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Southeast neighborhood group says city should ‘reopen conversation’ on 20s Bikeway

Posted by on February 17th, 2016 at 3:12 pm

reed college place

Reed College Place would be better than 32nd
for a neighborhood greenway route, some say.
(Image: Google Street View)

The coalition of neighborhood associations that represents inner Southeast Portland is pushing for some 11th-hour changes that it says would improve the planned 20s Bikeway.

In a letter signed by its president, backed by a 14-2 vote of its board and circulated Wednesday, Southeast Uplift makes three requests of the city.

First, it proposes moving the southernmost leg of the route one block east to Reed College Place south of Tolman Street, avoiding the No. 19 bus line on 32nd Avenue.

Second, it urges the city to keep talking about possible shared space between cars and bikes in the commercial district between Southeast Stark Street and Northeast Sandy Boulevard, something the project manager had committed to but then backed away from as other project costs piled up.

Third, it’s urging the city to reconsider its decision to reject the Concordia Neighborhood Association’s request to add traffic diverters on the new neighborhood greenway north of Alameda Ridge.

Here’s the coalition’s argument for Reed College Place:

SE Reed College Place was originally designed as a recreational corridor, has clear sight-lines for many blocks, intersects other streets at right angles, passes directly next to Dunaway Elementary School, has the most public support and is already being used for recreational purposes. The center median planting strip makes it park like in character, hence by city definition should be, like NE 72nd in Roseway, a city greenway.

Both roadways are designated as Greenways on the 2030 Bike plan, whereas SE 32nd is not. The current choice of 32nd overlaps the 19 bus line, is filled with potholes, has unclear sight-lines and was built with wide curved corners shown to increase speeds and risks to vulnerable users. The neighbors and bicycle riders have expressed concerns that the buses on this narrow lane might pose a serious safety risk.

The one reason PBOT has given for the SE 32nd choice is that some users felt the narrow one lane lanes combined with parking left little room to pull over. As part of the SE Clinton safety project, “Bike may use full lane” signs work to improve safety for this purpose. Placing them to the left in the planted median would make this signage even more robust and alleviate much of these concerns.

Here’s the coalition’s proposed route:

20s bikeway alternative route

Advertise with BikePortland.

And here’s what Southeast Uplift has to say about the other two items:

The second and third requests apply to the neighborhoods north of Eastmoreland all the way to Concordia. They are about process and the city ignoring promises made. When the central alignment of 29th to 30th was chosen over the 28th avenue bike lane alternative, it was promised to the stakeholders committee that this decision would be revisited after the parking study was completed. This has since occurred. Thus, as a board, we request PBOT reopen this conversation about the shared use commercial environment and potential neighborhood impacts.

Concordia Neighborhood Association voted 19 to 0 for four points of diversion with NE 32nd and NE Prescott being their number one and NE Killingsworth their number two priorities. PBOT promised that they would study this as the project plans moved forward. Instead, the 60% designs were implemented without a public release of the 95% designs for public comment. The rapidity of this process during the winter season gave the neighborhood coalition system very little time to react. As this is a citywide infrastructure project, the board of SE Uplift feels it is critical for PBOT to reopen the conversation surrounding Concordia’s unanimous endorsement, as promised.

The letter is signed by Southeast Uplift President Robert McCullough and by Terry Dublinski-Milton, a Southeast Uplift member at large.

We reported last month that the federally funded 20s Bikeway project has been submitted for federal approval, so it might be difficult to get the city to reopen the process. But that hasn’t changed the frustration of some biking advocates including Dublinski-Milton, who wrote a guest post on BikePortland about the lack of diversion on the northern segment of the route and followed up with a detailed analysis on BikeLoudPDX.org.

As for McCullough, it’s noteworthy that he’s joined forces on this with Dublinski-Milton. Last year, he was opposing removal of parking spaces to create buffered bike lanes on Woodstock Boulevard, arguing that the city needed to do more study of the subject.

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

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  • Gary B February 17, 2016 at 3:48 pm

    I’m not familiar with this route. Why the proposed jaunt on Tolman to 32nd in the SEUL concept? Just looking at the map, seems like I’d want to simply go Reed to Woodstock.

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    • Ben February 17, 2016 at 3:53 pm

      There is an existing 3-way stop at Tolman. I’ve never understood why, given there’s more space and more traffic (from Reed’s driveway) a block east.

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    • Michael Andersen (News Editor)
      Michael Andersen (News Editor) February 17, 2016 at 5:49 pm

      Yes, the SEUL letter also mentions the all-way stop as the reason to use those few blocks of 32nd.

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    • maccoinnich February 17, 2016 at 8:28 pm

      The 20s Bikeway has so many weird jogs. The last thing it needs is another. I’ve ridden on Reed College Place many times, and it’s a very pleasant street to cycle on. But the if the route is going to shift to that street, it should shift for the entire alignment through Eastmoreland. Or just stay on 32nd, which seems somewhat more likely given that the 100% CDs have been completed and the project is about to begin construction.

      The other two ideas seem reasonable, and could presumably be added to the project scope if the desire / funding is there.

