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Fish warns of auto congestion as Council passes ‘Livable Streets Strategy’

Posted by on July 29th, 2016 at 10:44 am

City’s rendering for the new Ankeny Plaza, a prototype of their new Livable Streets Strategy.

The City of Portland’s transportation bureau got past a key milestone on Wednesday when City Council voted to move forward with their Livable Streets Strategy.

Specifically, council supported the city’s $149,158 contract with consulting firm Nelson/Nygaard to come up with the framework of the strategy and set into motion what we’ve called “a new era of open streets.”

But during Wednesday’s otherwise uneventful council session we got a unexpected preview of the political debate that might lie ahead.

PBOT’s Livable Streets Strategy is an umbrella for several different new initiatives. It’s all about formalizing the inevitable (and long overdue) march toward Portland squeezing more potential out of its public right-of-way. Our streets are mostly dominated by cars — both in city policy and in daily reality. As Portland grows and non-car travel options become more popular and more necessary, we must transition away from the traditional, 1970s auto-centric planning paradigms. PBOT has already started this update process by reconfiguring roads to give more space to people to walk, bike and take transit and less space for private auto use.

But we have a very long way to go. And this work has taken on even more urgency with the launch of Biketown, our new bicycle transit system that already has over 7,000 riders.

Here’s a snip from the ordinance (PDF):

“Livable Streets Strategy will support innovation in the public right-of-way by opening Portland’s streets, parking spaces, plazas, and alleys to a range of events, programming, and physical infrastructure that reinforce the idea that public streets are public places to be enjoyed by all ages and abilities.”

A big part of the strategy will be to empower residents and business owners to propose and implement their own placemaking projects via community grants given out by the city.

After PBOT staff made a brief presentation about the program on Wednesday, Commissioner Nick Fish spoke up. He explained that he sees street management plans as fitting into two distinct camps: “streets and parking spaces,” and “plazas and alleys.” He’s worried about the “consequences” of the former and seems generally supportive of the latter.

Here are his comments in his own words (emphases mine), transcribed from the council meeting (you can also watch his comments in the video clip above):

“My sense is that the issues raised by livable streets as they apply to streets and parking spaces are different than the kind of issues that come up with plazas and alleys. In my own experience working with Commissioner Novick for example on the improvements along Division is that there’s a delicate balance between promoting the laudable goals of this program and also ensuring, for example, that business districts function.

We heard [in the Division conversation], for example, comments like ‘We’re really delighted to have these bioswales, but why did they have to be so big and take up two parking spaces? And why are they in a particular location and on and on.’

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I just, as a commissioner, want to make sure that as we deal with the delicate issues of streets and parking spaces — which is a big flashpoint, and frankly, it’s increasingly difficult to get from point a to point b on our streets — that we use a broader lens than livable streets to make those decisions. And I have a different personal standard that I apply to alleys and plazas, because in some cases you’re activating orphan spaces.

The challenge with streets and parking places is we have competing demands. And I just want to put that on the record, a concern that we look at them differently. And frankly, while I now live in a rental apartment and walk to work and have ditched the car, when I am in a car and trying to get from point a to point b, there are huge consequences when we take a lane out of Naito or we close a street. And effectively what it means is that you just can’t get from here to there.

In my job there are times I have to travel by car. It’s just a necessity. So I want to just plant this flag that I’m going to have a different approach to this vis-a-vis streets and parking spaces, and want to know about the tradeoffs, then I would around plazas and alleys where I think there are some really big opportunities to create meaningful public places out of areas that are orphaned, or don’t serve a compelling transportation need. I want to put that on the record.”

By saying he wants to “put this on the record” and “plant this flag,” Fish is laying the rhetorical groundwork for future conversations and telegraphing to PBOT Commissioner Steve Novick and Mayor Charlie Hales that they’ll have to work hard for his vote.

“… I am committed to reducing congestion and unnecessary car idling.”
— Nick Fish, city commissioner

Fish’s comments also express clear concerns about Better Naito, PBOT’s partnership with Better Block to temporarily reconfigure the lanes on Naito Parkway. A successful three-month pilot project ends Sunday and Mayor Charlie Hales plans to ask Fish and the rest of council to use city money (an estimated $1.5 million) to make it permanent in the coming months.

Also notable in his comments: Fish appears fully supportive of new public plazas and innovative uses of our right-of-way, as long the spaces don’t impinge “compelling transportation needs.”

