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.
“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 – firstname.lastname@example.org
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Congrats to Better Block! Also excited for the residents along Halsey who live soon be living in a safer more accessible community!
This is a big win. Thank you for everyone who made it happen.
Make Better Naito permanent.
make Better Naito better!
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.
a good permanent design would differ greatly from the past ones…
sidewalks on the west edge of the park for peds (with low fence to keep them from straying into the bike lane)… use the current closed lane for a real protected (not just separated) bike lane… and no southbound bike traffic on the east side of Naito…
A low fence? What is this, Disneyland?
like the one keeping people from falling into the water, there should be one to keep people from falling into the bike lane… openings should only be at crossings…
Just like cattle. How about you let the pedestrians take responsibility for their own safety? If traffic is clear, I don’t want anything preventing me from crossing mid-block. The concept of “jaywalking” was created by the automotive lobby to take the streets away from the people.
Because merging car traffic is such a good feature of a bikeway? I can get that anyplace.
I’d like to see a Naito route that has good access at either end, with dedicated signals and clear signage. In between, a long clear cruise with may some discreet flashing signals for pedestrians who have trust issues with bikes. I can wait for those people! (I don’t mind waiting for people who are actually there–but it’s crazy to wait at a signal when nobody is in sight)
For bike riders who want to enter or leave the bikeway between the endpoints, give a hand signal, cross Naito at an existing ped crosswalk, yield to traffic already moving North-South, and don’t harm yourself or others.
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!
Thank you! Hopefully “semi-permanent” Better Naito will be so popular next year, that Mayor Ted Wheeler will rush to make it permanent for good!
Thanks for your activism and advocacy, Gwenevere!
Woo hoo! I’m glad our City Council members are thinking (and talking) about Vision Zero and making our streets safer.
And he should. He should make it one of his first acts as mayor.
Great news…made my day! Thanks to all involved.
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 🙂
I think they’re putting permanent bolts into the pavement so they can just screw/unscrew the bollards each time they set up and take down…
“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…
It functions as a mup. When crowded there isn’t a dedicated bike lane, the bike ‘area’ serves as overflow for people walking. When emptier the pedestrian ‘area’ serves as a passing/slow lane for northbound cyclists. It’s not a bike highway. It’s not a protected walkway. The picture shows that it’s a heavily used space for people not in motor vehicles. What are you rallying against? That the city would dare to implement something that doesn’t as first purpose speed the strong and fearless cyclists as fast as they can pedal?
There’s already a perfectly fine MUP along the waterfront. We’ve been asked to ride on Naito if we want to ride through with any sort of speed. I ride Naito every day – as for strong and fearless I’d say you should reassess. I’m a 59 year old female accountant who probably fits a different demographic. The only improvements would be a wider buffered bike lane. Pedestrians and two way bike traffic don’t belong in the east side bike lane.
Incremental improvements. If we can get Better Naito established, it is much more likely that PBOT will eventually pony up the money to pour a concrete sidewalk along the west side of the park. This would free up the “Better Naito” space for a generous, pedestrian-free 2-way protected cycle track.
>There’s already a perfectly fine MUP along the waterfront.
Not really. It’s overcrowded and there is limited access to it during festival season. You know, when better naito is implemented. Far more people are served by better naito than the existing bike lane. It’s a good project.
“It was the last budget-related act for outgoing Mayor Charlie Hales,”
Thank goodness. That’s the real story here. Good riddance Charlie.
Charlie Hales had the guts to do the bait walk for crosswalk enforcement. Crawl off of Charlie Hales.
Hope he moves back to WA. Absolutely awful mayor.
Did he camp in your curb strip?
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.
The pedestrian mess predates the cones by a few years, though it used to have 45mph cars instead of cones and slow counterflow bikes. Was that better?
Way better. This is and for some time has been one of the significantly better than average commuting roads to ride.
I think Eric’s point is that the same scene in the photo happened before Better Naito–during festivals peds spilled into street and thus the bikelane. Just as before, when there isn’t a festival, the Better Naito lanes should be clear, but larger.
