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NW 23rd is really annoying to drive on and there is only one solution

Posted by on April 12th, 2016 at 3:02 pm

23rd

No more space on 23rd at Overton as of a few minutes ago.
(Photo: M.Andersen/BikePortland)

Part of NW Portland Week.

Sometimes a street just fills up. Northwest Portland’s most famous street has.

If you want to force someone to think for the first time about the solution to traffic congestion in cities, take them to Northwest 23rd Avenue and ask what they would do. Knock down the buildings that all these people are happily popping in and out of all day, every day? Add a turn lane to every intersection by tearing up the curb extensions where people are gathering to laugh, to smoke, to flirt?

They will probably not say this.

They might say that Portland needs to stop getting denser. That’s a legitimate option, assuming you’re also OK with the gradual paving and roofing of the Columbia Gorge and Willamette Valley instead. Also, you’ll have to be OK with paying to build and then indefinitely maintain all the new freeways it’ll take to get people back and forth.

But here on 23rd, where only the bold or experienced bikers take the lane, another option is obvious: give people a more space-efficient way to get around Northwest Portland.

Much of Northwest Portland is already as dense as a European or Asian city where overwhelming numbers of short trips happen on bikes. What’s been missing here, and hasn’t changed for years, is political support for making any meaningful changes whatsoever to the narrow, precious space that already exists on Northwest Portland’s streets.

Will those changes include bikes? And to what degree?

NW Portland Week day 2-39.jpg

A sharrow on NW Johnson.
(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

“Whatever we’re doing now isn’t working, because we’re stuck at single digits,” Northwest Portland biking advocate Reza Farhoodi said in an interview Monday. “Something has to change.”

Everyone who drives a car on Northwest 23rd is capable of understanding this situation on a visceral level. They’ve just been waiting for many years to hear one of our city’s leaders say it out loud.

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

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136 Comments
  • Allan L. April 12, 2016 at 3:13 pm

    The solution? 22nd.

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  • ethan April 12, 2016 at 3:14 pm

    One solution would be to remove cars from 23rd entirely. A more pie-in-the-sky idea would be to remove all of the cars and add a streetcar line that goes down 23rd, and over a new bridge to North Portland. That would allow for quick transportation between two mixed use areas with lots of housing and employment.

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    • gretchin April 12, 2016 at 4:53 pm

      Ever since visiting the 16th Street Pedestrian Mall in Denver last summer, I have dreamed that 23rd could be turned into one, too. It was fantastic, lively and safe. Free shuttle buses from one end to the other!

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      • David Hampsten, now in Greensboro NC April 13, 2016 at 11:15 pm

        I have a terminology question:

        When someone says car-free pedestrian zone, do they mean
        1. A street for pedestrians only, including folks with walkers, strollers, etc, but no transit vehicles, cars, delivery trucks, nor even bicycles?
        2. Or a street that simply doesn’t allow cars and trucks to pass through and park?

        I’ve seen many ped zones in Germany and the UK that ban all vehicles, including delivery trucks, buses, trams, and bicycles. I’ve seen others in the Netherlands and Belgium that allow for deliveries and bicycles, but ban the rest. In France (Metz, Strasbourg, Le Mans), they allow through-transit, bikes, and mopeds, but not deliveries. In Italy, all are banned, but all are tolerated, as long as they move at a pedestrian speed (roughly 5 mph.)

        I’ve seen the system on 16th twice. It is very nice, but I don’t recall seeing any bikes using it, possibly because the shuttle was so frequent. Also, the frequent shuttle precludes pedestrian from using the street in a way that would horrify Europeans, who are used to wondering in a ped zone wherever they want, whenever they want, without worrying about getting hit by any other user.

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        • gretchin April 15, 2016 at 4:01 pm

          I don’t know if there is a technical definition. But I totally biked on it, and there were plenty of bike share stations along the way. The shuttle drivers seemed pretty aware that there would be people in the street, and people seemed pretty aware that bikes and shuttles would come along. Those shuttles are what allowed my dad, who had cancer at the time, to feel OK leaving his car at home. He took the train to Denver and used the shuttle to pop to his favorite restaurant and then back to his hotel.

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  • bikeninja April 12, 2016 at 3:14 pm

    By no stretch of the imagination can cars be anything but a shrinking source of transportation on NW 23rd if it is to have any growth or become more usefull and hospitable. The quicker NW 23rd becomes car free the closer we will be to a solution.

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  • Dan A April 12, 2016 at 3:16 pm

    NW 23rd should be car free. Imagine how nice that would be…

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  • alankessler April 12, 2016 at 3:21 pm

    That photo made me imagine how (even more) lovely this time of year would be if it were only shoes, paws, and bike tires that those fallen petals had to contend with

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  • Adam H.
    Adam H. April 12, 2016 at 3:22 pm

    Ban driving on 23rd and extend the streetcar all the way to Burnside. There should even be enough room for protected bike lanes, since you won’t need the parking lanes anymore. Then do the same to 21st Av, creating a streetcar loop.

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    • El Biciclero April 12, 2016 at 4:33 pm

      Wait, what? Ban driving and create protected bike lanes? To protect from what?

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      • Adam H.
        Adam H. April 12, 2016 at 4:42 pm

        The streetcar rails, mostly. Perhaps protected wasn’t the best way to put it, but the dedicated bike facilities should be designed with floating streetcar stations, and at intersections, should be designed to encourage crossing at a 90º angle.

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  • I wear many hats April 12, 2016 at 3:22 pm

    23rd is safe, and slow. Fast cars already divert to 22nd. Fast bikes do as well.

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  • Todd Boulanger April 12, 2016 at 3:27 pm

    Yep…the “lines of communication” are very congested on NW23rd (and NW21st)….as the engineers / city fathers used to say in 1900.

    The critical question is how best to ration this transportation space and allocate it for the highest and best use.

    For all its retail success these corridors fail all road users…much like the Hawthorne.

    Why the silence about 21st? Best to look at NW 21st Street too…perhaps any talk of streetcar would be a bi-directional line on NW22nd shared with both 21st and 23rd…yes one would have to walk to the main retail corridors but then again the side street business frontage would have higher walk by traffic.

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    • Adam H.
      Adam H. April 12, 2016 at 4:05 pm

      Why not put a streetcar loop from the existing line, running south down 23rd, east on Burnside, and north on 21st? Then ban driving on both 23rd and 21st, widen the sidewalks, and create protected cycleways in both directions on both avenues.

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      • lop April 12, 2016 at 9:17 pm

        A few years back when Portland Streetcar was looking at expansion projects one of the proposed lines was on NW 18/19 from ~NW Thurman south to Burnside, east to Sandy, and on to Hollywood. If that project ever moved forward they would consider alternative alignments, say on 21st and/or 23rd. I think 18/19 was preferred because of the greater potential for redevelopment. An even less likely streetcar expansion was from NW Northrup north on 21st to Thurman, west to 27th, north to NW wilson at Montgomery park, then coming back east on Wilson to 26th, south to Raleigh, east to 23rd or 21st, south until Lovejoy.

