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One commuter’s take on the many turns and stops on Tilikum’s east side

Posted by on October 27th, 2015 at 2:14 pm

tilikum east side map with numbers

Issues identified in Justin C.’s letter below.
(Map: Google. Annotations: BikePortland)

How many inconveniences does it take to add up to a serious problem?

“I feel like I’m using a system that was not designed for me… It seems to be designed to get me out of the way of transit vehicles, not to get me to work.”
— Justin C.

For about a year now, we’ve been watching the expanse of east-side paths to Tilikum Crossing with unease. We’ve heard from many readers, publicly and privately, about its many issues. But like most of us, we wanted to give TriMet and the Portland Bureau of Transportation a chance to get it built, celebrate the good parts and work the kinks out before talking about what can be done to fix the problems here.

After more than a month of Tilikum crossings, it’s time to start talking about what’s still wrong and what can be done. And we couldn’t frame the situation better than one reader, Justin C., did in an email to BikePortland last week.

The following is slightly rearranged for clarity, and we’ve added boldface numbers to correspond roughly to the map above.

A few of the issues mentioned here (such as wayfinding) have been getting better. But as a summary of the general situation, this is spot on.

Fridays I have a late start for child-care reasons and I’m usually biking in (from SE Holgate/67th area) starting at 8:15 or 8:30. I’ve tried on those days to avoid the Ladd’s/Madison bridge crowd, to use the Tilikum Crossing since it opened (so maybe seven weeks or so). Most of those times I’ve gotten stopped by a train at the Clinton crossing. Sometimes I wait and sometimes I detour to Hawthorne.

Having used the Clinton-to-the-River route frequently before the bridge opened, I was excited at the possibilities that the new project offered. My route had previously involved detouring south to nearly Powell and then back up 9th or 8th to Division Place and the Esplanade (when it was open) or another route to Hawthorne. I got tired of this eventually and joined the crowd using the Madison-Hawthorne approach (despite living and working south of there). When they opened a bit of separated multi-use path between the tracks and future bridge, I was thrilled. I sat through the poor signal timing because I figured that would all get fixed in time. It would have to, right, with all the Interested but Concerned people the new bridge would get on bikes? They wouldn’t open the best new bike bridge without making it easy to access on bike.

Of course, that’s what has happened, at least so far. Here are how minor inconveniences can add up:

We didn’t put in a bike bridge over the freight tracks. Fine. I understand, things cost money and no one can negotiate with Class 1 railroads. And you think, maybe being inconvenienced by a poorly timed light at Clinton and 12th (1) isn’t such a big deal. Maybe rolling the dice on being late for work because of a freight train (2) is no big deal.

But once we get over the tracks, it should be pretty smooth sailing for people on bikes. Instead, I feel like I’m using a system that was not designed for me. Because, obviously, it wasn’t. It seems to be designed to get me out of the way of transit vehicles, not to get me to work.

Maybe waiting for a bike signal to cross 11th/Milwaukie and get to the stretch of MUP (3) isn’t a big deal, even though the southbound platoon on 11th/Milwaukie hasn’t been released and it’s red all around.

cut the corner

SW 7th and Tilikum Way, looking west. Justin said
he’s seen people heading westbound cut this corner
and nearly run into someone heading eastbound.

Wayfinding would be nice, but if there’s a well-thought-out approach to the bridge, people will find it with or without signs. Fine. And the intersection at 8th (4) is complicated, so I don’t mind waiting.

When I get across 8th, I have to navigate a tight curve across a utility pole right in the bike path. And then stop for buses at 7th Avenue, only to hit another 90 degree turn right next to a blind corner (5) (where I’ve seen three(!) bike collisions already).

industrial caruthers

Caruthers Street just southeast of Tilikum Crossing.

So then you get to Caruthers, and you see the beautiful new bridge ahead of you, and you ride toward it and realize that you can’t get onto the bridge! I’ve just been abandoned in an industrial area. (6) You have to find a way over to a T intersection, cross the road and both sets of tracks (7) and then use a tangle of an approach lane to get onto the bridge’s main span.