I followed up with the Commissioner after the meeting. When I asked what exactly he meant by “huge consequences” of Better Naito he said (via email), “What I have heard from my constituents is that it is important to balance the needs of all transportation modes. Improving circulation and safety, and expanding bike infrastructure, are not mutually exclusive goals.” And Fish, saying his opinion was informed by the city’s Climate Action Plan, wrote that, “I am committed to reducing congestion and unnecessary car idling.” 

It’s worth noting that Fish is the City Council liaison to Venture Portland, an organization that represents our 50 neighborhood business districts. As such, he wants to make sure business owners are at the table when PBOT considers making changes to the right-of-way (PBOT staff said they will be). Fish told PBOT staff that Portland’s neighborhood business owners are, “always struggling with that balance between getting customers in and out of the district and also wanting it to be a safe and welcoming place.”

When I asked what he meant by “ensuring that business districts function,” he said that he hears concerns from neighborhood business leaders about, “the cumulative impact of our decisions.”

“There is a cumulative impact of green street facilities, ROW temporary structures, parking removal and transportation mode additions,” he continued. “We want our business districts to be successful, and that means taking a holistic approach.”

Naito Parkway traffic observations -4.jpg

Better Naito in action on Thursday evening.
(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

As for whether or not he’d support Better Naito if/when it comes to council in October, Fish said he’s looking forward to a briefing on traffic analysis and results of the pilot project and that he’d, “Keep an open mind.”

— Jonathan Maus, (503) 706-8804 – jonathan@bikeportland.org

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80 Comments
  • dwk July 29, 2016 at 11:02 am

    “when I am in a car and trying to get from point a to point b, there are huge consequences when we take a lane out of Naito or we close a street. And effectively what it means is that you just can’t get from here to there.”

    What “huge” consequences? A couple of minutes?
    Fish is as worthless as Hales.

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    • Spiffy July 29, 2016 at 11:33 am

      that statement seems to represent the frustration of most drivers…

      “my usual route is closed and now I have no way to get there!”

      of course it’s not true and with the case of Fish just a blatant lie… of course you can still get there, just not as quickly in your car…

      park and walk… take the bus… ride a bike… hire a rickshaw…

      there’s always a way to get where you need to go on time, if you’re willing to actually figure it out…

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    • Adam H.
      Adam H. July 29, 2016 at 12:06 pm

      To someone who gets around by driving everywhere, saying we need to “balance the needs of all transportation modes”, is a dogwhistle phrase for “don’t slow my car down or take away parking”.

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      • njb2226 July 29, 2016 at 7:44 pm

        So, car drivers are evil scum who should nonetheless have to pay gas taxes which would then be diverted to built more and more bike lanes for the biking mafia.

        Thanks for being so tolerant and inclusive.

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        • Dan A July 30, 2016 at 12:20 pm

          “Gas taxes”? Ha ha, good one.

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        • Adron Hall August 2, 2016 at 4:05 pm

          LOLz. It’d be so rad if gas tax money even covered the full cost of one single road type within the United States. If the gas tax, for instance, covered the full cost of the Interstate Highway System, or the State Highway Systems, or even just “Parkways” within all of the United States…

          …unfortunately it doesn’t, and thus the absurdity of the motorist pays gas tax and owns some arbitrary right to X right of way…

          …ugh, so tired of this mythic nonsense.

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          • nport August 2, 2016 at 7:29 pm

            I did not suggest that paying gas taxes makes me the owner of anything. What I am saying is that me paying gas taxes subsidizes bike lanes for the crowd on this website, which turns around and treats car drivers like scum.

            Really, read my words carefully before your next childishly defensive Trumpian response.

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            • Dan A August 3, 2016 at 2:39 pm

              Do you know that gas is subsidized around $7 to $8 per gallon? And then taxed about 50 cents.

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  • J.E. July 29, 2016 at 11:06 am

    Is Fish seriously suggesting that there are places in the city that you cannot directly access by personal vehicle? Compared to, say, all the places in the city you cannot directly access by walking (streets with no sidewalks), cycling (areas without bicycle infrastructure), or public transportation (during the late night/early morning hours, that would be literally everywhere). Just because your two motor vehicle lanes turned into one motor vehicle lane and just because you had to park a block away from your destination rather than right at its doorstep, that doesn’t mean you were unable to safely and conveniently access your destination in a car.

