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PBOT requests $350,000 for ‘Seasonal Naito’ (aka Better Naito)

Posted by on September 21st, 2016 at 2:17 pm

Naito Parkway traffic observations -11.jpg

Naito during the Better Naito pilot project in July.
(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

“Better Naito” just became “Seasonal Naito”. That’s the new name the City of Portland’s transportation bureau has given the project in a budget request document that was first reported on by The Oregonian today.

“When dollars are scarce, it’s always good to have a low-cost option that can provide improvements and we felt like this was a good option to move forward.”
— Dylan Rivera, PBOT

The city is going through its fall budget readjustment process where actual revenues are reconciled with estimated revenues. Since Portland’s economy is chugging along, there’s about $8 million up for grabs from the city’s General Fund (which comes from business and property taxes). And with half that money set-aside for citywide critical maintenance and infrastructure projects (not just transportation-related), it’s a major battle to win these funds.

It’s in that context that PBOT has put in a request to fund the “Seasonal Naito” project. Before we share the plans, here’s a bit of background.

For the past two summers, the City of Portland worked closely with nonprofit Better Block PDX to reconfigure Naito between the Hawthorne and Steel Bridges. Impetus for the project came out of a need to better manage north-south traffic in the Waterfront Park/Naito corridor — especially during the busy festival season when private vendors fence off the grassy portion of the park and the Waterfront Path gets packed with people. The existing, five-foot bike lane on Naito is inadequate and unsafe by today’s design standards.

Because Better Naito was such a success, Mayor Charlie Hales and the partners and advocates who made it happen, wanted to make it permanent. Hales proposed a $1.5 million project to do that back in May; but it was a last-minute effort and he (quite unfortunately) failed to whip up any support for it on council.

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Then in July Hales hinted that he wouldn’t give up on the idea — and that he needed citizens to step up and make their voices heard. When it came to public feedback, the City heard vast amounts of praise and very few complaints from people who use Naito.

did not complain

Data based on City data on feedback about the project. More analysis here.
(Graphic: BikePortland)

Despite what seemed like a slam dunk to make it permanent, PBOT has opted to put forward another temporary proposal.

Their request includes $200,000 in capital investment and $150,000 in materials and staffing to, “provide a high-quality seasonal delineated shared bicycle and pedestrian path on the west east side of Naito Parkway.”

The project would use removable plastic bollards that would be installed at the start of the summer and then taken down when all the big festivals are over. The $350,000 would allow PBOT to do this for five years and they would take full ownership of a project that has been essentially owned and operated by a scrappy nonprofit.

This $350,000 is a much lower amount of investment than the $1.5 million Hales proposed back in May. Also in this budget request, PBOT made a less emphatic pitch for a $3.7 Better Naito project. That project would be permanent and would be a physically separated path complete with connections to other facilities. Unfortunately it’s on a list of very competitive “major maintenance and infrastructure” projects (like replacing old bridges and repaving major streets) and it’s unlikely to see the light of day.

Over on The Oregonian, they say a big reason PBOT has lost their enthusiasm on Naito is pushback from people concerned about increased driving times. They hired an outside firm who found driving times went up as much as two minutes during the PM peak.

That amount of delay for the sake of a more safe and humane environment on our waterfront is just unacceptable to some people — including Portland City Commissioner Nick Fish. At a Council meeting in late July, Fish shared his concerns that Portland’s “livable streets strategy” was making it harder for him drive.

“When I am in a car and trying to get from point a to point b,” he said, “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.”

PBOT spokesman Dylan Rivera said the agency is just hedging bets and trying to get something positive for Naito out of the fall budget process. “Dollars are scarce and we’re at the point where we’re competing for citywide General Fund dollars,” he told us in an interview today. “In that environment, when dollars are scarce, it’s always good to have a low-cost option that can provide improvements and we felt like this was a good option to move forward.”

From here the City Council will have work sessions on the bureau budgets and City Budget Office will also weigh in before final decisions are made.

UPDATE: PBOT sent us over the new “City Post” flexible bollards they play to use in the Seasonal Naito project:
cityposts

cityposts

Stay tuned for a separate post on other requests PBOT is making as part of this budget process, including a major project for SE Hawthorne and Vision Zero-related projects in east Portland.

