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Pressure builds on City of Portland to keep Better Naito in place

Posted by on September 14th, 2018 at 11:02 am

Better Naito, shown here during its launch back in May, has been a big success. Its biggest supporters have been PBOT staff and elected officials. So, why take it down?
(Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

Two of Portland’s transportation reform advocacy groups are ratcheting up their opposition to the City of Portland’s plans to tear down the Better Naito project at the end of next week.

“Better Naito is a critical link in the active transportation network and should remain installed year-round.”
— Bike Loud PDX

Nearing the end of its fourth year as a temporary reconfiguration of Naito Parkway, the project gives walkers and rollers much more room to operate on a crucial north-south link along Waterfront Park.

Both Bike Loud PDX — the grassroots, all-volunteer group that celebrated its fourth birthday this week — and the venerable Street Trust (formerly the Bicycle Transportation Alliance), have taken action to save the project.

Bike Loud Co-chairs Emily Guise and Catie Gould laid out the group’s argument in a letter (PDF) sent to Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler and Commissioners Chloe Eudaly, Nick Fish, Amanda Fritz and Dan Saltzman yesterday:

“Better Naito is a critical link in the active transportation network and should remain installed year-round… Spending time and resources each year to remove and re-install Better Naito is a poor use of our limited transportation funds. The $350,000 approved by City Council in 2017 gets chipped away at each year at the expense of maintenance or other projects. It is counter intuitive that at the same time we are seeking major investments to improve our active transportation network in the downtown core that we are spending funding to remove part of that network each fall…

By 2035, we are planning on 80% of commute trips to or from the district being made outside of Single Occupancy Vehicles (as adopted by the Central City 2035 Plan.) We will not be able to create these shifts in how Portlanders get around if we continue to remove the most popular Central City bike route each year.

BikeLoudPDX urges the City of Portland to keep Better Naito installed year round until a permanent design can be implemented… A year round installation would provide real data on winter usage and travel impacts to all modes that can be used to inform a decision on the permanent design.”

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Over 100 people stood in the middle of Naito during a protest against its removal last year.
(Photo: Better Block PDX)

Bike Loud points to a 2017 PBOT traffic study that showed people were twice as likely to ride a bike on Better Naito than on the crowded Waterfront Park path. The city’s bike count also showed 3,000 – 4,000 bike trips per day on Naito at Ankeny and Salmon, “making it by far the most heavily used bicycle facility in the Central City,” Bike Loud notes.

And The Street Trust has announced a ride and rally this coming Tuesday (9/18) at 5:00 pm. Here’s the description:

“The Better Naito protected bikeway season will end September 22. Show your appreciation for this safe and convenient route! Meet up at 5 p.m. At 5:30 ride the length of the protected bikeway, then head over the Hawthorne Bridge to the Central City in Motion open house at OMSI where you can share your priorities for bike and pedestrian improvements with PBOT. Priorities like a permanent protected bikeway on SW Naito Parkway!”

When Better Naito was torn down last year, over 100 concerned Portlanders formed a human-protected bike lane to convey its importance.

This past May, Mayor Wheeler expressed his desire to permanently reconfigure Naito by commissioning a study on the potential design options and costs. The price tag came out to $4 million and the proposal has become project 17 of the Central City in Motion plan. Similar to the position of Bike Loud PDX this week, Better Block (the group that initiated the Better Naito concept in 2015) and other activists panned the study and said waiting for such a large project to materialize didn’t make sense when a good solution has already been tested.

At this point it’s unclear what the immediate future of Better Naito is. Current PBOT Commissioner Chloe Eudaly is new to the job of overseeing the bureau and isn’t prepared to comment on it yet. PBOT is unlikely to make such a major policy shift without cover from City Hall — especially as long as the Portland Business Alliance remains on record as being staunchly opposed to it.

Stay tuned.

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

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Kiel Johnson (Go By Bike)
Member

very excited to see these two organizations working together! see you at the rally.

Phoenix
Guest
Phoenix

One of the problems is that, as in the picture, it gives people, like the lady in the recumbent, even less of an excuse to KEEP RIGHT ! You (generic/royal _you_, mind) are not the only person on the planet.. There is always ALWAYS someone coming up from behind you who is moving faster than you are & you are not in England; did your elementary school teachers not drill into your head “single file, keep right”? jbfc

q
Guest
q

Maybe she just passed the orange bikes behind her and is moving over. Maybe she’s moving out to pass someone in front of her. Maybe she’s moving over a bit because the photographer looks like they may be about to move towards her. Maybe she’s avoiding some glass or gravel.

Maybe she thinks she IS over far enough. Maybe she IS from England. Maybe she hadn’t realized she should stay to the right, and someone who just passed her told her, and she’s moving over already. Maybe there’s a pigeon or squirrel in the lane.

Or, maybe she’s excited, and not realizing she could be a bit further over, and she’s delaying someone behind her, thus robbing them of two seconds out of their lives that they’ll NEVER get back!

turnips
Guest
turnips

a polite ring of a bell or “on your right” seems to do the trick nicely for me. if you’re in such a hurry that something like that is untenable, go ahead and be in less of a hurry.

