The debate over the best route for a future NE 7th/9th neighborhood greenway is, for the moment, largely about appearances. But in this week’s battle for appearances, backers of a 7th Avenue route are definitely winning.
As we mentioned in Monday’s coverage of this issue, an anonymous supporter of a 9th Avenue route launched a petition on Sunday in which he or she suggested that a 7th Avenue route would send traffic spilling onto other small residential streets. As of this writing, it’s got 50 signatures.
Yesterday morning, resident Montse Shepherd started a competing petition in favor of a 7th Avenue route, itemizing 16 reasons for that route. 26 hours later, it’s drawn 368 signatures.
“To make routine bicycle commuting attractive for more people we need not just safe, but direct, fast, efficient, and smooth routes,” wrote Betsy Reese, a supporter of the 7th Avenue route. “I might meander along on NE 9th on a weekend ride, but a greenway on NE 7th is what would make commuting or running errands possible to routinely do by bicycle instead of by car.”
“As a father of 2 young children living on Brazee between MLK and 7th I strongly support this and see two important connected issues here: choosing a street for the north-south bike greenway and the second, more important, life-safety issue of the reduction of speed and volume of auto traffic on 7th,” wrote Collin Zimmerer-Mazza, another signer of the 7th Avenue petition.
Signatures have continued to trickle in for the 9th Avenue route too, though.
“While I recognize the need to improve the situation on 7th, I believe the proposal is well meaning but will create more problems,” wrote Eric Evans, who signed the 9th Avenue petition. “There is already significant cut-through traffic on at least NE 8th through NE 10th, with sometimes frightening speeds. Turning NE 7th into a dedicated bikeway will only worsen conditions on these neighborhood streets.”
“I don’t understand the 7th option,” wrote someone else who gave his name as Richard Nimby. “NE 9th is a win-win for everyone. The terrain is steeper on 9th, so that’s better for the cyclists’ health.”
The Portland City Council is scheduled to vote this afternoon on the first major decision related to this route: whether to designate 7th as the “planning-level” route south of Sumner Street, and 9th as the route north of Sumner.
Regardless of that vote, the city is a long way from actual implementation or funding of this project, so it could change. But today’s decisions — and this week’s petitions — will determine where public conversations about this project begin.
We’ll update this post when we learn what happens at council.
Update 5/2: The council voted to delay decision on 7th/9th until May 11, to give council members more time to assess recent testimony.
— Michael Andersen, (503) 333-7824 – email@example.com
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Michael Andersen was news editor of BikePortland.org from 2013 to 2016 and still pops up occasionally.