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

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NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. BikePortland is an inclusive company with no tolerance for discrimination or harassment including expressions of racism, sexism, homophobia, or xenophobia. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Also, if you comment frequently, please consider holding your thoughts so that others can step forward. Thank you — Jonathan

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Ted Timmons (Contributor)
Editor

sigh. I’m not even up to discussing the inanity of this. Lizbon is right.

peejay
Guest
peejay

There is no way a temporary project won’t end up costing more than doing it right once, both in cost to PBOT, and cost to the drivers and riders who have to get used to changing patterns every spring and fall. It is an incredibly dumb idea to have to retrain everyone twice a year how to navigate Naito. Unless there’s a secret plan about getting the temporary project in the budget and then converting it secretly to a permanent one, I’m not impressed. It shows lack of courage all around.

Ben
Guest
Ben

So long as they don’t describe it as a cycling project, that’s fine. It’s great for pedestrians.

Work Account
Guest
Work Account

I’m disheartened that the efforts of our city government all focus on “Stuff the problem in its own lane out of the way of real traffic” projects. How about driver education? Speed limits? Strict enforcement for reckless motor vehicle operators.

Eric Leifsdad
Guest
Eric Leifsdad

How much would it cost just to increase driving times at the PM peak? Even $1M for that sounds like a worthwhile investment.

Evan Reeves
Guest
Evan Reeves

This would be great news if I were a seasonal cyclist! But as a tax-paying cyclist who rides year round I can’t help but feeling disappointed and insulted by this tentative decision.

Should other modes of transportation be seasonal and optional too? Maybe close down US-26 when it rains too much?

J_R
Guest
J_R

We shouldn’t jump into a seasonal solution like this without a public outreach effort, a new logo, a task force, and some expensive trips to exotic places to see how they do it. You can’t possibly do all that for a mere $350,000. Better budget at least $2 million. And then there’s the re-evaluation that needs to occur after the first and second annual trials. That’s the Portland way.

bikeninja
Guest
bikeninja

Its interesting the restoring just a small strip of the earth to the way it was for 1000’s of years before the automobile ( safe for humans not in speeding metal boxes) costs 100’s of thousands of dollars, and those costs are attributed to the peds and bikes and not to the automobile that made in dangerous and inhospitable in the first place. We must change the narrative to take away the motorcars defacto dominion over most of the urban environment. The world will only be right again when places for humans to walk, run and pedal are the natural order of things and carving out a place for smelly dangerous machines to rip around takes an act of congress.

Adam
Subscriber

Seasonal? How ridiculous is this? Do cities like Copenhagen remove bike infrastructure for nine months out of the year, just so people can “drive from A to B” more easily?

The city will laud this as a compromise. But is it? Imagine if we asked this of drivers. What if I-5 was removed for nine months out of the year? Drivers are never asked to compromise like this, so why does the city ask this of cyclists?

This is utter BS.

Kyle Banerjee
Guest

I’m not a fan of Seasonal Naito. I find it slower and less safe than regular Naito. The configuration seems to encourage a huge percentage of cyclists to ignore stoplights which threatens peds and other cyclists alike and too many people ride all over the path. It’s too much like riding along the riverfront and I was happy when they pulled it down.

I’m unconvinced of the cycling benefits of Seasonal Naito, but I also don’t buy that a delay that corresponds with a single light cycle is causing drivers hardship — especially since everything that Naito isn’t moving either

Seasonal Naito simply puts markers around current reality. If they did not mark out that lane when the park is full, people would spill out into Naito anyway since they don’t seem to be able to figure out that if festival fences don’t leave any space for people to move, they’ll go out in the street.

Frankly, I’d much rather focus on improving areas that are actually dangerous.

Buzz
Guest
Buzz

I’ve got some news for Nick Fish and everyone else complaining about loss of lanes for motor vehicles: There is only so much space to go around in our rights of way and the vast majority of that space has been given over to motor vehicles for far too long; any attempt to increase the safety and utility of right of way space for users other than motorists is going to require rebalancing the allocation of right of way, and the motorists will inevitably end up with less, there simply is no other way to do this.

rh
Guest
rh

This just shows Portland is still a lightweight when it comes to infrastructure projects.

We need bold ideas and leadership now…before this once great town crumbles under the weight of all the newcomers and problems.

mh
Subscriber

I think each of us should try to take up two minutes of Nick Fish’s time (or at least some of his assistants’ time). Once a week should be plenty, if enough of us do it. Let him know why you’re doing it, if you’re willing to never be listened to again.