    Commissioner Fish, we have a very, very long way to go before most people would consider it slower, less convenient, and LESS SAFE to drive from any given point A to any given point B in this city than walking, cycling, or taking public transit there.

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    • Eric Leifsdad July 29, 2016 at 11:45 am

      ^ this.

      I want to challenge anyone who says “there are times I have to travel by car” to clearly define “necessity”. It could be simply ignorance (easily fixed), but often it seems like “I’m too lazy to imagine or work at any other way”. YES there are valid reasons to use a 3-5000lb vehicle for transportation NO they do not apply to 90% of SOV operators. Don’t want to get sweaty and make your suit muddy -> ride something besides a race bike with no fenders. Can’t rely on or trust your balance -> ride a recumbent tadpole trike.

      Why doesn’t City of Portland have even one 2-seater electric velomobile for staff use? Not enough cases of one or two employees trying to get from A to B or not enough imagination from our leaders? For those trips where you think a car is necessary, what’s the next-best option? Maybe if the city would account for the true costs of auto use, we wouldn’t be hearing such claims from our leaders?

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      • RM Hampel July 31, 2016 at 3:14 pm

        You might want to check your privilege.
        Not everyone has the ability, either physical or logistically, to commute by bike or public transit.
        Posters on this site frequently lament that our cities are designed around the automobile, making getting around in any other fashion difficult (I share this sentiment) and, in the same breath, condem those who commute by SOVs. You can’t have your argument both ways.

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        • Hello, Kitty
          Hello, Kitty August 1, 2016 at 12:02 am

          “Check your privilege?” That statement serves no other purpose than to say “I don’t want to talk to you anymore”.

          It’s too bad you started your comment with this dismissive statement, because if I had not stopped reading there, I might have agreed with the rest of what you said, especially if you had made the point that some people need to drive from time to time for various reasons, and we shouldn’t dismiss them or their concerns without at least understanding why they do what they do.

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        • Eric Leifsdad August 1, 2016 at 1:03 pm

          Please check your math while I “check my privilege”.

          “Not everyone has the ability, either physical or logistically, to commute by bike or public transit.” is something we’ve all heard too many times (from “not everybody”) and I already said: “YES there are valid reasons to use a 3-5000lb vehicle for transportation NO they do not apply to 90% of SOV operators.” Maybe you’re not in that 90% and would like them to get their cars out of the way just as much as I would?

          If you really tried* to find another way to meet your transportation needs and concluded that a 5000lb vehicle was the best, fine. I’m just asking you to take your big, noisy, powerful, dangerous vehicle the longer way around using main streets designed for moving high volumes of traffic instead of cutting-through the neighborhood where everyone is walking and biking. Don’t think spending a bit more time vs imposing costs on everyone outside your vehicle is warranted? Think you’re entitled to a passing lane on Naito at the expense of safety for wheelchair, bike, and pedestrian traffic because I5 is a bit slow? Maybe check your privilege?

          * Where “really tried” includes an amount of money and/or effort equal or greater than the externalized costs of your driving including road wear, environmental impact, and public health. Show your work.

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          • Hello, Kitty
            Hello, Kitty August 1, 2016 at 1:20 pm

            Who gets to decide what you “need” to do?

            I am totally in favor of “internalizing” the costs of driving (and other transportation choices). Please give me a carbon tax!!!

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            • RMHampel August 2, 2016 at 2:37 pm

              I completely agree.
              As to the “check your privilege” comment. I do regret that choice of words.

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    • Adam H.
      Adam H. July 29, 2016 at 12:07 pm

      He had to sit in traffic on Naito once, so therefore our transportation needs aren’t being balanced in favor of cars.

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    • Adam H.
      Adam H. July 29, 2016 at 3:40 pm

      Our transportation system planning is “balanced” in the same way that Fox News is “fair and balanced”.

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  • CycleDadPDX July 29, 2016 at 11:10 am

    Perhaps he is correct. The design and function of the layout of the City is not conducive to getting rid of auto traffic for the sake of a minority of cyclists. That being said a major shift in infrastructure could lead to a car-lite society. For instance the Fairview trail: connects to the Springwater, no car traffic, through the suburbs, easy on and off, flat-ish. Now we apply that type of infrastructure throughout the city then the vision of less cars on the road make sense because of the alternative. Then you can start to envision a more Copenhagen like feel to the city with businesses and communities evolving around car less trails (which sidewalks fail to accomplish).

