Special gravel coverage

Half-hour ‘human-protected bike lane’ will rally support for permanent street improvements

Posted by on September 22nd, 2017 at 1:12 pm

A human-protected bike lane in San Francisco in May. A group of Portlanders are organizing a similar event on Naito Parkway next Thursday, before the protected bike lanes there are removed.
(Photo: Brandon Splane via Streetsblog SF)

As the City of Portland prepares to remove the temporary protected bike lane along its downtown waterfront, some Portlanders see a one-time chance to grab the public imagination.

A group of residents and others who support protected bike lanes in the central city and elsewhere are planning to line up along the soon-to-be removed Naito Parkway protected bike lanes at 6 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 28, to touch arms and create a half-hour “human-protected bike lane,” complete with music, then capture the image for a crowdfunded advertising campaign in support of permanent bike lane protections.

“I think it’s gonna be awesome,” said Emily Guise, the co-chair of advocacy group BikeLoudPDX. “We’re taking inspiration from people who have done them around the globe: Dublin, San Francisco, New York. … It’s going to be a really positive event.”

“The goal is to show support for protected bike lanes in the lead-up to the Central City multimodal plan,” said Kiel Johnson, a Lloyd District resident helping organize. “This is an opportunity to put in some world-class bikeways in Portland. And it’s time for all of us advocates to get off our butts and show that we support these things, and that there is support for them in the city. … There is not going to be a better-timed opportunity than next Thursday.”

Johnson, who owns and operates the Go By Bike shop and free bike valet in the South Waterfront, just launched a crowdfunding campaign aiming to raise $5,000 for a billboard that would display a photo from Thursday’s event and the caption “Portland supports protected bike lanes.”

Go By Bike will put up the first $500, he said.

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The two-way Naito protected bike lanes and on-street walkway will be removed for the winter Oct. 2. They’re currently expected to be reinstalled in late spring for the start of summer festival season, but the Portland Business Alliance’s seeming fascination with the 16-block bike lane makes every future reinstallation a political gut-check for city leaders.

Guise described the human-protected bike lane event’s goal as being “to show support for Better Naito, appreciation to City Council for installing it again, and to ask that it be made permanent.”

“It’s really the only part of the central city plan that is in place now that people can experience now, and I think it would be a really important part of the central city plan,” she said.

Better Naito observations -39.jpg

The current protected bike lanes on Naito Parkway, due to be removed on Monday, Oct. 2.

Organizers say they’ll also invite TV crews to attend.

Human-protected bike lanes are a new bike-activism innovation that began in San Francisco in May and have since appeared in Boise, New York, Mexico City and Dublin.

Johnson said he feels Portland has “dropped the ball” in recent years by missing some opportunities to install excellent bike infrastructure and that this is a chance for Portlanders to ensure it doesn’t happen again.

“I would tell people that if there’s one activism event that they go to this year, come to the human-protected bike lane on Naito,” Johnson said. “This has been a hard year, and if people are feeling like they want to do something that can create positive change, come out for this event and we can change how our community functions in a more sustainable and community-oriented way.”

If you’re interested in joining or helping out, here’s the official Facebook event and a sign-up sheet for spending time on Naito letting users know about the event.

— Michael Andersen: (503) 333-7824, @andersem on Twitter and michael@portlandafoot.org

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  • bjorn September 22, 2017 at 1:35 pm

    Remind me again why we aren’t just leaving it installed?

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    • Donovan Caylor September 22, 2017 at 1:43 pm

      Three words: Portland Business Alliance.

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      • soren September 22, 2017 at 2:34 pm

        trip counts on bridges in the winter are around 50-60% of peak.

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        • Kyle Banerjee September 22, 2017 at 2:52 pm

          I suspect the ratio of utility to recreational traffic is higher on the bridges at all times than the waterfront area, particularly when the weather is bad.

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        • 9watts September 23, 2017 at 7:38 am

          Speaking of trip counters, what is up with the one on the Hawthorne bridge?

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          • soren September 23, 2017 at 4:00 pm

            the counter is working again…but the display is not.

