(Publisher’s note: This article was submitted by BikePortland subscriber Joan. It comes the day after the Portland Business Alliance launched an email campaign against Better Naito. The campaign appears to have backfired as it has spurred dozens (if not hundreds) of emails to city council and social media comments in support of the project.
We shop, patronize, attend, work for, and support the organizations that comprise the PBA. It’s time to talk to these businesses directly. Do they know about this campaign PBA is running in their name?
As Jonathan wrote in BikePortland last month, the Portland Business Alliance (PBA), which bills itself as the chamber of commerce for greater Portland, has an aggressive campaign against Better Naito, the temporary lane change to SW Naito Parkway along the Waterfront Park that makes bicycling and walking and visiting festivals safer and better during the summer months. As the Portland Mercury notes in the headline to a story about this very topic, the PBA ‘is weirdly obsessed with ‘Better Naito.'”
This campaign has taken several forms, including a misguided editorial in the Portland Tribune and multiple contacts with elected officials. The Mercury said, “PBA brings Better Naito up in meetings with elected officials, and earlier this month, the organization drafted a strongly worded letter to Transportation Commissioner Dan Saltzman attempting to bring its monied heft to bear on the issue.”
This week the PBA launched a letter writing campaign to city council – a campaign that, at least initially, backfired, resulting in more letters in support of, than opposed to, Better Naito.
The Portland Business Alliance is comprised of a range of business, educational institutions, and non-profit organizations throughout Portland. PBA says it speaks for businesses, but multiple studies have shown that people on bikes are more likely to stop in local businesses than folks in cars. Who really benefits from this campaign?
We might not be able to influence the PBA, but we shop, patronize, attend, work for, and support the organizations that comprise PBA. It’s time to talk to these businesses directly. Do they know about this campaign PBA is running in their name? Let’s tell these businesses that we, their customers and employees, don’t support PBA’s misguided, car-centric campaign against our city’s innovative approach to active transportation.
Do you shop at Powell’s, Columbia, Adidas, Nordstrom, or Nike? Eat at Deschutes Brewery, Rogue Ales Distillery and Public House, St. Honoré Boulangerie, Bridges Cafe, Eb & Bean, or Elephants Delicatessen? Do you buy coffee at a local Starbucks? Have North St. Bag panniers on your bike? Watch KGW or KOIN? Listen to OPB? Cheer for the Portland Timbers or Hillsboro Hops? Do you work at or attend any local college or university?
Do you know anyone on the PBA Board of Directors?
Contact them and other PBA members, and tell them you support Better Naito, and you don’t support this PBA campaign. And tell them to tell PBA to knock it off.
Here are some reasons Better Naito is better for Portland:
- The Better Naito temporary lane changes create a dedicated path for bicycles and pedestrians near Waterfront Park during the summer, when an additional 15,000 people visit this area per day
- Better Naito brings more people downtown, which brings more money to local businesses
- More people on foot and on bike means fewer cars, which ultimately makes roads less busy for people in cars and taking transit
And remind businesses that these safety improvements, which dramatically improve access and safety for so many, have increased travel times for single-occupancy vehicles by an average of only 45 seconds to one minute during rush hour.
So, how do you find out what businesses belong to PBA? Use the PBA membership directory.
And make sure to copy PBA on every email you send: email@example.com
Right now the Portland Business Alliance is working against safety for cyclists and pedestrians — and against the interests of many of their members. Let’s help change that.
— Joan, BikePortland Subscriber, @msfour on Twitter
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PBA = auto zombies , case rests
Curious about vehicle travel time impacts due to Better Naito? Here are some fun summary facts:
2015 and 2016 data shows very similar results – indicating that neither year is necessarily an outlier (note: due to increases construction this year, impacts may be more significant – but we won’t know until data has been evaluated).
In 2015, the average delay during the peak period was between 45-90 seconds. Some users may have experienced longer delays during the peak 15 mins of the peak hour (as would be expected throughout the entire city).
In 2016, two different corridors were studied:
– PBOT data collected between Main and Davis
– Inrix (via the Oregonian) data collected between Clay/405-ramp and Everett
Both sets of data showed very similar results – essentially no matter how you ever age either data set, the average increase comes out to 1 minute.
Now here comes two of my favorite tid-bits:
Between Salmon and Davis (as in, once you pass the Hawthorne bridge mess going northbound and are actually ON Better Naito) the average travel time for EACH HOUR OF THE DAY (including peak hours) is an increase of 30 seconds.
One week in 2016 was particularly high in both sets of data – I talked with Inrix and was able to get county-wide data for that month (July). That week had increased travel times across the entire county! I didn’t look too much into what caused that, but some possibilies include Sellwood Bridhe construction, Barbur closures, and general peak summer traffic and congestion.
I will add that this is all off of memory, so I don’t recall every detail! And this year is a little different with more construction than we’ve seen in Portland in decades.