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But here’s the thing: They built a nice new concrete road right there from scratch! A blank slate. It’s called Tilikum Way, and this portion of it runs from Seventh Avenue right onto the bridge. But you can’t use it. (You get routed farther away from the bridge to Caruthers and another stop sign at Fourth.)

tilikum way

Tilikum Way: transit only.

There’s a new sidewalk built on the north side of Tilikum Way (fenced between the Rail Heritage Center and the MAX tracks) that goes from the new bridge along Tilikum Way, under the MLK/Grand bridges, and just dead ends into a fence. It’s as if someone thought of connecting the bike route to the bridge via Tilikum Way but then decided against it.

I’m not naïve; I know it would take some planning to get bikes on the right side of the MAX tracks. And the bridge is lovely. But maybe I was naïve for assuming that more was being done to make this an actual “bike bridge” as opposed to merely a bridge that allows bikes.

I came to terms with my gripes about the west side connection (no bikes on the Harbor Viaduct structure from Lincoln to Moody), and I somewhat bought TriMet’s explanation that they couldn’t squeeze it between the existing bridges they had to thread. Taking Harrison to the MUP to Moody is solid “B” infrastructure, so they could be forgiven for not building an A+.

But the east side is just such a mess that here’s the reality: We’re hoping for signal timing to make a bad route slightly less bad. Wasn’t this supposed to be the shining example for the rest of the country on how committed we are to non-car modes? We really couldn’t do any better for bikes?

For years, I had hoped this bridge would make me feel proud to be a cyclist (and I know your views on this word, but this is how I feel), and that all the planning and attention to detail would make me feel that someone valued me as such and was looking out for me. What I’m instead left with is the thought, “well, I guess it’s better than Powell.”

Thanks for listening.

Like Justin, we at BikePortland try not to be naive. Crowded trains and buses get priority over bikes on a TriMet project because, from a pure street-efficiency standpoint, they should. Not to mention that TriMet is first and foremost a transit agency (did you notice that they refer to this as the Tilikum Crossing Transit Bridge?).

What happened with Tilikum’s eastside approach wasn’t that no one spared a thought for bikes. There was clearly some thought put into how bikes would find their way across the bridge. But what didn’t happen here was an effort, from the early stages of planning, to think about what it would feel like to actually bike through this new district.

As Justin mentions, there are still some things that could be done to improve the cycling experience around the Tilikum. We’ll be covering several of those over the next few weeks.

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

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rick
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rick

I don’t see the hassle of a grid-street system.

Granpa
Guest
Granpa

“There was clearly some AFTER thought put into how bikes would find their way across the bridge.”
There, fixed

ahpook
Subscriber

This, 100%.

The clearest message are the stop signs at either side of the bus-only road at the deadly corner. They are “stop” for bike traffic, “through” for bus traffic, even though the ratio of bikes to busses through there is 100:1.

Scott H
Guest
Scott H

If I had to choose, I would choose to fix 1, 2, 3, and 4. The timing is still just awful for no good reason. And it doesn’t matter whether you’re on a bike or in a car, sometimes the car signals have seemingly nonsensically long waits.

5, 6, and 7, while not perfect, can be navigated pretty quickly with a little bit of practice.

Frankly, it is a system designed for trains and buses, not bikes.

Indy
Guest
Indy

>”Crowded trains and buses get priority over bikes on a TriMet project because, from a pure street-efficiency standpoint, they should. Not to mention that TriMet is first and foremost a transit agency (did you notice that they refer to this as the Tilikum Crossing Transit Bridge?).”

Why would that be?

Hypothetical situation and all, but replace every train track with flat road, and you can fit far FAR more bikes per inch of space than buses and trains. One or fifty riders getting off the “tracks” don’t impact the other hundred or so.

You might have a point with buses, but Many bikes in all quadrants can beat buses during high commute times. I certainly can beat a line 12 bus by 10 minutes from Hillsdale during morning rush hour.

Cover them and you reduce the impact of weather.
Add heaters at stopping points and you help keep your riders warm.

Reduced health considiton, riders arrive happy and energized, better workforce…

Hell, give the bikes away, for free, it won’t cost anything what Tri-Met costs to run those trains.

