Volunteer activism is alive and well in Portland.
“We felt that there were some voices being silenced… so we wanted to come up with some actions we could do to raise awareness and make a difference.”
— Andrea Brown, Friends of Safer Lincoln
On Wednesday night, a group of concerned volunteers set up a table on Southeast Lincoln at 34th and encouraged passersby to sign postcards urging Portland City Council to make the street less appealing for impatient auto users. So far they’ve sent 200 to City Hall and they’ve also printed up yard signs that will be popping up along the route shortly.
Calling themselves Friends of Safer Lincoln, the organizers of the event were spurred into action after the debate around the Lincoln-Harrison Neighborhood Greenway Enhancement project devolved into a hostile takeover of a key open house by angry neighbors.
One side of the debate wants the street to have as little access for auto users as possible and be a truly “low-stress” place for cycling and walking. Others fear loss of convenience and worry that the Portland Bureau of Transportation is going too far.
Andrea Brown is a nearby resident who started the Friends group. She connected with others in support of the greenway plans after posting messages about it online. “This is a pretty informal group formed out of frustration,” she shared with me via email yesterday. Brown said the now infamous PBOT open house was a wake-up call. “Friends of Safer Lincoln is a group of people from Richmond and Mt. Tabor who were alarmed by the opposition to the greenway project,” she wrote. “We felt that there were some voices being silenced, especially in Mt. Tabor, where people were kicked off of NextDoor and made to feel unwelcome, so we wanted to come up with some actions we could do to raise awareness and make a difference.”
Another local resident, Betsy Reese, was also out on the street Wednesday night. She’s been involved with transportation activism in the past and thinks what has happened with this project on Lincoln has set precedent — both good and bad — for future greenway projects.
On the bad side:
“It’s wrong for the City to imply they are taking a kind of ‘vote’ from those who show up to neighborhood association meetings and open houses (be those votes cast on paper ballots, by raised hands, applause-meter, loudest yelling, or passive-aggressive meeting take-overs). This can — and has — devolved into out-of-control contentious meetings where not everyone is heard. It hinders projects, making them more drawn-out and expensive, and is hurtful to neighborhood relationships. It is destroying community, which during this time of rapid growth in Portland, we should be doing everything we can to preserve and build.”
And on the good side:
“The real story here is that a group of diverse concerned citizens who are not BikeLoud PDX or any kind of organized group, came together to fight to be heard after being drowned out and pushed aside by opponents at open houses. The response along the greenway has been really incredible. This is significant not just for Lincoln-Harrison-Ladd, but the future of all greenways in Portland.
We do have popular support for our politicians and public employees to to make their final decisions consistent with City transportation priorities, national standards, Vision Zero guidelines, and/or other principled fact-based solutions designed by experts to address global issues.”
On Wednesday night, people on bikes and on foot stopped at a small table to fill out postcards and talk about the project. According to Brown, they had a lot to say: “I almost got hit just now,” “It’d be great to get some of these cars off this street,” and “I ride on this from Gresham to downtown Portland every day, and would welcome these changes,” were some of the comments she heard.
“I hope this will alert others in the cycling community to stop and sign a postcard, sign up for a yard sign, attend any neighborhood meetings they can,” added Brown.
Speaking of which, PBOT will present the latest changes to this project at the Richmond Neighborhood Association monthly meeting this Monday, February 12th, 7:00 pm at Waverley Church (3300 SE Woodward St.).
Let’s hope this meeting is more sane than the last one.
— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and email@example.com
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BikePortland needs your support.
Excellent work from a great group of people. Let’s keep the momentum, folks!
This is good work. Bravo!
If you’re riding up Lincoln this evening, please stop by to show some support. Opposition groups have 100s of signatures from angry neighbors; it would be great to have a response from those cycling on Lincoln that overwhelmingly shows strong support for the safety improvements vs those that want to keep the status quo.
If you normally bike Salmon or Clinton, consider trying out Lincoln this evening.
I use Lincoln a lot. What time will they be set up?
Thank you, Brian! We have tabled the tabling activity (sorry, I just had to trot that joke out) but appreciate your presence on Lincoln. See below to voice your concerns.
Looks like they won’t be setup today due to such great response throughout the week, but that’s just fine. At this point an email to the following people could help.
The folks at the top in charge of the project are:
PBOT Director: Leah Treat
PBOT Commissioner: Dan Saltzman
While emails to those parties could be helpful…
The people that could kill the project due to perceived distaste for the project could be the mayor and other commissioners. Consider sending emails to
Mayor: Ted Wheeler
Commissioners: Chloe Eudaly, Amanda Fritz, and Nick Fish too.
Matt, we have met our postcard goals and will not be tabling this evening. We do hope that people will ride on Lincoln though! An email to PBOT, Dan Saltzman, other city commissioners and the mayor’s office describing your experience would be powerful advocacy.
This is a great time to remind folks that PBOT is presenting at the RNA meeting on Monday. We really could use as many supportive folks as we can get. We want to show PBOT that there is mass support for the changes on Lincoln to counteract the opposition that will surely show.
Monday, Feb 12th at 7PM
Waverley Heights UCC
3300 Southeast Woodward Street
And yes, all will be able to participate in the meeting, whether you live in the neighborhood or not. Everyone who uses the Greenway should be heard!
Great caption: “Doing something about the problem as the problem streams by.”
Hopefully the City sees the level of opposition as Exhibit A for why this change is necessary in the first place.
I ride on it every day from 60th to 34th, but I’m a bit confused about why they routed a diesel fume belching bus onto a “greenway”? Aren’t diesel fumes the most unhealthy/ highest particle content?
Advocate for making TriMet’s fleet electric. That’s another project trying to gain support and momentum.
Tri met is working on transitioning to electric, but they are moving at a snail’s pace. They have a 20 year timeline, that we think can be done in half that.
The local Neighborhood has repeatedly requested Tri-Met re routs the 71 to Division, but due to Response times and congestion at the 60 th/Division traffic Lincoln makes for a more reliable bus.
It would be nice if Trimet were willing to reconsider the more sustainable and cheaper over the long-term option: trolley buses.
More diverters are the answer. Driving is the act of destroying peace for the enjoyment of your own convenience. Yes, I drive and yes I know the cost. Cutting through on side streets is a jerk move. Divert the heck out of the streets and return them back to the people.
I love the greenways, but I imagine drivers think they’re a blessing because of the lack of stop signs.
I’d also support a toll booth for motor vehicles… if this road is as vital as drivers say it is then maybe they’d like a chance to pay their fair share to use it…
How can I get a yard sign to show support for the greenway?