To maintain the quality of life in Portland that we currently have, as population density increases, travel-mode-share has to shift away from single occupancy vehicles. A bike lane on Burnside would have supported this shift.

It appears that the unmeasured or unappreciated cyclist is the person who goes for a ride from point A to B and figures out the route as they go. I do this a lot on the weekends and for many novice cyclists this would be their first cycling experience in Portland. Car drivers do this all the time without obstacle. A bikeable city that encourages people to get on their bikes would increase safe-feeling bike access whenever there is an opportunity instead of designing roads that force cyclists to take alternate routes.

The current process of doubling down on bike and no-bike roads is a bad move and will cost more in the future to correct. PBOT’s sloth and bias are more obvious with each new project they roll out.

Bside resident
Guest
Bside resident

As a resident of E. Burnside actively involved for five years in traffic calming efforts, a cyclist and a member of the public committee that worked with PBOT on this project it’s disheartening to read so many negative comments about these limited improvements.

Bike lanes on E. Burnside are a great idea and perhaps one day they’ll be there. But this was a small scale project with a $100K budget. The committee included members of the 20’s Bikeway Project, Kerns, Buckman and Laurelhurst neighborhood associations and the Burnside East Business Association. The consensus of the committee was to take advantage of the funds available to slow traffic speeds and improve the pedestrian experience in the growing business district.

When the crossings are installed this spring we will have made significant progress in improving the safety of pedestrians and cyclists crossing this busy corridor. A “Hawk Eye” bike crossing at 30th to be installed as part of the 20’s bikeway will further the progress. PBOT is seeking ODOT’s permission to lower the posted speed to 30. These are positive steps toward making E. Burnside a better street for all users, including cyclists.

These projects take years to come to fruition. Take a step back and try to appreciate that a group of concerned neighbors were able to eek out a few minor improvements for all users of a small section of E. Burnside. It’s an accomplishment I’m proud to be a part of.

Spiffy
Guest
Spiffy

it’s possible for cars to pass westbound bikes by entering the turn lane

OregonLive wrote that this was illegal because the center turn lane is a special lane and not an ordinary travel lane that you usually cross over into in order to pass bicycles…

Spiffy
Guest
Spiffy

Burnside is Portland’s main street… it’s THE street that divides the city… a street with this much visibility should have awesome facilities for all users… a nice wide sidewalk, a nice wide bike lane, and a nice wide motor vehicle lane (with safe separation from the others)… anything less would be embarrassing…

John Liu
Guest
John Liu

I live a couple blocks off Burnside in this area. I’m familiar with riding here and with the great need to slow traffic on Burnside and make safer crossings, east of 32nd. The decision made by PBOT here is clearly wrong.

East of 32nd, Ankeny and Couch cease to be good bike routes. Ankeny has some significant grades, neither has any safe way to cross 39th/Cesar Chavez.

The outer lanes on Burnside, where they are currently part-time parking, should be striped as bike lanes. That would reduce the traffic lanes from four to two, slow traffic, and make the street easier to cross, just as converting those lanes to full time parking will do. There could be curb bump outs at the intersections to further narrow the street and ease crossing, with the bike lanes running over (through) the bump-out. This would also discourage aggressive drivers from driving in the bike lane.

Bike riders could then come from Ankeny or 28th, climb Ankeny to 32nd, connect to Burnside, cross Cesar Chavez with a signal, and continue on Burnside for as far east as the current part-time parking goes.

There is no great demand for parking on this part of Burnside. Since parked cars currently have to be moved during commute hours, it is not a practical parking place for most people.

PBOT often has difficult situations where there is not enough room for car traffic and bike lanes. This was an easy situation, and they made the wrong decision.

John Liu
Guest
John Liu

The changes west of 32nd make sense to me. Ankeny is a fine bike route there, just one block away. I think the commercial district on Burnside west of 32nd, especially west of 30th, needs curbside parking.

(I would have preferred the typical road diet with a center turn lane, one travel lane each way, door zone bike lanes, and curbside parking. But I see the need to avoid creating a half mile traffic jam. Although, wait – won’t that just move the bottleneck further east?)

My disagreement is with the changes east of 32nd. I understand this was a small budget project. But striping bike lanes is not expensive. When the parking is made “permanent”, it will block future bike lanes. If PBOT thought it was too hard to remove part-time parking, how can they hope to remove permanent parking in 2 or 5 years?

Alan 1.0
Guest
Alan 1.0

Parking Bureau of Transportation

sd
Guest
sd

“The majority of the driving public do so out of necessity, that is the bottom line. There will never ever be a reason to “switch” to bike commuting for them because the commute is far enough that riding a bike would just take to much time and create more problems (for them) than it solves!”

Can you back this up with data that applies to inner Portland?
My assumption is that a large percentage of the single occupancy trips in cars could be taken by bike without hardship.

I see your concern, but would suggest that your “necessary” car commuting would be greatly improved if others traded in their “optional” car commuting for a bike commute. You could help this happen by supporting the development of bike infrastructure that is easily accessible and makes people feel safe when they bike.

Greg
Guest
Greg

I live in Buckman, and I was on the Working Group for the “East Burnside Safety Project”.

I am very disappointed in the framing of this article, focusing on “no bike lanes!” and parking instead of the intent of the project, which is reducing crashes and improving crossing Burnside, which helps people on foot and on bikes.

There was a 18 month long public process, and a small budget. There was a unanimous desire expressed at the public meetings for better pedestrian access. Nobody was asking for bike lanes on Burnside.