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PBOT delays protected lane in Kenton, citing neighborhood concerns

Posted by on September 6th, 2018 at 11:56 am

Today on N Denver Avenue, bicycle riders use a standard-width, door-zone bike lane.
(Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

A protected lane on the Kenton neighborhood’s main street was supposed to be built by now.

As of last March, with funds from the Fixing our Streets program, the Bureau of Transportation was set to (once again) leverage a scheduled repaving project to reconfigure lanes on N Denver Avenue. The plans called for switching the existing, door-zone bike lane to the curb and adding a buffer on Denver between North Lombard and Watts that would protect vulnerable road users from other traffic. Auto parking would be provided in the street, creating the same type of “parking-protected bike lane” that PBOT has recently installed on nearby Rosa Parks Way.

But PBOT now says the project has been delayed a year until summer 2019. Here’s more from an email they just sent:

“When PBOT repaves a roadway, we often leverage the opportunity to improve safety at the same time and review the lane configuration, bike facilities, and crossings. We initially proposed repaving N Denver Avenue this summer, including protected bike lanes, transit stops and crossing medians.

We have received positive support, but also some concerns about the design as proposed and are placing a temporary hold on this project to continue our outreach with the neighborhood to better understand concerns, community needs, and preferences related to this project. We now intend to deliver this project in the summer of 2019, with a design that reflects the additional public input.”


Here’s the design PBOT was proposing as of April:

We haven’t gotten details about the nature of the concerns with that design. However, it appears that the debate has to do with what should go in the curbside lane: A VRU lane (for vulnerable road users, a term I’m trying out instead of “bike lane”) or a lane for parking. In a new online survey PBOT is asking for feedback on two options.

Option 1 is the original design with the VRU lane curbside and the parked cars in the street:

Option 2 would keep parked cars at the curb and add a buffer to the left the lane people bike in:

If you use Denver Ave and want to learn more about this project, the Kenton Neighborhood Association is hosting PBOT for a discussion about it next Wednesday, September 12th at 7:00 pm at the Kenton Firehouse (8105 N Brandon Ave). And don’t forget to share your feedback via the online survey.

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

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    Let's Active September 6, 2018 at 12:48 pm

    I like “vulnerable road users” or “VRU”, but wonder how people riding motorcycles fit in. Obviously they are not allowed to use the VRU lane, but they are pretty “vulnerable” out there. A small point in a bigger shift, but maybe worth thinking about.

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    John Liu September 6, 2018 at 12:55 pm

    “the debate has to do with what should go in the curbside lane: A VRU lane (for vulnerable road users, a term I’m trying out instead of “bike lane”) or a lane for parking”

    I wonder if it might have more to do with the great reduction in street parking under the proposed design? Seems like there would be only a handful of street parking spaces per block.

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      Nick September 6, 2018 at 1:00 pm

      Absolutely. The discussion on Nextdoor has been dominated by complaints about removal of parking. It is incredibly hard to take away something that’s been freely available for so long. People get extremely cranky.

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      Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) September 6, 2018 at 1:03 pm

      ah yes of course. It’s probably about parking.

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      John Liu September 6, 2018 at 2:46 pm

      But seems more parking could be preserved. In the parking-protected design, there appear to long sections of the buffer zone that could accommodate parking spaces, but in the current design are striped paint where parking is prohibited.

      I understand the importance of clear sightlines at intersections, so don’t allow parking in the buffer zone right before an intersection, but add more parking spaces mid-block.

      This might make everyone happier.

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    bikeninja September 6, 2018 at 12:59 pm

    Its obviously the newly established e-scooter juicer lobby. From what I hear, the favored method of recharging a minivan load of scooters is to run a couple extension cords out to the curb and juice the scooters right in the vehicle instead of carrying them in and out of the juicers abode. Having the parking seperated from the curb by a VRU would make it difficult and dangerous to run a cord to your stable of hungry scooters, thus causing the pushback from the juicer lobby.

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    Bald One September 6, 2018 at 3:28 pm

    Is it about losing parking? Seems like they are still proposing to have on-street parking in place in their proposal.

    Moving the bike lane into the gutter behind the row of parked cars and crossing residential driveways seems misguided, and does deserve some extra review. This gutter placement for vulnerable roadies is potentially more dangerous. Especially considering there is a great sidewalk here that serves nearly the same purpose for the cautious VRUs out there. Why create a second sidewalk in the road?

    Maintaining highest level of visibility for all road users is the best path for traffic calming and safety. Hiding VRUs off in the gutter areas behind parked cars is a recipe for creating more ninjas, having greater conflict in the gutter lane (mis-parked cars, garbage cans, junk accumulation), and increasing car speed on the road. Visibility, predictability for any road user should be the guiding principals here, not sheltering, hiding, and creating unpredictable behavior of VRUs if they choose to be on the roadway.

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      Antonio Rebensdorf September 6, 2018 at 5:05 pm

      “Maintaining highest level of visibility for all road users is the best path for traffic calming and safety.”

      I wonder if you have ever been hit by a driver-side door that has opened spontaneously while riding down one of those VRU lanes placed on the vehicle side of the road. It knocked me and my bike across a busy street during rush hour, and the driver could only apologize for not looking first and tell me he rides a bike too.
      In every country that has advanced bicycle infrastructure (Denmark, etc.) bike/vru tracks are separate and protected from fast moving cars and parking areas. Because it is simple: We will always lose if we get hit.

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        Bald One September 7, 2018 at 1:34 pm

        I of course ride in fear of this and many other hazards, every day. I’m truly sorry you got doored, it is an absolute nightmare situation. But, in terms of urban planning in this location in Kenton, you will still risk getting hit by a passenger side door, and you will have an increase in risk of getting hit by a car backing out of a driveway, not to mention getting right hooked by a turning car as you roll forward out of the gutter lane from behind a parked car. If getting doored is the main concern, then zero parking on the street seems to be the only option, or putting in a floating curb and making cars park head-in at an angle. Of course, floating curb does nothing to prevent the other conflicts and lack of visibility.

        The new alignment proposed for N Denver with a gutter lane inside of a parked car lane does not “separate and protect from parking areas” as you claim they do in Denmark. Might work great where there are no parked cars. (And other obstacles like garbage bins). Yes, we should dedicate more space to bikes, but no, we should not push bikes off of one spot and into an afterthought, shoehorn, danger-chute of urban planning just because that’s how people think it’s done in Denmark.

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    mark smith September 9, 2018 at 5:34 pm

    Portlander’s are liberal until it involves their subsidized parking.

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