“All through the long, dark winter, I eagerly await the day when bollards spring from the pavement and we know that Better Naito season is upon us again.”
With those words by Biketown General Manager Dorothy Mitchell, the City of Portland officially opened Better Naito this morning.
From now until the end of September, Naito Parkway will have more room for biking, walking and rolling between the Hawthorne and Steel Bridges. The re-allocation of road space was first made possible in 2015 by a group of volunteer activists from Better Block PDX in collaboration with planning students from Portland State University. Last year the project was taken over by the Portland Bureau of Transportation and they’ve now budgeted for a seasonal installation for the next four years.
Last year PBOT counted 500,000 trips in the Better Naito lane and it has been widely hailed as a success.
The seasonal approach was taken in large part to help people access the waterfront during the busy Rose Festival season. “It has truly worked,” Rose Festival CEO Jeff Curtis said at this morning’s event. “It provides an accessibility tool and it’s a smart use of space.”
PBOT Planning, Projects, and Policy Group Manager Art Pearce said that while they have four more years of funding for this seasonal installation, the City isn’t obligated to wait that long before making something more permanent. During a ceremonial parade lap of the facility, Pearce shared with me that the Central City in Motion project is where the future of Better Naito is being discussed. “We continue to work the edges to see if we can make it [a permanent version] go faster, but that’s the path forward. Better Naito is keeping the momentum going while we’re having bigger deliberations around which streets are going to change.”
With changes to Naito north of this seasonal installation made last summer and a major project on Naito to the south being constructed this summer, the pressure for “PermaNaito” is growing. “I’m relatively confident we’re going to get that,” Pearce said today.
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