SE Clinton used to be one of Portland’s marquee streets for bicycling. As one of the original “bike boulevards” it has long been a popular bicycling route that connects inner southeast neighborhoods with downtown and points beyond.
Unfortunately, Clinton has recently become a bikeway in name only. For the last year or so, as development on nearby Division Street has led to increased auto congestion, a steady stream of drivers have begun using Clinton as a cut-through. All these extra drivers have had a very negative impact on cycling conditions.
That reality, combined with efforts from grassroots activism group Bike Loud PDX, has led top brass from the City’s Bureau of Transportation to take notice. On Thursday, a group of concerned citizens will meet with PBOT staff in the Portland Building to talk about existing conditions and how to improve them.
“We want to start a discussion and get a deeper understanding about people’s concerns.”
— Diane Dulken, City of Portland
Since August, Clinton has been the focus of grassroots protests and activism. About one month ago, Portland resident Joe Rowe emailed PBOT Director Leah Treat and asked for a meeting. “We feel there will soon be a death or injury do to the lack of action on the part of the city and PBOT,” wrote Rowe in his email.
Treat responded quickly. Eight days later, the new Active Transportation Division Manager, Margi Bradway, was looped in and a meeting was planned.
Rowe and others who are active with Bike Loud PDX are asking for two main things: traffic diverters to keep people from driving on Clinton and to slow down speeds; and a shorter timeline for making the investment.
PBOT has acknowledged that traffic diverters are one possible solution for Clinton. The City has also told us it is likely to cost between $20,000 and $100,000 to install diverters but their hands are tied because there is no room in the budget to make the investment. They won’t use money allocated for the existing Neighborhood Greenways program because Clinton is technically still just a “bike boulevard” since it was designed before the Neighborhood Greenway program started. Think of it as an old operating system that’s no longer supported*. (Please see correction below).
The new Portland Street Fund plan up for a vote by City Council on December 17th includes $825,000 to “upgrade and enhance” streets like Clinton; but not until years 4-6. Bike Loud PDX wants that moved up to years 1-3.
Reached today for comment about the meeting, PBOT Spokeswoman Diane Dulken confirmed that Bradway would be in attendance. She’ll be joined by PBOT Transportation Policy, Planning and Projects Group Manager Art Pearce, Traffic Safety Specialist (and the agency’s foremost bike boulevard expert) Greg Raisman, and City Bike Coordinator Roger Geller.
Dulken said PBOT agreed to the meeting in order to, “Get a deeper understanding about people’s concerns.”
Bike Loud PDX Founder Alex Reed says the meeting will be primarily about SE Clinton, but the broader issue of deteriorating and dangerous conditions on these older bike boulevards (like Ankeny, Lincoln, and so on) will also be discussed.
— Learn more in our SE Clinton Street story archives.
*CORRECTION: I was wrong in my understanding of PBOT’s budget as it relates to neighborhood greenways. According to Bradway, all spending for non-capital projects like this are in the same funding bucket. That bucket, which is a paltry $1 million per year, is under her discretion and not tied to any specific program. I regret my error.