Support BikePortland - Journalism that Matters

More than 100 line up to say goodbye to Better Naito and call for permanent protected bike lanes

Posted by on September 29th, 2017 at 6:34 am

A quarter-mile of Portlanders lined Southwest Naito Parkway’s temporary protected bike lane Thursday evening to form bollards with their bodies and call for the next “Better Naito” to be permanent.

For half an hour following 6 p.m., the participants formed a line along the bike lane that stretched from Salmon Street Fountain, just north of the Hawthorne Bridge, to the area beneath the Morrison Bridge. Crowd estimates varied as participants came and went, but one precise count put it at 104, another at 117.

“This was the largest gathering to support a bike lane in Portland, period,” co-organizer Kiel Johnson said in a text Thursday night.

Late-wave commuters who rolled past during the event were greeted by smiles, a few cheers and once in a while high fives. Signs were waved at passing drivers, some of whom responded with seemingly short and happy honks.

“I was surprised and I was thrilled with the number of people who turned out,” said another co-organizer, Emily Guise of BikeLoudPDX. “They were really into it. It was a pretty wide range of ages too.”

Johnson served as mobile hype man, rolling back and forth on Paul Jeffries’ speaker-encrusted cargo bike blaring songs like Bowie and Queen’s “Under Pressure” (“People on streets / ee da de da de”).

Guise worked the crowd too, at one point leading the line of participants in a “wave” that rolled itself down the street, too.

“The people who were riding by when we were cheering them on, they seemed pretty pumped for the most part,” she said.

BetterBlockPDX, the local street-reimagination group that first conceived and installed the lanes for an on-street test two years ago, was present too. Gwen Shaw, who designed the project as part of her traffic engineering degree from Portland State University and now works for the local office of Toole Design, was beaming.

The Street Trust sent a contingent, including Executive Director Jillian Detweiler with a fluorescent “I Love Better Naito” sign of her own:

Some signs didn’t leave much of their agenda to the imagination:

Photo: BikeLoudPDX

Photo: BikeLoudPDX

Others, like Michael Ard, waxed more poetic:

And others seemed to embrace understatement:

Photo: BikeLoudPDX

Photo: BikeLoudPDX

KATU News’s Reed Andrews, covering the event for the local ABC affiliate, smiled as he shouted his account of the event into a headset. KPTV sent a crew, too.

Co-organizer Emily Guise of BikeLoudPDX talks to KPTV News, the local Fox affiliate.
(Photo: Josh Chernoff)

The Willamette Week and Portland Mercury both published advance articles. Willamette Week’s referred to the “hero Twitter users” who in June hijacked the regional chamber of commerce’s attempted campaign against the project and sent a flurry of emails in its support to city council.

The Mercury simply called Naito’s protected bike lanes a “Very Good Idea.”

Advertisement

This was the third summer in a row that a protected bike lane and walking path have been installed along Naito. The first two years, Better Block PDX operated it during Waterfront Park’s festival season only; this year, the city did a more durable design, complete with bike signals and 400 removable plastic bollards, for five months.

This year, the city also completed a short but excellent path at the north end to help people safely cross the Steel Bridge onramp.

It seems likely that a permanent version of Better Naito could be funded next year as part of the long-brewing (and newly rebranded) “Central City in Motion” plan to improve walking, biking and transit in the central city.

And as we reported Thursday afternoon, the city has separately lined up funding and conceptual engineering for a possible project that could permanently expand the protected bikeway all the way south to Harrison, while adding a new traffic signal at the Hawthorne Bridge to speed auto throughput there and reduce Streetcar backups to the south. That project, too, could be built next year.

If installed, a full Better Naito from the Steel Bridge to Harrison would create a direct, continuous biking network between downtown Portland and the Lair Hill area, reducing bike-walk conflicts on the riverside path that runs through Waterfront Park and the RiverPlace development to the south. It’d also bring the protected bike lanes within a few (hilly) blocks of Portland State University, which is probably the city’s No. 1 biking destination.

Whatever the future may bring, organizers seemed triumphant about Thursday’s turnout. Johnson is currently crowdfunding a campaign to turn a photo from the event into a billboard with the caption “Portland supports protected bike lanes,” to be deployed when the city council is considering the issue.

“We got a lot of media coverage for Better Naito and the need to make it permanent, and it also demonstrated a lot of support for Better Naito,” Guise said Thursday night. “So I think that’ll be important in getting the funding to make it permanent from city council. And I also think it’s important for the skeptics to see that.”

(Photo: Josh Chernoff)

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

Never miss a story. Sign-up for the daily BP Headlines email.

BikePortland needs your support.

NOTE: Thanks for sharing and reading our comments. To ensure this is a welcoming and productive space, all comments are manually approved by staff. BikePortland is an inclusive company with no tolerance for meanness, discrimination or harassment. Comments with expressions of racism, sexism, homophobia, or xenophobia will be deleted and authors will be banned.

