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After outcry, City changes plans and makes stronger case for Lincoln-Harrison greenway update

Posted by on February 5th, 2018 at 3:04 pm

Cover of PBOT’s new presentation.

After hundreds of comments, dueling online petitions, and a now-legendary open house that devolved into a “mob scene” takeover, the City of Portland has emerged with a new approach to the Lincoln-Harrison Neighborhood Greenway Enhancement Project.

They have altered their initial plans and — in an effort to assuage naysayers of certain elements of the old plan — have redoubled their efforts to effectively communicate the need for the project in general.

To answer critics who question the need for improving bike access while making auto access less convenient, the Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) brought out key facts and policy statements we wish they’d be more aggressive with more often. Dusting off a provocative graphic, they said if we don’t shift more people to non-driving modes Portland will need 23 Powell Boulevards criss-crossing every neighborhood in the city to handle traffic by 2025. They also published the statement: “Investments in bicycle transportation provide the city’s best return on investment in personal mobility.”

This is PBOT trying to explain how screwed we’d be if too many people felt like cars were the best tool to use for commuting.

And then they used this common sense and reasonable — yet very powerful — justification: “For a range of reasons, Portland has decided it would be better to design for and encourage more walking, biking, and transit use than to build enough roadway capacity to ease increased driving. Climate change, congestion, individual health, community health, and environmental health are a few of these reasons.”

Let’s quickly revisit how we got here:

Advertisement

Always smart to show kids on bikes if you want to win an argument.
(Photo taken from PBOT’s new presentation)

Lincoln-Harrison is one of Portland’s original “bike boulevards” (now called neighborhood greenways) and the Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) is taking a hard look at it due to the increase in the number of people who drive on it — too many of whom drive at unsafe speeds. As they recently did with Southeast Clinton, PBOT went to their neighborhood greenway toolkit and announced a series of changes last October aimed at making the street safer. The plan included speed bumps, safer crossings, and median traffic diverters aimed at limited access to certain blocks at certain intersections.

It’s those diverters that attracted the most negative reaction from some local residents. A diverter planned for Lincoln at 50th would have completely prevented people from turning onto Lincoln. After pushback, PBOT has now decided on a new diverter design that allows right turns onto Lincoln from 50th. A “low-cost” diverter median will be installed this spring on an interim basis so PBOT can begin to collect traffic data.

On a related front, people also expressed concerns that if too many drivers were diverted off Lincoln, other streets would fill up. PBOT says the new interim diverter will give them the data they need to assess impacts and consider traffic calming measures on other streets if necessary. The City will also move forward with eight new speed bumps on SE Hawthorne between 50th and 60th to address concerns that drivers will simply cut-through on that street instead.

The entire new plan has been released in what I think is a first for PBOT: a slick “story map” that significantly ups their communication game. And so far the response to the new plan from the Bike Loud PDX email list is positive and cautiously optimistic.

The project is now full-steam-ahead with diverters at Lincoln and 50th due to be installed this spring and the rest of the project — which includes diverters at SE 26th and 30th — slated for construction this summer. The project should be all wrapped up with new signage and striping by late fall of this year.

Get up to speed with all the details by scrolling through the new Story Map and reading the updated FAQ page.

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and jonathan@bikeportland.org

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NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. BikePortland is an inclusive company with no tolerance for discrimination or harassment including expressions of racism, sexism, homophobia, or xenophobia. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Also, if you comment frequently, please consider holding your thoughts so that others can step forward. Thank you — Jonathan

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9watts
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9watts

“Investments in bicycle transportation provide the city’s best return on investment in personal mobility.”

Better late than never. I love it when PBOT talks tough 😉

Stephan
Guest
Stephan

It is great to see this!
However, these numbers are also scary. 23 * 40,000 = 920,000. This means that PBOT expects almost 1 million more people to drive in Portland by 2035 if the travel mode does not change. Shifting 1 millions people from driving cars to other modes of transportation would be a truly systemic change that requires large, comprehensive infrastructure actions. Absent such actions, we’ll see a lot more driving on Portland streets — and not just Powell but many neighborhood streets because main arterials are already at capacity during rush hour.

Doug Klotz
Subscriber

I’m glad to see that PBOT improved their messaging to explain why the diverters and speed bumps are needed on Lincoln/Harrison, as well as elsewhere.

Spiffy
Subscriber

PBOT needs to learn to bring their best game to the FIRST meeting, rather than having to be reactionary as if they weren’t expecting it…

Todd Boulanger
Guest
Todd Boulanger

Very powerful graphics…showing what we all have known for 10 years…that bicycling has out performed TRIMET (2000 to ~2014)…

…and that does not even get to comparing the investment $ in transit vs. bike $ (even counting for the transit investment that supported bikeway roadway upgrades).

[I would love to see any PSU study that has studied this relationship in more detail vs. my gut instinct.]

rick
Guest
rick

To have Powell Blvd sidewalks in SW, that would be an upgrade for many roads.

Buzz
Guest
Buzz

Here’s the problem at SE Harrison and 26th – PBOT is still proposing to do nothing on adjacent streets to manage the traffic that currently accesses SE Harrison westbound at SE 26th and will otherwise be diverted into the neighborhood by this project.

This traffic is going to filter/divert into the neighborhoods on SE 26th north of SE Harrison and on other westbound streets (Lincoln, Grant, Sherman, Carruthers) east of 26th south of Harrison.

This traffic needs to be calmed on SE 26th between Division and Harrison, e.g. with speed tables, or be diverted from entering the neighborhood at SE 26th and Division.

All the focus so far has been on SE 50th and PBOT has done nothing to address the issues at SE 26th and Harrison.

That’s my $0.02 as a homeowner in this neighborhood.

Laura
Guest
Laura

Why remove the 31 speed bumps on Lincoln west of 50th? That is a gift to drivers who cut through to Lincoln off neighborhood streets and gives them a straight shot.

Phil Richman
Subscriber

From the site: “Fixed cameras only allowed on high crash corridors, like Barbur” I hope in this case PBOT is forecasting the actual installation of speed cameras on Barbur, since currently there are none installed. Perhaps this is just a reminder to ODOT to “Fix Barbur Blvd”?