Tour de Lab September 1st

Comment of the Week: The case against a bike path alongside I-84

Posted by on February 27th, 2015 at 4:30 pm

A rendering of a possible Sullivan’s Gulch Corridor.
(Rendering: Nick Falbo, Alta Planning + Design)

Biking on a flat off-road path is terrific. But biking on many first-rate streets might be better.

That’s the argument made on Wednesday by reader Terry D-M, at least. In the midst of the heated discussion over whether the Portland Bureau of Transportation needs an equity and inclusion manager, Terry offered a comment that seemed a little off-topic at first but eventually circled directly on point.

The job of an equity manager, Terry argued, would be to help people such as the members of the city’s volunteer Bicycle Advisory Committee escape the involuntary blinders that he thinks caused them to neglect infrastructure outside the central city in favor of (in his view) expensive luxuries like the long-planned Sullivan’s Gulch Corridor between the Rose Quarter and NE 21st.

(Note: Terry refers in his comment to a BAC list of 13 top projects, including the Sullivan’s Gulch trail as one of the last few. That list was later shortened to focus on 10 projects that they were asking the city to prioritize. We shared the list of 10 here.)

The City Bicycle Advisory Committee recommended a list of 13 projects that should be the HIGHEST priority. Of these, it includes close to $27 MILLION of investments in North or NE in the 1.25 mile radius from Downtown between Sullivan’s Gulch and Swan Island, not including Bike Share. This includes Broadway-Wiedler, Sullivan’s Gulch phase one, the 7th avenue bridge and north Portland Greenway Trail to Swan Island.

There are NO projects recommended for all of SEUL (outside of that needed 7th street overpass, which is technically downtown). SEUL has close to one third of Portland’s entire population.

East Portland gets two projects, for a total of $8.5 million (the three M’s Greenway and 122nd). The west side gets $14.2 million (Flanders, Barbur Terwilliger, Capital), though I think $3 million for the Flanders greenway AND overpass is a little under estimated in cost.

But what is in there for SEUL? Nothing….no recommended investments for Montavilla, Lents, South Portland…In Fact, outside of the Three M’s and 122nd, the ONLY project east of 21st that made the list is the upper 70′s greenway which is MUCH less needed than access to PCC SE for our low income students. We do have some of the lowest high school graduation rates in the country.

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I would think that spending $7.7 million on a fancy multi-use path from the waterfront that only reaches a little more than mile out…only until 21st as further east the ROW is owned by the railroad….when there are ALTERNATIVE ROUTES would be less important than improving bikeway access to school and neighborhoods. That money could build the 60′s, 70′s and 80th greenways AND connect Sellwood to Lents via the new ByBee MAX station with a south Portland bikeway. What I see is almost $8 million being prioritized for professional commuters and recreational cyclists going to their gentrified work and play places. In Central East and South Portland getting to school or Community College is DANGEROUS which could be significantly improved for a very reasonable investment. I would think that THIS work force development would be more important than being able to put on your spandex and do a quick ride to the waterfront from your Sullivan’s Gulch Condo on a new fancy path just for you and your professional neighbors. These routes I have just outlined have been endorsed by their Neighborhood associations, ALMOST completely…..I know, since I was the one who presented to some of these groups and got the endorsements for these needed projects.

This is why we need an EQUITY manager. Even those in the know, who are supposedly the best, trying to advise city council…did NOT take class issues into account when they ranked them. This group is DOWNTOWN CENTERED. Yes they have a great advocate from east Portland on the committee, but these choices obviously tell me they did not look at the city as a whole…they are mostly downtown focused professionals that made some high profile token additions for those in the outer districts.

THIS IS WHY THIS POSITION IS IMPORTANT.

Whatever you think about Sullivan’s Gulch, Terry makes some pretty solid points, both about planning and about the difficulty of equitable decision-making.

Yes, we pay for good comments. We’ll be mailing a $5 bill to Terry in thanks for this great one.

Please support BikePortland.

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80 Comments
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    davemess February 27, 2015 at 4:43 pm

    Good Choice. Very well said Terry!
    Terry has worked an incredible amount the last few years to make cycling on the east side better.

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    Matt F February 27, 2015 at 4:44 pm

    Good points for sure

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    Brad February 27, 2015 at 4:51 pm

    Sullivan’s Gulch has some of the most affordable housing left near the inner city, outside of maybe John’s Landing. I think it’s a poor example to use.

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      Dave February 27, 2015 at 6:14 pm

      Not to mention the swathes of affordability in east Portland, like Gateway, that will benefit hugely if it’s ever completed. But if it only ever went to 21st, I’d agree totally that it was a poor investment, and I can see the argument that without firm plans and ROW agreements perhaps it should continue to gestate.

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        Chris I February 27, 2015 at 9:00 pm

        If it were to connect all the way to the Gateway area, this would be huge.

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        • Michael Andersen (News Editor)
          Michael Andersen (News Editor) February 28, 2015 at 8:36 am

          I live like 3 blocks from the would-be corridor (at 65th) and would use it every day if it were built. But would it really be that huge? There’s already a train on this corridor every 3 to 7 minutes all day and much of the night, running well under capacity throughout. Now that Terry mentions it, Broadway protected bike lanes seem to serve a pretty similar purpose for inner NE and offer better connectivity. When we started talking about Sullivan’s Gulch as a path, nobody was really thinking about the possibility of reclaiming Broadway for human use. Now it’s on the table and might be more politically feasible than getting UPRR to play ball.