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      • Zach September 22, 2017 at 7:55 pm

        But they’re not the ones who made the final decision to uninstall it, right? Who is caving to them?

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      • Bikeninja September 23, 2017 at 10:09 am

        I am surprised PBA doesn’t want to keep the BN lane as it would give them a place to drive their foot powered Stone Age Fred Flinestone Cars.

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    • colton September 22, 2017 at 1:55 pm

      If we’re going to be honest, it’s probably because about 80% of cyclists only bike during the good weather (bikeportland.org readers being the exception, of course).

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      • 9watts September 23, 2017 at 7:39 am

        Gas is still much too cheap.

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  • Go By Bike
    Go By Bike September 22, 2017 at 1:37 pm

    We need help getting the word out. Sign up to help table next week on Naito and spread the word. https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1iWbkqhjQPS8_zEtPtvRHzVCAo6p-Vieb5TaO885qUoo/edit#gid=0

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  • Kyle Banerjee September 22, 2017 at 2:47 pm

    Good riddance.

    Between the incredible percentage of cyclists that totally ignore the red lights, cyclists that swing wide as they cross BN from the perpendicular streets, and counterflow cyclists who suddenly turn left into the park, I see close plenty of close calls.

    The waterfront is not busy and provides an environment with complete separation from cars and side threats. Those who find Naito inadequate should use that as it is literally adjacent.

    Thankfully, I’ll pass through before the human protected lane is there. The humans in that line should stand in a bit for their own safety and counterflow cyclists should maintain more distance from a live human than a plastic wand that pops right back up if you smack it. So less space for everybody. The good news is that there will probably be so few cyclists that the space issue won’t be a big deal.

    Still, it will be nice to have everyone cycling the same way again.

    There are plenty of areas of town that have squat in terms of bike infrastructure where riding is dicey for real. That seems a better place for such a protest than an especially easy bike lane.

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    • Hello, Kitty
      Hello, Kitty September 22, 2017 at 3:07 pm

      Doctor Grumpy is in the HOUSE!

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      • Kyle Banerjee September 22, 2017 at 3:21 pm

        Actually, I’m happy to get the lane back — plus, it’s Friday! 🙂

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      • 9watts September 23, 2017 at 7:42 am

        Dr. Wet Blanket.

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    • SD September 23, 2017 at 8:24 am

      Sorry it doesn’t work for you. It is valued and enjoyed by many others including myself. If all bike infrastructure was built to your taste, most people’s needs would be left out.

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      • Kyle Banerjee September 23, 2017 at 6:38 pm

        I’d put it very differently.

        By focusing inordinate amounts of time of time, energy, and money on tiny showcase projects in the best served areas of the entire city, places that actually need infrastructure get totally ignored. Meanwhile, those calling themselves advocates provoke fear of cars so the vast majority of people who aren’t served by these showcase places aren’t even tempted to ride.

        But once this section can be made safe for those won’t ride because it’s unacceptable to ride fully protected literally a stone’s throw away, I’m sure there’s something we can do to improve the horrendous state of affairs on Clinton…

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        • 9watts September 23, 2017 at 9:02 pm

          Your hair splitting elides the fact that we’re arguing over crumbs. The fact that as you see it Better Naito precludes infrastructure from being built somewhere else… could lead you to lament the lopsided nature of infrastructure spending, but instead you blast infrastructure that you personally don’t like, insult those who appreciate it. Not very charitable in my reading.

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          • Kyle Banerjee September 23, 2017 at 9:28 pm

            How does it not preclude infrastructure elsewhere?

            If we spend countless hours and hundreds of thousands of dollars widening an already safe bike path that has alternatives close by on both sides, these resources are not available for other projects.

            Bike advocacy should help more than a lucky few with short commutes in a tiny area with the easiest traffic in the area.

            I do agree we’re arguing over crumbs. Seems like those who haven’t enjoyed any yet should get some so areas with real issues become more accessible.

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            • 9watts September 23, 2017 at 9:29 pm

              “I do agree we’re arguing over crumbs. ”

              Then why piss in someone else’s cornflakes?

