Urban Tribe - Ride with your kids in front.

Six bike-related issues that might take a turn with Hales out of the race

Posted by on October 26th, 2015 at 3:26 pm

Bike Share passage press conference-11.jpg

As Hales plans an exit, which way will the race turn?
(Photo: J.Maus/BikePortland)

Monday’s surprise announcement by Mayor Charlie Hales that he won’t run for reelection is rippling through the city’s transportation wonkosphere.

Portland’s unusual City Hall system means that the transportation commissioner (currently Commissioner Steve Novick) has much more power than the mayor on most streets issues. His transportation authority was delegated from the mayor, so the next mayor’s biggest decision may be who gets to oversee the roads.

But aside from that, Mayor Hales has been personally involved in a handful of subjects that matter a lot to bike transportation. Here’s how we see his departure from the race shaping things.

Traffic diverters on neighborhood greenways

New traffic diverter at Rodney and Ivy-1

Experimental diverters like this one on N Rodney appealed to Hales. Will his successor want to fund them?

Without Hales: The next mayor has a chance to embrace an innovative program, but could easily let it die.

The most substantive bike-related commitment Hales has personally made in office was to announce, last spring, that he would start a program to use on-street experiments to install more diverters on the handful of neighborhood greenways that are overcrowded with auto traffic. That program is getting a head start on Clinton this year, but it can’t continue without funding of its own. Until Monday, the best bet was support from Hales during future budget processes.

A local gas tax for street funding

Without Hales: Commissioner Novick becomes a lonelier champion for transportation revenue, but the next mayor will start with a clean slate of credibility.

Hales was understandably accused of copycatting Wheeler on this issue, but the fact that both of them endorsed it certainly legitimized the concept. It’s anybody’s guess whether voters will approve this plan next spring on the same ballot that will include a mayoral primary. If another candidate campaigns against it, what will their alternative plan be for transportation funding? Whatever it is, they won’t be hobbled by Hales’s public lurching last year from one plan to another.

Vision Zero

Without Hales: The mayoral race might include a major debate about street safety.

Hales never really embraced one of the hottest issues right now in the national active transportation movement: the proposal (unanimously backed in Portland by city council) to eliminate all avoidable traffic deaths in Portland by accepting public responsibility for the situations that led to them. Hales took his time before using the phrase a few times in front of very specific audiences. Wheeler has said nothing about it yet. Because Vision Zero is likely to require the city police bureau as well as the transportation bureau, eliminating all avoidable traffic deaths in Portland will probably require enthusiastic support from Portland’s mayor, whoever that is. With Hales out, will any candidates warm to the idea? Or will it be too closely associated with the outgoing administration for them to make it their own?

Advertise with BikePortland.

Foster Road

SE Foster Road-11

The project will restripe Foster to replace passing lanes with a center turn lane and bike lanes, reducing traffic weaving and making crosswalks much safer.

Without Hales: The next mayor will learn to either love or hate safety projects.

This major road safety project on a chronically high-crash street was enthusiastically backed by nearby neighborhood associations and unanimously approved by City Council, but it’s expected to cause several mintues of traffic delay and/or traffic spillover onto other streets in 2016 or 2017. Some political backlash is all but certain, and biking advocates will face a major challenge to avoid this being painted as a bikes-versus-cars and rich-versus-poor issue. (That’ll be a false narrative, because the new bike lanes won’t be that great and the safety benefits will go mostly to people driving and walking, but explaining this in the local media will be difficult.) Whether or not the next mayor becomes personally associated with Foster, this fight will shape his or her perceptions of both bike projects and general road safety projects for years to come.

Old Town public space

Without Hales: There might be nobody forcing businesses to work together for change.

Hales has been uncharacteristically hard-nosed in pushing businesses in the neighborhood just north of Portland’s downtown to rethink their streets and storefronts. The new 3rd Avenue bike lane and the small plaza planned for Ankeny and 3rd are the first signs of that, but there’s much more potential: with parking removal and daytime storefront hours, this neighborhood could be Portland’s answer to Times Square, a place for rich and poor alike to relax in public. Without Hales and his chief of staff Josh Alpert on this, the neighborhood’s momentum toward change could lose steam.

Housing infill

Without Hales: One of the city’s most pro-density politicians steps down.

If biking advocates could count on Hales (a former homebuilders’ lobbyist) for anything, it was standing up for the sort of infill and density that created Portland’s bike-friendly streetcar suburbs in the 1900s, 10s and 20s. His proposed tax on demolitions specifically exempted tear-downs in multifamily zones. He personally kicked off the infill housing project that might result in legalizing more duplexes and townhomes but might also result in more efforts to freeze lawn-and-driveway neighborhoods in increasingly expensive amber. Resistance to infill has created a major political opportunity for any candidate who wants to start publicly lambasting it. Hales’ departure increases the chance that someone will try.

There’s also the possibility that Hales’ new trajectory will allow him to push ahead on the issues that might not have been politically palatable but that are close to his heart. He told KOIN earlier today that, “This gives me a lot of freedom to focus on the work and not have people wonder, ‘Is he doing this because he wants to be elected?’” That’s a question we’ve heard from many readers as he’s sidled up closer to cycling in the past few months.

Of course, there’s another possibility, too: that Hales’s exit from the race will make room for someone who’s not only inclined to think about transportation and development issues from a low-car perspective (as Wheeler seems to be) but also someone with a deep understanding and enthusiasm for these issues (which Wheeler seems to lack, at least so far). In his announcement, Hales said he was “excited to see who steps up.”

Though we certainly haven’t agreed with Hales on everything, we’ll agree with him on that.

— Michael Andersen, (503) 333-7824 – michael@bikeportland.org

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  • 9watts October 26, 2015 at 4:05 pm

    “That program [diverters] is getting a head start on Clinton this year, but it can’t continue without funding of its own.”

    Though of course our guerilla friends were able to install a far more attractive diverter than shown in the photo above overnight using zero tax payer dollars at 34th & Clinton just last year. I only mention this because sometimes the cry for money wears a little thin. I’d hate to think that something worthwhile would be sidelined for lack of funding, when *in principle* the action doesn’t have to cost anything. It isn’t as if we were talking about a traffic light, and even those… shouldn’t in my view really cost a quarter million dollars. I would like to know what other countries pay for their traffic lights these days.

