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City Council votes to fund Better Naito and Halsey safety upgrades

Posted by on October 26th, 2016 at 11:40 am

Hales at council this morning.

Hales at council this morning.

What started as a vision of a few tactical urbanists is now officially ensconced in City of Portland policy.

A few minutes ago Portland City Council unanimously agreed to to pass the fall supplemental budget package that included $350,000 for a seasonal version of the Better Naito project. The budget also includes $1 million for upgrades to outer Northeast Halsey Street — funding that will trigger a $1 million match in funds from the Bureau of Transportation to complete the project.

As we reported earlier this week, these two projects emerged from a list of six requests made by the Bureau of Transportation in an attempt to get a piece of a $4 million piece of the General Fund that was up for grabs.

“We’ve killed 34 of our fellow citizens with cars [this year], and that’s the #1 threat to public safety in our city.”
— Charlie Hales, Mayor

It was the last budget-related act for outgoing Mayor Charlie Hales, and he was motivated to make good on promises about making cycling on Naito Parkway easier and safer. During his pre-vote remarks in City Hall this morning Hales has strong words of support for both the projects. He spoke directly about hearing from many Portlanders who supported the Naito project.

Hales rode a bike on Naito’s temporary protected lane in July and implored advocates to get loud if they wanted the city to fund it.

“I’m very happy about Better Naito,” he said this morning, “And in terms of community involvement, I want to thank the hundreds of people who let us know it was a priority for them. It really helped us make the case that having more safe places to bike, and expanding the public realm for bicycles in this city, and is something we’re still committed too.”

And perhaps alluding to permanent, year-round changes to Naito, Hales added, “This is a step in the right direction.”

The seasonal version of Better Naito will reconfigure the lanes on the east side of the street during the busy summer festival season in Waterfront Park. For the next five years, city crews will screw in flexible plastic bollards to protect a wide space for walking and biking in both directions. The project also institutionalizes the tactical urbanism approach to street management popularized by Better Block PDX, the nonprofit group who first deployed the project in 2015. This more nimble, flexible, and cheaper approach to re-imagining streets bodes very well for the city’s new Livable Streets Strategy initiative.

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Better Naito kickoff-12.jpg

Coming back this summer!
(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

“People should have an absolute right to the safe use of our streets and it’s a goal we’ll get closer to if we make these types of investments.”
— Nick Fish, Commissioner

Hales also spoke forcefully today about the need for safety upgrades on Halsey, a project that lines up with the city’s vision zero committment and its need to invest in safety upgrades east of I-205. “Gang violence is still a serious problem in this city, we’ve had 15 homicides so far this year,” he said. “But we’ve killed 34 of our fellow citizens with cars, and that’s the #1 threat to public safety in our city.” Hales also mentioned testimony he heard last month from the mother of Fallon Smart, the 15-year-old killed by a reckless driver while walking across Hawthorne Blvd earlier this year. “We had Fawn Lengvenis here, talking about the hole in her heart from her daughter’s death… So vision zero is real and it’s human and it matters… Budgets are how you put values into action, and this is good action and I’m very proud of it.”

Commissioner Nick Fish also voiced strong support for both projects. Back in July, Fish decried Better Naito because it made it harder for him to drive on the street. “When I am in a car and trying to get from point a to point b,” he said during a Council meeting on July 29th. “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.”

Thankfully Fish has changed his tune. “Thanks to everyone who educated me about the benefits of Better Naito,” he said, before voting “aye” this morning. And about the Halsey vision zero project, Fish said, “Vision zero has to be at the center of what we do as a city. People should have an absolute right to the safe use of our streets and it’s a goal we’ll get closer to if we make these types of investments.”

— 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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Kiel Johnson (Go By Bike)
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kiel johnson

Congrats to Better Block! Also excited for the residents along Halsey who live soon be living in a safer more accessible community!

Bob K
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Bob K

This is a big win. Thank you for everyone who made it happen.

Adam
Subscriber

Make Better Naito permanent.

Robert Burchett
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Robert Burchett

This is the time for people who care about having a good bike facility near Naito Parkway to actively inform the design process. If the thing makes sense it will be nailed down and made permanent. If it’s a mess and lots of people hate it, it will go away.

Gwenevere
Subscriber
Gwenevere

Huge thank you’s to everyone that shared their thoughts on Better Naito! I’m excited to see what types of tweaks and improvements we can make in the upcoming years to find a design that truly works for every single user traveling to and through the area!

Caitlin D
Subscriber

Woo hoo! I’m glad our City Council members are thinking (and talking) about Vision Zero and making our streets safer.

Mike Sanders
Guest
Mike Sanders

And he should. He should make it one of his first acts as mayor.

Todd Boulanger
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Todd Boulanger

Great news…made my day! Thanks to all involved.

rh
Guest
rh

Cool…better than nothing! Although I don’t get why it costs so much to put down some cones and markings. I’d volunteer my own time to do something like that 🙂

Spiffy
Subscriber

“Coming back this summer!”

that’s a really bad pro-Better Naito photo with the wrong-way cyclist and the peds taking up all the bike lanes… that’s the image I’d use to rally against Better Naito, not for it…

m
Guest
m

“It was the last budget-related act for outgoing Mayor Charlie Hales,”

Thank goodness. That’s the real story here. Good riddance Charlie.

Kyle Banerjee
Guest

Boo.

The picture in this story is testament to what’s wrong with Better Naito. People and bikes all over the place converting a perfectly good bike lane into a low speed mess.

If this ever gets made permanent, we can turn our attention to rendering the other reasonably decent cycling corridors useless.

rick
Guest
rick

Now moving to Better Barbur and Better Macadam !

Alex Reedin
Guest
Alex Reedin

Woot! Naito is good news and Halsey is great news! Good job, Better Block and Oregon Walks and everyone who advocated for these projects!

rick
Guest
rick

Will Halsey get a 30 mph speed limit?

Linkbeak
Guest
Linkbeak

I work a block off Naito and it is a regular part of my commute. There is reasonably good infrastructure in place along the stretch to be made “better.” These funds would be better spent improving bicycle access to Naito south and north of downtown.

Kyle Banerjee
Guest

If the city really has a few bucks burning a hole in their pocket, the leaves along major bike routes (including Naito) represent a much greater safety threat than the cars.

I understand that if they clean them more will fall down and the process would just need to be repeated. But right now, it’s bad enough that I’d rather be in traffic than in the bike lane in some sections.