I’ve been riding Naito daily for years and that is just not the case. There were occasionally pedestrians in the lane, also delivery trucks. But nothing like the scene last summer.
“Way better”, provided you don’t care about the safety of your fellow citizens. The previous configuration was significantly more dangerous for pedestrians.
I rode in the Naito bike lane this morning and was buzzed within inches by a large garbage truck. “Perfectly good” my ass.
Paint is not protection!
Same reason why I think the Hawthorne sidewalks should be 1 way traffic regardless of mode.
No. The Hawthorne bridge needs a bridge diet.
Hawthorne should be bus/bike/walk only.
Thanks for some sanity…..
This reply to Kyle.
If the space is full of people using it that’s not a bad thing. It’s an argument for making the space a little bigger.
Now moving to Better Barbur and Better Macadam !
We could spend some money on Barbur and Macadam if we were not wasting it on Naito.
Think of Naito as a laboratory. We’ve done one experiment. If we (Portland) can set up something that works there, it’s the best argument for replicating it somewhere else.
We already know what to do with Macadam and Barbur and the rusting shore trolley.
Macadam I totally get. Not much fun to ride, but the only fast option available.
I don’t mind Barbur though there are a couple tight spots that are less than awesome when traffic is heavy and fast. It still beats constantly stopping.
Given that you are willing to ride Macadam, you have to realize that you belong to a small fraction of the cyclists in this city. I don’t know anyone that is brave enough to ride Macadam. I grew up in the area, consider myself “strong and fearless” and I haven’t ridden it for more than a few blocks. Better Naito is not a solution for Vehicular Cyclists, it is a solution for everyone else.
This city seems to only spend money for “everyone else”. Fair weather casual cyclists that ride around on nice days.
Those of us who actually use bikes for real transportation get very little.
I rode all week as usual, I saw half the number of cyclists around.
Why are we spending money at all for the casual crowd?
Please stop conflating “concerned about riding close to motor vehicle traffic” with “casual.” I ride 21 miles round-trip to work daily (most of the trip on the Springwater, yay!), including dropping my kids off at daycare three days a week, but never rode on Naito for more than a block or two before Better Naito (and haven’t done so since the end of Better Naito).
There are plenty of people out there who would like to ride more for transportation but are uncomfortable about interactions with people driving cars. Indeed, research shows this is the largest group of Portlanders who would consider riding but don’t currently. Not saying interactions with people driving cars is the only reason these people don’t bike, but it is a factor – and one directly addressable by government policy. http://web.pdx.edu/~jdill/Types_of_Cyclists_PSUWorkingPaper.pdf
100 times this. I rode year-round in Chicago through some brutal weather, but there is no way I would ride on some streets in Portland like Barbur without dedicated infra.
Portland has spent a ton of money for “casual” cyclists.
The whole eastbank path for instance.
Now a bunch of money for Naito.
Cycling ridership has barley gone up in the last 5 years.
It it time to spend the money for real commuting routes for the east and west sides. With traffic as bad as it is getting, there is a demand for real cycling routes.
Enough with sight seeing downtown bike infrastructure that only gets used on nice summer days.
I use the Eastbank Esplanade every day for commuting to work.
As a high-schooler, the east bank esplanade enabled me to commute by bike to my very first job. Had it not been in place, along with the Willamette Greenway trail (offering an apparently “too slow” alternative to Macadam for the VCs), there is a chance I would have just bought a car and become a lifetime driver. Building infrastructure for the “casual” “wimpy” cyclists is how you shift modal share.
Are you going to stop riding because the city is spending money on new cycling infrastructure? Probably not.
I am in no way against MUPs, the Esplanade, the greenway path, etc even if I choose the roads over them myself. I agree that the way to get people to start riding is to provide a non threatening environment.
But that only works for short distances. Speed is important when you’re going more than a few miles.
Speaking to that specific area, there are plenty of low speed options downtown which include pretty much any route *except* Naito. No need to slow that down too.