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  • Granpa October 26, 2015 at 4:57 pm

    I agree that diverters on Clinton are needed but the oil drum planters that guerrilla activists put in the street were hillbilly ugly. Just because a function can be served on the cheap doesn’t make it the right solution.

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    • B. Carfree October 26, 2015 at 4:59 pm

      And those tear-away plastic things are attractive? I’ll take cheaper and ugly over less cheap, ugly and dysfunctional any day.

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      • Pete October 26, 2015 at 5:40 pm

        I suspect those pictured bollards designed to be flexible in case a fire engine or other emergency vehicle needs quick access to the street.

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      • Granpa October 27, 2015 at 8:18 am

        I didn’t say that the white wands are attractive I said the hillbilly planters were ugly. There are plenty of off the shelf planters, or pre-cast barriers that would fit the style and station of the neighborhood.

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      • paikiala October 27, 2015 at 9:30 am

        Are you the one they come to for reimbursement when they crash into the cheap and ugly thing?

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        • 9watts October 27, 2015 at 9:35 am

          Red herring.

          You’re not saying – with a straight face – that the guerrilla diverters that were deployed overnight are *necessarily* more dangerous than the ones shown at Rodney above are you? They’re different, sure. But why so predictable in your reflexive defense of whatever PBOT finds itself doing?

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          • paikiala October 27, 2015 at 12:44 pm

            The curb on Rodney is passably mountable and unlikely to cause much damage to the vehicle operator or the vehicle if impacted. The metal half barrels at 34th could severely damage the vehicle and potentially be projected by impact into the adjacent pedestrian area. Everyone gets sued when a road user strikes an object intentionally placed in the public right of way. Standard precautions to shield Portland taxpayers from liability need to be included in any such proposal.

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            • 9watts October 28, 2015 at 9:10 am

              “The curb on Rodney is passably mountable”

              I can think of lots of infrastructure that is not ‘passably mountable’ and I think that is a good thing. People who are not paying attention or are drunk run into things all the time with their cars. Should we make the world ‘passably mountable’ just in case someone in a car should lose his way? Where do we draw the line?

              When I am on my bike, I would like to think of myself as ‘not passably mountable.’ If we make our infrastructure conform to this requirement, what does that communicate about the responsibility of those piloting horseless carriages to watch out for – me?

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              • paikiala October 28, 2015 at 12:26 pm

                Infrastructure in the roadway without warning signs and markings?

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              • 9watts October 28, 2015 at 2:34 pm

                Remember that pole at East side of Broadway bridge very nearly in the middle of the bike path/sidewalk? I’m sure there are other examples.

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              • 9watts October 28, 2015 at 2:44 pm

                Hans Monderman.

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        • Hello, Kitty
          Hello, Kitty October 27, 2015 at 10:32 am

          If someone crashes their vehicle into something, usually the owner of the something can get reimbursement from the driver. Why would things be reversed in this situation?

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          • paikiala October 27, 2015 at 12:45 pm

            see above response.

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            • Hello, Kitty
              Hello, Kitty October 27, 2015 at 1:13 pm

              I do wish that PBOT/Trimet was as cautious when designing bicycle infrastructure:


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              • paikiala October 27, 2015 at 3:19 pm

                Can you be more specific?

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              • Hello, Kitty
                Hello, Kitty October 27, 2015 at 4:04 pm

                I was referring to the unlit, below eye-level, metal post in the center of the bike lane, about 10 ft from a “bikes ride here” lane indicator pointing directly at it, on the approach to an intersection with unusual geometry and poor sightlines. It presents a level of hazard far higher than anything that would be acceptable for an auto travel lane.

                Seriously, would PBOT ever even consider placing a similar obstacle in the middle of a street?

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              • paikiala October 27, 2015 at 4:15 pm

                An obstacle like this?:

                The bike symbol marking location is curious, but the bollard is marked with both pavement gore and reflective tape on the pole.
                The intersection has two nearby street lights for night time illumination. Their placement is a little close and the locations probably cancel out any shadow from the bollard, which would help faster cyclists see it at night (contrast – I would have the pole painted black/dark blue), but I would also point out that cyclists should be slowing to cross a street if they cannot see a good distance in both directions. Then there is the stop sign.

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              • paikiala October 27, 2015 at 4:27 pm

                Seen North Central at Tyler lately?

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              • Hello, Kitty
                Hello, Kitty October 27, 2015 at 4:30 pm

                A fair point, but I don’t think the two are at all comparable. For starters, there’s no pavement marking indicating drivers should drive straight through the tree 🙂

                But seriously… you’ve made a case that the pipe is sufficiently visible. Would PBOT be willing to replace the tree with the pipe?

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              • paikiala October 28, 2015 at 12:27 pm

                There is no pavement marking suggesting cyclists ride into the bollard, either.

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              • paikiala October 28, 2015 at 12:28 pm

                The yellow gore after the odd mode symbol directs users around the object.

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              • paikiala October 28, 2015 at 12:29 pm

                You’ll note at the traffic circle there is a warning sign, on a post, in front of the tree.

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              • Hello, Kitty
                Hello, Kitty October 28, 2015 at 1:17 pm

                There is indeed a pavement marking with a bike symbol and an arrow that points directly at the post about 10ft away (which takes things into the realm of the absurd), and comparing the pipe to a traffic circle with a tree is not at all reasonable — the two differ in many important respects (size, visibility, markings, signage, etc.)

                We both know the pipe would never be placed in a roadway — if it could be, then the diverter design would be cheap and easy.

                My main point here is that PBOT applies a different level of attention when designing for motorists vs. cyclists. Try to imagine how the bike path might be different if it were designed to accommodate motorists… many fewer blind spots, sharp turns, and obstacles, better signals, more consistent treatments, etc. In short, it would suck a lot less.

                (To be fair, I don’t know if PBOT designed the bike trail, but I would be shocked if they didn’t at least review it before construction.)

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        • 9watts October 28, 2015 at 10:08 pm
      • was carless October 27, 2015 at 1:12 pm

        Curbs with trees growing where the street used to be, ala NE 16th and Tillamook.

