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National org will help Portland’s Gateway district make a ‘Big Jump’ for bicycling

Posted by on January 24th, 2017 at 1:39 pm

Cora Potter-3

We’ll see a lot more people like Cora Potter riding calmly on the Halsey-Weidler couplet in the near future.
(Photos: J. Maus/BikePortland)

If all goes according to plan one part of Portland will leapfrog to an exciting new level of bike-friendliness in the next three years. Or should we say, it’ll jump?

Portland has just been named one of 10 cities nationwide (out of 80 that applied) to be part of “The Big Jump,” a program managed by the nonprofit advocacy group People for Bikes that aims to double or triple the amount of riding in one geographic area by 2019. In Portland’s case the focus will be on the Gateway district.

Dubbed the “Gateway to Opportunity” project (more on that name later), the bureau of transportation will zero-in on the area bordered by I-84, East Burnside, I-205 and NE 132nd Avenue with the goal of making it much more bikeable than it is today. With this nudge from People for Bikes, PBOT will look to advance and complete 13 different projects by 2019. The projects include protected bike lanes on the NE Halsey-Weidler couplet in the heart of Gateway, three major neighborhood greenway projects, a bikeway overpass of I-205 to connect to the Sullivan’s Gulch trail, and much more. In total, the Gateway to Opportunity project will encompass an estimated $21.35 million in infrastructure spending and create about 39 miles of new bikeways.

As one of the selected cities, Portland will receive the equivalent of $200,000 in technical support from People For Bikes each year for three years, as well as an additional $50,000 in matching funds or financial commitments from local organizations.

The other cities include: New York City; Baltimore; Memphis, Tennessee; Los Angeles; Providence, Rhode Island; New Orleans; Fort Collins, Colorado; Austin, Texas; and Tucson, Arizona. A press release just released from People for Bikes said these cities, “will be laboratories for innovation, ultimately illustrating the ways in which U.S. cities and towns can tap into bicycles to radically improve the health and vitality of their communities.”

The projects that will fuel the jump

People aren’t willing to jump if they have nowhere safe to land. The key to success with this program will be connecting multiple safe bikeways together so that people can get to the places they want to go without ever feeling like their life is at risk.

Here’s a map of the projects that will be a part of this initiative followed by a brief description of each of them (taken from the application*):

13 projects will be fast-tracked.

Halsey-Weidler Protected Bikeway – In an area oriented around the automobile, the Halsey Weidler business district stands out as the exception. The only sidewalk facing retail district in east Portland will be transformed with inviting protected bike lanes, making it the most bike friendly business district in the entire Portland region. (Read more about this project here.)

100s Neighborhood Greenway – This north-south neighborhood greenway, which is currently built from the Springwater Corridor to SE Bush Street, will be extended northward over four miles to connect the Parkrose Heights, Hazelwood, Mill Park and Powellhurst-Gilbert neighborhoods with destinations including three business districts, five parks, four schools, one light rail line, and six bus lines.

130s Neighborhood Greenway – North-south neighborhood greenway connecting places from I-84 to SE Foster Rd. through the heart of East Portland and the David Douglas School District.

HOP Neighborhood Greenway – This project will be an east-west neighborhood greenway with the goal of connecting the 130s and 100s neighborhood greenway with Gateway Transit Center, Gateway Green, and Gateway Discovery Park. The project would also connect to Hazelwood Hydro Park and East Portland Office of Neighborhood Involvement which functions as a community hub and hosts meetings where residents come together to discuss neighborhood issues. HOP stands for Holladay, Oregon, and Pacific Bikeway because these are the streets that the neighborhood greenway will use.

I-205 Undercrossing – This project will be a huge benefit for Gateway Green as it makes a car-free connection between Jason Lee Elementary school and the west side of I-205 to Gateway Green Park, I-205 bike path, and Gateway Transit Center. It will unlock Gateway Green to youth from all surrounding neighborhoods, and thanks to neighborhood greenways that feed into the undercrossing, people on bikes will have a safe connection to the undercrossing.