Keep those positive comments coming (and the negatives – we need them all)! Tell the PBA, their members, PBOT, and City Council what you think! Ask them to collect more bike and ped data so we can truly evaluate how this project impacts all users.
And finally: thank you, thank you, thank you! As someone who’s been working on this project since it’s inception, seeing the support for Better Naito has been extremely rewarding. You guys are awesome!
30 seconds from one end to the other would be 60mph. Not sure if that’s a typo, but it sounds like you were trying to say drivers just aren’t any good at merging and actually driving down naito in one lane isn’t an inconvenience?
The typo is that I meant travel time INCREASE! So Better Naito adds approximately 30 seconds to a vehicle’s travel time through the corridor within it’s limits (Salmon to Davis).
Thanks for catching that – hope this clarifies!
just FYI I fixed the type in your comment to avoid confusion.
Thank you Jonathan!!
I wrote it on the bus with little time to review before getting to work! Thanks for all your work on this, and posting this subscriber post 🙂
Maybe they meant the average trip only spends 60 seconds on naito. I would assume that many people aren’t driving the length of it but are in fact just going a couple blocks and turning. If you are only spending 60 seconds on the street how much do you care if it might have been 45 seconds?
That felt good. Just used the PBA form to ask for “Better Naito” to be extended and made permanent and contacted a Board Member who happens to be inside my organization to ask for our company to take a stand against this campaign. This is a perfect way to start a Friday (or any day).
Yes! Great post — I read about this yesterday in the Oregonian and was furious. Let’s make some noice!
Just looked at the board of directors and found representative of health organizations there. I will ping them directly. Heck, my employer OHSU has a representative on the board as well even though they say they promote biking!
check out the PBA mission statement:
the second sentence is ironic.
Krieky, My old grad school roommate is on the PBA’s executive committee. I better get to work as he will be a tough nut to crack. Thanks for publishing the membership and leadership lists for the PBA Jonathan.
Personally, I feel that Better Naito is a good idea, maybe a great idea, helping to enhance among other things besides more hospitable conditions for biking on Naito Pkwy, a better experience for people visiting adjacent Waterfront Park.
Looking at the picture accompanying this story, the PBA has some valid criticism, if it’s saying that the level of use of this roadway for biking doesn’t justify the compromise of road capacity for motor vehicle use. The picture shows what appears to be two lanes, maybe just one, of bumper to bumper motor vehicles to the other side of the white wands. Bikes in the bike lane are comparatively far and few between.
Get a better picture, more faithfully illustrating the large numbers of people using the bike lane for travel with bikes, if at least during peak use hours, more people than what we see in the picture of the road, do ride in the road’s bike lane. Critics of Better Naito, hearing of the PBA’s opposition to this use of the road for biking, will take one look at this picture and think to themselves: ‘I see what the PBA means. Thank you PBA!’.
Weird, it’s almost like they cherry-picked the media associated with Better Naito and found a picture that shows outrageously low usage. Why would they do that?! I am so confused.
“…Why would they do that?! …” chris I
Not “…they…”. This story’s weblog owner-editor. His name is the credit on the photo. Why wouldn’t he use a picture showing more people riding in the bike lane. Best he had, I suppose. I am curious though, as to accuracy, about whether that photo reflects the average density of bikes per area of the bike lane being used, during say peak use time, rush hours of the day.
Further down, bannerjee writes: “…At the same time, bike traffic is surprisingly light. …” https://bikeportland.org/2017/06/23/guest-post-tell-pba-members-you-support-better-naito-232553#comment-6810935
If true, what accounts for this? A good thing that could happen, is if numbers of people using Better Naito’s bike lane were closer to that shown in pics I’ve seen of bike traffic on the Hawthorne Bridge MUP, or the Williams Ave bike lanes.
Worth pointing out the existence of a progressive minded alternative to the PBA known as Business for a Better Portland. Will probably be joining BBP as a direct response to PBA’s retrograde agenda.
I think this is a great example of the power of the internet to do good. The PBA wrongly assumed people were against making our city a better place for bikes. I hope they learn from this and realize their view is outdated. We need a Portland for the 21st century not the 1950s. The PBA could be an amazing champion for that city.
To make it easy, can you (Jonathon) add in the emails for council? Thanks!
It’s just embarrassing for PBA to be representing Portland businesses when they take positions like this. It’s embarrassing for Portland and for their business and institutional members. Across North America business organizations are embracing things that make cities more livable and attractive to people to visit and live–including bike lanes like Better Naito. Many of the businesses and institutions they purport to represent know this. How and why are they so out of touch and regressive?
PBA has a long history of being reactionary on this topic, including but not limited to: (1) insisting on through auto lanes along the entire length of the bus mall, (2) working with the mayor and PPB to crack down on group rides downtown in general, and Critical Mass in particular, and (3) fighting any and all bike parking requirements for downtown building owners. I’m not surprised that their tune hasn’t changed one bit on Better Naito.