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  • Spiffy October 26, 2015 at 5:02 pm

    Foster Road: they’ve already changed at least one intersection from timed to pedestrian beg-button in order to prioritize cars… I suspect they’ll do that to them all… preach to the peds while catering to cars…

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    • davemess October 26, 2015 at 5:26 pm

      Why are “beg buttons” so maligned for intersections that don’t see a lot of cross traffic?
      It’s the exact same concept as the auto/bike detection loops: i.e. only slow down cross traffic when someone actually needs to cross.

      Are you wanting the lights to act as speeding deterrents? I think the reduced lanes will help there for sure.

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      • B. Carfree October 26, 2015 at 5:36 pm

        If the light changes on demand for a ped beg button, then okay. If it waits an entire cycle or more so that the motorists can keep their green waves, then it just makes peds stand around forever while car after car gets an easy ride. The latter is the norm, in my experience.

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        • paikiala October 27, 2015 at 9:30 am


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          • Hello, Kitty
            Hello, Kitty October 27, 2015 at 10:38 am

            Figuratively, yes.

            Why would the signal not change immediately when the button was pressed? (assuming it had not been pressed for at least, say, 1 minute). If there is an active walk signal on the cross street, the intersection could change to “all walks”, at least until the side street walk signal had a chance to play itself out.

            The scenario here is one where there is little cross traffic… so why not?

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            • davemess October 27, 2015 at 12:26 pm

              The scenario here is that Foster is fairly busy, and the “beg” button is the one that has little traffic.
              It doesn’t seem unreasonable to make pedestrians wait for a fully cycle, if they just got the signal.

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            • paikiala October 27, 2015 at 12:47 pm

              you imply that public rights of way should always and for every situation default to the benefit of one mode of transport. The inability to recognize multiple users of the public right of way in the past is what got us to our current problems. I don’t think repeating those mistakes is the way to go.

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              • Hello, Kitty
                Hello, Kitty October 27, 2015 at 1:04 pm

                Not “always”, nor “every situation”… but otherwise yes, I do believe, as a general rule and guiding philosophy, that our street network should be optimized for pedestrians first, cyclists second, and autos somewhere later in line.

                In fact, I believe that PBOT policy says pretty much exactly the same thing.

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              • wsbob October 28, 2015 at 11:24 am

                “… I do believe, as a general rule and guiding philosophy, that our street network should be optimized for pedestrians first, cyclists second, and autos somewhere later in line. …” hello, kitty

                That rule and philosophy isn’t going to work in traffic situation where numbers of one mode of traffic, vastly outnumber that of others. City transportation departments have to do everything they can to keep traffic moving.

                Keeping the flow of traffic moving, is one of the factors arguing in favor of San Francisco city supervisors possibly deciding to have the city’s PD low prioritize citing of people that bike and roll stop signs. Primarily due to the excess of bike traffic on the one particular route in SF people biking like to use to avoid very steep hill climbs.

                Elsewhere, in general, the traffic has to be kept flowing, hopefully with the maximum safety manageable for all road users, and with the least amount of compromise.

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              • Jeff Snavely October 28, 2015 at 1:45 am

                I think he’s saying the opposite. Requiring the button is done for the benefit of motorists. Quick change after the button is as close you can get to equitable for all.

                The idea that they should wait a cycle makes little sense. In this scenario, there is no cycle to speak of.

                To do otherwise would mean a pedestrian could have to wait a “cycle” at every block, making the entire act of walking untenable.

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      • lop October 26, 2015 at 7:34 pm

        Depends how they’re configured.

        When I used to live in seattle there was a beg button to cross NW 8th avenue at NW 58th street (Ballard/phinney ridge area) that I found very convenient. If I remember right the minimum green time is 30 seconds, possibly as long as one minute though. It’s not synchronized with the other light a few hundred feet south. So if the light at 58th has been green for 60 seconds and I push the button it turns yellow right away, red three seconds later, maybe another second or two before the walk signal comes on. Even if it means drivers will now miss the next light. Pedestrian crossing volumes are low, so usually I would get to the light when nobody had crossed in a minute or more, so I would only have to stop for five seconds or so, even during rush hour. That’s a convenient light that makes it easy to cross a street that would otherwise be difficult and stressful to cross, at least during rush hour. There are a few beg buttons that might be configured like this in Sellwood (Umatilla and 17th?), though when I’ve been there traffic was light enough that I didn’t bother using them when biking across. I’m sure there are others in Portland, but none that I use. This sort of beg button is a pedestrian amenity.

        In Portland SW harrison has beg buttons at a few lights at SW 1st and SW harbor drive. If you don’t press the button before traffic on Harrison gets a green you have to wait until the next cycle. Even if you miss it by one second and there’s a long line of cars that will keep the light green for more than enough time for a person walking at 2 mph to start and finish crossing (or whatever the countdown is based on) it doesn’t matter, you have to wait an entire light cycle. This sort of beg button is designed to minimize the impact crossing pedestrians have on intersection throughput, not to make crossing on foot convenient. It is not a pedestrian amenity.

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        • davemess October 27, 2015 at 8:30 am

          So you think pedestrians should always have a green, and never just have to wait their turn in the cycle? This isn’t how it works for four way lights.

          The cross signal for the spring water and Foster works like you’re describing, where if you get there to recent to a previous signal it will take a while. I don’t really get upset about it. That’s life, and I don’t think that 50-75 cars should have to wait for me as a single person on a bike. Frankly if I can get across safely without hitting the light at all (and stopping anyone) I do it.

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          • Chris I October 27, 2015 at 9:22 am

            I don’t think anyone is expecting cars to stop immediately when you hit the button. The problem is when you walk up to an intersection and it turns green shortly before you have a chance to hit the beg button. You legally have to wait to cross because the walk signal is red, and thus you have to wait nearly an entire cycle before you can cross. Every intersection should give a short walk cycle when the light turns green. You should only have to hit a beg button if there are no cars there to trip the signal for you.