Brian
Guest
Brian

That would be awesome. I’ve been dying to hit that descent into the tunnel at full speed.

bikeninja
Guest
bikeninja

In the words of the Eagles, ” There is no more new frontier, we have got to make it here.” As buzz said,there is no more space to be gobbled up by Karz. If we are to fit in more people, more activity and improve our quality of life, the only new frontier is the land given over to motor vehicles. When one starts thinking this way it becomes apparent what a ridiculous amount of our urban landscape is given over to roads, interchanges, median strips, parking, new car lots, body shops, gas stations. auto repair and drive thru fry shacks.

Catie
Guest
Catie

If the only metric we measure for active transit infrastructure is cost and impact to auto commutes we will never move forward.

How about:
Cyclist & pedestrian commute times
Number of cyclists & pedestrians
Projected road maintenance savings
Number of modal conflicts (safety complaints, crash data, etc)

I’d like to think we count these other metrics but they are rarely reported.

MaxD
Guest
MaxD

IMO, the root of the issue is the constant programming of the waterfront park with over-large, private, commercial fairs. These festivals occupy one of Portland’s greatest outdoor spaces during the best time of the year. AS the City densifies, we increasingly need our public openspaces to remain public and open! Maybe these festivals could be relocated to a more suitable space for a festival (Terminal 1? Centennial Mills?) and our waterfront can remain a park.

Mike Sanders
Guest
Mike Sanders

Two minutes? Sounds like the argument Tri-Met gave for not building the SE Harold St. Station on the MAX Orange Line. They claimed that the one minute delay that would have been created if it had been built would scare potential passengers away, an argument Tri-Met still clings to a year after the opening. Not enought development there to warrant it, they said (and still do). To claim that a 2 minute traffic delay for cars that would be created by a permanent Better Naito project – and therefore, only a temporary seasonal arrangement will do – sounds dumb at best and ignorant at worst. It’s a cop out, plain and simple.

rick
Guest
rick

Half-baked

Fourknees
Guest
Fourknees

First, step in the right direction. 2 minutes. Big deal, does tha factor in how many people will change diving patters? Even if it doesn’t congestion saves lives.

How locked in stone are the proposed use of budget dollars? I’m not sure, but assuming flexibility and thinking big, here is an alternative way to look at it.
1. Hales original proposal cost $1.5M
2. $350k was just budgeted for 5 years = $1.75M
3. So is this thing at least partially funded??? Why not start building good permanent infrastructure 1-2 blocks per year supplementing the remaining section of road with cones and better naito naito’ she’ll which adds little to no hard cost.
4. Yes, probably more expensive piece by piece and this $1.75 probably won’t cover the entire project with this method, but budgets change and worst case, in 5 years from now they can allocate more dollars.

Or there will be public pressure from all road users seeing how ridiculous it is to build only a few sections per year!

And who knows, at that point long-term when drivers avoid the area and it is now quicker to drive through, no “180 second delay” maybe the original protected lane becomes pedestrian only, the remaining car lane northbound becomes cyclist only, and the south bound lanes become two way for cars, parking spots are filled in as new plaza space as restaurants start opening along naito promoting park views and customers demand patio seating. Maybe even covered seating so it came be used year round?!

There is already one restaurant by waterfront cycles and isn’t there a proposed market by the end of the Morrison bridge?

One can dream.

Oh and I’d be willing to bet all traffic modes wait much, much longer than two minutes for bridge lifts and the train crossing by the steel bridge, yet no one says that affects their livability here. It’s all about perspective.

Fourknees
Guest
Fourknees

Sorry for the grammatical errors.

Velolief
Guest
Velolief

Keep Portland Mediocre!

kittens
Guest
kittens

But thank God they did the ped plaza and buffered bike lane at 3rd and Burnside, or SW Stark, because people were simply clamoring for that. Natio on the other hand sees little bike or ped traffic.

I think the city needs to figure out where to prioritize spending on these active transportation projects. They seem to have a very sloppy and opaque rubric, like the $6M I-405 MUP bridge @ Flanders. Sorry, not worth it for the cost. We cant have everything and this is not worth the sacrifice made in other areas. I wish it were not so, but it is.

Fourknees
Guest
Fourknees

RH
$350k for five years, not $350k each year.
Recommended 0

Oops, sorry, recovering from surgery and on pan meds! As Robert below mentions, maybe we can find $350 per year though. Easier than $1M+!

igor stravinsky
Guest
igor stravinsky

I wish the plan for better Nato included a curb cut for bikers going South on Nato who want to go up the ramp to go East on Hawthorne.