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              • Kyle Banerjee September 23, 2017 at 9:44 pm

                Two reasons:

                1) These resources really are needed elsewhere. We have to quit screwing around with the core that is super easy compared to most of what is out there and get infrastructure deployed where it is really needed.

                2) This kind of thing encourages fear of cars which discourages people from riding anywhere. The vast majority of riders have to deal with areas lacking infrastructure and that’s how it will be for a very long time. It is absolutely critical to help people become more comfortable with the issues they’ll encounter in their real environments.

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              • 9watts September 23, 2017 at 9:56 pm

                “We have to quit screwing around with the core”

                I think reasonable people can disagree about that. I too think PBOT should not lose sight of outer areas that lack far more infrastructure than we here in the inner areas enjoy, should distribute their largesse (ha), but your high and mighty tone here doesn’t attract me to your point of view. Let’s remember that we have a whole bunch of perspectives here, many of which are super knowledgeable about how this stuff works, could work, shouldn’t work. Your view is one perspective but not the only one.

                “This kind of thing encourages fear of cars which discourages people from riding anywhere.”

                I’m intrigued that you have such a clear-eyed view of how causality works (for everyone?). Have you considered other possibilities? Other ways of experiencing the world from the seat of a bike than the one you here espouse?

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              • Kyle Banerjee September 23, 2017 at 10:43 pm

                Gimme a break.

                If we’re going to be chucking around charges of myopia and elitism, both run amok in this forum like no other place I’ve ever seen. Too many people here get their ideas from the same place.

                I know my perspective isn’t the only one. But hey, let’s put more money, time, and energy in to tiny projects in the core where there’s already plenty of infrastructure. That’s gotta be what it will take people to convince people who live miles away everywhere else to ride.

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              • 9watts September 24, 2017 at 7:32 am

                “That’s gotta be what it will take people to convince people who live miles away everywhere else to ride.”

                We have plenty of challenges to go ’round, plenty of demographic groups who could be encouraged to ride (more), plenty of ways to slice our geography. I think it is hard to say from where I sit what the *one right way* is to accomplish these many objectives. Why be so dogmatic, grumpy, inflexible?

                And for that matter, maybe it isn’t about infrastructure at all but about social recognition, visibility, leveling the playing field, demoting driving-everywhere-automatically.

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              • Kyle Banerjee September 24, 2017 at 12:06 pm

                I couldn’t agree more that social recognition and getting past the driving everywhere mentality have a lot to do with it.

                I also think that however well-intentioned, some types of infrastructure and awareness raising such as the one motivating this thread contribute to othering and undermine both social recognition and the idea that people should drive everywhere.

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            • soren September 24, 2017 at 10:09 am

              How does it not preclude infrastructure elsewhere?

              Some of the people who comment here have spent many hours of their *volunteer* time advocating for infrastructure “elsewhere”. As far as I can tell, your only contribution to bike advocacy is to complain about infrastructure that annoys you on your inner portland commute.

              What exactly have you done to promote bike infrastructure “elsewhere”?

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              • Kyle Banerjee September 24, 2017 at 12:20 pm

                I think the emphasis needs to be on helping people ride in what is out there rather than perpetrating the myth that the infrastructure is the primary reason people don’t ride.

                I have had significant success getting people from demographics not associated with bike friendliness riding, and some parents have even asked me to help teach their kids how to ride roads. For many years, those who know me use me as a resource for choosing equipment and understanding maintenance.

                Too much of cycling advocacy is anti car. The vast majority of people drive, and if people want to really consider cycling, demonizing what they love just pushes them away. May as well butter them up by telling them their kids are brats and their dog stinks.

                That people volunteer their time for projects elsewhere doesn’t detract from the point that a very disproportionate amount energy and activism revolves around the same areas that represent a minuscule percentage of where people need to ride. But let’s just keep that laser focus on the core…

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              • 9watts September 24, 2017 at 12:48 pm

                “Too much of cycling advocacy is anti car. The vast majority of people drive, and if people want to really consider cycling, demonizing what they love just pushes them away.”