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    • Spiffy July 29, 2016 at 11:35 am

      a hundred years ago when they started grading all the streets so that the streetcar could travel on them they already set the stage for those streets to be bike routes…

      unfortunately they were given to the vehicles that needed them the least…

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    • BB July 29, 2016 at 12:20 pm

      “It’s for a minority” is an often repeated falsehood about safe streets and bicycle infrastructure. Where it’s wrong is that its not for the minority of cyclists out there – it’s for the majority of people who aren’t on bikes yet.

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  • Allan Rudwick July 29, 2016 at 11:17 am

    “… I am committed to reducing congestion and unnecessary car idling.”
    — Nick Fish, city commissioner

    Maybe try to get some cars off the roads then?!? Those other cars are the reason for all this congestion in the first place!

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    • Dan A July 29, 2016 at 6:34 pm

      Complaining about congestion while sitting in a car is like complaining about the smell in the elevator after you’ve farted.

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  • Kyle Banerjee July 29, 2016 at 11:31 am

    Even if the goal is to have fewer people in cars — a necessity for a densely populated area to function properly — a wide variety of transportation needs must be met. All the things people need have to be brought in efficiently. Emergency vehicles need to be able to get around. Not all trips are trivial or short.

    It often occurrs to me that it often takes less time to get to some places in Portland from Salem than from other places in Portland. Getting around this town is slow. Bikes work better than cars, but it still takes awhile if you have more than a few miles to go.

    On an aside note, the photo of Better Naito represents exactly why I’m not a fan of the current iteration — people and bikes are everywhere with no one getting where they’re going fast when you can just cruise along with “Regular Naito.” I see no benefit to replicate the slow and miserable driving experience for cyclists.

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    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) July 29, 2016 at 11:51 am

      Kyle,

      Please keep in mind that the current Better Naito was done for just a few bucks by volunteers with very little support from PBOT. When/if it comes back as a permanent thing, it will be much different and I hope/assume/expect it will work much better. I hear your frustrations, but I’d caution against judging the project by this pilot alone.

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    • paikiala July 29, 2016 at 12:47 pm

      Kyle,
      many cyclists will be surprised to find out that separated and protected bike paths will not be bike freeways. They will not be high speed paths for commute cyclists.
      They will be slow paths between high volume roads and commercial sidewalks, where everyone will be going about 5-10 mph, with frequent stop lights.
      Greenways are much better suited for the long distance commute riders.

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      • dwk July 29, 2016 at 3:24 pm

        That is why better Naito is not needed. There is a mixed use path 100 feet away for those who want to do 5-10 mph. It can be kept open all summer for the festivals (about 4 weeks total) and the regular bike lane on Naito can be used.
        The regular lane was for nice commuting speeds until better Naito screwed it up.
        There is no need for two multi use paths 100 feet apart.

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        • paikiala July 29, 2016 at 3:44 pm

          Who said the final form of Better Naito would be multi-use path, except during rose festival?

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      • Eric Leifsdad July 30, 2016 at 12:59 am

        Better make that at least 12mph with a green wave if you actually want to shift mode share. I can bike 5-6 miles in half an hour, but need to spend a lot of time at 16-20 to average 10-12 with our current stop-riddled network. PBOT needs to design for biking to be safely faster than driving and parking for most 3-5 mile trips. No more 5ft Bikes on Sidewalks designs with 5mph design speed, let’s make a real transportation system.

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        • Dan A July 30, 2016 at 12:23 pm

          Yeah, I agree. It’s nice to be able to ride on greenways in the Pearl, for example, but not so great having to stop on every single block whether there is cross traffic or not. Hmm, if only there was a law that would allow us to yield at stop signs instead of having to come to a complete stop. Then it would take less infrastructure changes to make cycling more efficient.

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          • Ted Timmons (Contributor) July 30, 2016 at 12:47 pm

            the Overton greenway (through Pearl) has had a few stop signs removed in the past few months. Kinda nice.

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            • Dan A July 30, 2016 at 2:58 pm

              The problem with removing stop signs from greenways is that then they are more appealing to drivers too, which kind of defeats the point of riding on one in the first place. Maybe greenways should be designed differently, to be faster for bikes but slower for cars (relative to the other streets). Maybe divide the road in half and make half of it a wide 2-way bike lane, and leave the rest of the road as a skinny 1-lane road for 2-way car travel? I don’t know.