But we’re a lazy culture, so we all know this is a pipe dream.

Adam
Subscriber

The east side appproach is not a cycle track or a MUP; it’s a sidewalk that you’re allowed to bike on. This is evident in the tight turning radii that make it impossible to take a turn at speed, the fact that we have to use the ped signal half the time, and that we have to use the same curb ramps as people walking. Adding bicycle signals (that don’t even prevent right-hooks!) doesn’t make it a cycle path.

axoplasm
Subscriber

“ It’s as if someone thought of connecting the bike route to the bridge via Tilikum Way but then decided against it…here’s the reality: We’re hoping for signal timing to make a bad route slightly less bad.”

THIS. A good guide to sanely using the Tilikum is to assume the bike signals are steering you AWAY from a good path.

I take this bridge routinely from approximately the same place as Justin C. I’ve found that the crossings are much better if I actively disregard signage & wayfinding (but not the law). The clean crossings are all there, but Tri-Met is trying to steer bikes away from them.

For example, avoid (1-2-3) altogether by turning north on 12th (the sidewalk works OK if I’m with my kids), crossing Division, turning west on Caruthers and then crossing Division (again) and the tracks at SE 8th (4). This is a straight shot over the tracks and the light is more sanely timed.

Then, avoid the jog onto Tilikum Way (5) a poorly-timed light at Water (7), and a second light at the Max station by skipping the bike lane and riding west on Division Pl to 4th, then turning left on Caruthers & crossing through the Opera parking lot. Only one crosswalk light, which is almost always green.

Despite being slightly longer this detour is much faster, with simpler crossings and much saner stoplights. And it is 100% legal.

Even better is to avoid Division altogether by crossing the freight tracks on the new Lafayette/Rhine bridge just off 21st — especially if you’re coming from the south (Holgate). In this case, avoid (again) the bike-only signals, particularly at 12th/Milwaukie, by jumping into the street on Gideon. (This does require proceeding straight through the intersection onto the trail on a right turn arrow)

There are similar shortcuts on the westside. For example, slow to walking speed & get out of the bike lane at approximately Elephant’s deli. Then use pedestrian signals to cross the tracks and/or Moody. Do this on foot if it’s congested. Even at a walking speed, it’s usually faster to walk than following the bikelane into the weird gooseneck at Moody & waiting through two or even three signals.

Mike Quiglery
Guest
Mike Quiglery

Some people like to gripe about everything.

Dee
Guest
Dee

I’m so fatigued and disappointed with this new route. It really is my best option from Division and 30th to my job at the CLSB, but gawd…I never thought I’d long for the Hawthorne commute. At this point I mostly feel sad and defeated.

9watts
Subscriber

Platinum!

Excellent letter. Thanks for taking the time to sort this out on paper for those of us who haven’t yet had the pleasure.

Endo
Guest
Endo

Indy
>”Crowded trains and buses get priority over bikes on a TriMet project because, from a pure street-efficiency standpoint, they should. Not to mention that TriMet is first and foremost a transit agency (did you notice that they refer to this as the Tilikum Crossing Transit Bridge?).”Why would that be?Hypothetical situation and all, but replace every train track with flat road, and you can fit far FAR more bikes per inch of space than buses and trains. One or fifty riders getting off the “tracks” don’t impact the other hundred or so.You might have a point with buses, but Many bikes in all quadrants can beat buses during high commute times. I certainly can beat a line 12 bus by 10 minutes from Hillsdale during morning rush hour.Cover them and you reduce the impact of weather. Add heaters at stopping points and you help keep your riders warm.Reduced health considiton, riders arrive happy and energized, better workforce…Hell, give the bikes away, for free, it won’t cost anything what Tri-Met costs to run those trains.But we’re a lazy culture, so we all know this is a pipe dream.Recommended 1

I agree that it’s mostly the lazy that end up on TriMet. Why on earth should we be catering to those people, especially when it means pouring money down the bottomless pit that is TriMet.

I thought this was supposed to be a bike advocacy site, not a TriMet advocacy site.