          East of Hollywood, you could offer almost the same benefits with a road diet and protected lanes on Halsey, including a comfortable crossing of 205 directly into the Gateway business district. Again, a political lift but not more than raising enough money to make it worth UPRR’s while.

          The lack of a 28th Ave MAX station is annoying, and a path to 21st would be a nice alternative (though not as nice as, y’know, a MAX station).

          The big advantages of a path are grade, simplicity and speed. Those are, I agree, huge. I’m not saying I’m against a SG corridor (and my hill-hating gf would probably be annoyed to hear me say all this) but I hadn’t really thought until I read this comment that maybe this concept, as a top-tier priority, is a little obsolete.

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            was carless February 28, 2015 at 10:12 am

            Yeah, i agree that Broadway should be prioritized over SG because, as you said, it offers access to the commercial corridor it travels through – a huge bonus and something long wished for in Portland (commercial corridor bike lane).

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            Chris I March 1, 2015 at 7:47 am

            I have actually just started riding Halsey early in the morning from 53rd to 181st, and I think it would be a fantastic route, it just needs a diet and bike lanes.

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        matt picio March 2, 2015 at 3:00 pm

        Gateway is not going to benefit hugely if Sullivan’s Gulch is completed, because SG only goes to 21st. Union Pacific is never going to grant the ROW for the remainder (see the arguments over the NP Greenway for a perfect example), so SG will always be of limited utility. There are a lot of areas which could benefit from better connectivity in SE, outer east, and the sadly-neglected SW Portland. I agree with Terry, as much as I love the idea of SG, there are and should be higher priorities in bike infrastructure right now.

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          Jim Labbe March 2, 2015 at 3:55 pm

          Why not make equitable access a priority by starting the Sullivan Gulch Trail East to West, beginning with the the $1.8 million Sullivan Gulch I-205 Under Pass project?

          The project was undersold by being named as a “Sullivan Gulch” segment. It would certain be the eastern most segment of the Sullivan Gulch trail but it would be so much more.

          It would connect the Tillamook-Hancock Neighborhood Greenway to Gateway Green and to the Gateway Transit Center via the I-205 Trail, thus extending a major East/West Bicycle corridor to East Portland.

          In one fell swoop this project would restore a historic connection between the South Madison Neighborhood to the Gateway area long ago severed by I-205 and I-84 freeways while dramatically increasing access to soon-to-be-built Gateway Green regional park.

          This project was highly rated in the 2015-18 STIP project list but never made the final cut.

          The Friends of Gateway Green has been advocating for this project but they could use all the help and support they could get.

          Jim Labbe

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            Terry D-M March 3, 2015 at 8:12 am

            THAT section should have been built yesterday.

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    soren February 27, 2015 at 5:07 pm

    Apart from equity, a practical argument for emphasizing the outer SE is that there is lots of low hanging-fruit and a population eager for improvements. On the other hand, in central portland improvements are expensive and controversial.

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      paikiala March 2, 2015 at 1:53 pm

      How far outer? Mt Tabor, ok, but east of I-205 gets pretty expensive quickly due to the lack of a grid.

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        Terry D-M March 3, 2015 at 8:15 am

        East Portland in Motion has movement, some funding and is moving forward piece by piece. The area IN between 60th and I 205….. the Banfield south to Holgate, and the area east of Caesar Chavez south of Holgate to the city limits is the opportunity zone.

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    Spizzle February 27, 2015 at 5:54 pm

    I feel like all of this could be said without taking shots at people who use the waterfront. I work part time and am a student and I commute to/from work and school via the waterfront 5 times a week. I am pretty sure most of the “spandex” people avoid the river front because it is too crowded and if you can keep up with the lights, the bike lane on Naito flows better. I think that Terry is right about the SE being deserving of development and maybe officials pay too much attention to the west side, but making negative remarks about your fellow cyclists on the west side doesn’t help that case.

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      Eastsider February 28, 2015 at 6:01 pm

      Agreed. And since when did wearing clothing that is designed for biking become such a crime? I often see people stereotyping “spandex” riders as some sort of elite group that doesn’t deserve the same level of safety as other road users.

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    gutterbunnybikes February 27, 2015 at 6:08 pm

    Though I’m sceptical about a new layer of bureaucracy in the process, I couldn’t agree more with how downtown sucks all the funds, and quite frankly where it really isn’t needed as bad as other places in the city.

    Though I think the focus on downtown has more to do with showing off tourists and building engineering resumes than actually doing something that is needed. If the focus was on need, downtown and central wouldn’t get half of what it has now.

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      paikiala March 2, 2015 at 1:54 pm

      Alternatively, in order to make the 2030 mode share goals, focusing where people already bike usually has a better ROI. It is a constant stuggle inside PBOT regarding active transportation – where to invest and efficiency v. equity.

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    maccoinnich February 27, 2015 at 6:28 pm

    In general I enjoy Terry D-M’s comments on here very much, but I’m afraid I don’t agree with him here. Claiming that any biking project that improves bike access to downtown is inherently inequitable doesn’t make sense. Yes, a lot of rich people live and work on the west side. A lot of poor people do too. The Pearl has more units of low income housing in it than New Columbia does. A very large percentage of the housing in Downtown (I can’t find the exact numbers) is affordable. Sure, Downtown has skyscrapers with tech firms and law offices, but it is also has a large number of very low paid service jobs. It is also has the region’s major concentration of social and/or government services.