I-205 Overcrossing – This project would connect Jason Lee elementary school to the Gateway District. Currently, the Halsey overcrossing has a narrow sidewalk (north side) with 4 lanes for cars. The goal for this project is to improve connections over the I-205 highway. As part of a pavement overlay, this project would utilize one of the travel lanes to create a protected two-way cycletrack on the south side of the Halsey overcrossing.

NE 102nd in Gateway

NE 102nd Ave will be put on a road diet and will see bike lanes almost twice the existing width.

102nd Enhanced bike lanes – This project will be a street reconfiguration that will convert 2 of 5 travel lanes to buffered bike lanes. These enhanced bike lanes will make it easier for people to connect to neighborhoods, transit, schools, and Gateway Green. It will also significantly improve the ability for people on bikes to cross I-84… The bicycle facility for this project will likely be 6-foot buffered bike lanes.

122nd Ave. Access to Transit – This general fund commitment in improved access to transit is a partnership with Tri-Met, the region’s public transit agency. As a result of strong public demand and prioritization from Commissioner Novick, Portland City Council invested $4.7 million of City general fund in safer crossings and sidewalk infill with the understanding that Tri-Met would then bring the bus on 122nd to frequent service. On Sept 6, 2016, improved bus service began on 122nd, a key north/south corridor that connects people to jobs. Over the next few years, as PBOT projects are delivered, Tri-Met will continue increasing service on the 122nd corridor. By improving service in east Portland, Tri-Met is investing millions of dollars into this area.

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Outer Glisan Safety Project (listed as “NE Glisan Enhanced bike lanes” on project map) – This project developed out of somewhat of a unique process. The concept for the Outer Glisan Safety project is the result of engineering analyses related to 100s bikeway, 130s bikeway, and 150s bikeway projects. While working on these north- south bikeway projects PBOT engineers quickly noticed the difficult crossing at NE Glisan. Instead of significantly enhanced crossings on Glisan, after looking at the street, our engineers decided it would be worth considering doing a street reorganization on Glisan itself to allow for safer crossings of Glisan.

Outer Halsey Streetscape Project – This streetscape project comes on the heels of the City of Portland’s yearlong Vision Zero action plan process. One of the main outcomes of this process was that street design must play a major role if the City wants to eliminate traffic related fatalities by 2025. Another major outcome was that high injury network streets need to be retrofitted to increase safety and allow for more uses. With this sense of urgency and political leadership, Council voted to provide $1 million of funding toward the Outer Halsey Streetscape project. PBOT would contribute the other $1 million from system development charges.

I-205 Trail & Glisan crossing – This project will improve safety where a high crash corridor intersects with the I-205 bike path & a highway off-ramp. This intersection is a key access point for Gateway Green and Gateway Transit Center. The I-205 bike path is a 13-mile off road bike path that runs from north-south along I-205 from Clackamas Town Center to Vancouver, WA. This project was identified in the fixing our streets project list that Portland voters approved in May 2016.

NE 122nd & NE Davis crossing – Similar to the I-205 trail crossing & Glisan project mentioned above, this crossing was specifically included in the fixing our streets project list that Portland voters approved in the May 2016 ballot initiative. This rapid flashing beacon will help people walking and biking to safely cross NE 122nd Ave., a street listed on our high injury network.

Crossing improvements on high crash corridors – Advocates in east Portland have been working to improve safety along arterials and high crash corridors. Advocates from EPAP worked with state legislators to prioritize funding for crossing improvements and rapid flashing beacons. In the spring 2015 legislative session, state legislators delivered on their promise and were able to secure $1.75 million for 17 crossing improvements in east Portland. One of the reasons this funding is significant is because it represents State investment on streets owned and maintained by the City of Portland. Because all of these crossings involved City streets, PBOT received the funding to deliver these projects. 6 of the 17 rapid flashing beacons are within our “Gateway to Opportunity” project area.

As evident by letters of support included in the application, PBOT has the backing to move forward with these projects from Portland City Council and nearly every relevant major agency and community group.

Why Gateway?

“Making bicycling normal in Gateway would create a sense of connection between two parts of Portland that have for too long been divided by disinvestment and highways.” – City of Portland

Why Gateway? It goes way beyond People for Bikes and the Big Jump program.