        What’s the point of you asking for a streetcar on 23rd/21st, to justify removing autos? Or to offer some transportation service? If you have to walk a thousand feet from 23rd to 21st to get to the streetcar going the right way, wait for the streetcar, ride it, get off and walk a thousand feet back to 23rd then the streetcar becomes useless for the short trips people often take it for in one direction. So it would poorly serve to help people get around on 21st/23rd. Not everyone is fit enough to walk/ride, and plenty who are just plain don’t want to. That describes plenty of drivers you’ll have trouble enticing out of their car. If you want to offer them an alternative to walk/ride you’ll want it running both ways on 23rd/21st. Like the existing buses on both streets do. If doing that with streetcars is rejected because of the impact on cyclists/trouble turning around/cost etc…but you can get cars off anyway and don’t want the emissions/noise of a bus, then run a battery powered bus in each direction. Widen the sidewalks and have a shared bus passing lane between advisory bike lanes in each direction. Frequency would be low so there shouldn’t be many cases of buses waiting for a bus in the other direction to pass a cyclist. Uphill you can probably route cyclists behind a transit stop, downhill have cyclists wait for a safe time to go around the bus in the road. That’s easier with no tracks.

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        • Ted Timmons (Contributor) April 15, 2016 at 8:57 pm

          The 2012 Conway plan proposes running the streetcar north along 21st, then looping with Thurman and Raleigh.

          It also talks about some auto lane reconfiguration at 20th so traffic off the freeway can go through the north neighborhood, rather than congesting 23rd further.

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  • Todd Boulanger April 12, 2016 at 3:31 pm

    Back to the discussions of the solutions…it all depends on the tool box and the narrow outlook of the era…

    Well the [traffic] engineers would say:
    – 1890’s: build a bike track:
    – 1900’s: build a trolley line;
    – 1930’s: build an elevated roadway;
    – 1950’s: remove the on-street parking (build a garage);
    – 1960’s: remove one block of buildings and widen the road to current standards;
    – 1970’s: add sky-bridges for the pedestrians killed by the newly widened arterial;
    – 1980’s: leave it as is (1920s narrow)…develop land out on the periphery;
    – 2010: build a streetcar line;
    – 2010: build a bike track…

    …no subway discussed…might have been suggested in the past…not sure though.

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    • David Hampsten, now in Greensboro NC April 12, 2016 at 6:13 pm

      In the 1970s the City approved I-505 to replace Yeon in the NW industrial area, hence the extra ramps coming off the Fremont Bridge, with a full interchange for 23rd. It was cancelled when I-80 on Division was cancelled, for the same reasons.

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  • Dave April 12, 2016 at 3:44 pm

    Realistically, how about a tradeoff–a city parking garage in the neighborhood and a carless NW 23rd, maybe with a commercial vehicle only center lane. Plan the garage with a phase-out–could it be built on a foundation that would be appropriate for a future apartment building, perhaps? Ten years with augmented parking that would sunset, and plan for a permanently carless NW 23rd. I lived there from 1977 to 1984–the neighborhood had about run out of room for cars then!

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    • Adam H.
      Adam H. April 12, 2016 at 4:06 pm

      More parking will just induce more traffic. Why not just price the existing parking according to demand?

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      • Ted Timmons (Contributor) April 12, 2016 at 4:45 pm

        the hospital parking garage just changed to requiring payment. the neighborhood got “meters” a month ago. all good things.

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        • Adam H.
          Adam H. April 12, 2016 at 4:52 pm

          Yep! Next steps are to dynamically price parking based on demand, which the city is currently working on a plan for.

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      • JeffS April 13, 2016 at 9:24 am

        Car-less 23’rd implies removing parking. It wouldn’t have to be more parking.

        I know we’re against parking decks, but if we could force the cars into decks it would free the streets for better uses. Yea, I know. That’s never going to happen.

        Still, every discussion starts with the assumption of on-street parking.

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        • Adam H.
          Adam H. April 13, 2016 at 9:33 am

          free the streets for better uses

          How will everyone get to the parking garages though? The streets will still end up used and more parking will only entice more people to drive, causing more congestion on the streets.

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        • Adam H.
          Adam H. April 13, 2016 at 9:47 am

          Not to mention, parking garages are exorbitantly expensive and can rarely be reused for other purposes.

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    • Ben April 12, 2016 at 4:48 pm

      There are already private paid parking lots in the neighborhood. Few use them.

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  • m April 12, 2016 at 3:48 pm

    Isn’t the whole point of Vision Zero to slow cars down through road diets and traffic calming? Seems NW 23rd is the model some aspire to for other places.

    In addition, there is a view that banning cars kills retail business in the area. I don’t buy into that view but it would be an interesting experiment to ban cars on only a portion of 23rd and keep them on the remainder to see the economic impact. The idea of making at least a portion of 23rd a pedestrian blvd. is very intriguing.

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    • paikiala April 12, 2016 at 4:06 pm

      M,

      The point of Vision Zero is to eliminate fatal and serious injury crashes. Reducing vehicle speed may be one strategy to help achieve that goal, but some of the safest roads (based on use) are freeways, an example where fast can also be safe. Separation is one of the factors with freeway safety and also an attribute promoted in other countries that have achieved better safety records than the US.

      The goal cannot be easily achieved with just a single point of attack.

      Much of the safety issues I’ve observed on NW 23rd relate to parking and how the space used to park cars both congest pedestrian corridors and obscure visibility of pedestrians, particularly pedestrians crossing midblock. I wonder how much more pedestrian friendly 23rd would be if the parking lane was converted to sidewalk. Perhaps instead of banning cars, converting NW 23rd into something like the festival streets in Chinatown – shared space. Or maybe the 20’s commercial greenway.
      Facilitating a change in driver behavior via entries/gateways seems like the more difficult thing to achieve.

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      • m April 12, 2016 at 4:13 pm

        How many fatalities and serious injuries occur on NW 23rd? I don’t know but I suspect it is very few compared to other roads with higher speeds. (other than freeways which is really an apples/oranges comparison).

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        • Dan A April 12, 2016 at 4:25 pm

          My feeling is that it’s pretty pointless driving on NW 23rd, so we lose nothing by taking it away. It’s like driving through the middle of the Lloyd Center.

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          • m April 12, 2016 at 5:55 pm

            Nobody goes there anymore. It’s too crowded.

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          • Pete April 12, 2016 at 11:36 pm

            Having (many years ago) worked on reconstruction of, and helped furnished a former-residence-turned-commercial-building on NW 23rd (near Kearney), we did appreciate being able to drive the truck down it…

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            • paikiala April 13, 2016 at 10:22 am

              True, and the solution for commercial deliveries already exists in Europe and the US – retractable bollards.