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          • Spiffy October 27, 2015 at 9:26 am

            they’re saying that they shouldn’t have to wait 2 cycles just because they were a second late getting to the intersection… if the lights always cycled for peds then you wouldn’t need to know there was a button there (sometimes I’ve waiting for a light only to realize after I didn’t get a crossing signal that there was a beg button I was supposed to push) and you would have a better chance of crossing at the beginning of the cycle…

            don’t mind waiting my turn… but I want my turn, and I don’t want to beg for it… the best solution for that is to make all lights timed instead of detected…

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            • davemess October 27, 2015 at 12:31 pm

              agree, I think one cycle is fair, two would be excessive.
              Just seems like you were arguing that they shouldn’t have even wait for the one cycle.

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              • Hello, Kitty
                Hello, Kitty October 27, 2015 at 12:34 pm

                I don’t see this as an issue of “fairness”. We can make an individual in a car stop for an individual who is a pedestrian, or not. What happened to other individuals before or after has no bearing on the matter (assuming the case of low volumes, which seems to be what we’re assuming).

                The concept of fairness between modes makes no sense. Fairness really only applies to individuals.

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              • davemess October 27, 2015 at 1:34 pm

                it does have bearing, given that multiple pedestrians/cyclists/cars, can go through intersections on a green light.

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              • Hello, Kitty
                Hello, Kitty October 27, 2015 at 1:42 pm

                In the case of a person pressing the crossing signal in the middle of the night (to pick an extreme example), the light should change immediately, even if another pedestrian crossed 10 seconds before. There is no real “fairness” involved.

                In the middle of the day, when vehicle volumes are high, it is more important to keep vehicles moving, so waiting for the next cycle makes more sense.

                What we often see, though, is the pattern for high volumes applied to situations of low volume, and it can be frustrating for a pedestrian to be waiting for no reason.

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              • davemess October 28, 2015 at 8:21 am

                the nature of traffic signal means there is often a situation for any mode to wait for no reason though.

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              • Hello, Kitty
                Hello, Kitty October 28, 2015 at 9:23 am

                I disagree. It is true that historically traffic signals have worked this way but with modern technology there is no reason why we need to continue suffering from these limitations.

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              • wsbob October 28, 2015 at 11:07 am

                You got it Kitty. Smart traffic lights could help keep people from having to wait at lights unnecessarily. Not exactly sure, but I believe there are such lights in use already. Cost and complexity of operation may be why more of them aren’t already in use where they could be helpful.

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          • Mark October 27, 2015 at 11:27 am

            Yes. I do think so. There is no price for cars to wait a few more seconds.

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            • davemess October 27, 2015 at 12:28 pm

              But there is a price for pedestrians to wait? (and we’re not talking safety issues here, just whose time is more valuable).
              You could make the argument that cars actually do have a price (burning fossil fuels), which the pedestrians does.

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              • Hello, Kitty
                Hello, Kitty October 27, 2015 at 12:31 pm

                There is indeed a price. Shorter waits lead to a more pleasant walking experience which leads to more walking. It leads to a sense that pedestrians belong, and are welcomed.

                I think the built environment should reward positive behavior at every opportunity.

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              • davemess October 27, 2015 at 1:36 pm

                I’m curious where “waiting for a traffic light” factors into people’s decision making about walking versus bike/car/bus.

                I’m going to guess pretty low. Certainly below weather, speed, distance, i have to carry something heavy.

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              • Hello, Kitty
                Hello, Kitty October 27, 2015 at 1:48 pm

                “Waiting” directly contributes to speed; also, time spent waiting is perceived as more “costly” than time spent moving. So, it is probably not as important as distance, and burden (and, for some, weather), but I think it does play a role in the “walking in my neighborhood is pleasant” perception, which is important if we want people to feel that walking is a sensible way to get around.

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          • lop October 27, 2015 at 1:09 pm

            >So you think pedestrians should always have a green

            Sounds silly doesn’t it? But isn’t that the law without a traffic light? Without a traffic light there’s still a crosswalk at intersections where drivers and cyclists are supposed to stop, pedestrians are legally allowed to cross when they get to the corner. If you put up a timed traffic light the time when a pedestrian is legally allowed to begin crossing is typically cut by 60-90%. Because pedestrians have to wait when parallel traffic has a red, and for much of the time when parallel traffic has a green because pedestrians are facing a flashing don’t walk sign. How much is it right to reduce accommodations for someone on foot to speed cars through the area? Either in general, or in an area where Portland is pushing for development, for more people to live?

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            • paikiala October 29, 2015 at 12:04 pm

              Untrue. Pedestrians are legally allowed to cross when it is safe to do so, not when they get to the crossing.

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              • Hello, Kitty
                Hello, Kitty October 29, 2015 at 1:40 pm

                Can you please clarify that? Are you talking about at a signal, at a marked/unmarked crosswalk, or elsewhere?

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              • lop October 29, 2015 at 1:50 pm

                (1) A pedestrian commits the offense of pedestrian failure to yield to a vehicle if the pedestrian does any of the following:

                (a) Suddenly leaves a curb or other place of safety and moves into the path of a vehicle that is so close as to constitute an immediate hazard.


                As I understand it this applies at crosswalks, even signalized intersections when the pedestrian has the walk signal.

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              • Hello, Kitty
                Hello, Kitty October 29, 2015 at 1:59 pm

                Ah, I see. So if I leave the curb slowly, I’m ok?

                Just joking, folks!

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        • Justin Carinci October 27, 2015 at 9:05 am

          The light at Harrison and First Avenue is on recall, so it’s not so bad to cross on foot. The next light, on Naito Parkway, is exactly as frustrating as you describe. To be fair, it’s just as bad for cars on Harrison, which is why you see people floor it up the hill to get to the light and trigger their turn phase.
          This all did a pretty good job of moving Naito traffic until the Lincoln signal went in just down the block. Now with the Naito traffic stopping at Lincoln, traffic often backs up across Harrison and I give funny looks to drivers who are blocking the crosswalk.

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      • Spiffy October 27, 2015 at 9:21 am

        all of the beg-buttons on Foster take too long to stop traffic… people push them, get tired of waiting and cross on their own, then a minute later the light turns and they’re already a block away…

        I’ve taken to just crossing a block before/after with no signal so that I don’t have to wait…

        and yes, they should be a speed deterrent…

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    • wsbob October 28, 2015 at 12:47 am

      “…pedestrian beg-button…” spiffy

      That’s one of the lousier, pedestrian infrastructure disparaging nicknames certain people commenting to bikeportland have come up with of late.