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)
Admin

This isn’t the first time and likely won’t be the last time that a transit project did not take cycling seriously in this town. I think it’s a big problem that someone needs to step up and take leadership on to prevent it from continuing.

The issue IMO starts with how these big projects are funded. The big pot of federal money that funds these rail projects is earmarked specifically for transit… Therefore transit takes the lead in planning and everything else is a distant second.

We need bikeways to have a large federal funding pot if we really want bikeways to be able to compete for prominence in these non-highway transportation projects.

The other thing at issue here (directly related to the funding piece) is that we don’t have any powerful agency that is looking out solely for bikeways in the way that TriMet looks after buses and light rail or the way that Portland Streetcar looks after streetcar. If we had a “trimet for bikes” we could really make some progress!

I’ve already expressed my concerns to planners working on the SW Corridor “transit project” and the Powell-Division “transit project” because I’m afraid the same thing will happen there. Why are those projects “transit projects” at this stage? I think they should be mode-agnostic at these early planning stages and that we should call them “transportation projects” so we can have an honest conversation about which modes should be planned for and with which priority.

Why does this issue really bug me? Besides the poor, compromised and/or non-existent bikeways that result (as in the MLK/Grand streetcar debacle where we should have had a protected bike lane.. don’t get me started), I feel that real, physically separated/world-class bikeways would compete better on many factors than BRT, light-rail, or streetcar; but because the way these projects are funded, planned and framed by the agencies working on them, we never get the chance to have that conversation.

We won’t reach our adopted goals for climate change or transportation or growth until we start planning for cycling in a much more serious, rigorous and respectful way.

Daniel Costantino
Guest
Daniel Costantino

Let’s get real folks. All these points are valid. They’re even complemented by at least the same amount of approach/access issues on the west side, that have been documented in prior Bikeportland articles, as well as a bunch of prior comments.

Heck, if I’m riding alone, no doubt about it, the Hawthorne bridge is still faster, more convenient and more direct. At that time, I’m “enthused” or “strong”.

But the total delay from taking the Tillikum crossing adds only about 5 minutes if you’re not stuck behind a freight train (and at rush hour, for reasons I can’t explain, I’ve had extremely good luck).

And if I’ve got a child on my bike, all of a sudden I’m more “interested but concerned”. And at that point, there is *no question* that I would *far* prefer to take the Tillikum, and use all the separated infrastructure at the approaches, signal timing issues and aberrant routings and all.

I think it’s likely that even with all the issues fixed the Tillikum would still be an inferior route for the strong rider from a pure efficiency perspective. That doesn’t mean it can’t be a great path for everyone else.

peejay
Guest
peejay

The thing is: bikes ARE transit. And the sooner TriMet figures this out, the better. Then they can stop having to spend lots of money to fix what should not have been broken in the first place.

jeff
Guest
jeff

My favorite lately has been the USPS driver parked in the bike lane on S.E. Caruthers under the viaduct (with perfectly empty parking spots 20 feet away). Happens at least one a week. She’s always parked there about 9:30am or so. I’ll be photographing her license plate next time and calling the regional postmaster.

J_R
Guest
J_R

Justin did a great job of explaining the problems with this route. There are definitely some signal timing fixes and way-finding help that could be added to help minimize some of the inconveniences.

I also appreciate some of the hints given by other commenters. Having ridden it only a few times, I don’t think I’ve found the best way to navigate this route.

Last week I used this route for the first time to go to PSU. The transition from the southwest corner of River Parkway and Harbor Drive involved two very long waits for signals. That really highlighted for me the complaints of others on this forum about the lack of bike facilities that could have/should have been included on the Harbor Viaduct.

It’s such a disappointment knowing that it could have been so much better.

Granpa
Guest
Granpa

Has Trimet issued any kind of a statement? Do they acknowledge there are problems? Are they working on solutions?

chris
Guest
chris

“Crowded trains and buses get priority over bikes on a TriMet project because, from a pure street-efficiency standpoint, they should.”

From a “pure street-efficiency” standpoint, bicycles win every time. Travel times via bicycle way shorter than that of transit, and there is no daily operating cost involved in bicycle infrastructure.

specialK
Guest
specialK

I haven’t had time to read thru all the comments yet, so pls forgive if this is a repeat.

