It’s good, but it should be great.
Nearly five years after it first opened, it’s time to implement a permanent design for the protected bikeway on Northeast Multnomah Street through the Lloyd District. Hopefully one that’s truly befitting of one of America’s best biking cities — not an overly comprised, on-the-cheap, paint-and-posts half-measure.
Go Lloyd, a city-subsidized nonprofit that manages transportation demands in the area, will host an open house tonight (7/11) aimed at improving how the bikeway looks and functions. This action on what’s arguably Portland’s best protected bikeway (not saying much) comes three years after a task force for the project agreed to make the changes permanent. Like many of Portland’s bikeway innovations, the parking and planter-protected bike lane was initially done as a pilot. Also like many of Portland’s bikeway innovations, it worked.
An evaluation by Go Lloyd found that the pilot has been “enormously positive… the street is working much better for all road users.” Specifically, 47 percent more people rode bicycles on the street after the protection was added, while driving decreased by 23 percent. Speeding dropped in half and 89 percent of those surveyed said the street felt safer to bike on. All this happened while travel time through the corridor either decreased or was unchanged.
While the new bikeway works, it should be much better. People who drive on the street still park in the buffer zone and bike lane, which squeezes bike riders into the curb and blocks traffic. The planters (large cylindrical concrete drums not intended to be used for this purpose) are often hit by drivers and are expensive to maintain.
Go Lloyd has funding to start on a permanent design and once a new plan is in place they’ll be able to partner with the Bureau of Transportation to go after federal and regional grants, system development charges (SDCs), and other sources of funds. Engineers will use feedback from the open house to solidify cost estimates and plans by this fall. Go Lloyd says the project is a “near term priority” for PBOT and there’s potentially $2 million from SDCs that could be used to pay for most of the construction.
Attendees of tonight’s open house will be able to view and offer feedback on the current design options under consideration. The event is from 5:00 to 7:00 pm at Oregon Square Park. For more info, see the event listing and check out the project page on Go Lloyd’s website.