This post was written by a BikePortland subcriber.
“I feel like Portland is losing its way… Things aren’t connected.”
As a daily bike commuter and a long time road cyclist in places with pretty horrid biking conditions, riding in Portland has generally been great in contrast when I’m out riding by myself or my fellow roadie friends. Since March, however, I’ve been training for the Cycle Oregon weekend rides with my two teens, ages 17 and 13. And as our rides have started stretching out into 40-50 miles and we’ve started collaborating on where to go ride, all of us are noticing The Gaps.
— The Gap on SE 17th at the southern Portland city limits.
— The Gap on SE 17th (again) where it crosses McLoughlin into Sellwood.
— The Gap on the SW Waterfront trail near The Old Spaghetti Factory.
— The Gap on the Gresham-Fairview Trail where you need to cross the road, then turn left on to Burnside, to continue north on the MUP.
— The Gap in Lake Oswego from where the path through Tryon Creek ends and Old River Road begins (we hate that gap the most because it forces us on the narrow sidewalk, where none of us want to be).
We’re not asking for separated infrastructure everywhere we ride. (Though as an aside, my bike/road savvy kids always request rides on MUPs wherever possible, even if it means a longer or more roundabout trip. I’m still mulling over what that means.) But we do certainly notice where we abruptly go from having bike lanes to having nothing and/or being forced into weird detours across/against car traffic or over railroad tracks or choosing between sharing a lane on a highway or riding on the sidewalk.
I feel like Portland is losing its way in the ability to create viable non-car transportation alternates. Things aren’t connected. We manage and ride because we love it (and because if my kids want to get somewhere they have to ride, because I’m not driving them!), but we’re committed. What about all those people that think how much fun it would be to ride to lunch at Old Spaghetti Factory (or Edgefield) but then are turned off by all the weird detours Just For Them? As the State is passing a tax on the transportation mode we should be do everything to encourage rather than penalize, the penalty is a double whammy because the funds will not be allocated to fix the gaps in our street network and, I’m afraid, will just create more paths to nowhere.