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  • Chris Smith April 12, 2016 at 3:58 pm

    Actually relatively easy to bike north on both 21st and 23rd, although I often use 22nd

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    • Dan A April 12, 2016 at 4:26 pm

      It’s a pain to cross them both though, which I do regularly on my ride up Johnson.

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  • Beeblebrox April 12, 2016 at 4:03 pm

    This is a bit of a different issue, but it should be concerning to everyone that 23rd north of Lovejoy is quickly turning to gravel, and there’s no clear source of funding for the full street reconstruction that’s required. Maintenance funding can’t be used for reconstruction, so it will take general fund support or a major federal grant.

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    • paikiala April 12, 2016 at 4:09 pm

      How did you arrive at the conclusion that maintenance funding cannot be used for full depth reconstruction?

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      • David Hampsten, now in Greensboro NC April 12, 2016 at 5:52 pm

        It can, legally, but it almost never is used that way in Portland, where over 80% of maintenance isn’t done, due to a lack of funding. It’s the reverse, using gas tax capital funding for maintenance, that isn’t allowed, by Oregon state legislative rules.

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      • Beeblebrox April 13, 2016 at 8:31 am

        That’s established city policy, given limited maintenance funding. Anything over a 3 or 4 inch grind and pave is too expensive.

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    • David Hampsten, now in Greensboro NC April 12, 2016 at 6:10 pm

      All of Portland is turning to gravel – that’s what makes it so fun to ride in, plus it discourages car drivers. Like cobblestone streets in Rome, we’ll soon all need a mountain bike to get around Portland, or else wider 700c tires as others have suggested, at less than full pressure.

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      • Todd Boulanger April 13, 2016 at 1:18 pm

        …yeah why do the drive out to the Dalles for gravel when Portland has it all. 😉

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    • maccoinnich April 12, 2016 at 6:53 pm

      What I’ve heard (though can’t confirm) is that NW 23rd is built on top of wooden railway sleepers, which have significantly deteriorated over the years. The street needs to be completely rebuilt, which will be incredibly expensive. That’s probably why they’re not doing any band aids fixes in the short term.

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      • Dan A April 12, 2016 at 8:21 pm

        Wouldn’t need to be rebuilt if cars were diverted elsewhere.

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      • igor stravinsky April 13, 2016 at 9:13 am

        Many of these were pulled up in 2010 for server replacement long 23rd.

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  • Allan April 12, 2016 at 4:04 pm

    turn 23rd and 22nd into 1-way streets with space for bikes?

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  • Ted Timmons (Contributor) April 12, 2016 at 4:48 pm

    My office overlooks 23rd somewhere between Northrup and Thurman, which I’ve mentioned before. The afternoon backups are new, as is the amount of honking. It doesn’t make crossing on foot or by bike any more difficult though.

    It’s only two weeks after the end of “studded tire season”, though admittedly I haven’t heard one today.

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  • gl. April 12, 2016 at 4:52 pm

    Ever since visiting the 16th Street Pedestrian Mall in Denver last summer, I have dreamed that 23rd could be turned into one, too.

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  • mike April 12, 2016 at 4:53 pm

    Michael, can you post a follow-up about resistance in the past to making 23rd car free?

    I really think it is a fantastic idea for 23rd from Lovejoy to Glisan. The current streetcar would be dropping off right at that area. The Good Sam folk could start to charge for their large lot. There is opportunity for a lot at the Glisan area. By not including to Everett you won’t have to initially fight the big box stores. Like a lot of Amsterdam, probably best to have bikes parked at key spots and make the whole street ped only. It’s only 5 blocks. Everett/Flanders/Marshall are the bike routes E/W and 22nd/24th are N/S.

    Then we shut down the park blocks next.

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    • Ted Timmons (Contributor) April 12, 2016 at 5:04 pm

      That’s beautiful. That covers the area with Little Big Burger/Blue Star/Barista/Salt&Straw, which is packed in the evenings.

      Lovejoy is a major route, though, since that’s where Cornell comes through. Still works with a light across the ped area.

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      • David Hampsten, now in Greensboro NC April 12, 2016 at 6:05 pm

        Any street made car-free pushes that traffic to the next parallel street. By fixing 23rd, you are condemning 22nd and 24th, which were never designed to handle heavy traffic. 21st is already congested.

        If you want a biking paradise, you’re going to need to live with a lot of car congestion, as European cities do. Congestion is a good thing – it is the best tool for convincing drivers to consider alternative modes. If there was no congestion, why would you not drive?

        I live in a city of 280,000 with no car congestion, not even during rush hour – it’s a driving paradise, but a biking hell.

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        • Ted Timmons (Contributor) April 12, 2016 at 6:32 pm

          If the congestion gets pushed by closing a street, that means we need to open more streets, right?

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        • Adam H.
          Adam H. April 13, 2016 at 9:21 am

          If you want a biking paradise, you’re going to need to live with a lot of car congestion, as European cities do.

          Have you been to the Netherlands? Most of their city centers are almost car free.

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          • David Hampsten, now in Greensboro NC April 13, 2016 at 10:45 pm

            Yes, I’ve been there 6 times between 1984 and 2013, to about 20 different communities. As far as size, only Amsterdam, Den Haag, and Rotterdam are comparable to Portland; the rest are much smaller – Utrecht and Eugene are about the same population. Each of those three cities have pedestrian zones roughly the same size as a large US shopping mall, about 1,000 feet in every direction (though they seem bigger), usually with large underground parking lots. In Amsterdam, it’s in its medieval core; Rotterdam lost its medieval core to German and American bombs in WW2, but its ped zone is in the same area; Den Haag never had a medieval core, so its ped zone is in several areas. For each city, the much larger area that is most similar to the Portland “central city” between 405 and I-5, there is plenty of heavy traffic, also on freeways and busy divided arterial roads, often with heavy trucks and semis, but also with much better transit and incredibly good bike infrastructure. And the yellow intercity trains are wonderful!

            Much as I love the Netherlands and Belgium, and I really do, I have to remind myself that they are flat in a way that Portland will never be, more comparable to Chicago or Houston. The places in Europe that most remind me of Portland in terms of terrain, bridges, and size are Newcastle, UK; Lyon, France; Koln and Frankfurt-am-Main, Germany. If you get a chance, try them, they are worth visiting.

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        • Paul April 13, 2016 at 12:36 pm

          And they have car-free shopping streets, just like 23rd should be.

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          • Todd Boulanger April 13, 2016 at 1:32 pm

            As discussed in the past…There is a middle ground that may be desirable for a medium density areas in Portland: a car-lite (scheduled deliveries ok) shopping street = winkelerf (in Dutch). This type of street would allow bikes to be ridden vs. walked through it, as district traffic or for local deliveries.

