Good news everyone: the Bureau of Transportation has found a new design for their Foster Transportation and Streetscape Project that allows them to continue the westbound bike lanes on Foster all the way to 52nd.
This is a big deal because the plan that passed City Council two summers ago dropped the bike lane at 54th and led westbound Foster bike riders on an annoying zig-zag to the north in order to reach 52nd and eastbound riders would have been led south of Foster to Center Street in order to reconnect to Foster a few blocks east of 52nd — all because PBOT didn’t want to remove a few blocks of on-street auto parking.
At the time, Foster-Powell area resident Brett Holycross told us the zig-zag was, “A shame for an otherwise great project.”
News of the new design leaked out at the City’s town hall event on the new gas tax in east Portland on Tuesday. Members of BikeLoudPDX attended the event and reported back about what they heard from PBOT’s Foster Streetscape Plan Project Manager Rich Newlands. “The bike lanes on Foster will extend to 52nd Ave! This made my day,” wrote Dan Gebhart.
The reason PBOT originally planned to drop bicycle lanes between 52nd and 54th is because the initial plan called for a transition west of 54th from a three standard vehicle lane cross-section to four full standard lanes at Foster. To make room for this extra lane and maintain on-street auto parking (something PBOT is committed to due a “lack of off-street parking for businesses in this area”) they said they had to drop the bike lane. The only other option presented in 2014 was to narrow two feet off both sidewalks — a surefire way of making bike lanes impossible due to the politics that would erupt if that was ever seriously considered.
Here’s an old graphic that shows the detours and options previously considered (the blue, dotted north-south line is 52nd Ave):
So how’d they manage to maintain bike lanes and the on-street parking? Newlands told us via email today that they’ve decided to extend the three lane cross-section further west. In order to make this new option work “from a capacity standpoint,” he added that people will no longer be able to turn left (south) from Foster onto 52nd. “We think this is an acceptable tradeoff,” Newlands wrote, “off-set in part by another element of the project which will allow left turns at Holgate, which are currently prohibited.”
No official design drawings are available yet, but here’s how Newland describes the new cross-section just east of 52nd (from south (eastbound) to north (westbound)): 8 ft parking/bus zone; 7 ft bike lane (5+2’ buffer); 20 ft travel lane (the two eastbound lanes merge to one between 52nd and 54th Ave in this section instead of between 54th and 56th that is shown in the concept plan); 10 ft westbound lane; 7 ft bike lane; 8 ft parking/bus zone.
This also means that eastbound bicycling traffic won’t have to go south past Foster to Center Avenue in order to connect back to Foster.
A project survey in December 2012 found that 57 percent of respondents wanted the bike lanes to connect directly to 52nd. But now that PBOT has introduced a change, Newlands has to do more outreach before making it an official part of the design. The Foster Area Business Association is already on board and Newlands will meet next week with the Foster-Powell Neighborhood Association and with two other adjacent neighborhoods in the coming months.
PBOT said Tuesday night that the project is currently at 60 percent design and construction of the new bike lanes and other changes to Foster are expected to be completed by late 2017.
— Jonathan Maus, (503) 706-8804 – firstname.lastname@example.org