      From what I’ve seen of how they work out here Beaverton, the type of traffic warning light that pedestrians can activate on a pole at the sidewalk, works great. The light comes on almost immediately after the button is pushed, so for people ready to cross, there’s virtually no waiting, as there usually is with standard crosswalk signals. All motor vehicles I’ve seen approaching the yellow flashing lights of these signals, have stopped.

      Should these signals have incorporated into them an additional light, a red one, for a higher level of certainty that vehicle traffic will stop at these type signals? I don’t know…it’s something to think about. Though most likely more expensive and less enabling of traffic flow.

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  • davemess October 26, 2015 at 5:15 pm

    “but it’s expected to cause several mintues of traffic delay and/or traffic spillover onto other streets in 2016 or 2017.”

    Is there some new info to suggest that 2017 is now a possibility (after it has already been delayed from 2015)?

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  • davemess October 26, 2015 at 5:24 pm

    Michael, I have to say that I can pretty much tell who is writing articles (between you and Jonathan) by the cynical tone of the article.

    “That’ll be a false narrative, because the new bike lanes won’t be that great and the safety benefits will go mostly to people driving and walking,”

    Linking to the article about the last few blocks diversion around 52nd does not negate the other two miles of (hopefully buffered) bike lanes that are going to be added.
    It’s silly to suggest that bikes are not seeing great safety benefits over the status quo currently on Foster (where most don’t even bother to bike due to safety concerns).

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    • Michael Andersen (News Editor)
      Michael Andersen (News Editor) October 26, 2015 at 9:14 pm

      Ha, Jonathan will be glad to know he’s become the optimistic one. 🙂 But point heard.

      In my view, the *safety* benefits of the Foster project will go mostly to people driving and walking, and are the main (and 100% valid) reasons for the redesign. Bike users will see lots of connectivity and efficiency benefits. That’s great! But it’s not the main reason for the project, and shouldn’t be presented as if it is – though my guess is that’s what critics will claim.

      As for the timing, the official project site now says 2016 or 17. That’s all I know.

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    • Adam Herstein
      Adam Herstein October 27, 2015 at 12:42 am

      Foster Road is being completely rebuilt. The fact that cycle tracks are not included is unacceptable.

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      • davemess October 27, 2015 at 8:15 am

        to you.

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        • Mark October 27, 2015 at 11:28 am

          To humans.

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          • paikiala October 27, 2015 at 4:30 pm

            People driving aren’t human?

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            • davemess October 28, 2015 at 8:22 am


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              • 9watts October 28, 2015 at 8:59 am

                I disagree. Bike infrastructure helps everyone, regardless of mode. The same cannot be said for the all-too-familiar kinds of cars-first ‘upgrades’ to our infrastructure. Inviting people who (might) bike to use this stretch of road by investing in some infrastructure that is hospitable to their mode also tends to benefit those not on bikes because cars, especially the ubiquitous single occupant variety, takes up so much space. If you add one thousand people on bikes to the morning rush hour Foster, or add one thousand people in single occupant cars I’m sure you can see the difference. And to a nontrivial extent I suspect some of those who might (be tempted to) bike used to be/would have been in cars.

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      • davemess October 27, 2015 at 8:16 am

        “unacceptable” was having pedestrians and other die on this street, and having no bike facilities.

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      • davemess October 27, 2015 at 8:31 am

        Sorry for multiple replies.
        It’s actually not being entirely rebuilt at all. Just a fragment of it is getting wider sidewalks (east of 82nd). The rest is going to be re-striped. Protected bike lanes would have doubled the project price tag.

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      • Steve B. October 27, 2015 at 11:57 am

        I think the inclusion of new bike lanes on Foster is very encouraging. Originally the redesign completely lacked bike lanes, then the process was rebooted and now bike lanes are included. Progress!

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  • bjcefola October 26, 2015 at 5:56 pm

    I missed where Hales was pro-density. He didn’t lift a finger to stop minimum parking increases and he said explicitly his preference was to apply the demolition tax to infill projects. I’d argue what he favored wasn’t so much density as it was big developers, the kind who cash in on urban renewal money.

    I think that dichotomy of big, dense, subsidized development in hot spots like the pearl or south waterfront paired with single family homes everywhere else isn’t healthy. We wind up short-changing public services with the tax diversion while also shortchanging the housing market with inadequate supply.

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    • longgone October 27, 2015 at 12:51 am

      Hear hear

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    • Hello, Kitty
      Hello, Kitty October 27, 2015 at 11:40 am

      Please don’t confuse inadequate supply at the moment with inadequate supply as a permanent phenomenon. Housing supply is cyclical, and the housing crash distorted things to an unusual degree. But I see no reason to think that our current lack of supply will not correct itself, as it always has.

      To be clear, none of that means that people are not suffering; but there is a lot of housing being built, and when it comes to market, it will relieve some of the pressure on the system.

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      • bjcefola October 27, 2015 at 5:16 pm

        I hear what you’re saying, but Portland’s housing shortage isn’t a momentary thing.



        http://www.oregonlive.com/front-porch/index.ssf/2012/10/portland_apartment_rents_conti.html (“Thousands of new metro-area apartments are in the works, but that hasn’t yet put a stop to rising rents or eased competition between renters”)

        http://www.oregonlive.com/front-porch/index.ssf/2013/10/rents_rising_as_apartments_des.html (“The apartment construction binge doesn’t show any sign of stopping. In fact, Barry said, the growth in the apartment pipeline is only accelerating.”)

        http://www.oregonlive.com/front-porch/index.ssf/2014/04/turnaround_forecast_in_portlan.html (“The new wave of construction on its way may bring about a more balanced market.”)

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        • Hello, Kitty
          Hello, Kitty October 27, 2015 at 11:47 pm

          Certainly not a “momentary” thing, but not a permanent thing. The headline of one of the articles you linked to said it well:

          “Tough apartment market persists for renters, but forecasters see turnaround”

          Real estate has always been cyclical. We are in a low part of the cycle (which sucks if you are trying to rent a place), but, as they say, forecasters see a turnaround. Just ride north on Williams, and you will see the turnaround under construction all over the place.