            “A ‘winkelerf’ is a way of improving the pedestrian quality of a shopping street, without banning all-traffic completely. This is achieved by an environmental design that makes it obvious that priority lies with the pedestrian, and that car AND bicycles are permitted in the street as ‘guests’,].” S. Sienstra, 1982: Planning and Transport Res and Computation Co LTD. )

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            • David Hampsten, now in Greensboro NC April 13, 2016 at 10:54 pm

              All of the outdoor car-free pedestrian zones in Europe allow for needed deliveries, with barriers down usually between midnight and 5 am; the deliveries can be a bit noisy, as I’ve discovered on the occasions when I stayed in such areas. I’ve also seen several smaller cities with key-card movable barriers for locals living in the car-free zones, to drive their cars in and out during the day, in Le Mans, France and Masstricht, Netherlands; I’m sure they are used elsewhere.

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  • Dwaine Dibbly April 12, 2016 at 5:40 pm

    Isn’t there already a plan to extend the streetcar northward once the development plans for property there are set?

    With parking at such a premium, good luck getting cars off of 23rd. No cars implies no parking, and there will be intense resistance to that.

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  • Jeff April 12, 2016 at 6:09 pm

    More Cowbell?

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    • Michael Andersen April 12, 2016 at 11:42 pm

      What can I say? I got a fever.

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  • Tom Hardy April 12, 2016 at 6:29 pm

    Right now 24th is a great bike alternative to 23rd. From Burnside, cut up Westover (bikes one way and cars the other). and straight down 24th. good sightlines still at the stop signs.

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    • paikiala April 13, 2016 at 10:27 am

      24th is on a list for future greenway upgrades.

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  • Paul April 12, 2016 at 7:18 pm

    NW23rd is one of the safest streets to bike on in Portland. The traffic moves at a slow pace, it is flat and it is easy to bike in the same lane as cars and go the same speed or faster. I ride on this street a couple times a week.

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    • Ted Timmons (Contributor) April 12, 2016 at 7:33 pm

      23rd is flat? There’s a slope along the whole length, enough that it’s easy to take a lane when headed north, but when headed south the traffic gets very impatient. Google says it has 100 feet of rise over 0.8mi, which is a 1.5% slope.

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    • paikiala April 13, 2016 at 10:30 am

      Usually when I’m there it is going very slow, 15-20 mph, so enhancing the area to enshrine that behavior seems like an achievable goal. The fight will be with those that want it to cater more to autos and fears of diversion elsewhere.
      25th already bears much of the load of traffic from Cornell. Maybe 21st could help move more traffic to the 405?

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    • Eric April 13, 2016 at 11:00 am

      Yeah, um except for the high risk of dooring and the crowded intersections, and the pedestrians popping out of everywhere to jay walk, cars pulling in/out of on-street parking. Not too mention the total lack of any bike lane, It is a shit road to ride on and I never ever ride on it unless I absolutely have to (to get a slice a of Escape From NY pizza). And I am one of the fearless types.

      The answer is a pedestrian mall, the whole street. How awesome would that be! The 3rd Street Promenade in Santa Monica was always a fun place to hang out when I lived down there for a couple years.

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  • GlowBoy April 12, 2016 at 7:45 pm

    I would agree 23rd is pretty safe northbound. Southbound, which is slightly uphill, isn’t necessarily so depending on traffic volume.

    I tend to agree with the above opinions about congestion being good, but how about turning 23rd into a Woonerf? Allow cars, but make it really visually clear that cars are guests and need to share space with pedestrians, as in a parking lot.

    Or how about turning 23rd and 21st into a one-way couplet (but still a Woonerf!). With the extra space (10′?) you could create a contraflow bike lane AND an advisory bike lane in the direction of traffic.

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    • Charlie April 12, 2016 at 8:02 pm

      I feel like that on a lot of Portland streets! Going downhill or flat is easy, because I can keep up with the flow of traffic. Going uphill is when it gets hairy, because even if I pedal like a maniac I end up with a constant stream of cars passing uncomfortably close to me.

      Since street space is at a premium, I wonder if we could get a compromise solution that focuses on getting bike lanes on the uphill directions? Admittedly this would be tricky on streets that go both up and down in both directions, but I feel like most west side Portland streets have just one dominant slope direction to them.

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    • Bradwagon April 13, 2016 at 1:25 pm

      – 21st becomes one way SB Woonerf between Glisan and Lovejoy.
      – 22nd becomes one way NB with one way protected bike lane in it’s entirety.
      – 23rd becomes one way NB Woonerf between Glisan and Lovejoy and between Northrup and Thurman.
      – 24th becomes one way SB with one way protected bike lane in it’s entirety.

      This roughly continues one way / bike lane pattern of 18th & 19th while making 21st and 23rd way more relaxed for peds, casual biking and local delivery / minimal auto traffic. Also makes 24th and 22nd even better for more purposed bike travel.

      Could also extend this concept for East West by making Lovejoy and Northrup SB / NB with protected one way bike lanes similar to Everett. (Glisan also needs a lane dropped for a protected WB bike lane. This would essentially make a square in NW of one way paired arteries for better bike travel.

      Despite the one way changes this would likely still make driving in NW rough… which is completely fine with me.

      Long term would be a streetcar line that went Eastside MLK / Grand area > WB Burnside > NB 22nd > WB Thurman > SB 24th / Westover > EB Burnside. More a focus for getting to/from NW rather than traveling within it.

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  • Chaise J April 12, 2016 at 8:03 pm

    I lived on NW Glisan just west of NW 23rd for two years and have worked on the corner of the same intersection for about five years. Three years ago I moved up to North Portland, but have continued to commute to Downtown and Northwest six days a week via bike.

    I personally don’t think riding a bike on 23rd is that bad given the street traffic is either non-existent in the morning when I get there or at a crawl when I leave at night. Regardless, NW 24th and 22nd are better options for moving north and south through the area. I agree with David Hampsten that making NW 23rd car free would just worsen situations on adjacent streets (which just so happen to be the one’s you’re better off biking on). Also, I’m pretty sure extending the streetcar to Burnside wouldn’t work (how’s it supposed to turn around to loop back on a narrow street like 23rd?).

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    • MaxD April 13, 2016 at 10:25 am

      Chaise J
      Do you think traffic diverters- basically give them the greenway treatment- could be used on 22nd and 24th to allow bikes but discourage people driving from switching to them? I have not spent enough time riding here to make an educated guess)

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      • Chaise J April 13, 2016 at 9:35 pm

        NW 22nd is host to a primary entrance for a major hospital, so I don’t think traffic diversion would be a good idea. 24th is already a bikeway which is tame enough as is. Ultimately, I think this particular area is fine for cycling aside from the occasional driver not paying attention because they don’t know where they’re going/looking for parking. Like most congested urban areas, it’s just one of those areas you need to ride (or drive) on the defense.

