Fixing Southeast: Three achievable proposals from a fast-rising advocate

clinton speed
SE Clinton Street.
(Photo: M.Andersen/BikePortland)

Southeast Portland has always been the heart of Portland’s biking culture. But as the last few weeks have made horrifically clear, it’s still full of problems.

In an article published Friday on the Southeast Uplift neighborhood coalition’s website, a new member of that organization’s board laid out three concrete and seemingly achievable suggestions for making the area a bit better — as well as a perceptive theory about the recent problems on Southeast Clinton Street.

Terry Dublinski-Milton, who several years ago created his own neighborhood-greenway-focused bike plan for the city and has since become active in the city’s formal neighborhood association system and the advocacy group BikeLoudPDX, had this to say about three different needs of the big swath of Portland south of Interstate 84 and west of Interstate 205.

Clinton-Woodward Bikeway

Clinton Street is one of Portland’s oldest and most well-established bikeways. Unfortunately this once-lauded and always popular bicycle route is troubled by safety and equity issues. Parts of Clinton handle over THREE times the number of vehicles daily than they should according to national standards for auto counts on bike boulevards. Previously this wasn’t as much of a problem because there were big gaps where bikes could move to the side.

Now that Division St is a trendy destination, visitors are increasingly parking on Clinton and drivers are using Clinton as a convenient (few stop signs) cut-through during peak commute times. This has created dangerous conditions for bicycles as drivers try to pass without adequate space to do so safely. To reduce conflict and modernize this critical bikeway, I believe the City should install diverters that would direct cars back to the arterials.

To the west there is the Tilikum Crossing, a world class active transportation bridge, yet to the east the Clinton-Woodward bikeway ends in gravel with no residential connection to the Green Line Division MAX station or I 205 path. Completing Clinton-Woodward, MAX to MAX, would create a central residential safety corridor for all of SE Uplift which would physically show we really do care about equity, while we connect SE Uplift including the forgotten “Middle East” of Portland between 60th and I 205 together. This would be good for all of us.

Terry Dublinski-Milton.
(Photo: M.Andersen/BikePortland)

Dublinski-Milton’s point about Clinton becoming a worse place to bike in part because its parking spaces have become scarcer isn’t backed up by hard data (not that I know of, at least). But it squares the city’s argument that traffic volumes on the street haven’t changed much with Clinton users’ contention that the street has recently gotten much less bike-friendly.

His use of the phrase “Middle East” to describe the mostly gridded but more auto-oriented area between 60th Avenue and Interstate 205 is also useful. Whether or not that language takes off, this part of Portland is likely to see big changes in the next decade and is going to need a name.

Interested in fixes to Clinton? The City of Portland hasn’t counted of traffic volumes on Clinton since the Division streetscape project finished, but the neighborhood group Safer Clinton is conducting its own rush-hour counts tomorrow in order to gather data before the end of the Portland Public Schools year. If you can help out between 7 and 9 a.m. or 4 and 6 p.m., email your preferred shift to and show up at the time planned.


20s Bikeway

The 20s Bikeway – a 9.1-mile route that goes from Lombard Avenue in the north to the Springwater Corridor in the south – is funded for this fall. Here we have a rare opportunity to build in a fix to Clinton: engineer diversion near 28th on Clinton as part of this bikeway. This small improvement on the 20s bikeway, which connects Hosford Middle and Cleveland High Schools, would solve two problems at once: creating a safe, low traffic, north-south bicycling corridor while concurrently creating safer conditions on this stretch of Clinton through traffic reduction. This is just one possible improvement, but working together SE Uplift, neighbors, businesses, and neighborhood associations can help make sure the 20s Bikeway is a genuine world-class bike facility.

Almost two years after planning began, the poor bedraggled 20s Bikeway Project is looking like a federally funded photocopy of a photocopy of a photocopy. But Dublinski-Milton’s suggestion for leveraging its money and process to fund a crucial bit of diversion on Clinton is interesting.

60s & 80s Bikeways

There currently is a large gap in our north-south bikeway network that spans the SE Uplift coalition area between the 50s and I-205. Over the past months, I have worked with neighborhood associations and individuals to network the “Middle East” of Portland into a series of priority bikeways including the 60s from the 60th MAX station to the Springwater via Mount Tabor Park and 80th from Madison High School south into Brentwood-Darlington. These have been endorsed by a number of neighborhood associations and are on the planning maps, but we need to call on City Hall to get them built. Each of these bikeways cross Clinton-Woodward and will integrate nicely into the 2016 SE Foster Roadway safety modernization, thus supporting this growing commercial corridor.

The 60s and 80s bikeways are essentially neighborhood-driven variations on the jagged neighborhood greenways sketched into Portland’s 2010 bike plan on either side of Mount Tabor. As Portland waits (and waits…) for some sort of bike access on 82nd Avenue, the 80s bikeway in particular could be a decent interim alternative. Here are Dublinski-Milton’s homebrewed Google maps of the routes:

Interested in learning more about it? Dublinski-Milton, joined by city transportation staffer Zef Wagner and others, is leading a Pedalpalooza ride (Facebook, Shift) south along the 80s bikeway from Madison High School south to the Cartlandia food cart pod.

With Portland’s biking problems feeling as pressing as they ever have, these ideas are worth talking about. It’s nice to see a neighborhood coalition giving them a platform.

Disclosure: I serve with Dublinski-Milton and others on the board of the North Tabor Neighborhood Association, largely because I was impressed by what he was getting done for our neighborhood. We don’t always agree, of course.

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