    I don’t want to get into pitting neighborhood coalitions against each other, but any list of top 10 priorities is always going to leave out worthy projects. The lack of projects in the Southeast Uplift area might simply be a reflection that *as a whole* Southeast Uplift is one of the best areas of the city to cycle in. I am absolutely sure that there dangerous areas in SEUL, but there are very certainly dangerous areas west of the river too, Barbur being only the most obvious example. Here in Neighbors West / Northwest land we don’t have any facilities that approach the quality of the neighborhood greenways in SEUL, Waterfront Park aside (perhaps). When I see Terry D-M advocate for a road diet on E Burnside or bike lanes on SE Belmont, I’m 100% with him. I hope his continued advocacy for SE doesn’t mean attacking projects in other parts of the city.

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      gutterbunnybikes February 27, 2015 at 7:57 pm

      Sure what you say is true to a degree, but all of Pearl, Downtown, and NW neighborhoods (hey go ahead and add Buckman,Lloyd, Kern, Sullivans and Hosford) population is small compared to the populations east of 39th. Get out past the 205 and and it’s not even a contest. And if I remember (I ran the numbers once) right Lents and Powellhurst Gilbert has about the same number of residents as all the above mentioned neighborhoods combined.

      When you consider the population that is actually being served, the vast majority of facilities hugely swings to very small percentage of the entire population of the city. And I’m not going to even get into the debate of economic status of the populations. (Though for reference there are many more subsidised housing facilities than just the Villia).

      I’m not by any means saying Downtown and Central don’t need improvements, but right now the rest of the city is literally begging for just a little bit of attention, and is largely being ignored. While those in the city core already have facilities and keep getting more.

      And the crux of the biscuit, is out here in the middle and outer city, those infrastructure dollars go a whole lot further than they do in the central city.

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        maccoinnich February 27, 2015 at 9:06 pm

        I’m not totally sure what the point of comparing the population of Powellhurst Gilbert with the Pearl and Downtown is. Yes, Powellhurst Gilbert has 5x the population of the Pearl. It also has 10x the land area. It’s not exactly a secret that more people live east of the river than live west of the river, given that much more of the city is physically situated east of the river.

        And if you think there is having large amounts of money being spent on cycling infrastructure in Downtown / Goose Hollow / the Pearl / Northwest then you can’t spend much time in any of those neighborhoods.

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        • Michael Andersen (News Editor)
          Michael Andersen (News Editor) February 28, 2015 at 8:59 am

          Agreed, but isn’t the main problem with biking in downtown/Pearl/NW that we haven’t even been willing to spend small amounts of money for a few damn continuously striped bike lanes? Mostly because it’d require parking and/or car capacity removal, and therefore political effort?

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            maccoinnich February 28, 2015 at 7:15 pm

            Yes, absolutely. I personally would rather see NW Everett and Glisan get bike lanes through the Pearl instead of a Flanders bikeway, but it seems like no one at all is willing consider the loss of travel lanes or parking spaces that would be required.

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              Reza March 2, 2015 at 3:36 pm

              Everett and Glisan east of I-405 is on the NHS and a dedicated freight route, so any bicycle lanes would likely require removing parking. You may find that the City is not going to be easily willing to give up that revenue…

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      Terry D-M February 27, 2015 at 8:06 pm

      I have been working on East Burnside for over a year, bikeportland did a whole article about it. There is also North Tabor Vision Zero, which calls for “East Burnside to be Modernized where Bicyclist and Pedestrian safety and connectivity interests take precedent over automobile capacity or parking.”

      http://www.northtabor.org/category/committees/land-use/comp-plan/

      I got this passed by the NA board, by consensus and passed this on to PBOT as part of the official record on the comprehensive plan. I also went to the inner east outreach process for the Burnside road diet. I would love parking to be taken away for a buffered bike lanes, as would 9 out of 10 of my neighbors….I ASKED THEM.

      North Tabor Vision Zero ALSO calls for bike lanes on Belmont out to 45th so there is a continues commercial bike lane corridor from inner east to 45th north to Burnside, then east to Montavilla, ALL INCLUDED.

      Are you with me now?

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        maccoinnich February 27, 2015 at 8:52 pm

        I’m not sure if that reply was intended for me or not, given that I said “when I see Terry D-M advocate for a road diet on E Burnside or bike lanes on SE Belmont, I’m 100% with him.” My point, which might have been a little ramble-y, is that advocating for projects in one part of the city shouldn’t mean attacking worthy projects in other parts of the city.

        Or, put another way, the sum total cost of all the BAC top 10 projects is $42 million. That entire project list costs 16% of the cost of *phase I* of the Newberg-Dundee bypass ($262 million).

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          davemess February 27, 2015 at 9:14 pm

          “advocating for projects in one part of the city shouldn’t mean attacking worthy projects in other parts of the city.”

          If there are limited funds, and the same parts of the city continually get’s the lion’s share of the projects (despite being a significantly smaller percent of the population), why not?

          I’m guessing you haven’t done a lot of riding east of 39th in SE?
          To me it would almost make sense to have the SE coalition split, the way the NE ones are. The needs and issue of the inner and outer SE neighborhoods are vastly different.

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            maccoinnich February 27, 2015 at 9:41 pm

            “same parts of the city continually get’s the lion’s share of the projects ”

            Where are all these bike projects that have been built in the neighbors West / Northwest area?