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              • Ted Timmons (Contributor) July 30, 2016 at 3:17 pm

                It seems like diverters really help reduce the through traffic, and neighborhoods generally (should?) like them- since they hate the Waze type stuff too.

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              • Eric Leifsdad July 31, 2016 at 2:24 pm

                Yep.

                We could hang some “except bicycles” signs or bike-specific yield signs on the existing stop signs. (Except we’re afraid that would upset drivers, which is bad… because collectively paying (in blood and money) the costs of moving and storing cars does so many good things for our city? Sorry, I can’t come up with a non-stupid-sounding excuse for why it’s not done already.)

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    • endo July 29, 2016 at 4:24 pm

      I know it wasn’t perfect, but any time we can take a lane away from cars we should do it. Fewer cars, = fewer deaths.

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      • Hello, Kitty
        Hello, Kitty July 30, 2016 at 9:45 am

        Why not shut the all down, you know, for safety.

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        • Dan A July 30, 2016 at 12:25 pm

          Most drivers want 4-lane roads so that they can speed and pass other drivers. Doesn’t seem like the best use of space if you ask me.

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  • Bob A July 29, 2016 at 11:37 am

    One way to perhaps decrease congestion would be to extend hours on the max to Wilsonville. I live near Corvallis, and go to PDX fairly often. I hate driving downtown, and would much prefer to park in Wilsonville and take the train. But, the last train arrives in Wilsonville at 8pm, not really viable for going out to dinner or to a concert. I am sure I am not the only one who feels this way coming from the south.

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    • Ted Timmons (Contributor) July 29, 2016 at 11:39 am

      Rail, not max, to Wilsonville.

      Wilsonville being the city that opted out of Trimet.

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      • KristenT August 1, 2016 at 10:32 am

        Pretty sure he means WES. And yes, WES needs expanded hours, 7 days per week. I live in Tigard, and hate driving downtown; we usually drive out to the Sunset transit station to catch Max, but the WES station in Tigard is 2 miles from my house, easily bikeable.

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        • Adam H.
          Adam H. August 1, 2016 at 10:36 am

          Yep, people complain about WES having low ridership, but it would likely attract more riders if operating hours were expanded. Though, it is the second most expensive transit mode for TriMet (after LIFT paratransit), so it’s a bit of a catch-22.

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  • Ted Timmons (Contributor) July 29, 2016 at 11:38 am

    So, TLDR: “hey marginalized bike weirdos, you can have space where we store dumpsters and such, but it’s a waste to give you any valuable land.”

    I thought PBOT had a transit mode hierarchy?

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  • rick July 29, 2016 at 11:56 am

    I warn of wasted tax dollars on convoluted sewer projects and fancy sewer offices.

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  • bikeninja July 29, 2016 at 11:57 am

    To Paraphrase Kurt Vonnegut, ( We could have saved the earth but we wanted to get in our car parked by the front door and drive to the convenience store, and park by the front door to get cheez doodles) ,

    Real Quote, ” We could have saved the Earth but we were too cheap and lazy.”

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  • Adam H.
    Adam H. July 29, 2016 at 12:04 pm

    when I am in a car and trying to get from point a to point b, there are huge consequences when we take a lane out of Naito or we close a street. And effectively what it means is that you just can’t get from here to there

    This comment is so incredibly short-sighted. Where have I heard this before? “Well, I support these (bike lanes, public plazas, bioswales, whatever), but some of us need to drive and you’re making it harder for us!” For one, you can still get to point a to point b very easily on Better Naito if you ride a bike. That’s the whole point – to show that our streets are not merely conduits for moving cars. This windshield perspective is so damaging to our city planning: if the whole point is to ensure more people can get from point a to point b more effectively, then the car is the worst tool to accomplish that. Buses, trains, and bikes all squeeze more people into the same space. We need to be looking at how many people we are moving, not vehicles.

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    • Tom Hardy July 29, 2016 at 4:36 pm

      With better Naito we still have 3 traffic lanes, If motor vehicle operators drove their vehicle instead of following their GPS or their Pokeyman finder they would have no problem or stalled traffic. they still have traffic lights with 4 lanes.