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        • David Hampsten, now in Greensboro NC April 14, 2016 at 12:03 am

          I love the ideas presented here, but let’s be realistic – the Portland Fire Bureau has the power to veto any traffic changes planned by PBOT, for emergency service purposes. My guess is that any diverters on 21st, 23rd, Glisan, Everett, or Lovejoy would be vetoed, as would any barriers for protected bike lanes that would prevent cars to pull-off, to let emergency vehicles pass, especially those huge rear-driven ladder trucks. And the hospital would likely lobby Fire to do so as soon as any serious proposal was brought forward.

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  • kittens April 12, 2016 at 8:23 pm

    NW. 23 is insufferable for car, bike an pedestrian.

    My solution: get rid of NW. 23rd.

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  • q April 12, 2016 at 9:31 pm

    Many people are underestimating how much through-traffic there is on 23rd. It’s got traffic dumping into it from both the south (busy Burnside/Vista/23rd intersection) and north (Vaughn St. freeway off-ramp terminus). Moving its traffic onto 22nd would be a disaster for 22nd, because it’s almost 100% residential from Burnside to Pettygrove, except for Good Sam, and bisecting that campus with traffic isn’t desirable either.

    21st’s future as a pedestrian/bike friendly street shouldn’t be sacrificed for 23rd’s sake. 18th and 19th might handle vehicle traffic if 23rd is changed, but they’re getting further away.

    This isn’t to argue against changing 23rd, just saying solutions are going to be more complicated than just dumping 23rd’s traffic onto a parallel street, especially 22nd.

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    • Paul April 13, 2016 at 12:39 pm

      We can’t get what we want without a little sacrifice.

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      • q April 13, 2016 at 12:49 pm

        I agree. I think there are huge possibilities for 23rd. By pointing out some difficulties, I wasn’t meaning to imply the changes shouldn’t be pursued. It would be almost magical to be able to walk from a shop on one side of the street to one on the other without having to go go a corner and wait for traffic to cross.

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    • Adam H.
      Adam H. April 13, 2016 at 12:43 pm

      Sounds like that off-ramp should be closed then.

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      • q April 13, 2016 at 1:00 pm

        That off-ramp serves a huge area. No scheme for improving NW 23rd that relied on closing that would go anywhere. If it were closed, huge amounts of freeway traffic would then dump onto NW Everett, then weave its way through other streets in NW, with corresponding negative ripple effects on them. Plus,huge improvements to 23rd are possible without doing that.

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    • Bradwagon April 14, 2016 at 2:20 pm

      A solution to this may be to make 24th and 22nd one way streets with right of way at each intersection as well as a more protected one way bike lane. Would help traffic and bike flow better similar to 18th and 19th without making the streets feel excessively less residential. Even so a slightly busier 22 and 23 would likely be welcomed if it meant 23 and some of 21 was paradise. 22nd and 24th one ways could tie back to 23rd via thurman to maintain that main interchange of 23rd and 405 and on the Southend Glisan. Essentially making quicker bypasses for thru traffic and bikes around the heart of 23rd.

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      • lop April 14, 2016 at 3:44 pm

        If you make 24th and 22nd one way like 18/19 they’ll become a pain to cross on foot the way 18 and 19 are now. The project should include painted crosswalks and curb extensions to mitigate the impact that would have on people not using vehicles to get around.

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        • Ted Timmons (Contributor) April 14, 2016 at 4:12 pm

          18/19 are really easy to cross on foot. It’s only one lane wide, you can use the bike lane as a refuge, and you only have to look one way.

          I’ll take that over a standard uncontrolled intersection every time.

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          • lop April 14, 2016 at 4:57 pm

            Long distances between traffic controls => cars speed and don’t stop for pedestrians in the crosswalk unless you’re willing to play chicken with drivers. The pedestrian equivalent of ‘taking the lane.’ You shouldn’t have to be assertive and head strong to walk around. 20/22/24 there are stop signs every two blocks and volumes are lower because it’s a pain to drive on those streets. Much easier to cross on foot. You can fix 18/19 easily enough with curb extensions and marked crosswalks. If 22/24 are redesigned to match 18/19 to speed traffic throughput it should come with those pedestrian upgrades to mitigate the negative impact it would otherwise have.

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  • Alan 1.0 April 12, 2016 at 9:34 pm

    NW 23rd is really annoying to drive on and there is only one solution

    Right! Replicate it in many, many more places.

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    • q April 12, 2016 at 10:38 pm

      NW 23rd’s zoning was never intended to create a retail destination street. It was intended to create a commercial area with businesses serving the immediate neighborhood’s needs. Then national chain stores moved in, and people forgot that, and that has created traffic (and parking demand) from outside the neighborhood that’s piled on top of substantial local traffic.

      Your response is great, because it’s a reminder that part of dealing with traffic is understanding why it’s there. And if more people had better shopping opportunities in their own neighborhoods, fewer would be driving as often to NW 23rd.

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      • Pete April 12, 2016 at 11:44 pm

        It’s highly unlikely that the few national chains on NW 23rd are even primarily responsible for this. The popularity of this neighborhood has been accelerating for a long, long time… many years BBP (Before BikePortland). The urban growth boundaries don’t exactly alleviate congestion here, for better or for worse. At least that’s what my good friend always attributed it to, and he was born and raised there (on NW Kearney), so maybe I’m wrong but I just took his word for it.

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        • q April 13, 2016 at 12:01 am

          No, you’re not wrong about national chains not being primarily responsible. But they certainly have contributed. It’s not that they generate huge amounts of traffic in themselves, but they have influenced what other types of stores have located or remained on 23rd, and it’s a mix that’s more likely to attract people from elsewhere than the typical neighborhood shopping street, including even close-by NW 21st. In fact, many service-type businesses that are typical of other neighborhood commercial streets in Portland have been driven off 23rd by high rents.

          I don’t think the urban growth boundary has nearly as much to do with NW 23rd’s special character as does the fact that it’s the closest shopping street to some of Portland’s wealthiest neighborhoods. After all, all streets in Portland are in the urban growth boundary, but haven’t developed at all like NW 23rd.

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          • Pete April 13, 2016 at 4:45 pm

            Every old house that was turned into a commercial storefront displaced a “home” within the UGB. It used to be pretty mixed, and even included vacant homes. Last time I walked that street it was a different story, but over the years it has become an entertainment destination (yes, shopping is entertainment too). More and more people were going to be driving there as Portland grew in popularity, regardless if Restoration Hardware or whatever other chain moved there. I think you had a choice of keeping it all residential and not creating jobs, or displacing a family – no different than any other zoning challenge anywhere else.

            We redeveloped my friend’s home at the same time we worked on his building around the corner (I even set him up with Pringles-can-based directional antennas to share his WiFi – painfully slow back then). We turned his historic single-family into a triplex, and Peter Max looked at putting an art gallery into the building that now houses a vintage store in the basement. The top floor we made into an apartment. Anyway, 23rd is memory lane, while at the same time just another increasingly crowded urban American street, like the one I grew up on that we used to play in the middle of.