The Gateway District — an area with about 22,000 people that’s less white, less wealthy, and less likely to bike and walk than Portland on the whole — has long been on the city’s radar for its transportation reform potential. In 2000, Portland City Council adopted the Opportunity Gateway Concept Plan and Redevelopment Strategy (PDF) (that name sound familiar?). That plan lamented Gateway’s “unusually high volume of through-traffic that adds no value to the district and detracts from its livability,” and surmised that, “Improved connectivity will result in more direct pedestrian and bicycle trips, reducing travel time and making these modes more competitive with the auto for certain trips in both time and cost.”

PBOT listed the area’s “suburban style development” as one of the main reasons they selected it for this program. They feel like if biking can spur change here, it will not only transform Gateway, it could trigger a similar approach in other parts of east Portland and even other cities across the country.

Here’s a snip from Portland’s application:

“The Gateway district is significant in a number of ways. First, it is in east Portland, an area that has been historically underinvested. Further, from a transportation perspective, it is very car-oriented and quite different from the “Portlandia” image of Portland many read about in travel blogs. The streets in this outer NE Portland district carry lots of fast moving cars and they can be very difficult to access on foot or bicycle…

Showing success in outer NE Portland in the Gateway district would be transformative for Portland… Making bicycling normal in Gateway would create a sense of connection between two parts of Portland that have for too long been divided by disinvestment and highways.

According to census data, about one percent of commute trips occur by bicycle in the Gateway area. While some bike to work, others use bicycles to access libraries, parks, and schools. In general, the amount of people biking in this area is extremely low. Furthermore, bicycles can sometimes be seen at tools for displacement and discrimination…

We are selecting Gateway as our focus area for the Big Jump precisely because it is an area of Portland that is oriented around the car. Our belief is that if we can show success in an area with suburban style development, it can be a model for communities across the country as they seek to retrofit their streets to better serve their residents by providing them with more options to bike and walk.

This post-world war II part of town is defined by single-family suburban-style homes, disconnected streets, large arterials spaced generally on a one-mile grid, an auto-oriented land use, and a distinct lack of sidewalks. The area is among the most diverse in Portland, with a more than 40% non-white population.”

The couplet is key

Halsey near 103rd today. Imagine it with protected bike lanes adjacent to the sidewalk.

Despite the fact that the streets in the area are designed almost solely for automobile use, Gateway’s main commercial district has remained relatively in tact. That’s what makes the potential of high-quality protected bike lanes on the Halsey-Weidler couplet so exciting. As we reported back in May, an existing urban renewal area project by the Portland the Development Commission would make this commercial district one of the best places to ride in the entire city. But don’t just take our word for it. In their application PBOT wrote, “When implemented next year with parking-protected bicycle lanes this commercial stretch will have the most bicycle-friendly design of any commercial district in Portland.”

The current number of people who regularly use a bicycle to get to work in the Gateway District has hovered around 1 percent for decades. In order for Portland to reach its adopted goal of 25 percent bicycle use by 2030, one likely scenario puts the target bike commute rate for east Portland at around 12 percent. For this Big Jump initiative to be successful, PBOT would just have to reach about 3 percent bike mode share by 2019. That’s completely doable — and it just so happens to be the same percentage as Metro’s Regional Travel Demand Forecasting Model predicts for the Gateway by 2020.

When asked by People for Bikes what they hope to achieve with the project, PBOT said, “Our goal with intentional, focused, and serious investments with biking and walking is that residents will be able (and excited) to use this infrastructure to meet their daily needs: Further, the benefit of this network is that it will be a network. Instead of a singular neighborhood greenway, we expect to provide residents with infrastructure that connects to each other so that transitions from neighborhood greenways to protected bike lanes and bus stops can all be made flawlessly and with limited interaction with cars.”

It’s a gutsy goal, but Portland is ready to take this leap.

*Congratulations and thanks are due to Timur Ender, the city staffer who worked as transportation policy advisor for former Commissioner Steve Novick (and who now works at PBOT). Ender developed the application and managed Portland’s involvement in this program.

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and 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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Jocelyn Gaudi Quarrell
Guest

39 miles of new bikeway! Incredible news. And so incredibly convenient that it coordinates with the development at Gateway Green – looking forward to enjoying ALL of these infrastructure improvements. Congrats to the PBOT that made it happen and thanks to PeopleForBikes for the support!