            (And FWIW I was cycling on NE 122nd on Saturday, and not for the first time.)

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              John R. February 27, 2015 at 10:56 pm

              Maybe instead of fighting “over a lion’s share” of crumbs we should be fighting for a bigger (and more equitable) pie.

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                soren February 28, 2015 at 10:41 am

                I disagree with your characterization of this as a fight. Outer east portland at best gets the dust from central portland’s crumbs.

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              davemess February 28, 2015 at 9:06 am

              In the original post Terry made very little comment about the actual west side. He was mostly talking about the inner east side area.

              I might also argue that there might not have been as much pressing need for bike infrastructure in the area you’re describing as it is easily the most walkable, close to downtown area in the city.

              You’re getting caught up in nuances. Would you argue that the central area of Portland has not gotten the vast majority of funding/benefits the last few decades?

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          Terry D-M February 27, 2015 at 10:25 pm

          It was absolutely for you. Read North Tabor Vsion Zero and get back to me about what I have been advocating on Burnside, Belmont and the whole region. I got a road diet first passed Feb 2014 through NTNA, I talked to all the NA chairs in attendance at SEUL’s t/LU meeting about Belmont and Burnside…..talk to the Business association about Belmont. My projects im advocating the 7+ million to would serve sigificantly over 100,000 residents…or just one path. I even priortitzed other neighborhood over mine…ie the 8.5 Million for the east Burnside remodel becuase the money could be beter spent on the masses than on one roadway…though East Burnside WILL be put on a diet soon. After we get used to the New Foster.

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          Terry D-M March 1, 2015 at 11:11 am

          I agree completely about overall funding. You have to prioritize when funding is limited. I can talk forever about where we should get more overall funding. you did say though: “When I see Terry D-M advocate for a road diet on E Burnside or bike lanes on SE Belmont, I’m 100% with him.”

          http://bikeportland.org/2014/04/02/neighborhood-group-will-gather-support-for-burnside-road-diet-near-mt-tabor-103876#more-103876

          I found the article….though I have since acquired a husband, thus the new name. My attack on Sullivan’s gulch is not an out of nowhere idea…..when you HAVE to prioritize, then you need to make difficult decisions. That is not about pitting one neighborhood AGAINST another, it is about placing the resources where they are needed most.

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      Reza March 2, 2015 at 3:40 pm

      +1000

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    Dwaine Dibbly February 27, 2015 at 6:40 pm

    What is SEUL?

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      Terry D-M February 27, 2015 at 8:07 pm

      Southeast Uplift, a coalition of 20 of the 96 neighborhoods of Portland.

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    maccoinnich February 27, 2015 at 7:05 pm

    Southeast Uplift: the coalition of neighborhood associations in SE, not including East Portland. Also includes a few NE neighborhoods south of the Banfield.

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    Paul Manson February 27, 2015 at 7:14 pm

    The Sullivans Gulch Trail plan is one of the most inclusive transportation planning processes I’ve been a part of. In part because it was a Parks planning process and not a PBOT managed process. Parks built an advisory panel of many communities in East Portland. It might be a model for other corridors to consider.

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      Terry D-M February 27, 2015 at 7:45 pm

      I live in North Tabor and am currently the transportation chair for the NA. I know full well the history of the Sullivan’s Gulch path since my entire northern border of the NA IS the gulch. Without the middle section that reaches out east into our area, the path will be a path to no where.

      I also do not know how inclusive the Sullivan’s Gulch outreach was. We knew all about the North Portland Greenway trail, and I went to many of the early outreach meetings. Yet, I did not hear about the Sullivan’s Gulch outreach process until after the fact…even though my house is about a half mile from the gulch….and four miles away from the North Portland Trail.

      It is a good plan, if it is EVER built further east. I have the entire approved plan to the level it has been engineered (I believe it is 10% drawings) on my computer. The first mile should be attached to the inner section and be realistic about pricing. It is a $50 million path minimally, much more with proper environmental plantings and upgrades/park amenities that needs federal intervention to get built. The first miles has multiple, alternative routes. Sorry, but it is the one project that does not rise to the level ….it is the shiny jewel, that everyone will perceive as a pet project UNLESS it continues out to the neighborhoods that need it.

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        Chris I February 27, 2015 at 9:13 pm

        Unless PBoT gives Halsey a diet and adds bike lanes, the gulch trail between 60th and Parkrose is the only good option for east/west travel in the area.

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          Terry D-M February 27, 2015 at 10:29 pm

          I am presenting on that subject to the SEUL board next week. This road diet east of 67th is currently edorsed by North Tabor and Montavilla, and im trying to get PBOT to prioritze it this summer (They know this). Talk to Rose City Park west of there. East to 80th can be done cheaply….to get to gateway, more complex but doable with diets. Sulliavan’s gulch path row here is railroad owned.

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    Terry D-M February 27, 2015 at 7:58 pm

    Maybe I should have said “WILL BE PERCEIVED for spandex riding recreational cyclists and commuters.” I did not mean to attack a section of the bike riding community. If that neighborhood was cut off from the city, like Sellwood used to be or Swan Island is now…then I would not be as critical, but it is not. There is Multnomah, Llyod, Broadway-Wielder…

    If the path continued out east into the neighborhoods that really need it, then I would also not be as critical. If they were really honest about the true cost…closer to $50 million to get done right out to 92nd….As it stands, I think I made a great argument for equity of investment.

