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Southeast neighborhood coalition comes out against 26th Avenue bike lane removal

Posted by on April 25th, 2018 at 4:37 pm

A protest rally on 26th and Powell in February.
(Photo: J. Maus)

Southeast Uplift, an official City of Portland neighborhood coalition group that represents 20 neighborhoods, has thrown their weight behind opposition to the Portland Bureau of Transportation and the Oregon Department of Transportation’s negotiated settlement to remove bike lanes on SE 26th Avenue approaching Powell Blvd.

As we’ve been reporting for nearly three years now, the nearly unprecedented removal of bike lanes on a city street is the result of a squabble between PBOT and ODOT. As final word came down from ODOT in February that they planned to cash in an agreement wrung out of PBOT over the lanes, there’s been a ratcheting up of activism to keep them.

Southeast Uplift joins a loud chorus speaking up against ODOT’s inexplicable demands for the removal of these bike lanes. Activists rallied during a snowstorm in February where the director of The Street Trust, Jillian Detweiler, said removing the lanes is “completely unnecessary.”

In their letter to PBOT Commissioner Dan Saltzman and PBOT Director Leah Treat, SE Uplift Co-chairs Terry Dublinski-Milton and Reuben Deumling say their board is, “Very concerned about the safety ramifications,” of removing the lanes.

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ODOT says they feel the lanes should be removed because they’re too dangerous and that a new bikeway on 28th is safer. SE Uplift says using 28th is, “Not viable for commuters heading to the employment zones of the central eastside or points downtown.”

Here’re more from the letter:

“Commuters will take the path of least resistance and SE 26th has functioned as a commuter route for over a generation. It is fast, flat and direct. Thus, the new successful new crossing of Southeast Powell at SE 28th will not provide enough benefits to change behavior of cyclists accustomed to the SE 26th route. Without an alternative in place prior to removal of the SE 26th bike lanes, commuters will continue to use SE 26th, making a dangerous situation worse.”

SE Uplift wants PBOT to pause on plans to remove the bike lanes. And if the City chooses to ultimately move forward, SE Uplift says they should do so only after making 21st Avenue safer so it can be used as a viable alternative.

Read the letter here.

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

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31 thoughts on “Southeast neighborhood coalition comes out against 26th Avenue bike lane removal”

  1. Avatar Todd Boulanger says:

    This project just gets more interesting as time moves forward…

  2. Hello, Kitty Hello, Kitty says:

    Is the crossing at 28th “successful”? In that it exists, yes, In that it is uphill (both ways!), and takes an eternity for the signal to change, even when volumes on Powell are low, not so much.

    I think giving up 26th for 28th was a bad trade. We would have done better to improve riding conditions on 26th. Luckily, 21st (unlike 26th) is classified such that improving the already ok bike conditions there is viable.

    1. Avatar Buzz says:

      SE 21st south of Powell really needs a good repaving to be truly viable for cyclists, otherwise I agree.

      OTOH, I think SE 26th is worth fighting for. If the bike facility there is substandard, it should be improved, not removed.

    2. Avatar Spiffy says:

      their own bike counts show that people still prefer 26th…

  3. Avatar Jim Lee says:

    But we must not hurt ODOT’s feelings on this matter.

  4. Avatar Doug Hecker says:

    In the perceived “war” over safer streets… people are still fighting over this? 28th has no choice but to safer as it checks the boxes for less stressful riding as well as less cars. Should there be a cost (in this case, time and a small hill) for safety? Quite possibly.

    1. Go By Bike Go By Bike says:

      What? “no choice but to safer..” really confused about what your comment is

      1. Avatar Doug Hecker says:

        Choice = chance. Silly smartphone autocorrect. 🙂

        1. Avatar BB says:

          That still doesn’t make your statement make any kind of sense..

          1. Avatar Doug Hecker says:

            Maybe you should read it slower?

    2. Avatar soren says:

      funny how the “costs of time and effort” are acceptable for people biking (for their own “safety”) but the people driving who cause much of the safety risk must not be delayed or inconvenienced.

      i also note that you were dismissive of the concerns of people for whom riding up hills is a barrier to cycling for transportation.

      1. Avatar Doug Hecker says:

        Feel free to share your checklist of what you would rather see. Safe? Convenient? Quick? Feel free to add anything I missed.

        You remember that far back? Nice. I also said that we can’t always have everything. So I am eager to see the order of hopeful items that you’d like to see in a bike facility. Thanks in advance.

        Personally, I avoid that intersection. I could use it daily.

      2. Avatar Doug Hecker says:

        Still waiting.