If you are really concerned about a train stopping you when heading west on Clinton, take a left at 19th, which will take you all the way to Powell, where you can take the underpass to get past the tracks. It’s a little squirrelly but it does mean you can avoid trains. I also use this method to get back to the north side of the tracks when heading east if there’s a long train holding things up at 12th.

Catie
Guest
Catie

We desperately need virtual reality simulators so we can fix these problems before we break ground on a project. Do any cities value its urban design enough to experiment with this? Its hard for even interested people in the public to provide feedback like this with 2D maps and even walk-thrus of the existing intersections. I pointed out some issues 2 or 3 years ago, but by then it was “too late”. If I could have imagined more clearly what it was like to cycle this path I would have tried to speak up more. We need better tools and engagement to design bottom up instead of top down.

Trebor
Guest
Trebor

Many of your other criticisms are on the mark, but you can solve one of your problems–and one you don’t enumerate but that you do mention–by lightly altering your route.

First, there is a grade-separated way across the UP tracks. As you note, a cycling bridge over the UP line was never in the cards (not just for reasons of expense; where would a bridge go on the east side of the tracks?), but Trimet did provide a way under the railway along Powell. If you are going westbound on Clinton, you proceed south on SE 18th, under the tracks along Powell, and then across one lane of SE 17th to SE Gideon. This probably won’t help people going westbound on the Clinton because they likely won’t know if a freight train is passing (it is also a bit out of the way), but people following Clinton eastbound who are blocked by a train can certainly make use of it. More to the point, you could make this your primary route from the 67th/Holgate area by taking SE Franklin and SE Tibetts and then connecting to the Powell underpass via SE 18th.

You can also solve (7) pretty easily. Rather than crossing through the transit center with its lights, LRT’s, streetcars, buses, and, pedestrians, you can simply continue straight on SE Caruthers. Turn right on the Eastbank Esplanade, go under the bridge, turn immediately right on the path that runs along the north side of the bridge, and then turn right onto the westbound path of the Tillikum Bridge. This route is easy peasy as you make nothing but right turns and thus do not cross paths with any cyclists or other vehicles ((it is akin to what motorists do in a cloverleaf) .

Ted Buehler
Guest
Ted Buehler

This is a great summary of the friction and delays expreienced by Tilikum users.

If you want to see that these things get ironed out to whatever extent possible, you NEED TO send your comments to the authorities at PBOT and TriMet. You can post here, cry in beer, gripe to your friends, which is theraputic and all, but if you want to see these things get fixed, you need to make sure you public officials know your position on the matter.

Your participation in a flurry of complaints will make it easier for those working on this issue, from the outside or the inside, to get things moving.

I suggest writing up your comments, or cutting and pasting Justin’s excellent summary, and sending them in an email blast to

safe@portlandoregon.gov (PBOT’s safety “hotline”)
Comments@trimet.or (TriMet’s customer service line
KoozerJ@trimet.org (Jennifer Koozer, TriMet’s Customer Service rep for the Tilikum Bridge)
OwenJ@trimet.org (Jeff Owen, TriMet project person for Tilikum bridge)
roger.geller@portlandoregon.gov (PBOT’s Bicycle Coordinator)

Ted Buehler

Ted Buehler
Guest
Ted Buehler

BikeLoudPDX did a walk-through of the east side issues in April, with Roger Geller from PBOT and Jeff Owen from TriMet. We pointed out many smaller-level design issues — unmarked obstacles, vague wayfinding, that sort of thing. Jessica Engelman, Emily Guise and myself then returned and created a “safety improvement request” for 23 separate issues and sent those in to TriMet and PBOT.

To date, we’ve heard back on exactly 2 of them, and both have been polite “no, we do not plan to do anything about this issue” replies.

We’ve uploaded our safety improvement requests to the BikeLoudPDX website. You all can take a look at them, and if you agree, take the image and sent it in to PBOT and TriMet.

http://bikeloudpdx.org/index.php/Tilikum-Clinton_Album_of_Issues

The more complaints they get, the faster things will happen.