    Thank you for the recognitions, and keep it up everyone…particularly in Central East Portland who have helped me network over the past few months. I really I think we will fill these missing gaps in our safety network.

    P.S. BTW Michael, I never got my FIRST five dollars:

    http://bikeportland.org/2014/08/22/comment-week-good-review-director-treat-110325

    😉

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    Cory Poole February 27, 2015 at 8:22 pm

    I would love to see the gulch path go in. That last stretch is the only thing keeping me from letting my 6 year old ride solo to the east bank esplanade and the spring water trail.

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      Terry D-M February 27, 2015 at 9:00 pm

      I would as well….out to Gateway. That first mile I am criticizing that ends at 21st….with no current plans to remove parking on for north-south connections, could be replicated just by enxtending the Multnomah protected bikelanes out to 21st with parking removal. That project, ending at 16th has a $1 million budget for permanant protected facilities. Remove parking from 16th to 21st as well and extend the cost of the project……and you are at the same ned point. It is the only one of the 13 projects that, in its current planning phase, is not money well spent. The THE NEEDS OF THE MANY, OUTWEIGHT THE NEEDS OF THE ONE (In this case the few) RIP …..

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    Randy February 27, 2015 at 8:49 pm

    Cyclist lungs and costways don’t mix…

    Motor vehicle exhaust and chronic respiratory symptoms in children living near freeways.

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9339225

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      Mark February 28, 2015 at 7:51 am

      This is why I will never use the Sullivan’s Gulch path if it’s ever built.

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        rick March 1, 2015 at 8:40 pm

        It still needs to be built with adjacent trees.

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          Terry D-M March 2, 2015 at 7:39 am

          Correct, which is another reason why I am very reticent to support he project. The price estimates do not include all the environmental restoration that would need to happen….their estimates are too low.

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      Terry D-M February 28, 2015 at 8:04 am

      Absolutely. The worst asthma rates in the city are all next to expressways. The sub neighborhood next to the gulch of my hood, we call the pocket, is next to the Gulch and has huge air quality problems.

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      Cory Poole March 2, 2015 at 10:49 am

      This assumes that we will always be using fossil fuels to power our cars and trains. Already the MAX is electric. I would guess that over the next 20 years many cars will also be electric. Even the big locomotives are moving to hybrid systems that will greatly reduce pollution. We need to plan for the future, not the present.

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        Terry D-M March 2, 2015 at 12:19 pm

        Correct, we do need to prepare for the future…which is why I would propose that the 7.7 million would be better spent embedding bike culture and bumping up bike mode share in the undeserved neighborhoods by building an affordable and safe greenway network…for now.

        Long term, when the entire region has bike mode shares close to the inner neighborhoods, then there will be a lot more political momentum for large projects…then maybe the railroad would play ball and sell of the middle section ROW and we can build it all at once.

        Or Climate Change refugees will inundate us and we will need to CAP I 84 for a linear park/high density housing. Then, well….the path would be in the way…..

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    wsbob February 28, 2015 at 12:19 am

    Just a mile long path isn’t much, but it eventually could be the link to a longer trail serving more people. Better take the money while it’s there.

    On the West Side, the Sunset MUP’s offer some comparison to what the Sullivan’s Gulch trail could offer. The gulch path would be next to a big freeway, just as the Sunset path is. The Sunset is a little over three miles in length. Goes between Sylvan and Cedar Hills. My very casual observation when occasionally riding it, is that it gets a lot of use for bike commuting, and some recreational walking and biking.

    I don’t ride the Sunset path much, because as Randy notes: it’s got pollution, but also, noise. And honestly, for me it’s kind of boring to ride, except for the views down the ravines. Also, there’s better alternative routes out here, quiet residential streets, whereas alternatives to a gulch path appear to be Lloyd, Multnomah, Weidler, and Broadway. Any of those routes, from my own experience on them, would make use of the motor vehicle free gulch path, at least as attractive to use as the Sunset MUP.

    It’s a good thinking though, to possibly instead, spend money on improving biking conditions in neighborhoods further out. Just a question of what the greater benefit for all is going to be in the longer run.

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    J_R March 1, 2015 at 12:16 pm

    While there is a demonstrated need for equity and inclusion, I am concerned that emphasizing this above all else, or even giving it equal emphasis, will result in nothing happening.

    If we had waited for equity in the geographic distribution of funding, we would still be waiting for the wide sidewalks on the Hawthorne Bridge. You do know that the sidewalks were only about 3 feet wide 20 years ago, don’t you?

    That’s just one example where concentrating funding for one project and in one geographical area was necessary to achieve the synergy allowing a significant number of bicyclists and pedestrians to actually use the system.

    When we focus on any single attribute, balance is rarely achieved. It still bothers me greatly that when the Ross Island Bridge was reconstructed about 15 years ago, one of the overriding concerns was on retention of the historical nature of the bridge railings. The heavy, art-deco style, concrete railings were retained (you really can’t appreciate them because of the steel railing needed for actual crash protection). Eliminating the weight of the decorative concrete railings might have allowed us to substitute a barrier between the MUP on the north side and the travel lanes or maybe even allowed sidewalks on both sides. But, no, we had to keep the historic concrete railings. Just an example of where the focus on one attribute prevents consideration of a more balanced solution.