          (In the sub-market for affordable rentals, I do think there are some long term issues… no one is building those, and people in them aren’t moving up to more expensive units, even if they can afford to.)

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          • bjcefola October 28, 2015 at 11:03 am

            Look at the dates of those stories. We’ve had a housing shortage and statements about a turnaround for years, without any stabilization much less improvement.

            I don’t mean that as an argument against supply, but rather as a criticism of the city and the self-imposed constraints that limit our ability to provide it.

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            • Hello, Kitty
              Hello, Kitty October 28, 2015 at 1:29 pm

              I noticed that, and thought you did a good job presenting the articles.

              The current shortfall was not because of restrictive zoning, it was because of lack of resources due to the financial crisis.

              That’s mostly behind us, and there is now a huge number of units about to come on line. It’s always darkest before the dawn, so to speak; in 1-2 years the current crunch will be over.

              What I’m hearing from BPS is that our current zoning will provide sufficient opportunities to absorb our projected growth for at least 20 years.

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              • Alex Reed October 30, 2015 at 11:06 am

                I don’t believe BPS is taking into sufficient consideration the significant friction that exists in the real estate market. Just because a property is zoned for more density, doesn’t mean that additional density will actually be built within the next 20 years (even assuming there is demand for the density; personally, I am convinced there is demand for quite a lot more than we have.)

                Imagine a commercial property with a distributed family decision-making structure, with multiple people signing off on decisions involving the property. Even after we assume that there is objectively a profitable development opportunity on that property, does that mean that the family will necessarily get together and make the “rational” decision to go with that development opportunity in a reasonable amount of time? If you say “yes,” then I think your family is a lot different than my family. NB – I believe there are quite a lot of properties like this in the commercial zoned areas in Portland.

                Also, what if there is an extremely profitable, if low-rise, business on the site? That could make anyone think twice about disrupting their cash cow. I have in mind something like Nicholas’s on SE Grand a few blocks south of Burnside.

                And, what about absentee landlords who don’t pay that much attention to local real estate conditions, or speculators who are waiting for the market to get REALLY hot? There are tons of reasons why a property with additional zoned capacity wouldn’t get redeveloped in a reasonable amount of time.

                My prima facie guess is that, if we want X amount of redevelopment in Portland, we need more like 50X or 75X amount of zoned capacity for it, not 20X.

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              • Hello, Kitty
                Hello, Kitty October 30, 2015 at 11:12 am

                Why do you think BPS hasn’t considered those factors in their analysis?

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  • chris October 26, 2015 at 5:58 pm

    I don’t understand the hold up regarding diverters. This has to be the least expensive form of infrastructural improvement imaginable. The city could install 50 of them within the course of just one day in strategic locations across the city, thereby doubling the effectiveness of our current bike network, and it would cost less than 50 feet of MAX track.

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    • Eric Leifsdad October 26, 2015 at 6:34 pm

      You mean 2 people with one truck could do 50 in a day, right?

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    • paikiala October 27, 2015 at 9:37 am

      BS, again. How you arrive at your answers is without support. Tell us how two people install 50 diverters in a single 8 hour shift. Tell us what these ‘diverters’ look like, and how they are legally defensible.
      Tell us how you would dictate which street you would put them on. Dictate, not ‘decide’, since you apparently have no ‘process’.

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  • BeavertonRider October 26, 2015 at 6:26 pm

    Given the wasteful spending of PBOT and poorly prioritized PBOT spending (which is highlighted many examples of in the last PBOT budget thread here a few weeks ago), a local gas tax proposal needs to be shelved. The City should not be consodering new ways to tax residents and visitors for core City functions when it’s budget expenditures and priorities are already out of whack.

    PBOT has more than enough budgeted dollars for road maintenance and safety work, it just wastes a lot and has deprioritized that road mtc and safety spending.

    The problem is not insufficient funding for roads. It is the City’s deliberate misprioritization of road and mtc programs, projects, and spending. Period and end of story.

    I dont know or understand why the first instinct is to coercively take more dollars out of the private economy rather than carefully examine competing spending priorities and make difficult choices. This is why we have elected officials, right?

    What this reveals is the incompetence of the elected officials and the indifference of progressive Portlanders toward fiscal discipline. To propose reducing spending is to be caricatured as wanting to throw granny off her wheel chair. Sure, stick with that nonsense…it’s worked ao far hasn’t it, lol.

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    • Chris I October 26, 2015 at 9:48 pm

      Do you live in Portland?

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      • canuck October 27, 2015 at 8:24 am

        Does one have to live in Portland to comment on Portland? Does Portland exist in a vaccuum where nothing it does impacts the surrounding communities?

        If that is the case I’m sure the poster would like those of you who live in Portland and regularly put down Washington County and Beaverton to cease and desist.

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      • BeavertonRider October 27, 2015 at 8:38 am

        No. But do only residents of Portland have the ability to read and think about the PBOT budget? Of course not.

        Question for you: Have you looked at the PBOT budget documents online? Have you considered the statements made by elected City officials relevant to the PBOT budget and then evaluated those statements against what is actually budgeted or proposed to be budgeted?

        I have. Do you really want to argue about residency or do you have something specific with which you disagree with me?

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        • Chris I October 27, 2015 at 9:29 am

          I have, and I realize that PBOT is management heavy. They could lean out and find more money for maintenance, but long-term, we are going to need additional funding sources if we want to improve active transportation options in the city.

          I guess I’m just surprised that you pay so much attention to the budget of a city in which you don’t live, and then complain about hypothetical taxes that the residents of that city might choose to impose on themselves.

          Personally, I don’t really care how people in Beaverton pay for their roads.

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        • paikiala October 27, 2015 at 9:41 am

          You attribute the ‘misspending of funds’ to PBOT, ignoring the political system under which it operates, and perhaps the source of funds. The PBOT director is not elected, but hired by the commissioner in charge and serves at that commissioner’s pleasure. It is a conflict of interest to charge an at-will employee to improve safety if that employee is subject to the whims of their boss.

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      • wsbob October 28, 2015 at 1:16 am

        “Do you live in Portland?” Chris I

        Right next door, just six miles away in Beaverton. Boundaries of the two cities are cheek to jowl at some points. On occasion, Beaverton and residents of other cities in the metro area come visiting Portland, and traveling on Portland streets, and vice versa.