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      • Adam H.
        Adam H. April 13, 2016 at 9:26 am

        It makes no sense to me that the simple presence of a few national chain stores would generate car traffic to 23rd. After all, can’t people just drive to Clackamas for those national chains?

        Part of the appeal of 23rd is its uniqueness and local businesses and that’s what I believe draws people to the area.

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        • Dan A April 13, 2016 at 10:00 am

          I live in Beaverton, and when we used to visit NW 23rd, it was because there are a lot of shops in a very small area. It’s easy to walk around and find lots of shops that we want to go into. We don’t go anymore though, because there’s generally nowhere to park. I’d rather pay a high rate at a lot than circle around fruitlessly.

          Now, that being said, I haven’t looked into taking the bus there. Looks like we could get there for $7.50 one way. If it was a more appealing place to visit (no cars on 23rd at all), we’d probably do whatever’s necessary to get there.

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          • Adam H.
            Adam H. April 13, 2016 at 10:05 am

            You could also drive to Sunset TC and take MAX in. It will drop you off closeish to 23rd if you get off at Providence Park. That being said, the idea of demand-based parking is to price on-street parking higher when demand is higher so that there is always one spot open per block. High prices during high demand times will also make more people think about taking alternate modes.

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            • Dan A April 13, 2016 at 3:13 pm

              Right. As it is now, it costs more for a family to take public transportation than it does to drive & park.

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              • Adam H.
                Adam H. April 13, 2016 at 3:20 pm

                Right and this is totally backwards. The impact of someone driving on the highway to a park and ride at the periphery and taking public transport in is much lower than someone driving into the city center to circle around dense neighborhoods looking for parking. We should be discouraging the latter via higher prices for parking and convince the suburbanites to take the train instead.

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          • Paul April 13, 2016 at 12:42 pm

            You kind of nailed it. If you create a great space people will go to greater lengths to get to it. This is why free/abundant parking is a flawed concept on a major shopping street.

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            • GlowBoy April 13, 2016 at 2:43 pm

              NW 23rd isn’t exactly new as a destination with cute shops, and it didn’t suddenly happen when national chains moved in. It’s been that way as long as I can remember, which is nearly 25 years, when what we now call the Pearl District was still a railyard beyond Hoyt Street.

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              • soren April 14, 2016 at 8:34 pm

                25 years? I remember coming down to Portland in the 90s to visit head shops and tatoo parlors on 23rd.

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        • q April 13, 2016 at 10:51 am

          Yes, people can just drive to Clackamas to go to the national chains, and they do, so of course they also drive to the ones on 23rd, especially when that saves them a trip downtown or out to a suburban mall. But I agree people are coming to 23rd primarily for the concentration of swanky local shops. The main influence of the national shops isn’t the traffic they generate, but that their presence is part of why the local shops have chosen to locate there.

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  • John Liu
    John Liu April 12, 2016 at 10:13 pm

    I don’t see what’s wrong with cars moving very slowly on NW 23rd. That’s better than cars moving fast on NW 23rd, isn’t it?.

    Sure, driving on NW 23rd is frustrating. Since when does BP worry about driving being frustrating?

    If you prohibit cars on NW 23rd, then you’ll just create lots of cut through traffic on the parallel streets, some of which are quite residential.

    This is what a busy, vibrant, dense, congested city looks like.

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    • soren April 13, 2016 at 8:20 am

      my guess is that most of the traffic would evaporate. when other cities have removed/discouraged cars from commercial roads the sky did not fall.

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      • John Liu
        John Liu April 13, 2016 at 8:22 am

        Like Division/Clinton?

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        • soren April 13, 2016 at 10:18 am

          Glad to see we agree, John. Clinton is hugely improved (still needs additional traffic calming and a plaza at 26th). The Division commercial district would also make a fine car-lite or car-free area! It’s a pity that the Division streetscape project preserved auto throughput while making Division even less safe for cycling.

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          • John Liu
            John Liu April 13, 2016 at 2:04 pm

            Not sure we do.

            My point was that when driving was made slow and frustrating on Division, traffic did not “evaporate”, it shifted over to parallel streets and thus the rush of lead foot drivers on Clinton and the struggle to protect that greenway.

            The same will happen to the parallel streets if cars are banned from NW 23rd. What justifies creating that negative impact to people living on NW 22nd, 21st, etc?

            Sure, the idea of turning NW 23rd into a pedestrian mall is intriguing.

            I’ve lived around some such conversions that have been very successful (Santa Monica 4th Street etc). “Successful” in the sense that they attracted *much* larger crowds to the area. Great for the commercial property owners and retailers – especially the big chain retailers who can pay the higher rents to get access to such a high volume of foot traffic – maybe not so great for the small neighborhood store, the area’s residents, or for traffic on the streets to, from, and around the area.

            I am not sure Portland needs to create one highly concentrated shopping district like that. I personally prefer having many small clusters of retail activity, so that every neighborhood can have its own fun, vibrant, appealing, characterful area to eat, drink, gather, and shop in local stores.

            Instead of making NW 23rd so appealing that people drive for miles across the city to get there, why not have people riding bikes or walking a half mile or several blocks to get to their local shopping/dining street, and have dozens of these local scenes all over the city?

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            • John Liu
              John Liu April 13, 2016 at 2:13 pm

              Oops, 3rd St in Santa Monica. (I was mixing that up w/ 4th St in another city.)

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    • Dan A April 13, 2016 at 10:18 am

      I guess I see the possibility of really upping the game here. This could become the next 16th Street Mall (Denver), Fremont Street (Las Vegas), Third Street Promenade (Santa Monica), Pearl Street Mall (Boulder), etc. There are actually a lot of these places in the US (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_car-free_places).

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      • John Liu
        John Liu April 13, 2016 at 2:12 pm

        As noted above, I think that would be a bad thing. Most people drive to pedestrian street/malls. Make NW 23rd a really big thing, and you just create that much more auto traffic across the city. And the only retailers who can afford the rent in “really big thing” places are national chains and high-end places, so goodbye to the little neighborhood places. Plus the people who actually live in the area suffer from all the traffic and noise.

        Let’s be realistic. It is a rainy chilly November evening, that family or group headed to NW 23rd for some shopping and dining are not going to saddle up a fleet of bikes, put rain gear over their pretty clothes, and ride 3, 4 or 5 miles in the wet and dark. Ain’t gonna happen. They are going to drive there. But if we have lots of fun little shopping/dining streets all over the city, then they might walk, or bike, to the one that is just 1/2 mile from their house.

