Posted by Michael Andersen (Contributor) on April 12th, 2016 at 3:02 pm
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?
“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 – firstname.lastname@example.org
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Michael Andersen was news editor of BikePortland.org from 2013 to 2016 and still pops up occasionally.