Phoenix
Guest
Phoenix

I did not say anything about being in a hurry… We all ride at the speed we’re able… & inevitably there are those in front going slower & those behind going faster. I’m rarely the one doing the passing & I fail to see any reason to constipate the flow of traffic for others due to a complete lack of an awareness that there are actually other people on the planet (who would also like to get where they’re going while dealing with a minimum number of obstacles)…

q
Guest
q

Do you really think that the fact that someone is riding so that others can’t easily pass them on the left shows that they have “a complete lack of an awareness that there are actually other people on the planet”?

Phoenix
Guest
Phoenix

Yes, yes I do, I’ve decades of evidence supporting the belief that most people are generally clueless of how their actions affect others most of the time; & as an optimist, I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt & believe that they _aren’t_ doing it on purpose… Elsewise, that they’d purposely make others’ lives just that wee little bit more difficult/unpleasant for, what, fun? that’d make them a particularly unpleasant type of ass.

q
Guest
q

That reminds me of the only time someone riding a bike really erupted on me. I was walking my dog at night on a park path. Guy on bike was approaching me from behind. I’d already seen him but he didn’t realize it. Instead of stepping towards the side of the trail I was closest to so he could pass easily, I stepped the other way, because my dog was over there in the bushes at the other edge of the path, and I didn’t want to pull my dog across the path because that would take longer.

So he yells, “And OF COURSE you step right into my path!” and reamed me out further from there, even though I was clear of his path well before he got there. I’m sure he never did see my dog, and assumed I was “generally clueless” as you assume people are. So I became just one more piece of evidence to prove his world view.

SD
Guest
SD

Unlike driving, riding a bicycle is fun, physically engaging and is more than just traveling from point to point in the least amount of time. If someone is enjoying themselves, they are fulfilling the purpose of the bike lane. If they are temporarily slowing other people down either from lack of awareness or being new to using bike lanes it doesn’t matter. If there is one thing that doesn’t belong in bike lanes, it’s car culture.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

Me? I just yell “HOT PIZZA!!!!!” Works great, except when it doesn’t.

soren
Subscriber

that was the celebratory kick off ride for the opening of better naito, not a commute. it’s fascinating how judgmental some are about other people cycling. perhaps instead of complaining about those who are in a small way humanizing transportation we should focus more ire on those who unnecessarily spew pollution and threaten the safety of our neighbors (in aggregate).

B. Carfree
Guest
B. Carfree

Hear, hear! If someone’s on a bike/scooter/walking shoes/pogo stick/skateboard then as far as I’m concerned, they’re doing it right.

Lester Burnham
Guest
Lester Burnham

I’m far more bothered by the Tour de France champions who like turning our bike lanes into their personal race track and feel the need to pass within a couple inches of my front wheel.

Jordan
Guest

If you look closely, you’ll notice that there aren’t any striping lines. Perhaps with a better, more permanent design we (generic/royal_we_) can throw down some strategic paint and help people understand which side of the lane to ride on. Otherwise, Better Naito is pretty fantastic!

Doug Hecker
Guest
Doug Hecker

I avoid “better Naito” and instead roll down Sw/Nw 6th instead. Plenty of room without the scooters, “protected but unmaintained” lanes, and clueless other users.

turnips
Guest
turnips

fortunately, keeping the Naito lane open for riders who are less confident navigating MAX tracks and bus only lanes wouldn’t have any impact on your ability to ride 6th.

Doug hecker
Guest
Doug hecker

And for those who aren’t as confident, there will still be a bike lane on Naito. And it will probably even be protected 🙂

Catie
Guest
Catie

There will not be a protected bike lane on Naito until Better Naito’s installation next year. There is no “probably” about it.

Daniel
Guest
Daniel

I ride 6th north and Broadway south too, haven’t bothered to try Better Naito yet for the same reasons you state. I’m not particularly opposed to Better Naito, but I’d much rather have the updated Broadway/4th couplet outlined by Central City In Motion, and if they’re prioritizing projects I think the permanent version of Better Naito is way lower on the list. It shunts cyclists out of the center of downtown, covers less north-south distance, and the user base heavily overlaps with the nearby Esplanade.

In contrast, Broadway/4th connects PSU and OHSU (two of the largest endpoints for bike commuters across the metro area) with five bridges and the densest part of the city. You want Portland to be an amazing bike city, build that. Better Naito = Boring.

X
Guest
X

Better Naito is partly a band-aid for the use of Waterfront Park as a perennial festival ground, and partly a safety valve for getting the meatheads off the path along off the seawall. Nope, not scenic. But saying we don’t need bike routes a quarter mile apart is like saying we should rip out Barbur Boulevard because I-5.

If you said don’t spend money on Naito because there are no sidewalks someplace in the East side that’s a different thing entirely.

Daniel
Guest
Daniel

I’m saying that, given PBOT’s request that the public offers them feedback on the projects outlined for the CCIM plan (as mentioned on BikePortland and listed here: https://centralcityinmotion.com/#/projects), and given that they’ve said they will only have the budget to implement a small subset of them in the short term, I would not pick Better Naito to add to that short list. Many of the other projects are much more important, but Better Naito has been much more publicized because there’s a temporary implementation of it to look at.