        So even though we’re not living in some of Portland’s cozy old neighborhoods, the condition of those streets and how the city figures out to keep them maintained, is of interest to people outside of Portland. Cities keeping their streets in good condition is challenge common to all cities. Hopefully, they can learn from each other.

        I don’t feel I have even a good, basic understanding of city transportation department budgets, so I listen and read when somebody tries to offer some solid reasoning as to why a city may be having some problems getting done what they need to within the transportation dept budget they’re given.

        How correct BeavertonRider may or may not be about the reasons for PBOT’s task and budget woes, isn’t easily answered. How much waste of budget money there may be, is one of the logical first things to be looking at, before the city comes asking for more money.

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  • buildwithjoe October 26, 2015 at 9:37 pm

    With Hales gone we might see tickets for cara that kill and injure. Useless mayor can’t ticket deadly driver who jumped Burnside sidewalk. Hales office confirmed my legal detective work. Said you can’t ticket unconscious driver. Quote his staff…. They are lying. I met with him alone at one of his morning coffee events. 10 minutes. Still no ticket as of Oct 26 today.

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    • Gary B October 27, 2015 at 8:36 am

      I clearly missed when they deputized Hales. The decision was total bunk, but it definitely wasn’t Hales’s. And if you’re suggesting the police commissioner should be able to override that decision, I think you should consider if that’s really the way you want things to be when the shoe’s on the other foot.

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      • Hello, Kitty
        Hello, Kitty October 27, 2015 at 11:11 am

        Why was it bunk?

        If you were to choose just one of the recent crashes we’ve heard about as an exemplar of the lack of enforcement (and you’d have many to chose from, unfortunately), the Burnside Bridge one would be last on my list. Unless the driver was lying and did not in fact have a medical emergency, or knew he had an underlying condition that might lead him to lose consciousness while driving, I’m not sure what he did wrong (though the situation was clearly tragic).

        In almost every other case, there was clear driver error that in many instances rose to the level of criminal culpability. I just didn’t see that in this case.

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        • wsbob October 30, 2015 at 6:09 pm

          “…I’m not sure what he did wrong…” Hello, Kitty

          After all currently required procedures of the police investigation were completed and the results analyzed with regards to the collision on Burnside, did anyone know whether or not the person driving did anything wrong?

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  • John Liu
    John Liu October 27, 2015 at 5:17 am

    Ted Wheeler’s website, in its list of “priorities”, makes no mention whatsoever of bikes.

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    • davemess October 27, 2015 at 8:19 am

      does it mention cars?

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      • John Liu
        John Liu October 27, 2015 at 8:40 am

        One of the listed priorities is potholes.

        I’m not negative on Wheeler. I’m just thinking that, while Hales hasn’t been everything that the bike community wanted, the next mayor won’t necessarily be more bike-friendly.

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        • davemess October 27, 2015 at 12:34 pm

          I think many on this site though have trouble differentiating between “bike-friendly” and “bike-centered”.

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          • soren October 27, 2015 at 5:16 pm

            Cycling is a central part of the the Portland Plan and the Climate Action Plan. Despite these grandiose plans and a 7.1% modal share, cycling received less than 1% of PBOT transportation revenue.


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            • davemess October 28, 2015 at 8:26 am

              That’s one way of interpreting that.

              Another would be that many of the other things (like pavement maintenance, street cleaning, sidewalk improvements, etc.) that you lump in as “non-bike” do factor into making portland a better place to ride.

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              • John Liu
                John Liu October 28, 2015 at 11:18 am

                I think that “getting back to basics/fixing potholes” is Portland political code for maintaining the existing roadways instead of spending money on bike and ped infrastructure.

                PBOT can squeeze in some inexpensive painted bike lanes when roads are being maintained, but that seldom/never includes bike stuff that costs serious money like protected cycle tracks, more ped/bike signals, etc.

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              • paikiala October 28, 2015 at 12:33 pm

                Attributing a political candidate’s tag line to the bureau that also maintains roads?

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        • Hello, Kitty
          Hello, Kitty October 27, 2015 at 12:41 pm

          It’s always like that… you don’t like the guy you’ve got, so you project everything you want on to the next one, hoping for something better.

          Lather, rinse, repeat.

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          • rachel b October 27, 2015 at 2:52 pm

            Yes. True. Ugh. I am definitely doing this (and have done this). Hope springs eternal! 🙂

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        • gutterbunnybikes October 27, 2015 at 7:53 pm

          Pot holes pretty much suck for bicycles too. Nationally 1/3+ bicycle injuries are in collisions with stationary objects – which includes potholes.

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          • John Liu
            John Liu October 28, 2015 at 6:51 am

            Hmm. Potholes may be only a small part of the “stationary object” incidents. I can recall having only one road defect-caused bike crash in my whole life, and that was probably more due to taking my hands off the bars at 30 mph.

            Anyway, in Portland political speak, “fixing potholes” doesn’t include adding bike or ped infrastructure. It means basic maintenance, making roads smooth.

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            • BeavertonRider October 29, 2015 at 11:55 pm

              Though as I have clearly shown, the misprioritization of City funds and improper allocation of PBOT funds is what is holding back PBOT’s ability to perform it’s core mission. And now, many here just want to throw gobs of more money at PBOT.

              PBOT has sufficient fund it’s core mission work and to improve cycling infrastructure. It’s really a matter of making tough choices.

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  • MNBikeLuv October 27, 2015 at 6:38 am

    City Off-Road Master Plan? Mayor Hales made that happen.

    Would a successor at least entertain the idea of urban mountain biking or would the mayor’s office default to previous Portland position of, “This is a thing that doesn’t exist.”

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    • Brian October 27, 2015 at 7:51 am

      This is also a concern of mine. If there is no real competition in the next election, questions like this won’t need to be answered. Mayor Hales also appointed Ms. Fritz to the head of Parks, which has not gone well for off-road cycling in all parts of the city. Perhaps a new Mayor will ht the reset button and begin to work with the off-road cycling community and all of the benefits that community brings to the city.