Allan Rudwick
Subscriber

this is (potentially) really exciting.
This seems like the relevant part:
Portland will receive the equivalent of $200,000 in technical support from People For Bikes each year for three years, as well as an additional $50,000 in matching funds or financial commitments from local organizations.

$650k should go fairly far if spent wisely in conjunction with other funds.

MaxD
Guest
MaxD

The area is also getting a great new park at 106th/Halsey and playground improvements at Ventura park (112th/Stark). This area is poised to explode with redevelopment! IMO, the missing piece is a meaningful connection from the Gateway Transit Center to anywhere. I think Metro/Trimet should commit to creating a glorious ped/bike promenade between the transit center and 102nd and Halsey (currently people are left to meander through the back loading zone of Fred Meyer and across an enormous parking lot with no wayfinding assistance of any kind.

MaxD
Guest
MaxD

Does anyone have any information on the 130’s Greenway? When the SE 136th Sidewalk Infill project happened, they created a continuous sidewalk on the east side of 136th between Foster and Division AND they created enough space on the street for bike lanes, I believe in both direction. However, the bike lanes were never striped. This leads to higher vehicle speeds and counteracts some of the benefits of improved crossings and pedestrian connectivity. Getting these bike lanes striped would be an excellent addition to this package of work and could probably be a perfect compliment to the 130’s Greenway.

Harald
Guest

Is there a list of all the cities that applied available somewhere? Seems like the Midwest is one region that is not represented among the awardees, and I’m wondering if that’s because nobody applied.

Adam
Subscriber

This seems like an exciting project. This would be Portland’s first protected bike lane through a business district. Where is PBOT getting the funding for this project?

Though technically 100% of Portland is “oriented around the car”, Gateway seems especially bad considering it is bordered on two sides by highways.

Improving access to Gateway Transit Center should be part of this project – considering how important that MAX stop is, it is exceedingly difficult to reach on foot or bike. Looking forward to seeing these improvements on the ground.

David Hampsten
Guest
David Hampsten

Volunteer Jim Chasse is locally credited in East Portland with identifying the 130s bikeway route and getting PBOT to fund the through the BMP2030 & EPIM processes. Tom Lewis of Centennial first identified the 150s bikeway (also funded). I had a big hand on the 4M and HOP (including coining the terms). I’m not sure who first identified the Sullivan I-205 underpass (maybe part of a PSU MURP study?), but Linda Robinson & Jim Labbe should be given kudos for pushing it. As far as I can tell, Roger Geller first thought of the 100s bikeway.

mark smith
Guest
mark smith

Is there an irony that the great Portland (Bikeytown) needs to take money from Boulder, Colorado in order to throw some paint down? Wow. How far Portland has fallen.

Ted Timmons (Contributor)
Editor

Imagine how free-flowing the roads would be if there were 7 lanes!

mh
Subscriber

Is there a link we can follow to the application itself?

John Liu
Guest
John Liu

I’m happy to see this. It is really, really important for Portland to put attention and money into Gateway. We need multiple employment centers and multiple “desirable” dense residential areas. Portland cannot keep trying to funnel every worker into downtown and to cram every residential project into a three mile radius of downtown. That creates more congestion, high housing prices, and limits how many people will realistically bike to work (because for most people, a daily bike commute of more than 3 to 4 miles is too much, especially in bad weather).

Downtown, Lloyd, and Gateway can be a string of city centers, all connected by MAX and the I84 freeway.

David Hampsten
Guest
David Hampsten

The portion of 102nd being reconfigured is between Halsey and Sandy, which doesn’t get a lot of traffic even during peak periods. The main area with backed-up traffic already has bike lanes, between Stark/Washington and Halsey, with drivers trying to get on or off 205 at Glisan.

rick
Guest
rick

Lower speed limits with more enforcement?

Jordan
Guest
Jordan

This is so awesome!!!!! By far the best news in a while! I love my neighborhood.

paikiala
Guest
paikiala

2013 peak hour volumes north of Bell were 900 vehicles per hour or less.
2010 pm counts northbound at Sacramento were just over 1,000 vehicles per hour.
Some turn lanes at the busier intersections is all that is needed.
If you’re concerned about delay, replacing the signals with modern roundabouts would reduce delay and be safer.