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  • Anna G July 29, 2016 at 12:21 pm

    whatever happened to “share the road” ? drivers will just have to learn that it goes both ways, we already do it unofficially by taking the lane. I certainly have no problem doing that myself especially if there are already 2-3 traffic lanes (most streets downtown). As for reducing congestion, perhaps the longer wait times will be an incentive for the many able bodied to get out of their autos and use some alternative form of transport.

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    • KristenT August 1, 2016 at 10:39 am

      I would say that 95% of drivers think that applies to the other road users, not themselves. Especially because that sign is usually accompanied by the one with the bike on it, so they think it means that those bike people need to share the road.

      I like the more succinct and unambiguous “bikes may use full lane”.

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      • Ted Timmons (Contributor) August 1, 2016 at 10:45 am

        The research showed “share the road” was misunderstood by drivers. The city is replacing them with “may use full lane”. I noticed that the Ankeny bikeway got “full lane” signs sometime in the last week.

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        • soren August 3, 2016 at 12:31 pm

          That was a BikeLoudPDX request … as were the new bolt-attached flexible posts on the Ankeny and 20th diverter.

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  • CaptainKarma July 29, 2016 at 12:29 pm

    How can biketown take out parking preemptively, but bike lanes cannot?

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    • Richard October 25, 2017 at 1:46 pm

      Even better: how Biketown’s mere presence is expected to magically inspire non-cyclists to ride bikes without safe protected bike infrastructure. Some of these spots downtown make me laugh at the notion that your average person is going to grab an orange bike and ride into fear- and stress-inducing car traffic.

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  • Todd Boulanger July 29, 2016 at 12:30 pm

    Now to be known as Nick “Parking First” Fish

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    • Robert Burchett July 29, 2016 at 6:16 pm

      Part of the Fish-Fritz axis. With friends like this. . .

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  • Brent July 29, 2016 at 12:38 pm

    I honestly understand the frustration drivers feel when they see space they used to occupy “taken away” and given to other uses. I think they should be allowed to feel that frustration without being called names. It’s an honest feeling in reaction to their situation. However, people can be frustrated and understand why it was taken away at the same time if they are shown arguments and/or data that justify the change. I think this is what Nick Fish is asking for. I don’t have a problem with that, generally.

    I’ve talked to several co-workers about Better Naito because I’m one of the only employees who bikes to work downtown. They tell me their frustrations at the longer lines. However, I ask them to notice how many people use space. I also tell them it takes pressure off the waterfront path to be more enjoyable for people just walking. I explain how the existing bike infrastructure on Naito is scary. It doesn’t take long. And after that they usually agree that “maybe something like what they did is a good idea”. That’s a win in my book.

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  • paikiala July 29, 2016 at 12:48 pm

    Kyle,
    many cyclists will be surprised to find out that separated and protected bike paths will not be bike freeways. They will not be high speed paths for commute cyclists.
    They will be slow paths between high volume roads and commercial sidewalks, where everyone will be going about 5-10 mph, with frequent stop lights.
    Greenways are much better suited for the long distance commute riders.

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  • kittens July 29, 2016 at 12:51 pm

    OK> I know I am not going to get a lot of up-votes for saying this: but he is RIGHT! Have you driven in Portland at all during the day? I am just as big of a bike enthusiast as everyone else here. But the conversation needs to be much larger than just bikes or peds or cars. For starters what about transit? Its absolutely insane to be “making it harder to drive” without simultaneously beefing up the transit system while also bikes.

    Furthermore, it is foolish to imagine everyone going everywhere on bike or foot. While it is possible for some trips, the city is still far to diffuse to permit this action.

    We have made some good progress on extending the reach of cycling, the fact of the matter is that we need a much more robust and attractive transit system than we presently have. Any discussion of fundamentally altering our street grid with plazas, one-ways, diverters, diets etc must be realistic in acknowledging this or we will end up with a backlash and it could set the movement back decades.

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    • Spiffy July 29, 2016 at 3:54 pm

      it’s true…

      my main mode of transport is a TriMet bus… and I hate it when the bus is stuck in traffic… I hate it more when I get out and walk several blocks and pass more buses stuck in traffic while I’m walking…

      that’s why I’m all in favor of BRT and light-rail that doesn’t run on streets alongside cars… buses need their own lanes on the major roads… light-rail should never intersect a road: raise or bury it…

      we need to be doing a lot more with transit access because that’s where the drivers will go at first when their lanes start disappearing… I think they’d much rather sit next to somebody smelly then do all the work it takes to bike… once they get used to not driving they’ll start biking short trips and eventually some will commute via bike…

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  • dwk July 29, 2016 at 3:25 pm

    That is why better Naito is not needed. There is a mixed use path 100 feet away for those who want to do 5-10 mph. It can be kept open all summer for the festivals (about 4 weeks total) and the regular bike lane on Naito can be used.
    The regular lane was for nice commuting speeds until better Naito screwed it up.
    There is no need for two multi use paths 100 feet apart.