Sorry a bit off topic but while folks are communicating their concerns regarding Naito to PBA members they might tell the weigh in on the PBA’s appeal (with the Western States Petroleum Association) to to the Oregon Land Use Board of Appeals aimed at overturning the City of Portland’s ban on new fossil fuel facilities. Is the PBA really representing the values and interests of its members in filing this appeal?
In calculating the impacts of all users on Naito, we can’t forget the 19th century hallowed right of way of the biggest user – the railroad. It arbitrarily freezes all movement on Naito a number of times per day and changes everyone’s wait time north and southbound.
Festival users, bikes and pedestrian users are in the lowly minority when you put them in the mix, and the RR presence even expands the need for safe road management.
Wow, that’s an amazing list of members. For me to contact.
No, I don’t live in Portland. And yet, the list of PBA members who regularly get money from me is significant: NW Film, McMenamins, OPB, Alaska and Delta Airlines, Zipcar, Macy’s (at least until the store closed this spring) and Powell’s. I’m surprised almost no hotels are in their membership, or the list would be considerably longer.
Of course, as a former Portlander the list of organizations who’ve gotten money from me in the past is much longer: add the Portland Art Museum, Grand Central Bowl, Wentworth Subaru, PSU, PCC, practically every bank in their membership list, Oregon Tile & Marble, DoveLewis, YoCream, Deschutes and Nordstrom.
I will make the point that as a frequent traveler to Oregon, I appreciate Portland’s bike-friendliness and Better Naito specifically. And that tourism in Portland is way up, specifically because of things like Better Naito. Many of the businesses that belong to PBA are benefiting from this. Striking a blow against cycling for the auto lobby is NOT in their interest.
Although I’ve been critical of Better Naito, I find the form letter on the PBA site amusing and rather clever. The form letter changes both the subject and content so people just clicking send make it look like more people are sending individual messages than actually are unless they analyze mail headers.
The amusing part is one of the message challenges the reader “If you don’t believe me, just take your car down to Naito at any point of the day and you’ll see.” As someone who bikes there at different times, it flows just fine most of the time. Having said that, the maximum delays are significantly greater than the average peak time mentioned here. There is no way it’s only an extra 2 minutes. Then again, most of the area is hopeless at that time if you’re in a car.
At the same time, bike traffic is surprisingly light. This iteration is considerably better than past ones, but I’m still not a huge fan because too many cyclists crossing Better Naito and riding along it ignore signals leading to more close calls than there should be. I suspect it’s only a matter of time before it becomes permanent.
Sooooooooo easy to hack the PBA’s form.
LOL, I had to pick all images with cars and roads in them to verify I wasn’t a robot.
I contacted the salesman at a car dealership where I once purchased a car. He wrote me back and is talking to the owner about asking the PBA to leave Better Naito alone. I encourage people to write to these member businesses, especially ones where you have a relationship with an employee who you can talk to directly.
I’m surprised PBA would touch this since it’s something I wouldn’t expect their own members to agree on for a number of reasons.
Press Release: To go with its new mission to stamp out the scourge of non-motorized transport the PBA requests the public to help it come up with a new organizational slogan. So fare we have received; ” Keeping kids off Portland’s Lawn for 75 years”, “Making Bridgetown safe for plutocracy”, “Dream of the 50’s.” Bikes are for kids.”
Help us with with our new campaign to come up with a slogan that matches our goals
I’ve seen there are many companies who are listed on the PBA’s site who say they are no longer be members. I wrote Impact NW which is a non profit I current work with and got this response back
“I withdrew Impact from the Business Alliance earlier this year. They don’t support our values – as this example clearly shows ” — Jeff Cogen
I reached out to PGE via Facebook with a comment & link to the article, here is the thread:
ME: As a member of Portland Business Alliance, is PGE really not supportive of #BetterNatio??! Come on PGE-you can do better-ask PBA to stop this campaign.
Portland General Electric: Hi Liesel, We support a plan that keeps bike commuters safe with a larger path for events, but we don’t agree that it’s a good permanent solution. Our downtown building is on Naito, and we’ve heard from employees that it’s added up to 30 minutes to their commute – especially those on the bus who may come from places like east Multnomah County. We’d also like the city to look at how it would impact equity. As you know, not everyone can bike commute and it will be interesting to review the city’s data on whether it would impact diverse protected-class and socio-economics groups. It’s a big question, and we need more info to see if it make sense holistically. Thanks for the question. ^Sam
I reached out to Elephants Delicatessen via Facebook with a comment & link to the article, here is the thread: As a member of Portland Business Alliance, is Elephant’s really not supportive of #BetterNatio??! Come on-you can do better-ask PBA to stop this campaign.
Elephants Delicatessen We support Better Naito. More room to bike and walk and safer for everyone. Cars are not the future of transportation in Portland.
Liesel Svedlund wonderful to hear! thank you. Please tell PBA.
Like · Reply · June 26 at 10:56am