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    • TrailLover October 27, 2015 at 9:36 am

      I’m thinking that the horse is already out of the barn on the Off-Road Cycling Master Plan. It would seem that the money for the MP is already committed; staff is already assigned and working; a consultant has apparently been selected; and the process ought to move forward independent of whoever is in the Mayor’s chair.

      That said, the implementation of any recommendations that may emerge in the plan will certainly depend on the political will and leanings of future political leaders – especially whoever is in charge of the Parks Bureau because I assume that any implementation of the MP will fall largely to Parks. If Fritz is still there, that could certainly be a problem. But less so if we have a mayor unwilling to let Fritz keep her head in the sand. Even if Hales were remaining, the community is going to have to keep up the pressure to bring Portland’s recreational trail planning and management practices into the modern era.

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  • Lester Burnham October 27, 2015 at 8:16 am

    An Old Town public space should not be much of a priority right now. Besides how would it not become another homeless camp full of drug use and public sex without strict enforcement?

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  • Todd Hudson October 27, 2015 at 9:52 am

    The mayor would not be able to have much say over those six issues unless they held control of PBOT, BDS, and Housing, due to the nature of the city’s comically dysfunctional commission form of government.

    The real control rests with the commissioners overseeing those Bureaus.

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    • John Liu
      John Liu October 27, 2015 at 1:29 pm

      So let’s vote Amanda Fritz out, lest she get PBOT in the next administration.

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  • Lenny Anderson
    Lenny Anderson October 27, 2015 at 5:47 pm

    I’d cross my fingers on Wheeler, especially if he has no opponent.
    I remember recommending to Hales “The Geography of Nowhere” by Kunstler, sometime around his first election to the Council. We in NW (I was arrested as part of the Good Old Houses battle in ’89) were nervous about the former spokesperson for the Homebuilders. Anyway, damned if I didn’t see him at an early Railvolution conference with that book in his hand. We were all pleasantly surprised with his work after Katz gave him Transportation! I believe that Hales gets it about creating livable cities with real transportation options…transit, bike and walk. Not sure about Wheeler. I just don’t know the guy.
    Hales hired Mia Burke who really got Portland’s bike life going in the mid ’90s. He, along with Mayor Katz, actively supported lightrail projects and the creation of Portland Streetcar, and he deserves a piece of the credit (or blame if you like) for the transformation of the Central City which is now underway and seen as a hometown boy, blows my mind.
    I was disappointed that he did not run for mayor on a clear transportation options platform, but pandered to the “pave the streets” crowd; and so he was hamstrung by the lack of a strong TO mandate. But he does get it that private motor vehicles only get you so far in the 21st century.

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    • gutterbunnybikes October 27, 2015 at 7:57 pm

      I first read that book 93/94 shortly after moving here from Detroit. Needless to say it spoke to me (if you’ve read it you’d get why) . Still one of my favorite books of all time – still go back to it often.

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      • BeavertonRider October 28, 2015 at 9:19 pm

        From Detroit? Me, too. Lived in Highland Park before moving to East Detroit (when it was still East Detroit).


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  • Beth October 27, 2015 at 6:50 pm

    Um, lemme see:
    Rampant homelessness.
    Lack of affordable rental housing, lack of interest on the part of developers to build it and no political will to legally mandate afforedable housing at the city or state levels.
    Sluggish movement on bicycle and pedestrian safety, and on improvements in key sections of infrastructure for vulnerable road-users.
    A lack of planning thirty years ago that results in streets and highways being crowded today with more newcomers than the city can handle.
    A lack of living-wage jobs.
    A political landscape mired in petty sniping and gridlock.
    Naaaah, I wouldn’t run for mayor in Portland, either.

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  • MArk October 27, 2015 at 9:14 pm

    Why do folks think Hales could fix all the issues of the day? Every commissioner should be held just as accountable.

    Look on the bright side, Hales was the first Mayor since Katz that actually got stuff done AND didn’t have massive skeletons.

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    • davemess October 28, 2015 at 8:36 am

      what did he get done?

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      • John Liu
        John Liu October 28, 2015 at 11:41 am

        Off the top of my head, during Hale’s tenure we’ve seen these good things:

        – Closed Portland’s budget gap
        – Helped close PPS (school) funding gaps during the worst of the recession
        – Accelerated street repaving and resealing
        – Eased code/zoning restrictions on building ADUs
        – Restored parking requirements for new apartment buildings, which allows these to be built with less anti-density pushback from the community
        – Redeveloped Division St which brought in much new housing and business
        – Protected bike lanes on Multnomah, road diets/bike lanes on several arterial roads, with Foster coming next
        – Redevelopment of Lloyd District into a dense and more bike-oriented neighborhood
        – Action starting on improving downtown in the Chinatown/2-3-4th St area
        – MAX extension to Milwaukee, Tillikum Bridge
        – Recognized problem on bike greenways and started a diverter program
        – Improvements in PPB (police) community relations
        – Finally some funding/action on establishing more trails for mountain bikes, essentially over Fritz’ resistance
        – Adopted Vision Zero, admittedly only recently

        Of course, the mayor’s office isn’t solely responsible for all of these, sometimes its role is larger or smaller, other agencies/departments and private developers/broad economy have a huge and sometimes primary role. But Hales was at least supportive, or better.

        Sam Adams was in office during an economic expansion, when there was money to start lots of projects, and debt capacity too. Hales came into office during a deep recession, when there was little money and too much debt. He was faced with a lot of problems, of which bike issues were just a small part. Portland’s city government structure also limits the mayor’s power to unilaterally do things.

        I’d like to see the next mayor tackle several big issues, primarily housing supply/homelessness, the blight that is Chinatown, the potential next redeveloping area on 82nd, long-term fiscal soundness including pension liabilities, expansion of mass transit and bicycle modes.

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  • Josh Chernoff October 28, 2015 at 12:56 pm

    Something interesting that I just noticed is that the topic of bike theft was not included in this post. I’d argue that the City and the Mayor has a much larger role in that issue vs the general public and the police combined.

    I’d like to get perspective of how that issue will continue to evolve now that the Portland Development Commission may possibly see a change in tone about this their involvement (“or lack there of”) on the issue of homeless camps (“which have been known to house bike thieves”) on their property.

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