I’ve grown tied of the daily maneuverability test involving going around the corner, and then through the bollards at the bottom of the old onramp.

Mike G
Guest
Mike Gilliland

Are they planning on temporarily turning the stoplights around for temporary southbound users so you’ll know when you’re temporarily running red lights?

JeffS
Guest
JeffS

Surprise surprise: Another Portland temporary experiment.

I wouldn’t be in favor of this if it were free.

Tom Hardy
Guest
Tom Hardy

This last couple of weeks I have been through Naito, both in car and bike. Interestingly enough, the traffic patterns have stayed in the Better Naito configuration. Northbound motor traffic was only in the left lane and the left turn lanes. Only 1 in 20 cars or trucks were in the right lane. These only went into the right lane until they were able to merge into the left lane or turned right to the Steel bridge.
On the bike I just took the lane as peds were in the bike lane.

Kyle Banerjee
Guest

In all fairness, even regular Naito has never been that fast. It would be easy to run the distance faster than cars can drive during Better Naito. I can totally understand why people waiting in that mess would be frustrated and not want to wait longer — frankly, I don’t know how they stand it. But as we all know, there are alternatives 🙂

I find it interesting that they’ve started calling it “Seasonal Naito” rather than “Better Naito.” More descriptive and accurate in my view….

That no one seems happy is an indication that it is probably either a reasonable compromise or a bad idea.

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

“…Over on The Oregonian, they say a big reason PBOT has lost their enthusiasm on Naito is pushback from people concerned about increased driving times. They hired an outside firm who found driving times went up as much as two minutes during the PM peak.

That amount of delay for the sake of a more safe and humane environment on our waterfront is just unacceptable to some people — including Portland City Commissioner Nick Fish. At a Council meeting in late July, Fish shared his concerns that Portland’s “livable streets strategy” was making it harder for him drive.

“When I am in a car and trying to get from point a to point b,” he said, “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.” …” bikeportland

Can’t get from here to there on Naito, when one of the thoroughfare’s lanes are closed to motor vehicle use? That’s a stretch in expectation of credulity if there ever was one. Commissioner Fish: a couple minutes added to your commute time over Naito, will not curtail your ability to get from ‘here to there’. Might take a couple minutes longer.

What price are people willing to pay for street road traffic that is compatible with and supportive with the level of livability they want from their city? That’s what this dithering about calming down the character of traffic on Naito is all about. Naito traffic isn’t near as bad as that on actual freeways bordering Downtown, like I-5 or I-405 do…but to say Naito’s traffic is a bit much for its central Downtown location, is not an overstatement, I don’t think.

People driving during commute hours would be most dramatically impacted by a lane number reduction on Naito, but the impact would possibly be somewhat moderate…so they’d have to work a bit more at relaxing until the traffic proceeds through the reduced section. It can be amazing, just how much deterioration in area livability, people are willing to reconcile themselves to in order to have their personal commute time reduced by a couple minutes.

The bigger picture of time and energy expended…how much time overall, for all people using the road, the lane reduction may result in…and the fuel consumption, pollutant production, is something to ponder though. There’s no ‘fun’ quite like being stuck at a standstill on a bicycle, in the midst of dozens of motor vehicles with their engines idling away.

Spiffy
Subscriber

how loudly do I have to complain about train delays on Naito before they reroute the road or the tracks? I’ve been stuck there for a long time, sometimes for two trains one after another… even if I’m only stuck there once a month it’s like Better Naito every day…

q
Guest
q

It seems like there should be a group created to advocate for permanent improvements. It could be called Naito Allies.

Brent
Guest
Brent

While I understand the frustrations of a plan that doesn’t go all the way permanently, I am excited that Better Naito will continue. I loved Better Naito and miss it every day. I would love to make it permanent, but maybe we need 3 or 4 years where drivers learn to live with one lane for a couple months so they don’t freak out when it is taken away permanently.

Mike Sanders
Guest
Mike Sanders

Well, it’ll be in place on a temporary basis every year for the next five years. By then, an argument could – and should be made for a permanent setup. Remember, we get a new mayor in January – and maybe some changes on the City Council after the upcoming election. An effort should be made to make Better Naito permanent after the first of the year, hoping we don’t have to wait five years for a permanent setup.