    Give consideration to equity, but don’t allow that to override system-wide benefits. If we didn’t demonstrate with past projects that physical improvements would actually increase mode share, the entire program would have been scaled back long ago.

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    Joe Adamski March 1, 2015 at 8:54 pm

    The total buildout cost for the 2030 Bicycle Master Plan was estimated, 5 years ago to be around $630M. The equity piece is not whether one project is more deserving than another. The true issue is that a transportation mode that offers so many benefits that the ‘payoff’ would be in a few years is rated so far down the pecking order that we end up fighting for scraps.
    Safe routes to work, school, shopping would redirect money otherwise sent out of Portland..to Exxon, Allstate and Toyota Financial Services. Payoffs in health and safety as well as reduction of pollution and actually expediting freight movement by reducing the number of single occupant cars.

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    kittens March 2, 2015 at 1:22 am

    I think its really a shame SW is getting this funding. The reason this area will never see the same ridership numbers is due to topography and poor road network connectivity. Not lack of investment in bike infrastructure.

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      Rick March 2, 2015 at 7:28 am

      There will be record numbers of riders in the Burlingham / Johns Landing area in 2016 when the new Sellwood bride opens.

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      Jeff M March 2, 2015 at 10:37 am

      “I think its really a shame SW is getting this funding. The reason this area will never see the same ridership numbers is due to topography and poor road network connectivity. Not lack of investment in bike infrastructure.”

      First of all, nobody is getting anything, yet. This is a recommendation by one specific advisory committee. There are, I don’t even know, dozens of other committees and organizations that are also providing their recommendations.

      The two projects listed for SW are routes that take advantage of the topography, as they are some of the flattest and most direct routes through SW. That is why they are needed to increase the percentage of people biking in SW.

      If the Capitol Highway project was on the list (and, frankly, I am surprised Terwilliger was chosen over it), it would also provide gently sloping connectivity between Multnomah Village, a designated neighborhood center or corridor on the Comp Plan, and Taylors Ferry, as well as removing a giant barrier to access PCC’s largest campus, Sylvania.

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        rick March 2, 2015 at 5:09 pm

        Capitol truly does need better bike access.

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    Jayson March 2, 2015 at 9:16 am

    I live in North Tabor also and I agree that there are big improvements that can be made with relatively little cost, such as on Burnside and Glisan, or signalized crossings of major streets like Cesar Chavez for our bike boulevards. However, I am also a huge advocate for the Sullivan’s Gulch trail. Yes, we should prioritize the low-hanging fruit, but ignoring the need for high quality off-street paths is not the right solution. If we don’t start with the path from the waterfront to 21st Ave now, when we it ever get built?

    Also, with regard to equity, it’s not about geographic equity as much as it’s about investments that will get the most use. Most bicycling activity is focused on jobs and housing downtown. You can point to lower residential population downtown, but the reality is that there’s over 150,000 people downtown (PSU, office jobs, retail and restaurant jobs, residents, etc) everyday.

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      Oregon Mamacita March 2, 2015 at 9:46 am

      “Also, with regard to equity, it’s not about geographic equity as much as it’s about investments that will get the most use.”

      Thanks for your candor Jayson. You are welcome to pay for the trail yourself, or allow Stacey and Witbeck, David Evans et al to pay. It is grossly inequitable to ask anyone from Outer SE to pay via taxes. Maybe a surcharge on properties in Sullivan’s Gulch. Or a sales tax on spandex, faux racing shirts, and beanies.

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        maccoinnich March 3, 2015 at 1:52 pm

        Given that Portland tends to pay for infrastructure projects with development charges, it certainly wouldn’t be East Portland paying for Central City projects. If Parks was the lead agency for the Sullivan’s Gulch trail Phase I it could pay for the $7.7 million project with SDCs raised from the Hassalo on Eighth and Oregon Square developments alone. (657 and 1,000 units respectively x $5,528 Parks charge per unit = $8.4 million).

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          Oregon Mamacita March 3, 2015 at 2:33 pm

          Do we know how the Sullivan’s Gulch trail would be funded? Thanks for your comment. I am open to facts. Please remember tho, that my tax dollars in general flow downtown and my street is crumbling and I am unwilling to spend one penny in a way that is inequitable. Things have been too crummy for too long. Having said that, if system development can only be used in the area, and the $ comes from developers, I am less opposed.

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            maccoinnich March 4, 2015 at 12:19 am

            No, I have no idea how it will be funded. However it’s extremely unlikely that the city would choose to use general fund dollars to fund the Sullivan’s Gulch trail, should it ever happen.

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      Terry D-M March 2, 2015 at 12:26 pm

      The most use…..this $7.7 million path would only extend from 6th to 21st. that is a path for 15 blocks, where there are alternative routes. The railroad owns the property further east and will not even discuss giving it up. Politicians talk about “playing with god” when you deal with them.

      Or we can build quality greenways For NE of the Montanan 60th-82, south to the city limits. That contains 6 neighborhoods, about six schools, multiple parks and three community centers. This would include safe crossings at arterials for pedestrians…..at least 25-30.

      The ROW is not going anywhere for this first section, we can wait until our school children can cross Division, Burnside and Powell first without getting killed.

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    Reza March 2, 2015 at 3:47 pm

    This comment, and most of the follow-up comments included, really brings out the worst in BikePortland: people just blindly attacking other neighborhoods’ worthy projects just to prove some kind of point that their neighborhood got shafted.