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      • Terry D-M February 18, 2016 at 7:09 am

        Ride it, the map does not give the directness justice. Going east- south the jog is almost imperceptible because of the way the wide curves go from Reed College Place to Tolman to 32 nd we are talking only ONE short block of difference. Westbound will most likely take Woodstock the extra short block to Reed College Place anyway. Why not place the greenway where people are already biking, not forced to share the next rjadwsy over with buses.

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  • paikiala February 17, 2016 at 5:02 pm
    • Terry D-M February 17, 2016 at 7:15 pm


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  • Terry D-M February 17, 2016 at 7:30 pm

    The Locally Preferred option in Eastmoreland is far superior to 32 nd. Ride it and see. It can’t go all the way to Woodstock because of College turning movements. The bend in the map on Tolman ( a 2030 greenway) is not as sharp as it looks due to topography.

    Robert McCullough and I have developed a good working relationship. He has come around on more than one issue as we are learning from each other. This 14 to 2 vote would have been unanimous but one member in particular was uncomfortable about voting on something so far outside our footprint without NECN weighing in. I did write the rough draft of this letter.

    We are Talking about the 20s at this, amongst many other issues, at Sunday’s BikeLoudPDX monthly meeting, Sunday 2 to 430….Community Cycling Center

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    • Terry D-M February 18, 2016 at 7:03 am

      CHANGE: Meeting is at KBOO,not CCC.

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    • mh February 18, 2016 at 7:03 am

      Sunday’s BikeLoud meeting has been moved to KBOO, 20 SE 8th.

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  • Steve A February 18, 2016 at 7:08 am

    I know this discussion has been going on for a while, and McCoullough lives on Reed College Place, so he should know the issues. While I don’t think using RCP is awful, I think there’s a better choice. Although one complaint about 32nd is the bus line and how little room bikers would have when buses pass, RCP is a divided street and each lane is much narrower than the other streets. Therefore every encounter with any vehicle on that road is at least as narrow as encountering a bus on 32nd. When cars are parked on the street, and they always are, it’s sometimes hard for trucks to get by. No amount of signage is going to fix that. And, although RCP has better sight lines, it has stop signs at every intersection, with through streets the other way (not so on 32nd). Although there are many law-abiding bikers, the temptation to run those stop signs will be very high, and so will the possibility of accidents.

    At the risk of sounding like “get off my lawn,” I think 36th Avenue would be a much better choice. There are no buses, the street is wider, there are fewer stop signs, and people could get a look at Ron Wyden’s house and see if he’s actually home.

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    • Granpa February 18, 2016 at 10:02 am

      36th is a very bike friendly street. It is however, not in the 20s for which this bike route is named (it is actually closer to 41st bike route). And it would require a longer pull up Woodstock, which although it has a decent bike lane, it is a major vehicle commuter route to points east (read haters) and the reflex of many drivers is to encroach into the bike lane in the curves, at speed.

      Regarding Reed College Place, the one-way couplet design of this parkway is intrinsically safe for everyone.

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    • Terry D-M February 18, 2016 at 10:02 am

      The stop sign issue could be mitigated by “bike may use full lane” signs in the median planting strip. Long term, park like amenities could be added. Stop sign flipping, except at Bybee, combined with agressive sharrows should eliminate much of the conflict, PARTICULARLY past the elementarily school. Long term, a creative deverter at Bybee may be needed, but a four way stop would be fine for now.

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  • J_R February 18, 2016 at 8:56 am

    McCullough’s anti-bike sentiment and his no-change-in-the-neighborhood-for-any-reason stance is why I have stopped contributing to the neighborhood association. I used to contribute generously.

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    • Terry D-M February 18, 2016 at 9:57 am

      Well, I am willing to come down there and talk to the Neighborhood Association. Robert and I bonded over the 2015 Street fee debacle. I think he has come around in many ways as we have worked well together since. I told him the city is right about Woodstock. I have some really good ideas about acess the the bybee MAX Station and that awful intersection at Tolman/Bybee/28 th. It is part of a plan to build our the Bybee Greenway. Brentwood-Darlington is on board already conceptually. I also have Woodstock connections.

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  • soren February 18, 2016 at 10:38 am

    Pedestrian-improvements masquerading as a bikeway complete with signage that directs people cycling away from their commercial destination.


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  • Steve A February 18, 2016 at 10:39 am

    36th is a very bike friendly street. It is however, not in the 20s for which this bike route is named (it is actually closer to 41st bike route). And it would require a longer pull up Woodstock, which although it has a decent bike lane, it is a major vehicle commuter route to points east (read haters) and the reflex of many drivers is to encroach into the bike lane in the curves, at speed.
    Regarding Reed College Place, the one-way couplet design of this parkway is intrinsically safe for everyone.
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    Excuse me for being a late-comer, but what do you mean when you say 36th is “not in the 20s?” Do you mean street numbers? In that case, neither RCP or 32nd are in the 20’s.

