City hires project manager for high-profile downtown protected bike lane project

The project management gig that one local planning pro has referred to as the “job of the year” has been filled.

Rick Browning, an architect and urban designer with a long history in Portland, will start work May 28 on a federally funded project that’s widely expected to implement the first substantial protected bike lanes in downtown Portland — indeed, some of the only low-stress bike infrastructure in downtown, which has by far the city’s highest concentration of bike commuters.

The $6.6 million Central City Multimodal Safety Project might also look for ways to improve the awkward bike connections to bridges like the Burnside, Steel and Hawthorne or even crossings of Interstate 405 to the west.

As it has been in other U.S. cities over the last few years, the downtown protected bike lanes would be a companion project to a planned bike sharing system that the city continues to say will launch in 2016.

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Browning, a graduate of the University of Oregon in Eugene, spent 15 years as a partner for Browning Shono Architects in Portland and while there also represented the Portland Bicycle Advisory Committee on the advisory team for the city’s 1996 Bicycle Master Plan. (At the tail end of his time there, we covered his work on the bike oasis at Southeast Hawthorne and 36th.) He then spent several years at consulting firms Parson Brinckerhoff and DKA and more recently served as project director for a new state office building in Olympia.

Browning is also car-free in his personal life and no stranger to standing up for the interests of bike users. Last February, he contacted us to draw attention to a problem in which Amtrak was unable to predict whether its buses would be able to carry a bicycle.

Back in Portland, there will certainly be a lot of eyes on this project — many of them, presumably, supportive. The Bicycle Transportation Alliance has spent years preparing for this project, which it sees as an opportunity for a “world class” bike facility that could reboot local growth in bicycle use and demonstrate to more people how pleasant and attractive bicycle transportation on a first-rate facility can be.

Every north-south route between Broadway and 2nd Avenue has been discussed as a possible route, but where the conversation will lead is anyone’s guess.

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Adam H.
Adam H.
7 years ago

Great! I can’t wait for some cycle tracks through downtown!

PeeJay
PeeJay
7 years ago

This is great news! I hope this signifies an end to our stagnation period. I also hope this whole project is not poisoned by “process”, and unnecessary compromise with shortsighted interests purporting to represent businesses.

seeshellbike
seeshellbike
7 years ago

Riding thru downtown is the most stressful part of my commute, car doors, out of town drivers, delivery vehicles, rail tracks,poor construction zones, etc. Looking forward to change in that experience.

Brian
Brian
7 years ago

Excellent news. Now I can take my son to the West side by bike to visit parks, bike races, etc. I just hope it happens before he reaches adulthood.

paikiala
paikiala
7 years ago

Who is DKA?

Dan Morgan
Dan Morgan
7 years ago

Its great news and great to have Rick back in town!

Steve Hoyt-McBeth
7 years ago

Regence Blue Cross Blue Shield of Oregon’s Portland Employer Bike Summit includes a session on the Central City Multi Modal Safety Project, presented by our Group Manager for Planning, Policy and Projects – Art Pearce. The summit is this Friday from 1-4pm: http://www.portlandemployerbikesummit.com

Jessica Roberts
Jessica Roberts
7 years ago

For those of you young ‘uns, Rick is a longtime advocate for bikes in Portland. We definitely wouldn’t be what we are today without him. It’s great to have him home again.

Eric
Eric
7 years ago

All of downtown would greatly benefit by drivers being aware of the green wave light timings. I really worry about any cycletrack running parallel to an automobile street because the intersection density is way too high. Maybe something with bollards, but if you’re going to mix and cross at each block, cyclists must stay visible and alert. Broadway doesn’t work. Rolling down 12th and 6th has been ok. Close Park & 9th and/or 2nd and 3rd to autos and give a green wave of crossing timing to bikes — that would be world class.

Scott Mizee
7 years ago

Great News!

Todd Boulanger
Todd Boulanger
7 years ago

Rick, welcome home. (And Washington State’s loss.)

Keith
Keith
7 years ago

Rick – very pleased to learn of your return. Confident you’ll do a great job.

Paul
Paul
7 years ago

All streets should be 2-way for bikes. Just my 2 cents.

Sharon Fekety
Sharon Fekety
7 years ago

Rick, glad to have you back in Portland and looking forward to your input on this important project.