Support BikePortland - Journalism that Matters

Protected bike lanes on east Powell? Meeting Monday could sway plan

Posted by on June 5th, 2015 at 4:05 pm

outer powell street view

Google Street View of Powell near 149th.

If the four-mile stretch of Powell Boulevard east of Interstate 205 is completely rebuilt in a few years, it could get some of Portland’s highest-quality bike lanes.

Some advocates say a meeting this Monday evening is the best chance yet to support Dutch-style raised bike lanes on outer Southeast Portland’s most important east-west arterial.

Today, east Powell is home to numerous businesses and other destinations between 99th Avenue and the Gresham border near 176th Avenue, but is missing even complete sidewalks for most of its length. East Portland advocates have long named biking and walking improvements on Powell as their No. 1 transportation priority, but it’s currently far from certain that protected bike lanes will be part of that plan.

The Outer Powell Conceptual Design Plan, approved in 2012 by the City of Portland and Oregon Department of Transportation, called for eight-foot-wide buffered bike lanes on most of the state-run road. But some say that recommendation might not hold up, let alone the curb-protected bike lane that people are dramatically more likely to perceive as a comfortable place to bike compared to a buffered lane.

(Image from Outer Powell Conceptual Design Plan final report)

“In 2012, it was hard enough to get ODOT to accept and consider buffered lanes, let alone a more robust protected bike lane,” Portland-based biking advocate Nick Falbo wrote in an email Thursday on the BikeLoudPDX listserv. “If they are going to reconstruct the roadway (and it sounds like they are) then the added cost to make a raised bike lane should be negligible.”

“More than any previous meeting, this is the chance to get loud about the preferred Powell bicycle facility,” wrote Falbo, who in his professional life works as a bikeway planner for Alta Planning and Design.

The meeting is 6 to 8 p.m. on Monday, June 8, at Human Solutions, 12350 SE Powell Boulevard. The public comment period is scheduled for the end.

Last year, Falbo created a groundbreaking video of what he called a “protected intersection.” Something like it is now being built in four U.S. cities. The corner of 122nd and Powell was one of the intersections he used as models.

protected intersection

Advertisement

When we reported from East Portland for a week last summer, Powell’s importance as one of the area’s relatively few commercial corridors was impossible to ignore. Jim Chasse, a transportation advocate on the East Portland Action Plan bike committee who has lived just off this stretch of Powell for decades, told us at the time that protected bike lanes, also known as cycle tracks, would help turn the street into the area’s main street, with shops and other employers that can easily be walked or biked among instead of just driven to.

powell 122nd street view

Southeast Powell at 122nd today.
(Image: Google Street View)

“Powell can stay relatively small, especially if we have high-capacity transit coming out on Division,” Chasse said. “There’s enough room in and around the whole facility to do a really good buildup. Cycle tracks in some areas and bike lanes in the constrained areas. And definitely sidewalks. … There’s already an established business district at 122nd, 112th, and going down to the 205 interchange.”

Chasse said in an email Friday that he, too, plans to attend Monday’s meeting. So did Emily Guise, an advocate with BikeLoud.

Elizabeth Quiroz, the Bicycle Transportation Alliance’s full-time organizer and advocate in East Portland, said Friday that the many relatively low-income neighborhoods and communities of color along the street “have been advocating for improvements in Outer Powell, and I think it’s time that we give them the best walking and biking facilities possible.”

In her email, Quiroz said there would be “some time at the end of the meeting for public comment 5 mins to be exact. This is an opportunity for people to come listen and talk about not only bike facilities but walking along the corridor.”

Protected bike lanes on Powell would come with some complications. TriMet’s frequent-service No. 9 bus runs along Powell. With the current buffered bike lane plan, it would be likely to pull across the bike lane at each stop. Floating bus stops would allow continuous raised bike lanes while improving average bus speeds, but might force people driving to sometimes wait behind a bus that has stopped.

Interested in this issue but unable to attend? You can also submit a comment online to ODOT or to state Rep. Shemia Fagan, who represents the area and has supported improvements for Powell.

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.

23
Leave a Reply

avatar
9 Comment threads
14 Thread replies
0 Followers
 
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
14 Comment authors
Aaronjegwas carlessEricBeeblebrox Recent comment authors
  Subscribe  
newest oldest most voted
Notify of
9watts
Guest
9watts

I’ve wondered here aloud many times whether, when considering this, or really any future infrastructure changes, the folks at PBOT take into account the plausible decline in automobile dominance in the near future? Whether this as a variable is included in the conversations?

Even if many don’t think this is very likely—and if bikeportland commenters are a fair cross section that would probably be a fair fraction—I think it is important to at least parameterize this. The Paris talks may turn out to be disappointing, but that won’t be for lack of a growing sense of foreboding on the part of the world’s people who are paying attention.

If we take the climate challenge seriously, automobility is done for, should be phased out post haste, or even sooner. Not because I want to ‘take your car away’ but because the writing’s on the wall.

jeg
Guest
jeg

Who can we e-mail to make a comment to if we cannot be present? ODOT reps? City reps? County? State…?

J_R
Guest
J_R

I just drove this section of Powell this afternoon. On three occasions, I saw motorists drive in the bike lane to get around vehicles stopping to make a left turn. I also saw yard sale A-frame signs erected in the bike lane. A barrier between the motor vehicle lane and the bike lane would at least help the former problem.

Dwaine Dibbly
Guest
Dwaine Dibbly

Maybe we need to get some people injured or killed there so that the City & ODOT will listen.

davemess
Guest
davemess

The sidewalks are the big deal here. This stretch desperately needs them.

Adam H.
Guest
Adam H.

Yes, please!

Beeblebrox
Guest
Beeblebrox

More and more cities have started to embrace the idea of transit vehicles stopping in the lane, even when there is no legal way for cars to drive around. It reduces delay for buses by not forcing them to wait for a gap in traffic to pull back into the lane, and it helps meter and slow down traffic in a way that improves safety. Seattle has several such streets where they have deliberately chosen to give transit that level of priority even if it slows down traffic. Portland should take the same approach with streets like Powell.

Eric
Guest
Eric

I hope they don’t look to sw multnomah, moody, or capitol and terwilliger as good examples of cycle track. The only examples of protected bike infrastructure I’ve seen built around here have been undergrown sidewalks. The new road to nowhere on south waterfront is a pretty good layout, but far from auto traffic and wouldn’t work in a commercial area.

8ft with a mountable curb or buffer would work, but with 11ft lanes running 60mph (why else would you need 11ft?), it will be far more pleasant to ride on the sidewalk.

Aaron
Guest
Aaron

Oh man, and with the ongoing SE 136th improvements…. I’m stoked for the attention the deep SE is getting