I ride 10 miles a day and don’t give a damn about getting there faster. I’d rather be safer, and I would actually go out of my way for a safer route. You may prefer to ride fast, but know that not everyone cares about this. In fact, if we include all the people considering cycling, you are likely in the minority – I’d wager that most people care about safety over speed.
We should start a kickstarter to get a tandem for Adam and Kyle and they can take turns at stoker. Maybe one of those with the recumbent front stoker setup. You guys should find a way to get on the same page so you can help PBOT build infra that works for both of you and everybody else.
I want fast *and* safe, convenient *and* comfortable routes so I can take my kids places without being threatened by random acts of illegal driving. An empty street is perfectly safe and fast. A 3-6ft bike lane next to heavy and fast traffic isn’t even fast unless it’s empty.
Do we want people to just keep driving cars? Those are fast and safe, comfortable and convenient. If we keep building “multi-use paths” and otherwise putting Bikes on Sidewalks, cars will continue to be the best option for most people. A family and their groceries on an electric bike rolling through at 400lb+ and 20mph needs to be part of the plan. Alternating between disappearing painted lanes and random bits of sidewalk doesn’t cut it, Portland.
That’s fine if all you want to do is commute all day — BTW, 10 miles/day is nothing. Most people have to cover much more ground than that to get to/from work.
If you want people to switch from cars to something else, they need options that actually work. While safety is important, few people will be willing to add an hour or more to their commute each day while they get caught in the rain to boot.
And they like to do things other than work. There are a zillion things to do, but those all become inaccessible if it takes too long to get there and back.
Very few people will be riding 20+ miles to work, even if we manage to build perfectly safe and fast infrastructure. A commute above 5 or so miles becomes better served by buses and trains. I’d rather not spend money on such a tiny minority of riders and focus on creating more compact neighborhoods and safe but slow infrastructure for “average” riders – not the hardcore ones who seem perfectly fine with what we have today.
Longer trips are only better served by buses and trains if the buses and trains are actually fast. Currently, ours are not – and I have higher hopes politically for comfortable, convenient, fast bike infrastructure than for fast public transit. Also, electric bikes do extend one’s range a good bit if one is able to ride faster at the same level of exertion.
I’m with Alex here. The buses and trains are way too slow. It just so happens one of my coworkers lives near me and takes MAX which is a straight shot, but needs to go through town. My commute is shorter by more than 30 minutes each way (i.e. an hour per day). Buses are significantly worse.
Except along the outer areas where stations are spread out, MAX is hopeless and the buses are worse. They also are crowded and get service interruptions due to weather and other factors far more often than I have to deal with flats or other mechanicals (which I can fix in a few minutes).
No reason why we can’t build quality bike infrastructure while simultaneously improving public transport. There are some quick and easy fixes to improve the buses if we actually had the political will to implement them.
Fully agreed here. And while I’m not always on board for dedicated/separated bike facilities, it’s the only practical way to move buses and trains through traffic.
However, making public transit workable for people who don’t live in so close (average commute distance in Portland is just over 7 miles each way http://www.marketwatch.com/story/here-are-the-typical-commutes-for-every-big-metro-area-2015-03-25 ) means things can’t be crawling and constantly stopping — i.e. more bus express routes needed and the MAX stops in the center need to be spread out.
Likewise, longer stretches make a huge difference on a bike. On this blog when we talk about roads, we’re always talking about really short sections. When you can just start pedaling and keep going, it makes a massive difference in time (and fun).
One thing you gotta hand people here is that at least they’re consistent. I used to think some posters here were dedicated to making driving as miserable as possible even if it provided no cycling benefit whatsoever. However, it is clear that this desire to slow cars down extends to all forms of transportation, including bicycles.
What I don’t understand is why so many people with such a keen interest in transportation infrastructure are so interested in making sure there are no options whatsoever for actually covering much distance efficiently.
You’ll find plenty of people here advocating for dedicated bus lanes and rail infrastructure.