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    • Adam H.
      Adam H. July 29, 2016 at 3:34 pm

      What is a “nice commuting speed”? I commute by bike and rarely exceed 10 mph unless I’m going downhill.

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      • dwk July 29, 2016 at 3:47 pm

        Great, if you want to go 10mph ride on the 20′ wide path by the river.
        I commute 15-18 mph which one can do on the regular one way single bike lane.

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      • Kyle Banerjee July 29, 2016 at 4:25 pm

        This is where different needs come into play. 10mph is fine if you only have a couple miles. But it’s unworkable for longer distances. I rarely drop below 20mph except on climbs or when lights/traffic hold me up.

        This is not a matter of being in a hurry to save a few minutes or being a wannabe racer. We’re talking close to an hour per day difference, more if I choose to go out at night.

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        • Adam H.
          Adam H. July 29, 2016 at 7:23 pm

          I ride 10+ miles per day, more if I go out somewhere after work. I find a slow, upright bike works well for me, so why should I have to choose between a crowded multiuse path and a dangerous unprotected bike lane? If cycleways on Naito are properly designed, they can allow enough room for fast and slow riders.

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    • Spiffy July 29, 2016 at 3:58 pm

      you’re right, the current Better Naito isn’t needed… too many leisurely people weaving through those 3 lanes on foot/bike…

      a Better Naito using both east-side lanes is needed… separation from those people on foot… and from oncoming bikes with room to get around the slow commuters like me going only 9 mph…

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    • Brent July 29, 2016 at 4:32 pm

      I politely disagree. The waterfront path is often full of pedestrians. On a bike, it is dangerous and difficult to weave around groups of people walking on the path. Before you suggest I’m going too fast, realize that most people walk slower than 3 mph, and it’s difficult to stay upright on a bike at that speed. This happens all through the year now, not just in the summer afternoon on nice days. I don’t mind them there. The waterfront path is for pedestrians. Leave the waterfront park path to pedestrians and commute on Naito. However, the current Naito bike lanes (especially southbound) are scary. Better Naito solved both these problems. Could it be better? Sure, but the number of bikes using Better Naito this summer instead of the waterfront path shows that there was a common desire to leave the path for pedestrians and bike on Naito. It was just too scary before Better Naito.

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      • AEG July 30, 2016 at 7:22 am

        And Better Naito replicated the conditions on the waterfront path. Crowds of people, unaware of the surroundings, roller skaters coming at me in my lane, cyclists unaware of the lane designation riding three abreast. I ride everyday, year round and have never felt that I was in danger riding in the Naito bike lane. There is no door zone, no right hook danger.

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    • Tom Hardy July 29, 2016 at 4:40 pm

      Homeless camping (without tents) and huddles and threatening groups along the waterfront MUP was one reason for the expanded MUP for Better Naito,

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  • yashardonnay July 29, 2016 at 4:38 pm

    This just shows me that Nick Fish is hearing from the other crowd. Please email him at nick@portlandoregon.gov and express your concern with his statements.

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  • Carrie July 29, 2016 at 4:39 pm

    So I’ve driven a car to and from work more in the past two weeks than I did all last year, due to circumstances of my own making (puppy!). Anyway, I’ve noticed that it takes about the same amount of time, on the clock, to get to work on my bike and in my car. But, in my car I am NOT MOVING for a significant portion of that commute time. And being in a vehicle that is not moving, especially one that is designed to go fast (and is marketed as such) is incredibly frustrating. It’s been interesting to observe.

    So it still leads me to conclude that people need to get out of their cars for short-ish trips around town (and I define short as 5 miles or less) because it’s way more fun and emotionally satisfying to be MOVING while going somewhere than spending time just sitting there. I don’t think car congestion is going to get any less, so it certainly is good to find an alternate way. And it really is astonishing that it takes the same amount of time (if not faster when something happens to ‘take away a lane’) than driving a car.