                Lots of leaps & assumptions there.

                Some people are more focused on inspiring people who don’t bike to take it up or do more of it; some are more focused on problematizing the fragility and costs of automobility. They are two sides of the same coin as far as I’m concerned. I appreciate that you think the two are antagonistic but can assure you that I/some don’t see it that way.
                As for people driving = people loving their cars, that is a huge leap. Most people I know who drive don’t love their cars but are actually quite ambivalent about the whole affair. And your inference that problematizing the auto pushes them away would benefit from being fleshed out a bit.

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              • Kyle Banerjee September 24, 2017 at 1:58 pm

                It is true that many people who are totally dependent on cars don’t really think of them one way or the other. I personally know a number of people that would love to never drive or own a car, but can’t make it work for them. I’m one of them.

                I also agree in principle with your two sides of the same coin idea and that helping people understand the true opportunity cost of driving is relevant. Having said that, I don’t think people will ride unless they perceive it to be the best option.

                There are many dimensions to getting people riding and infrastructure is certainly part of it. Normal people won’t go where they are scared nor should they. Safety, dealing with the elements, bike security, mechanical issues, carrying what they need, the headspace required to ride, and other things all fit into the equation. But just as driving isn’t an objective for many people, neither is cycling. From a personal perspective, cycling is not an objective for me despite the fact I ride almost every day year ’round — it is a means to other things I value.

                The vast majority of people have to deal with undesirable circumstances in order to do utility riding. You gotta start somewhere, but if you only can ride under limited conditions, your go to method will be something else.

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        • soren September 24, 2017 at 9:58 am

          “Meanwhile, those calling themselves [experts] provoke fear of cars so the vast majority of people who aren’t served by these showcase”

          It’s nice to see some self-criticism!

          Does this means that you will stop suggesting that “nutty portland cyclists” will be injured or die if they do not learn proper vehicular cycling techniques, such as, lane control, communication by “taking lanes”, proper “position”, and most importantly of all, hand signals?

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          • Kyle Banerjee September 24, 2017 at 12:34 pm

            People are fine so long as they operate appropriate to their abilities and equipment. Exactly what that means varies with the individual. As an observation, most people seem to get this, though younger males and cycling advocates seem to struggle with this as a group considerably more than most of the population.

            Communicating the consistent message that cyclists are victims of circumstance rather than helping them figure out how to navigate them discourages cycling. Why would a normal person trust their health and safety to fate to strangers so they can be engaged in perpetual battle?

            Sometime back, a 14 year old girl wrote a ride report about she and some friends took that appeared as an article here. She showed what was so great about cycling. People like her help get more cyclists out there. This militant thing only appeals to a tiny group.

            BTW, I’ve had neighbors who don’t ride ask me to teach their kids how to ride in traffic. I somehow doubt many that peddle fear receive such requests.

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          • Hello, Kitty
            Hello, Kitty September 25, 2017 at 12:09 pm

            You denigrate “proper position” but I am sure you would agree there is an “improper position” (e.g. riding in the door zone) that leads to riders putting themselves in danger.

            You also seem to denigrate signaling intent. I don’t know why. Knowing what others on the road are intending is super helpful to everyone. I’ve found that signaling occasionally helps even when I’m walking, for example if a cyclist approaches and may not be sure which way I’m heading.

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    • chris m September 24, 2017 at 8:56 am

      It’s really not clear to me how you’re supposed to make a left turn out of the cycletrack when traveling North on BN… the bollards make it impossible to merge into the car lane (not to mention you’d have to merge into the car lane through oncoming bike traffic and also hit a gap in the bollards) and there’s no place to wait to make a left in the bike line. The only thing you can do is use the walk light which is not desirable for a number of reasons.

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      • Hello, Kitty
        Hello, Kitty September 24, 2017 at 9:37 am

        You also need to avoid oncoming cycle traffic.