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        • q April 13, 2016 at 2:25 pm

          I agree. Certainly there can be some changes, but NW 23rd was never intended to be a destination shopping area, it was intended for (and zoned for) shops and businesses serving the neighborhood, for good reasons. Even as it is, the traffic and parking impacts on nearby residential streets have been enormous. The surrounding neighborhood and streets cannot support the impacts that would be created if NW 23rd were made into too much of a destination.

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          • David Hampsten, now in Greensboro NC April 14, 2016 at 12:31 am

            Actually, it was in fact designed to be a “destination shopping” district, in the 1977 NW District Plan. The Nob Hill Business Association (nwpdxnobhill.com) was formed in part to coordinate business hours for businesses along both 23rd and 21st, as well as maintain their upkeep and appearance, in a way no other business association has ever operated in any other part of town, somewhat like a shopping mall.

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        • Dan A April 13, 2016 at 3:15 pm

          Oh, sorry, I didn’t realize I wasn’t welcome.

          Nevermind then.

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          • q April 13, 2016 at 6:57 pm

            Saying it would be good if other areas gained nice shopping streets, or that 23rd shouldn’t be made into too much of a destination, isn’t at all the same as saying people from outside the neighborhood aren’t welcome.

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  • dan April 13, 2016 at 1:00 am

    Take out the parking on both sides (!). Use that space for two-way bike lanes and if there’s room, a “moderate self-powered speed” lane: running, rollerblading, etc. Signpost the street for 20 mph. Physical separation of the muscle powered lanes from the motorized lanes. Deliveries have to happen between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m.

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    • paikiala April 13, 2016 at 10:35 am

      it’s already posted 20 mph.
      https://goo.gl/maps/J9mcXsTCeru

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    • Gary B April 13, 2016 at 1:05 pm

      We need protected rollerblading infrastructure. Rollerbladers should not have to feel intimidated by joggers in close proximity looking way less cool.

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  • Chris Smith April 13, 2016 at 10:28 am

    As an aside, the Planning and Sustainability Commission just recommended yesterday to add a bikeway designation to NW 22nd (in addition to 20th and 24th that already have a designation, although no improvements).

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    • Beth April 14, 2016 at 11:52 am

      Aaaaand a “designation” does what, exactly?

      I have seen nothing change on most of NE Rodney, which is also designated a bikeway, except that some speed bumps have gone in here and there (one traffic diverter at Cook does not significantly change things since most drivers will simply cut around and come back to Rodney later up the hill to keep going). Car drivers who tire of the cloggage on Williams jog over to Rodney and resume their higher-speed commutes.

      I think a lot more of us who walk and ride bikes are waiting for more of these “designations” to actually, meaningfully reduce auto traffic.So far, it’s a mixed bag.

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  • q`Tzal April 13, 2016 at 12:10 pm

    This retail district is a prime candidate for two 15′ wide moving sidewalks in place of ANY vehicle traffic INCLUDING bicycles.

    This is a human foot traffic scale district and anything moving faster is a hazard.

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    • Adam H.
      Adam H. April 13, 2016 at 12:20 pm

      Why do so many people assume that people riding bicycles must be moving fast? Sure, we don’t want to encourage people to use 23rd as a fast commuting route, but we also don’t want to ban riding as that makes riding to a destination on 23rd harder. It is possible to ride a bike at walking speed and this should be allowed on a car-free 23rd to encourage people to ride to businesses.

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      • lop April 13, 2016 at 1:48 pm

        What design for 23rd and for the nearby through cycling routes you expect people to ride on instead do you have in mind that would keep people from riding fast on 23rd, especially downhill? Just asking people to ride slow or putting up a FAST BIKES ON 22ND sign won’t work.

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        • Adam H.
          Adam H. April 13, 2016 at 1:56 pm

          Having a continuous shared street without curbs implies shared use and people will ride slower. Especially if there is heavy foot traffic. It seems to work fine in Waterfront Park.

          Another option could just be to just widen the sidewalks and leave enough room for a below-grade two-way cycle path.

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          • lop April 13, 2016 at 2:12 pm

            A lot of people complain about the way people bike on the waterfront and the esplanade. I’m not sure you should say that they work fine for people who aren’t on bikes. That’s fine, having infrastructure for cyclists is important. But denying that it can be bad for people on foot, in transit vehicles etc…is just being silly. Widen the sidewalks and put in a sunken two way bike path sounds like a much better plan. People will ride fast on 23rd with or without it. Your fantasy of people using 23rd just to bike at walking speed to their destination is completely unrealistic. Are you closing the street to transit too, or just private autos?

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            • Adam H.
              Adam H. April 13, 2016 at 2:26 pm

              Separation should be required for commuting/leisure routes but for destinations where we are expecting people to linger, shared space works just fine.

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              • GlowBoy April 13, 2016 at 2:52 pm

                What Minneapolis has done – on many miles of paths – is to separate foot traffic from wheels. This pretty effectively negates the need to separate faster wheels from slower wheels (and no one is going to complain if you’re walking on the foot-path, with your kid on a training-wheel bike tagging along). FWIW this is the birthplace of Rollerblading, so the “wheels” paths are for ‘blades, skateboards, Segways, etc. as well as bikes, and the system works pretty well. The busier paths around lakes are one-way, which also helps. About a mile from my house, on Lake Nokomis, there are signs everywhere on the “wheels” path saying “if you don’t have wheels under you, you’re on the wrong path”.

                Portland really should consider doing this along the downtown waterfront. There’s plenty of space for a 12’ wheels-only path, inland from the current path which would become foot-only.

                FWIW and not applicable to Portland of course, but the dual-path system here changes functions in winter. The “wheels” paths get plowed (often before the streets do), while the “feet” paths are left snow-covered. So the former become the thoroughfare for bikes and those who want to walk on a cleared path (i.e., most pedestrians), and the latter become routes for skiers and fatbikers. Having pedestrians and cyclists share a route works fine in winter, since traffic volumes are pretty low. Overall, the dual path system separating wheels from feet is fantastic, and I think Portland needs to do more of it (as they have done in South Waterfront).

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              • lop April 13, 2016 at 4:27 pm

                The waterfront is a destination we expect people to linger. That doesn’t stop through cyclists from using it. Just like they’ll use NW 23rd. Design for that inevitablr use, don’t pretend it won’t exist. Your fantasy of slow cyclists meandering down NW 23rd to get to a shop at walking pace is ridiculous. Your proposal is a failure on the waterfront and would be a failure on NW 23rd.

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              • Adam H.
                Adam H. April 13, 2016 at 4:42 pm

                In my experience most people riding on the waterfront are riding slowly and giving people walking enough room. The paved surface is wide enough that the shared environment works well. To me, Waterfront Park is a success.

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        • Ted Timmons (Contributor) April 13, 2016 at 2:02 pm

          Scorchers are clearly the largest problem Portland faces. We hear about scorcher “accidents” causing fatalities all the time.