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  • Pat Franz July 29, 2016 at 10:22 pm

    The reason the streets are congested is that so many people are driving. Want to reduce congestion? Reduce the number of people that want to drive. How do you do that? Viable options.

    As for all those bioswales, bike corrals, and bike lanes? They are an insignificant drop in the bucket compared to all the space available to cars. An utterly insignificant decrease in the facilities available to those choosing to drive. And the cars they take off the road- they would take up far more space! It’s a win-win, so suck up your privilege and hope we keep doing more to make other options viable.

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    • Hello, Kitty
      Hello, Kitty July 30, 2016 at 9:58 am

      The flaw in that analysis is that yes, overall, a bike corral takes away a miniscule amount of space from cars overall, but that’s not really the right measure. That tiny amount of space impacts different people differently. The vast majority of drivers will see zero impact, but one or two will potentially see a significant impact.

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  • Wade Peerman July 29, 2016 at 10:45 pm

    He just lost my vote.

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    • Hello, Kitty
      Hello, Kitty August 1, 2016 at 12:03 am

      Why did he ever have it?

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  • Chris Anderson July 30, 2016 at 1:18 pm

    Now would be a good time to make it expensive for Fish to take a car centric position, so he gets a taste of the opening it gives his competitors next election.

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  • Lenny Anderson
    Lenny Anderson August 1, 2016 at 10:04 am

    Don’t forget that Mr. Fish supported the CRC, which would have dumped tens of thousands of additional WA vehicles onto Portland streets.
    Too much congestion? Make it safer to bike! Extend the Streetcar system!
    Reduce TriMet fares to $2. Which Portland street can be widened?!?
    Just do the math…for every person today in a SOV who opts to bike, walk, use transit or even carpool, there is more room for those, like Mr. Fish, who feel their trip can only be done by private motor vehicle.

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  • Buzz August 1, 2016 at 10:42 am

    I hate to have to inform Commissioner Fish about this, but balancing our streets for all transportation modes in this day and age pretty much requires taking space away from motorists and motor vehicles – space that was given to them, rightly or wrongly, only within the last 100 years of human civilization.

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  • Chris I August 1, 2016 at 11:16 am

    If drivers aren’t complaining about how the city manages traffic and infrastructure, you aren’t doing things right. People need to just let it go. Portland is growing, and traffic is going to get worse. We either get stuck in it, or we find alternatives. I want alternatives.

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    • Hello, Kitty
      Hello, Kitty August 1, 2016 at 1:03 pm

      I disagree. Positive changes need not degrade other options. It is not a zero sum game. Sometimes tradeoffs need to be made, sometimes they don’t. If the alternatives are better, people will use them and congratulate you, even if you took away a vehicle lane.

      More complaints is not a metric of success.

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      • Kyle Banerjee October 25, 2017 at 11:14 am

        Correct. Even if auto lanes must sometimes be repurposed, it does not follow that driving has to get worse.

        Provide good options that significantly reduce peoples’ need to drive and everyone can come out ahead.

        The discussion is too often framed in car vs. [whoever] terms. Done well, drivers can be huge beneficiaries of active and public transit.

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  • Evan Manvel August 2, 2016 at 9:54 am

    Cities eventually get to this point. And the smart folks recognize it’s a simple problem of geometry. This is what Seattle DOT has told the public when they get frustrated with downtown congestion.

    Jarrett Walker summarized it pretty well in a piece in The Washington Post this March.
    https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/in-theory/wp/2016/03/02/buses-and-trains-thats-what-will-solve-congestion/

    Cars don’t work well in cities, and the reason is simple: 1) A city is a place where people live close together, so there’s not much space per person. 2) Cars take up a lot of space per person. 3) Therefore, cities quickly run out of room for cars.

    This problem is called congestion. When it happens, a city’s options are to:

    (A) Stop growing — because congestion has become terrible and growth will make it worse.

    (B) Widen streets. This requires huge amounts of land, and land in cities is very expensive. What’s more, if you tear down enough buildings to widen streets, you are effectively destroying your city in order to save it.

    (C) Focus on helping people get around using less space than cars require — through walking, cycling and mass transit.

    Given the options, it’s not surprising that urban leaders — regardless of political ideology — eventually decide that C is the only real answer.

    Most commentary about urban transportation is a distraction from this simple math.

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    • Adron Hall August 2, 2016 at 4:06 pm

      Oh wow, I’d not read this article. It’s good, it’s real good! 🙂

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