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    Reza March 2, 2015 at 4:17 pm

    I’m also slightly offended by Mr. Dublinski-Milton’s characterization of the BAC as a “DOWNTOWN CENTERED” (emphasis his) group. 90 percent of the projects we chose are outside of the traditional boundaries of downtown. Most of these projects also serve popular commute routes or employment centers, so not only do local residents get to enjoy them, but also people riding through the neighborhood to get to jobs, shopping, errands, and appointments.

    The BAC also made a concerted effort to advance projects that served the needs of the greater community, instead of being driven by parochial interests. In fact, the I-205 undercrossing project at Hancock Street would not have ended up on the final list if it wasn’t for advocacy of a few “DOWNTOWN CENTERED” individuals. So before accusing us of only looking out for our own interests, please try learning the facts.

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      Terry D-M March 3, 2015 at 8:57 am

      I follow BAC and know some of the characters on the committee. I would be very interested to see what would have happened if Dave Hampston had NOT been on the committee.

      Phase One Sullivan’s gulch should not have made the list of the top TWENTY projects in this city if you are looking at class issues. If the center ROW was included, that would be a whole different story. As it is, the whole project should not even be listed as “constrained” at this point by PBOT. It is disingenuous considering the ROW issues east of 21st to have even listed it on the comp plan.

      I am sorry you are bothered that I attacked a project you sat on the committee for (I believe I know who you are). I know how much work it must have been, but if you are ranking by how IMPORTANT these projects are to the community, and we can not get to the community college we just spent 49 million expanding, it does not rise to the level of prioritization. Another case: East Portland. Yes, the Three M’s greenway for less than a half million is a great project and should have been built a few years ago….but what about outer Powell that would add sidewalks and bike lanes to a LONG stretch of roadway (47 million), a high crash corridor and orphan highway. 122nd is a desperately needed project, but most of it is in crossings and sidewalks….not focused entirely on bikes. If this criteria were being used, that East Burnside at $8.5 million would rise to the level considering Metro’s regional modelling as to how it would uptick bike commute rates from east Portland PLUS is is a high crash corridor as well.

      SW Terwilliger, where there is a MUP right next to. Not to say that getting to Lewis and Clark or Lake Oswego on street is not important……but maybe getting to PCC SE from Brentwood-Darlington …or Lents where we have terrible high school drop out rates is MORE important? This project again, will not have a higher benefit to the community as a whole, but to the higher income students and professionals in the area. Capital Highway would have a greater connective effect and help out the workforce and general population MUCH more in SW. Yes, I do have the information and my opinion has not changed.

      I have a question for you…I know the application process for BAC, so why would this committee NOT be staffed by those predominantly with professional jobs? Hence, they would mostly be downtown centered due to the general ECONOMY of the city? Of course it is going to be biased towards professionals since most of the committee ARE professionals. Hence why an independent EQUITY MANGER can be an outside counter balance towards the inevitable bias that comes from being a professional.

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      • Michael Andersen (News Editor)
        Michael Andersen (News Editor) March 3, 2015 at 10:57 am

        Hey, Terry, I think you’d set a more civil tone for this valuable discussion if you could avoid words like “characters” to refer to people.

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          Terry D-M March 3, 2015 at 8:51 pm

          No offense meant….I just like colorful language. Anyone who has met me CERTAINLY would call me a character, but point taken.

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    Jim Labbe March 2, 2015 at 5:19 pm

    Why not prioritize building the Sullivan’s Gulch Trail from East to West instead of West to East as a strategy for prioritizing populations and neighborhoods under-served by bike infrastructure?

    The Eastern most segment is the slightly misnamed Sullivan’s Gulch I-205 Underpass Project. Far more than merely a segment of the Sullivan Gulch Trail, this $1.8 million project would connect the Tillamook-Hancock Neighborhood Greenway to Gateway Green and on to the Gateway Transit Center via the I-205 Trail, thus extending a major East/West Bicycle corridor to East Portland.

    In one fell swoop this project would restore a historic connection between
    the South Madison Neighborhood to the Gateway area long ago severed by the Interstate Freeways and dramatically increasing access to soon-to-be-built Gateway Green regional park.

    Jim

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      Terry D-M March 3, 2015 at 8:28 am

      That I totally agree with.

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    David Hampsten March 3, 2015 at 12:02 am

    I’m the “East Portland rep on the BAC”. A few points:

    1. Most workers from East Portland go to jobs that are everywhere except anywhere near downtown: Swan Island, Burgard, Marine Drive, Gresham, Washington County, etc. We have 150,000 residents east of 82nd/205 (25% of Portland), 20% of the City area, and 40% of the youth, not to mention the greatest concentration of immigrants, refugees, elderly, low-income residents, and people of color. We are not very wild about projects that get us downtown. We don’t go there, except sometimes by MAX.

    2. We have our own coalition priorities: Outer Powell Blvd (116th to 136th), NE 148th, 122nd, 4M (SE Market, Mill, Millmain, & Main streets), & 136th, in this order, all of which ask for new or improved bike & ped facilities. All are in high-density areas. The SG underpass is in a low-density highly-gentrified area, technically in CNN, and will primarily benefit non-East Portland residents trying to get to East Portland, rather than East Portland workers and students, who don’t even study in inner Portland (we have 4 other school districts & MHCC.)