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          • lop April 13, 2016 at 3:38 pm

            If you are focusing on the largest problems portland faces then you aren’t touching a safe street like NW 23rd. But you bring up a good point. Scorchers have been around for a century, since the bicycle was invented. So how about stop pretending they don’t exist the way Adam h does and give them a place to ride. The rest of the space between buildings could contain obstacles, bike racks, tables, chairs, water fountains, cobblestones, stairs etc…to encourage wheeled vehicles – scorchers included – to stay on the bike road in the middle.

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            • Adam H.
              Adam H. April 13, 2016 at 3:43 pm

              Calling people “scorchers” just ignores the fact that the built environment affects behavior. Design the street for slow speeds and people will act accordingly.

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              • Ted Timmons (Contributor) April 13, 2016 at 3:45 pm

                I use the term with tongue firmly in cheek.

                My point being, if fast bikes are the biggest problem, we’ve come a long way from where we are now. It’s a red herring.

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  • EPO Rider April 13, 2016 at 2:43 pm

    I am a bit surprised no one has stated the obvious.

    Get rid of the parking, travel lanes and the cars. Let people walk and bike with abandon in the street.

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    • Dan A April 13, 2016 at 3:16 pm

      6 of the first 7 comments said this.

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      • David Hampsten, now in Greensboro NC April 14, 2016 at 12:49 am

        No, not true. Car free does not necessarily equate to vehicle-free. “Letting people walk and bike with abandon in the street” would imply a total ban on streetcar, bus, and emergency vehicles, as well as slow moving cars, delivery trucks, mopeds, motorcycles, and fast human-powered vehicles (bikes, boards, rollerblades, etc.) Everyone thinks they mean the same as everyone else, until you get to the details.

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        • Dan A April 14, 2016 at 7:17 am

          Wouldn’t it also imply that everyone has their own street to themselves, with padded walls? Otherwise they would all walk and bike into each other. I think you’re taking that part of the comment too literally.

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  • greg byshenk April 13, 2016 at 3:00 pm

    Adam H.

    If you want a biking paradise, you’re going to need to live with a lot of car congestion, as European cities do.

    Have you been to the Netherlands? Most of their city centers are almost car free.

    No, they are not. In Amsterdam, the only significant ‘car free’ place is the Nieuwendijk/Kalverstraat shopping street; in Rotterdam, the Lijnbaan/Hoogstraat shopping area, and in the Hague the Grote Marktstraat/Spuistraat shopping area… and so forth. Pretty much all the other streets are open to auto traffic.
    But mostly people choose not to drive on them, this because doing so is slow, difficult, and perhaps most important, unnecessary, because the city centers are compact and easy to navigate on foot or bicycle, and can easily be reached by public transport. This to the extent that most people don’t even consider using a car to get across town. This is the “secret” of bike-friendly (and auto-light) European cities: you don’t need a car to get around, and indeed a car may be the least effective way of doing so, in part because of congestion.
    Compare this to Portland. Suppose you are out with some friends on Division, but want to meet up with someone a little later on NW 23rd (or Mississippi, or Alberta, or some other nice, (trendy?) walkable area). Yes, you can do it on a bike, but it’s not particularly quick or pleasant, most of the time. And transit or walking takes far too long. So you see what happens now: everyone gets into cars and drives.
    Posting from Leiden

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    • Adam H.
      Adam H. April 13, 2016 at 3:06 pm

      I agree with you 100%, and notice I said “almost car free”. When I was walking around Amsterdam Centrum, aside from a few arterials, I was surprised at how little motor traffic was on the neighborhood streets. People drove for sure, but volumes seemed very low – even lower than Clinton street post diversion. And that was nearly every street. Of course they were all full of bike traffic. 🙂

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    • soren April 13, 2016 at 5:00 pm

      “in part because of congestion.”

      also:

      1. lack of parking in the center city by design.
      2. interrupted routes, car-free areas, and misc. barriers that are designed to make driving in the center indirect and circuitous.
      3. signaling, speed limits, and traffic calming that is designed to make driving in the city center much slower than other modes.

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    • David Hampsten, now in Greensboro NC April 14, 2016 at 1:09 am

      I agree with you about the central cities you mentioned, about traffic behavior. However, around the edges of these same cities there is a lot of heavy traffic, as well as most of the ethnic non-white Dutch population, living in poverty, having to drive to go shopping at the hypermarket. Fortunately, unlike Germany or Italy, there isn’t as much sprawl in the Netherlands. I also agree that higher densities are needed in all US cities, not just in their downtown cores, to increase compactness for better biking and walking, and to make mass-transit more effective. I especially admire many Canadian cities for their modern planning, especially Vancouver and its suburbs, plus Winnipeg, Calgary, & Mississauga, building large 39-story towers tied to high-speed transit in areas similar to Portland’s EPNO district.

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  • mike April 13, 2016 at 5:32 pm

    Having lived in Amsterdam central you are both right…but it is changing fast!!!

    http://www.copenhagenize.com/2015/11/amsterdam-city-council-agrees-to-remove.html

    As you get further from central, roads and cars became more plentiful. The denser, older the cars were infrequent. The mix of transportation in A’Dam was eye opening to me, as was the density. We really need to emulate a lot of what has been done there: density does not exclude family homes (when is the last time you have seen new construction downtown that would work for a family >3 people??) bikes are the best for 10-25 min trips, ample parking at the trains for bikes make them a component of many trips, walking is always good once off the bike, and everyone is very wary of all the commotion. The streetcars help for folks who can’t bike. Our city is spread out in a different way, but more like 2 amsterdams placed side by side. Each of our cool neighborhood shopping/eating areas are like those in Amsterdam: Pijp, (car free for all of Albert Cuyp market), The Nines are now Car free on weekends (cool idea!), Nieuwendijk, even Red Light distr is car free (and now bike free), and Kalverstraat is a looong peds only. On top of this their streets are also divided by frickin canals, we have it easy! Just like Amsterdam, we need ways to get from Mississippi, Hawthorne, Division, NW 23rd, Pearl, etc. etc. Nobody can get from Jordaan to Pijp any easier than us to these parts of our city right? There are many, many other neighborhood shopping/eating areas that are not these hot spots but I think we are all thinking too small. The density we need and want we should design carefully NOW. Developers are going hog wild with no guidance about what it is we want built.

    Make our best destinations ped free. Walk your bikes when you are in em. Get people to these areas via streetcar/max/bikes as multi-method trips (bike to a streetcar, etc.) Cherish and value our Center because if we don’t, the cars will take over. The outer “rings” need more robust pipelines to get to the center but not the same types of mixed movement and complex trade-offs. The more people that come here, the more we are going to need to do this in my opinion.

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  • greg byshenk April 17, 2016 at 1:45 am

    mike
    […] even Red Light distr is car free (and now bike free)[…]

    A slight correction: the RLD is closed only after 8pm, and only to non-locals (local residents and businesses can get a pass to drive, even in the ‘closed’ hours).

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