Westside update: Beaverton’s hunt for gold, activism opportunities, future of Western Ave, and more

Humble brag: We have pretty sweet bike parking at Beaverton City Hall.
(Photos: Naomi Fast)

Naomi Fast is our Washington County correspondent. Her last report took a closer look at Millikan Way.

A smorgasbord of newsworthy items brings me to my Washington County Updates desk, with these nuggets to share…

U Can B On the BAC

Beaverton’s Bicycle Advisory Committee (BAC) is in need of new members. If you live in Beaverton or bike through daily, and are interested in volunteering on this committee, please do it. You could help influence everything from the Bike Beaverton Ride to smart intersections, bike lane designs, and even capital improvement projects. You’ll also get to advise city staff on matters like whether we should widen roads or not.

Just email staff rep Stacy Revay and let her know you’re interested. Tell her BikePortland’s WashCo Correspondent sent you! Ha, just kidding about the last part, although, it might be interesting for BAC attendees to hear how you found out about the open BAC positions. Tip: if you come to BAC meetings, there are snacks — sometimes even fancy chocolate cake — which was shared at the last meeting to celebrate Anne Lee’s contributions to the committee (her departure is why there’s an opening).

To learn what else BAC’s been working on, check out their minutes. You might be surprised how interesting they can be. I’ve learned a lot by binge-reading meeting minutes. Same with viewing public hearings from years past, to see how bicycle transportation has been discussed. It’s also enlightening to consider intersections of bicycles-as-transportation with work of other city commissions.

Oh! As implied, we do like to eat well in Beaverton, so don’t forget the Bike More Challenge Breakfast on Wednesday, May 16th in front of City Hall.

Is there Gold in Beaverton?

We’ll see. The BAC’s still working on its application for a Gold-level Bicycle Friendly City designation from the League of American Bicyclists. Beaverton is currently Silver; but many active transportation developments and improvements have settled into place the last two years, so it’s time to send organizations like People For Bikes and Bike League a fresh batch of data. Meanwhile, those of us riding can continue to let the the city know where the still-Silver areas are, that are in need of a polish. One such street that’s getting some help soon is Western Ave (see below).

The Future’s So Bright

City of Beaverton’s concept for Western Ave that includes raised bike lanes.

In 2020, construction will begin on one of at least two road projects on Western Ave, potentially followed up with a new bus line. The work will make it much friendlier to people outside cars, no widening required.

At May’s BAC meeting Senior Transportation Planner Luke Pelz presented a very attractive concept illustration of what Western will look like after raised bike lanes are added from SW 5th to Allen. One concern that came up is middle turn lanes, from which people in cars and trucks and bicycles alike would make left turns into driveways along Western. Regardless of zoning, a good rule of thumb is, if a person in a car needs to turn left somewhere, a person on bike will too. That “detail” aside, if there were infrastructure like this everywhere, I’m optimistic many more people would hop on a bike to work. If only our vision had been 2020 in 1990. But, it’s hard to move ahead looking in a rear view mirror.

There’s an Open House for this project on Wednesday, May 30 from 11AM to 1PM at the Western Avenue Business Center: 5465 SW Western Avenue, Suite F. Will there be refreshments? But of course!

While we wait for biking improvements on the ground, we can continue to address the reasons besides infrastructure that people stay off their bike—even if they’d like to ride. Good transportation systems rely on awareness of those reasons, so as to address them. On June 14th, BAC Council Liaison Mark Fagin will bring the Human Rights Advisory Commission (HRAC) resolution that just passed May 1st, to the BAC meeting as part of his Council Update. It’s an opportunity to discuss the intersections of active transportation and our rights as humans, such as concerns about access to clean air and water, being profiled while on a bicycle or shopping with backpacks, or, if you’re young, how you see transportation affecting your future climate. If you’d like to come and share experiences from a human rights perspective about biking in Beaverton, you’re invited, even if you don’t currently use a bike to get around town.


Transportation Tango

“It’s an exciting time because we’ve completed an active transportation plan, and it’s a chance to look at how all of active transportation works together in Beaverton.”