How are you measuring efficiency? Average vehicle speed, or average number of people killed per VMT?
Metrics are important.
I guess you’re talking about people other than me – I think convenience (of which speed is a major component) is extremely important, probably the #2 thing lacking for getting more people biking in Portland after comfort (subjective safety). It drives me nuts that in our brand spanking new infrastructure around the Tilikum for example, there are unnecessary stops (e.g. why does copious mostly bike/walk traffic on SE Caruthers have a stop sign at Water, while a similar quantity of mostly auto traffic on Water has no stop sign?), long waits at lights, and unnecessarily tight curves.
Portland’s new bike infrastructure (Orange line path, Tilikum Br., Moody path, and Tram) would cut my morning commute time in half if I used it.
@Adam: Public transit is a joke. In normal cities, rail is the fastest way around. Here, it still putzes along. For example, part of my daily route runs on Interstate between Lombard and Moda. If the MAX and I leave Moda at the exact same time, I typically beat it even though it can change lights and the ride is uphill. When it beats me, I can see it just ahead and the only reason I’m behind is I got caught by one or more lights. That shouldn’t even be possible.
Moody path, Tilikum Bridge, and Orange Line path are all too slow — besides road riding speeds are unsafe and completely inappropriate for MUPs.
Door to door travel time which is not the same as average vehicle speed even if it’s related.
Portland contains all kinds of great stuff, but covering even short distances takes forever. Good transportation needs to be about more than just covering a few miles to meet basic needs.
I ride every day and Portland’s bike infrastructure does not slow me down in the least.
Why is it that someone as “experienced” and “year round hardcore” as you claim to be has such difficulty negotiating Portland’s limited bike infrastructure?
I don’t see how someone could say with a straight face that riding around here isn’t slow.
When I used to commute 22 miles each way before moving here, a 20mph speed average was a disappointment even with lights (very few — most of my commute was along 99W). 20mph average is unattainable in Portland — I have never averaged anywhere near that due to traffic controls and other factors that have nothing to do with my legs.
The light timing is ridiculously slow downtown. Even riding uphill on Broadway, a mediocre rider hauling panniers can easily outrun the lights so even with every light green, the speed you get is still slow. Riding on flats in this area (or even worse, downhill) is a ridiculous experience that can hardly be called cycling.
Naito is actually not bad with light timing, but it would be if you get stuck in the “Better Naito” config. It’s also not bad as you get further out.
vehicular cycling is a choice. just saying…
I agree. But often, every option here is hopeless.
One thing that’s kind of weird is the riding in redneck areas with no cycling infrastructure can actually be much better than cycle friendly areas with great infrastructure. There’s a lot to be said for open roads, unobstructed steeps, and the like. Not much of that in urban areas.
Your reading comprehension as I have pointed out before, is sorely lacking.
I did not complain about slow infrastructure, I complained about spending money in the same area time and again and hardly anywhere else.
They are spending money now on the East 21 st overpass which was also fine as is.
Meanwhile, small fixes elsewhere that could help are never done.
downtown portland and nw portland are bike infrastructure deserts…which is ridiculous.
Which is why I think the Naito money could be spent on a couple of good fast east-west downtown routes.
There is an unused option just 50 feet from Macadam..
That ROW will be given back to adjacent land owners if the tracks are removed. And the Willamette Greenway trail already parallels it anyway.
Woot! Naito is good news and Halsey is great news! Good job, Better Block and Oregon Walks and everyone who advocated for these projects!
Will Halsey get a 30 mph speed limit?
And enforcement. In places where it’s currently 45 mph many are probably doing closer to 60+ It’s insane.
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.
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.
Bummer for Naito activation http://chatterbox.typepad.com/portlandarchitecture/2016/10/james-beard-public-market-abandons-downtown-morrison-bridge-site.html
Yep. The pedestrian-hostility of Naito was specifically cited as a reason not to put the James Beard Market at the Morrison Bridgehead. BadNaito is now costing the city money.