Ted Buehler

Alex
Guest
Alex

I’m really puzzled about the eastbound route heading from point 3 to 2 to 1. Some riders go up on the sidewalk, then cross the 4 tracks, then cross 12th to get onto Clinton. Others follow the sharrows on the street to the bike lane on 12th, which seems safer, but you often have to wait several minutes for the light to turn onto 12th. Which way are we meant to ride?

spencer
Guest
spencer

this section of infrastructure is ‘ship’ show of epic proportions. Its a total FAIL for incorporating multiple modes. How many millions did WE spend on this to have it be completely insane?

MArk
Guest
MArk

Just curious, what is preventing Trimet from running a MUP from Haig, on the east side up to the bridge? Seems like there is plenty of right of way there.

Jim Lee
Guest
Jim Lee

I commented several days ago that I put in time birddogging Vera Katz’s design committee for the Tillkum. I seem to recall there was some sort of official bike representation (BTA?) at the table. But when I tried to inject, from the cheap seats, some sort of bike-sense into issues with the approaches the official people would shoot me down.

Don’t get me wrong. Vera ran a great committee and made sure everyone was heard. But my line on bike issues was not the official line, and that was that.

I did have great success on structural design, however. When people, some on this site, were “…craving the wave…” I saw a major problem, one of scale. The “wave-frame” had been scaled up by several factors from one built in Germany, and I mused, “Don’t these people know any theory of structures?”

I approached TriMet’s Rob Barnard, who supplied me with the structural documents, and spent several days working out German terms and SI engineering units. As a check I worked things out in English units too (much easier for structures) and got the same answer: the wave-frame was much too heavy to hold itself up.

Then I got out Conde McCullough’s definitive “Elastic Arch Bridges,” and spent a month designing a 19th century steel railway bridge of three arches, pulling every trick I could think of out of my hat. My design was 1/10 the weight of the wave-frame.

Vera let me demonstrate that before her committee.

The bridge mass as built was the geometric mean of my arches and the wave-frame. Afterwards I spoke with Seymon Tryger, TriMet’s engineering consultant, who agreed that the wave-frame was unbuildable.

Point: I knew much more structural theory than anyone ON the committee, and was allowed to prove that. But on bike issues, not so much.

James Edward Hat
Guest
James Edward Hat

I got $5 on a cyclesnake from Clinton to the foot of the bridge…

Terry D-M
Guest
Terry D-M

Can we actually learn from this now? The street car did nothing for bikes as well….oh wait there are those few blocks on NE 7th.

SW CORRIDOR Project…bikeways are not an afterthought…integrate them properly.

Powell-Division BRT, Protected bike lanes on Division from PCCSE to Gresham….period. Don’t worry about parking, just do it. Finish the Division bike lanes west to 52 nd and modernize all the other parallel greenways and connections to the city center. Budget it in…..properly.

TRI-MET, and PBOT we told you so……we are right, so can you break out of your old school mode and listen next time?

tnash
Guest
tnash

I tried the new bridge once, will not be trying again — too stressful, and it would only be a matter of time before I’d get into an accident

Tyler
Guest

“I feel like I’m using a system that was not designed for me. Because, obviously, it wasn’t.”

This perfectly sums my experience with Portland’s Bike Infrastructure Design strategy as a whole…. Tilikum is a multi-million dollar failure when looked at from a bicycle usability pov. Convoluted, poorly implemented, conflict baked in to the overall layout, and fundamentally committed to not creating a space for direct, and smooth bike travel.

Jim Lee
Guest
Jim Lee

Dear respomonk:

You are wrong.

I ran for mayor; that makes me a politician.

Randy
Guest
Randy

Has your city planner lived in a tent? Time for a redesign by those who travel this area daily via two wheels and human power…

NC
Guest
NC

I like the new Bridge, it makes my commute over the Hawthorn much more pleasant, even though the new bridge is closer.