    3. I agree with Terry, the BAC is (still) too strongly focused on inner Portland projects, and ignore outer Portland projects at the risk of making themselves look irrelevant (again.) SEUL, which is now slightly smaller than EPNO/East Portland, really does have no projects on the top 13/10 list from the BAC, but they also have difficulty in having a unified voice of advocacy.

    4. Of the $811 million available over the next 20 years for capitol projects, over 25% is expected to be spent in EP, over $200 million. In the first 10 years, about $120 million will be spent in EP. Why not do as we did, and make a list for how you would want to spend $120 million in EP? PBOT has similar percentages for how much it expects to spend for the other areas in its TSP documentation. Multiply the % by $811 million, then prioritize projects in your area accordingly. Don’t argue, prioritize!

    Dave

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    • Jim Labbe
      Jim Labbe March 3, 2015 at 9:06 am

      David Hampsten clearly has a handle on the East Portland Coalition priority bike investments for East Portland which focus on the most direct connections to jobs East Portlanders currently have.

      But my point is only that if Sullivan Gulch is a City-wide priority, it could be constructed in a way that first catalyzed community and economic development in East Portland. The logical starting place is the connection to the I-205 Trail, Gateway Green and the Gateway Regional Center.

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      Terry D-M March 3, 2015 at 9:09 am

      “SEUL, which is now slightly smaller than EPNO/East Portland, really does have no projects on the top 13/10 list from the BAC, but they also have difficulty in having a unified voice of advocacy.”

      Tell me about it…..Though, I am working on this. In SEUL’s T/LU meeting I argued, fairly forcefully, that the $13 million for the MUP from the Springwater to SE 17th/Holgate plus the Reedway overpass should be moved over to the “unconstrained” list and a crossing of the Banfield at 80th plus and extension of the 80th greenway south to Brentwood-Darlington should be added. This is a case of $13 million of investments in a higher income area where there are alternative routes (assuming they road diet the Holgate viaduct) while there are NO crossings of the gulch between 74th and the I 205 bike path.

      But alas, SEUL can not get its act together to prioritize as they do not want to pit the higher income neighborhoods against their working class neighbors.

      I am working on fixing this prioritization problem in time for the next TSP update …hence why I worked so hard getting NA endorsements of the 60’s, 70’s and 80th greenways all along the routes, so we are not left out due to inaction.

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      David Hampsten March 4, 2015 at 5:07 am

      For bullet #4, the allocations from PBOT (PSC report page 14) are:
      Area Allocation year 1-10 year 11-20
      Central City (CC) = 22% $89 mil $89 mil
      SWNI (outside of CC) = 18% $73 mil $73 mil
      SEUL (outside of CC) = 9% $36 mil $36 mil
      NWNW (outside of CC) = 4% $16 mil $16 mil
      NPNS = 11% $45 mil $45 mil
      CNN/Cully = 8% $32 mil $32 mil
      EPNO = 26% $105 mil $105 mil
      (rounding) = 2% $8 mil $8 mil

      In reality, both CNN and EPNO are expected to be a bit higher in years 1-10 and lower in later years, and the reverse is true downtown.

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    Ian Stude March 3, 2015 at 2:39 pm

    Wow! I’m excited to see this topic has provoked such a considerable amount of conversation. Many thanks to Michael, Terry et al. While we certainly don’t all agree on the prioritization of these projects (or the characterization of the BAC), I think many of these comments are helpful for the committee.

    I just want to point out, for those who might have missed the separate post here on BP about our letter to the Planning Commission, that we included only 10 projects in our “top priority” list and that the western-most segment of the Sullivan’s Gulch trail was removed in favor of adding the Flanders St project.

    This exercise of prioritizing 10 projects, over many, many others, was not an easy task. However, as Reza pointed out in his comment, several members advocated for projects outside their own neighborhoods and areas of geographic interest. I think this speaks to the caliber of our volunteers and their commitment to making ALL of Portland a better place to ride bicycles (regardless of wardrobe choice).

    I should also mention that the BAC now has 15 new members (20 total), who all began their service this past January. As such, we are just getting to know each other and define our shared goals and priorities. Some are more outspoken than others (Thank you, David!), so I hope BP readers will join us at one of our meetings before drawing any conclusions about us as a group.

    Also, beginning this month, we will be hosting monthly rides to coincide with our meeting agenda items. All our welcome! Our first ride will be on Sunday, March 29th from 1:00-3:00pm, in conjunction with the Oregon Active Transportation Summit. Read more about it here:

    http://bta.nonprofitsoapbox.com/neighborhoodgreenways

    Happy riding,

    Ian Stude
    Chair – Portland Bicycle Advisory Committee

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      Terry D-M March 3, 2015 at 9:05 pm

      I never said prioritization was easy, and MANY thanks for your input on this discussion. And yes, the dropping of Sullivan’s gulch in the final rec’s was a good idea….though I’m still disappointed in the lack of South Central SEUL….I networked the NA’s together into a series of endorsements over the past few months to make up for it. 🙂

      Personally I think that giving BAC this task, considering how PBOT broke up the projects is not really fair. How do you compare one 122nd to THREE Sandy’s or Three Holgates? Halsey, Glisan and Burnside are all one project though.

      It is like comparing apples to oranges and turnips and them putting a bike on it and say…which one is better?

      Example: The entire Greenway program budget for 20 years is less than the Sullivan’s Gulch middle section. How do you compare those?

      Not Easy…..not fair….and I am not sure how useful….only time will tell.

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