Terry D-M
Guest
Terry D-M

Do not forget the final piece of the puzzle for those who want to either get to Gateway from the west…..Or bike downtown from Gateway. JPACT released their list of Projects recommended for regional flexible funding. Portland did pretty well including the NE Halsey Safety project I have spent so much time on. Buffered bike lanes and a lane reorganization 65th to 80th, a new signal phased Crossing of 82 nd, and a Moody style MUP on the south side of Halsey east connecting directly to this new Gateway network at 92 ND.

http://www.oregonmetro.gov/news/sidewalks-schools-trails-and-freight-links-30-million-jpact-list-federal-dollars-gresham

They also recommended funding the NE 72nd Cully Parkway finishing the 70s Bikeway Running from NE Columbia to the Springwater that I have spent years on. These will all transform the region and fundamentally change how those of us living in the “middle east” of Portland access Gateway services. Many of us naturally gravitate towards the west due to the ease of biking…..These Projects together will change the trajectory towards the east for many.

Todd Hudson
Guest
Todd Hudson

I really, *realllly* hope the 205 crossing is addressed quickly. That route up the Halsey flyover is awful. Right now the entire surface is covered with that snowstorm pea gravel. The only other options are the Prescott and Burnside bridges over 205, which is a significant detour.

rick
Guest
rick

While far away, SE Clinton needs a pedestrian bridge over I205. More walk / bike bridges are needed over 205.

Beth H
Guest

“I don’t have the answers to gentrification and the negative things that come with it.”
Jonathan, we ALL have the answers. Even you.
They include, among far too many to list here: equal access to quality education and affordable healthcare, job training, rent control, and a serious reining in of unchecked capitalism.
They also include a helluva do-over in the race relations department, for every single one of us in this country.
The political and fiscal will to implement change on a national scale does not exist, and perhaps never will.
Perhaps we cannot vote ourselves out of our human natures.
But the fact remains that it will be far easier to gentrify Parkrose and Gateway than to clean up the tragic mess of homelessness along the Springwater Corridor and elsewhere throughout our city. Gateway is low-hanging fruit by comparison, where development for growth and profit is virtually guaranteed. (If it hadn’t been, perhaps this grant would not have been awarded.)
I worry that every new piece of “livability” simply “improves” Portland further and further beyond the point of affordability, and this will be no different.

Phillip Norman
Guest
Phillip Norman

The Cycle Track churn of Gateway Halsey/ Weidler is discussed without any mention of consequences to the struggling businesses that would be pushed to ruin, on the South side of Halsey, for an Eastbound path. The one sketch released, looking South over McDonalds seems to confirm that with cyclists at the curb, all parking on that side of Halsey is eliminated for many blocks. This is not only mean. I think it is criminal and MUST be reversed. Affected business owners have not been contacted. They have NOT bought into this. Statements to the contrary by PBOT/ PDC and EPAP, are dishonest.

The churn if carried out, does the opposite of bringing prosperity to Gateway.

As a cyclist, I don’t want change of the bike path lanes in traffic on Halsey. I stay off busy streets, working through side streets to stay alive. East-West traffic for the area is on Burnside, on alignments with the Pacific crossing of 102nd, and on San Rafael. When rarely I must ride East on Halsey, I hug the curb and any parked cars, and mainly ride on the sidewalk. For a year now, I always get to Gateway Transit Center and the 205 path, on streets including Oregon and Pacific. Riders from San Rafael heading to Gateway Transit Center best find the Pacific crossing of 102nd, via 106th, and the new park they pass seemingly will not draw them to a safer route away from parked cars and traffic.

I ask that we call a STOP of the path rearrangement on Halsey. Use any money from the cancellation to build a multi-use path on land South of Pacific, on land taken after neglect, from developer Ted Gilbert, who surely wishes to avoid an imminent fatality or two. There might be money from the cancellation too, to build the T-HOP underpass of the Halsey Bridge NOW. Let’s get all of this high priority work done in 2018.

We do not build upon an image as a bicycle city by doing stupid things, mindless of priorities. If funding sources are the drive of stupidity, surely that was not intended.