El Biciclero
Guest
El Biciclero

When some of us seem to be arguing against Bike Infrastructure, “Protected” Bike Lanes, or Cycletracks, THIS is the reason. Well, this, and Williams, and Broadway past PSU, and Moody, and 10th/11th/Lovejoy, and…

Not all of my examples are necessarily “bike projects”, but they are all examples of, “Oh. Yeah. Bikes. Well….let’s see—here’s what we’ll do…” and it turns out like crap less than optimal. Meanwhile, those who can’t stand it and ride on-street routes have to deal with drivers who think “They” (the royal “they”, not the drivers specifically) just spent billions on a new “bike path”—why can’t you ride over there?

Fear of being constrained to ride only on more infrastructure/routes like this is what keeps me from embracing the 8-80 dream. I don’t want 8-14, 65-80 infrastructure.

Lenny Anderson
Guest
Lenny Anderson

“we don’t have any powerful agency that is looking out solely for bikeways in the way that TriMet looks after buses and light rail or the way that Portland Streetcar looks after streetcar.” (JM)
The only “powerful agency” looking out for Portland Streetcar is PBOT, the same outfit that looks out for cars, trucks, bikes, peds, but primarily the first two. That and the non-profit PSI board…not a powerful agency.
Streetcar’s “power,” if you will, derives from its broad based support from neighborhood associations, business associations, and property owners who covered a good piece of the initial capital costs, not to mention the 15K daily riders! And also it comes from Streetcar’s demonstrated positive impacts on the Central City…check out the EconNW study summary at PortlandStreetcar.org 25% of the housing built within 1/4 miles of the line is affordable/subsidized, among other things.
Streetcar evolved from a comprehensive planning effort in the 80’s…the Central City Plan which sought to broaden the happy results of the 70’s Portland Downtown Plan. The concept was embraced by Earl Blumenauer and an Old Town developer, Bill Naito, among others who got the ball rolling. The initial line was funded with an LID and bonds backed by parking meter $. No federal funds, not even URA money.
What can those of us who yearn for better investment in bike/ped infrastructure learn here:
1. get the private sector (developers) involved by demonstrating the value of the investment in bike facilities to their bottom lines. I always thought that the Williams/Vancouver project would be a great opportunity to demonstrate “Bike Oriented Development,” and that an LID to elevate the quality of that project would be a no-brainer.
2. Make the case to those who do not bike that investment in something like the North Portland Willamette Greenway Trail benefits them not just today’s bikers…providing a safe route that they could use for biking, walking, etc., AND remind those wedded to their private vehicles that the more of us who bike the fewer motor vehicles they need contend with. In my 15 years of work on Swan Island the object was to reduce SOV traffic in order to make the roadway network work better for freight. Yes, better transit, bike and walk possibilities there are and remain a “Freight Project!”
3. Be sure bike infrastructure is on all the plans…Comp Plan, Transportation System Plan, Regional Transportation Plan. I assume the BTA does this at a minimum, but all of these plans go through a public process where the more 3 minute speeches devoted to bike stuff the better.
4. Start talking about a regional bond measure for transportation that would include all modes, not just transit and roads. Get Metro to take the lead on this rather than TriMet and be sure it includes funding for the Willamette Greenway, Sullivan’s Gulch, the Red Electric, the Central Loop & 7th Avenue Bridge and maybe even a new bike/ped bridge across the Willamette just north of the Broadway Bridge! (and Streetcar to Hollywood!)

Seth
Guest
Seth

I’ve all but given up trying to use this route to get home (heading south to get to 17th to Westmooreland) because the lights are so bad. Without fail, the MAX will go by and all 4 directions of the intersection will be red.

Jeff Forbes
Guest
Jeff Forbes

I live near 67th and Foster and often bike to the PSU neighborhood for work, using the Clinton/Ladd route to the Hawthorne Bridge and then south. Average time about 35 minutes. I was excited about the Tilikum Crossing because it seemed like it could be a quicker more direct route. Not so much. Average time about 40 minutes, most of that spent waiting at the seemingly endless series of traffic control devices. I’ve gone back to using the Hawthorne Bridge.

Lenny Anderson
Guest
Lenny Anderson

Once heading west on Caruthers, just head straight to the Greenway Trail access just south of the Opera, go north under the bridge and loop up to continue across…a sort of clover leaf with no stops! right?