      3. Avatar Doug Hecker says:

        Still nothing? Come one Soren. I know you can do this.

    3. Avatar Spiffy says:

      and why does the bully get to win? why do the very people that make the road dangerous get to kick out the vulnerable users they endanger?

      in a logical world we remove the danger, not the victims…

      1. Hello, Kitty Hello, Kitty says:

        You may be starting to notice that this world is not logical.

        1. Avatar 9watts says:

          No argument from me, but isn’t the question what we do about this?
          Shrug, or take off the gloves?

          1. Hello, Kitty Hello, Kitty says:

            We need a critical mass of people pushing for change. We’re not there yet. I’m not sure how to move the needle.

      2. Avatar bikeninja says:

        If the world were logical we would not have petroleum powered motorcars at all. We would have phased them out starting in the 1970’s when we realized how damaging they were to continuation of life on earth.

      3. Avatar Doug Hecker says:

        Who’s the bully? Did you miss the open house where it was already decided upon before the meeting took place? Welcome to Portland. The danger was removed (26th) and replaced by the safer 28th. The problem is that people don’t prefer it but in terms of the safe streets that many people want, it fits the bill. Diverters included.

  5. Avatar Lester Burnham says:

    Continuous bike lanes on Skidmore NOW!

  6. Avatar Mike says:

    Buzz
    SE 21st south of Powell really needs a good repaving to be truly viable for cyclists, otherwise I agree.

    The unintended consequence of this is that cars, like an invasive virus, will find new pavement and start using it in greater numbers (and speeds) to cut around Powell too.

    The road, as it is right now, is actually not all that horrible. What’s best about it is if you’re heading north. There’s a 2-3 foot wide strip of newer pavement from a sewer reconstruction project that is pretty smooth. Everything else around it is junk. Too small for a car but perfect for a bike. It’s in the middle of the lane so it sort of forces you to rightfully take the lane.

  7. Avatar GlowBoy says:

    Keep fighting! I believe persistence will eventually pay off in this extended battle with ODOT.

    1. Avatar Spiffy says:

      we got them to stop putting the Mt Hood Freeway through the middle of a neighborhood by using citizen pressure… so with enough resistance we can do anything…

      I’d like to see as many Pedalpalooza rides as possible go along 26th this year as a protest…

      1. Avatar Doug Hecker says:

        This would’ve been a non issue if the MHF was in place. Separated cars lanes means more bike friendliness everywhere else.

        1. Avatar Resopmok says:

          Really? There’s a ring of highways surrounding downtown, but I wouldn’t call downtown “bike friendly.” Manufacturing facts does not make them true.

          1. Avatar Doug Hecker says:

            I guess that would be to the eye of the beholder. I bike downtown daily. I would hate to see I-5 or 84 shut down for any length of time. I sure you would too. Just because you have a cool phrase to toss in doesn’t make it accurate.

          2. Avatar Doug Hecker says:

            I’m**^

  8. Avatar rachel b says:

    ODOT’s unspoken priority is to make it easier to move heavy freight and commuter traffic on SE 26th–a collector lined with residences and a school. UPRR expansion has put huge pressure on surrounding neighborhoods, completely changing the ped/bike and driving experience on SE 26th and other streets. I suspect UPRR has been putting pressure on ODOT to remove the bike lanes. Their trucks don’t even fit in the traffic lanes. Why PBOT caved, I have no idea. Never made sense to me. Exasperating!

    Love how you put it, Jonathan–“…they planned to cash in an agreement wrung out of PBOT over the lanes…”

    Thank you Reuben, Terry and Southeast Uplift!

  9. Avatar Terry D-M says:

    Thanks Everyone. It was unanimous at both my LUTC and full Board presentations.

    If 21st is built as a replacement, before 26th removal, it would need to be protected bike lanes of some form……after repaving. This is all about funding. The most recent communication from ODOT states that current plans for 26th include removing the bike box and bike lane symbols, but leave the three foot shoulder “for those who want to use it” plus adding lead pedestrian crossings and banning right turns on red.

    I will follow up with PBOT as the 21st alternative is all about allocation of a half million dollars as the project is on the tsp for the near term.

    Terry Dublinski-Milton
    Co-Chair SE Uplift

    1. Hello, Kitty Hello, Kitty says:

      Leaving a 3ft “shoulder” on 26th would be a terrible outcome. De-facto bike lanes, but without any official recognition, would essentially create a wider and faster street, making it a much more hostile environment than it is today. If the bike lanes are removed, we really need to lobby for parking to be restored to both sides to narrow the roadway and limit vehicle speeds.

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