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        • Kyle Banerjee September 24, 2017 at 12:35 pm

          If you are the oncoming cycle traffic, keep in mind that a substantial percentage of riders don’t seem aware they need to do this.

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  • Spiffy September 22, 2017 at 3:36 pm

    or just put in a sidewalk next to the street for waterfront walkers during festivals… then we get to keep the existing bike lane all year…

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    • Kyle Banerjee September 22, 2017 at 4:42 pm

      Given that people the outside edge of the park is a logical place for people to want to walk — especially when a festival is in progress — this strikes me the desired solution as it offers good separation for everyone and more space for peds.

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      • Doug Klotz October 1, 2017 at 9:12 am

        The last time this was brought up (a sidewalk at the curb) the Parks Bureau said, “Oh, that’d be too close to the trees”. However, they had just installed sidewalks much closer to the trees in Holladay Park, so I question that excuse. And, as the Better Naito configuration all fits in that one auto lane, a 6′ sidewalk could be installed in what is now the roadway if necessary where trees are close. I would advocate for it to be on the Parks land, though, where possible without adversely impacting the trees, leaving the bike lanes with more room.

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    • Sam Churchill September 24, 2017 at 12:28 pm

      A Cycle Superhighway might improve Vancouver to Portland congestion.


      Wider than the Springwater trail, a Cycle Superhighway could be designed to accomodate small autonomous vehicles as well as pedestrians and bicyclists.

      Autonomouse electric vehicles can travel in platoon mode, then remain in urban core (for last mile service) until afternoon rush hour.

      Unlike rail or BRT, Personal Rapid Transit can break off from the platoon, feeding a variety of destinations along the way, i.e. Irvington, Alberta, Kenton, St Johns and Vancouver.

      It’s not hard to imagine. This is reality.

      – Polaris has a six door, six seat autonomous vehicle.

      – Navya is running in Las Vegas, Paris and Australia. It seats 11 seated and 4 standing.

      – Local Motor’s Olli has a similar 12-passenger autonomous vehicle and are being tested in the Washington, D.C. area.

      Other autonomous electric vehicles include EasyMile, RoboSoft, and 2getthere and Zoox, a Robo-Taxi start-up.

      Why build a highway for the 20th century?

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  • GuyOnMTB September 23, 2017 at 10:56 am

    6pm? In the dark?

    This wont work the way people want it to work. it has to be done in daylight or drivers are not going to see our signs and understand what is happening.

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    • Paul September 23, 2017 at 1:00 pm

      It shouldn’t be dark. Sunset is at 6:55.

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      • Kyle Banerjee September 23, 2017 at 7:06 pm

        There’s enough ambient light to see anytime and cars have these things called “lights” that illuminate things by the sides of roads, so whether or not the sun has set won’t have much impact.

        Nonetheless, the signs are important. On a normal day, there are hardly any cyclists there at that time, so most drivers probably wouldn’t guess the protest had anything to do with cycling unless specifically informed.

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    • Kiel Johnson
      Kiel Johnson September 25, 2017 at 10:36 am

      this was a big debate, wanted to get as many commuters as possible. Also the hour before sunset is the best time to take pictures. Hope to see you there!

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      • Kyle Banerjee September 25, 2017 at 2:00 pm

        Interesting. I go through at all kinds of different times, and my anecdotal experience is that the bulk of the commuter traffic passes through considerably earlier. There’s really not much cycle traffic if we’re honest.

        But if enough people to create the line can be found, I’m sure enough supporters will show up to ride the section whether or not they’re commuting. If weather projections hold, lighting should be excellent for photos. And with a dozen people, you could easily make it look very busy 🙂

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  • Dirk September 25, 2017 at 11:06 am

    “Johnson said he feels Portland has “dropped the ball” in recent years by missing some opportunities …”

    Which opportunities specifically?

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  • Joe September 25, 2017 at 11:52 am

    more bikes less cars.

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  • Julian October 3, 2017 at 10:10 am

    I literally came close to a head-on collision today because of this bike lane removal, when I was turning right onto Nato. I had no idea! It would have been nice if they had some signs to warn that the lane was taken down.

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