76
Leave a Reply

avatar
16 Comment threads
60 Thread replies
0 Followers
 
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
31 Comment authors
dwkKyle BanerjeeWilliamFosterWebstriderDan A Recent comment authors
  Subscribe  
newest oldest most voted
Notify of
Tim
Guest
Tim

Maybe the folks violating the law by riding in the marked pedestrian lane should be ticketed? lol

Clarence Eckerson
Guest

Great job PDX! Saw it on the news. They even used a bit of Streetfilms footage when they mentioned NYC!

Mossby Pomegranate
Guest
Mossby Pomegranate

How about these folks come out to 82nd, or 102nd, or 122nd, or Halsey, or Glisan, and on and on and on.

Kiel Johnson (Go By Bike)
Member

If Portlanders show up and support bicycling like they did yesterday we can make it to 25% mode share.

Emily Guise (Contributor)
Subscriber

Thanks for covering this, Michael! It was such a fun event, I hope everyone enjoyed it as much as I did.

I’d like to remind everyone to take a minute today and email PBOT, City Council and the Mayor to say you support Better Naito and want it to be permanent. Contact: NaitoParkway@portlandoregon.gov; mayorwheeler@portlandoregon.gov; dan@portlandoregon.gov; chloe@portlandoregon.gov; amanda@portlandoregon.gov; nick@portlandoregon.gov

MANX
Guest
MANX

i am tearing up here, y’all–so glad to see all these supporters come out and take a literal stand for our safety. YASSSS, QUEEN.

Webstrider
Guest
Webstrider

Better Naito could be even better if all users followed the laws. I have witnessed cyclists running red lights, in both directions. It would also be nice if the northbound lanes weren’t blocked by the loaders/unloaders at Saturday Market, but there is an exception for them.

Stephan
Guest
Stephan

No worries, Better Naito will come back! My prediction is that PBOT wants to move all bikes away from the SW waterfront and onto Naito in the medium term.

Toadslick
Subscriber

I look forward to more human-protected bike lanes in the future. Huge thanks to both Go By Bike and BikeLoud for organizing this!

There are two things that I think can be improved for next time:

1. There were too many people taking up space in the bike lane itself, forcing people on bikes to use the pedestrian lane or stop and wait. Mostly news crews and curious passersby. This can be solved by politely asking people to move their conversations out of the lane when they stop to interview, take pictures, or ask questions.

2. The deployment of the protesters blocked the bike lane for longer than necessary. This can be solved by having people line up along the sidewalk or curb first, and then everybody step across the bike lane at the same time.

It’s important to remember that we’re there to protect people on bikes. That includes keeping the bike lane free of obstacles, even obstacles such as well-intentioned people.

Aside from that, I feel like the event was really successful and I’m glad that I got to be a part of it. The leaders of BikeLoud are so on point with media coverage and public relations.

rick
Guest
rick

very cool

Spiffy
Subscriber

“A quarter-mile of Portlanders lined Southwest Naito Parkway’s temporary protected bike lane Thursday evening”

not protected, separated… flexible plastic wands protect cyclists as much as paint does: not at all…

stop giving the city credit for creating things that they didn’t do… I’m still waiting for the city to install a protected bike lane…

wsbob
Guest

What really good reason does Portland have for even taking out this reconfiguration of Naito for better use of this street with bikes? It cost money to plan and set up the configuration. Now, it’s going to take more money to return the street to its regular form for six or seven months until the city likely will have to set the street up again for festival season.

When something is working, the smart, cost saving thing to do, is not mess with it. Winter is coming, making the biking experience generally less wonderful than in fair weather. Maybe the thought is: hardly anyone is going to be riding Naito exclusive bike lanes in cold, lousy weather. But maybe that could change, if this street is better for riding in what tends to be the more difficult time of the year to ride.

People driving seem to be doing ok with the lane reduction required to put this configuration in place. It’s not as though traffic conditions are going to get worse now that festival season is over for now.

Evan
Guest
Evan

I attended and had a really great time. It was powerful, exciting, and amazing. Let’s do it again soon!

Justin
Guest
Justin

Does it make me a traitor to bicyclist-kind if I think that we can probably just ride along Waterfront park during the rainy season as it’ll have less people walking on it? Do we really need Better Nato this time of year when there’s this other option? Just something I’m wondering, as a person who only rides this way a couple times a month.

Scott Kocher
Guest

Here’s a video
https://youtu.be/fhhD2Bi7ZSg
so that people will be able to see what Naito looked like before they built Best Naito.

Barry Cochran
Guest

I thought it was inspiring. A good cross-section of people showed up. Thanks to the organizers!