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    • Granpa February 18, 2016 at 10:47 am

      Yes, that is what I mean. You are correct that 36th is a superior low traffic street and it is the closest East/west link to the springwater trail, but it is a stretch to link it to a “20s” bike way. Perhaps it is a OCD thing of mine?

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  • Buzz February 18, 2016 at 10:52 am

    It seems stupid to me to be fighting over scraps once again. The City’s policy should really be that every street is a bike route, and they should be working to make them all safer. If 32nd sucks for cyclists even after the City spends their money there, the smart cyclists will continue to ride Reed College Place anyway.

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  • C February 18, 2016 at 9:00 pm

    The jog avoids the route passing in front of Robert’s house. No kidding. It’s not about creating a safer route.

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    • Terry D-M February 19, 2016 at 2:00 pm

      Using the four way stop on 32 nd was PBOTs idea. During college events, the uncontrolled crossing of ReedColege Place would require money to improve.

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  • soren February 19, 2016 at 1:18 pm

    The one reason PBOT has given for the SE 32nd choice is that some users felt the narrow one lane lanes combined with parking left little room to pull over.

    So 32nd is better because it will let people biking cede their priority to motorvehicles?

    Bad PBOT!

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  • Ej February 19, 2016 at 1:53 pm

    I always wondered why the center strip of RCP couldn’t have a path placed down the center. This seems like an ideal route to me. I totally agree that 32nd has too much going on with the bus service and the higher speed of driving that I observe.

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  • smb February 19, 2016 at 2:01 pm

    Reed College Place should definitely be a bikeway and not 32nd. However, it should be the southern extension of the 30s bikeway, not part of the 20s — and the 30s bikeway should should be extended south of Clinton to the north side of Reed College; in particular a safe crossing is needed at the weird intersection of Holgate and 33rd/34th.

    The 20s bikeway should stick with the original proposal and go along 28th. The majority of bicyclists riding in this area are looking to connect with Bybee to cross McLoughlin and the UP mainline for destinations in Sellwood/Westmoreland neighborhood (the nearest other crossings of the UP mainline tracks are the terrible Holgate viaduct to the North, and the springwater trail crossing significantly to the south). If the city can not possibly convince the residents that the rarely used parking lane should be given up, the city could consider taking some of the space from the golf course (the one fairway that abuts most of 28th is wide enough that 10-12 feet taken from it should not be an issue).

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  • Steve A February 19, 2016 at 3:33 pm

    Putting a strip down the center of RCP or taking space from the golf course would both cost real money, unlike painting and sign flipping on RCP or 36th. Plus, I’m sure the RCP neighbors would fight the addition of a big concrete strip down the middle. Also, on the 28th route, wasn’t there a traffic issue concerning the point where 28th merges with Bybee, which would also require real money?

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    • smb February 19, 2016 at 8:34 pm

      Agreed that RCP does not need a concrete strip down the median; it’s a mostly comfortable street to ride on for 8-80 riders as is, with the exception of trying to cross at the intersection with Woodstock (where frankly the stop sign ought to be).

      As for 28th, well, the city can do whatever it wants, but the jog to 32nd or RCP my family and I won’t ever use because it takes us gratuitously out of the way; we’ll continue to take the sidewalk alongside the golf course because the bike lanes on 28th as is get a lot of intrusion from speeding cars. (We’ll continue to ride RCP because it’s more convenient and direct coming from the Reed College campus than 32nd or 36th, even if crossing Woodstock is sketchy.)

      And as for money, once again I forgot the City of Portland’s policy of doing the absolute bare minimum aka “Let them eat paint!” for the neighborhoods bounded by Powell, the UP tracks, the springwater, and 82nd. If only Peter Koonce lived on the east side of the UP tracks, then we might get PBOT to do more than make token efforts here. But you know, rah rah, let’s all give a bikeportland cheer to PBOT for fixing up 30 feet of uncomfortable riding conditions on 34th for the chosen people who live north of Powell.

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  • Greg Haun February 19, 2016 at 6:45 pm

    As a regular rider of RCP, I like the SE neighbors suggestion, but don’t feel strongly about it’s superiority over SE 32nd. It won’t affect Bybee-bound cyclists in any case. I’d prefer Portland to allow European style parking-between-the-trees: if we did that we’d have room for nice big buffered bike lanes on 28th and a safe and direct route to Bybee (while preserving parking).


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  • Steve A February 20, 2016 at 7:21 am

    I was thinking about one possible consequence of turning RCP into the bike route. I live on RCP and I rarely drive on it except for the block on which I live. Because of all the stop signs, I turn off to 32nd or 36th, depending on where I’m going. However, if we flip all the stop signs and turn the Woodstock intersection into a 3-way stop, this would become my preferred street to drive on. It would see more bike traffic, but probably more car traffic too.

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    • Alex Reed February 20, 2016 at 10:44 am

      Great point! That’s why all greenways should have auto diversion baked in.

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  • Steve a February 20, 2016 at 7:29 pm

    Alex Reed
    Great point! That’s why all greenways should have auto diversion baked in.
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    Sorry, newby here. How would that work? Roadblocks? Not on RCP. How would people get their cars in their driveways?

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