“Is the day of the 14-foot travel lane behind us? Can we focus on the things that really make a difference—the intersections, the sidewalks, the pedestrian facilities?”
— Marc San Soucie, Beaverton city councilor

“It’s really an exciting time for transportation,” said Public Works Director David Donaldson at the May 1st Beaverton City Council meeting.

Councilor Marc San Soucie commented, “I think we are at that point of needing to have some good policy-level discussions about what are the important things for us, what are the strategies, what are the top-level considerations we want to apply to making these decisions about what to put into a five-year plan. Because we do need to decide what is the balance between great neighborhoods, active transportation, road widening, intersection improvement, maintenance. And I don’t think we have enough information in front of us right now to make those choices, except based on old information.”

San Soucie considers much of that old information obsolete, as the world of technology is changing fast. “Is the day of the 14-foot travel lane behind us?” he asked. “Can we focus on the things that really make a difference—the intersections, the sidewalks, the pedestrian facilities?” He wants to look at the new technologies being deployed around the country and said, “Maybe we write some of those old paradigms out of our thinking and concentrate on some of the other things.”

He’d like to know when we can begin engaging with new technologies, like next-generation super smart traffic signals.

Mayor Doyle said, “In terms of traffic, it’s also the tango with ODOT and the county. You guys know way better than we do.”

“It ain’t a tango anymore,” Councilor San Soucie leaned into his mic and said with perfect comedy timing.

Beyond Beaverton

Last but not least: living car-light or car-free in Beaverton means biking or taking transit in Hillsboro from time to time. Good news! Hillsboro’s updating its TSP — short for Transportation System Plan. Comment on the online map to add known trouble spots. It might be helpful for them to know what’s working really well for cycling, too, and where the road is being shared effectively.

By the way, every time I hear the acronym TSP, I think of that Aretha Franklin lyric, “R E S P E C T, find out what it means to me!” And it fits, because respect for people outside cars walking, skipping, rolling, scootering, skating and biking their way home is a big part of shaping our densifying suburbs and cities.

— Naomi Fast, @_the_clearing on Twitter

Read more of her dispatches here.

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Naomi Fast (Washington County Correspondent)

Ms. Fast is a former Portlander who now lives on the West Side. Read her posts for on-the-ground insights about the projects and policies that impact Washington County road users.

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6 years ago

Western Ave needs the giant street trees for this project and it needs to eliminate one or two of the car entrances of the businesses from SW Arctic Drive to 5th Street. The UPS store has 3 car entances. The bizarre history of the current asphalt-bump path adjacent to Pacific Lumber by Western Ave is that Beaverton’s Western Ave project manager said that path is a private one (with the assumed easement).

B. Carfree
B. Carfree
6 years ago

Well, you caught one concern with sidepaths: making left turns accessible and safe. Grade separated sidepaths definitely have that mode of failure. It’s like the old joke: they look good in the shower (but don’t work).

Also, there’s an awful lot of driveways that get a fair amount of use on that short section of proposed sidepath. That’s not the kind of place I want to be “out of sight (lines), out of mind”. Add in all the time I’m spending on tandems and tandems with a trailer bike with my most precious cargo, and I believe I’ll pass on supporting such poorly thought-out infrastructure.

6 years ago
Reply to  B. Carfree

They could make minor crossings like the ones on SW Oleson Road. The mid-block ones that don’t have vegetation.

6 years ago

What is it with all the “Crossing Closed” that appears to be at half the intersections in Hillsboro? This makes it very inconvenient for trying to turn left using a crosswalk as it seems that every one they close is on the side I would like to cross, forcing instead to choose between turning left with the cars, or needing to cross twice. It’s annoying as both a cyclist and a pedestrian and seems to lead to a lot of jay walking near such intersections. They even have one between Cornell and Cherry from the entrance to the park, forcing pedestrians to walk South to Cherry or North to Cornell to cross the road, or just jay walk.

6 years ago
Reply to  DP

ask some Washington County commissioners

Chris I
Chris I
6 years ago
Reply to  DP

Because they inconvenience motorists. Washington County doesn’t care if pedestrians have to spend a few more minutes walking, as long as it can save motorists a few seconds on their trip.

6 years ago

Bike racks at city hall? Big deal. They would mean something if you coukd ride to city hall without it being a hair raising experience.