Regular bike commuters are already doing what you could call a “Better Broadway” project every day – the bike lane on Broadway is constantly blocked by poorly parked cars, Uber/Lyft drivers, and trucks/buses turning right across it without yielding, so in order to ride it you have to be the plastic wand yourself and hang out in the lane. Broadway is also home to one of the most dangerous intersections in town currently, as reported here: https://bikeportland.org/2018/06/04/right-hook-injures-bike-rider-at-nw-broadway-and-hoyt-again-282887

There are a lot of other projects on that list which look fantastic, like improving MLK/Grand and SE 7th; that, along with the rest of the greenway enhancement to NE 7th, would make cycling the undisputed best way to travel north-south through the entirety of Portland. Projects like that are exciting, and since the City says they can’t do everything in the next 5 years I’d rather have the things that would encourage the most people to make getting around via bike a way of life. I don’t think a permanent Better Naito would accomplish that nearly as well as the other projects would.

sikoler
Guest
sikoler

I do enjoy it during Summer events, but I think “better Naito” just makes it harder for us to get safe biking spaces. It just pisses drivers off.

That area is already well served, I have two great options: Waterfront or Naito with large bike lanes going in both directions.

Removing a lane doesn’t give me more options and clogs up the area with angry drivers.

I think we should focus on working with drivers to find solutions to reduce congestion, which makes it safer for all of us.

Maybe just do “better Naito” during Summer weekends?

MTW
Guest
MTW

I ride Better Naito every day and haven’t experienced any angry drivers. I actually have more unpleasant encounters with motorists on the neighborhood greenways.

And this idea that we can solve the urban mobility challenges by finding space for cyclists (and pedestrians and transit users) without taking away space to private motorists is not realistic. It’s a geometry question.

Lastly, saying that Better Naito is unnecessary because cyclists can ride on the park would be like saying allowing automobiles on Naito Parkway is unnecessary because they can drive on 1st and 2nd avenue.

sikoler
Guest
sikoler

“Lastly, saying that Better Naito is unnecessary because cyclists can ride on the park would be like saying allowing automobiles on Naito Parkway is unnecessary because they can drive on 1st and 2nd avenue.”

I think this is why we struggle. We try to make analogies like this that are not accurate, imho, and it just causes arguments instead of seeking solutions.

I bike Naito or the waterfront northbound in the AM (south in PM) 5x a week. I have always thought the options were great and safe. I was honestly surprised when I heard about “better Naito”.

q
Guest
q

Why isn’t that analogy accurate?

soren
Subscriber

i’m very interested in hearing about your solutions to the enormous negative externalities of automobility.

sikoler
Guest
sikoler

Thanks, what would you like to know?

q
Guest
q

I don’t want to put words in anyone’s mouth, but my guess is he’d like to hear “about your solutions to the enormous negative externalities of automobility”.

Mark
Guest
Mark

“…large bike lanes going in both directions.” What? 5′ isn’t large and it’s in the door zone in the SB direction.

Brent
Guest
Brent

Personally, the southbound bike lane of Naito freaks me out. It’s in the door zone and mixes often with cars turning right. I’ve had too many close calls with people in a rush to turn and not seeing me.

turnips
Guest
turnips

before I started taking the top of the Steel Bridge and using 3rd, I had a lot of close calls and one right hook on southbound Naito a couple of years ago. got away with a broken brake lever and some minor road rash, but yeah, not real great for cyclists.

X
Guest
X

When I’m feeling a little jaded I take the southbound Naito bike lane. Then I go back to being thankful for mere existence.

sikoler
Guest
sikoler

Here’s one example: https://www.reddit.com/r/Portland/comments/8jvzud/better_naito/

I didn’t expect anyone to disagree with my assertion that drivers do not like “better Naito”. There are plenty more examples if you google around.

9watts
Subscriber

I’m going to guess that sitting at lunch counters also pissed off some groups.

While I think we should be careful, strategic, wise about actions we take that might Be interpreted the way you are asserting, sometimes that is OK.

world's slowest mamil
Guest
world's slowest mamil

While I was at my previous company, I drove nearly daily (riding over Riverview Cemetery and through Lake Oswego into Tigard isn’t really feasible for a daily commute, and the public transit options were a joke), and spent time going both directions on Naito every day. Better Naito made almost no difference to my transit time. Neither did the southbound lane closure. A study by PBOT, per https://bikeportland.org/2018/05/24/mayor-wheeler-moves-permanent-better-naito-talks-forward-282155, showed a 90 second increase in transit time during peak hours. That’s a trivial amount of time, especially given the delays faced by drivers elsewhere.

There will always be someone who gets mad whenever a change is made to just about anything. They’ll post about it anonymously on some corner of the internet or complain to their bartender. Then they’ll get over it and adapt. Letting that paralyze change for the common good is absurd.

As the others said, southbound Naito is garbage for cycling. It might work if there were no bridge access to or from Naito, but the Steel Bridge and especially Morrison bridge make it horrible. Even if those onramps and offramps were closed, it still wouldn’t be as good as Better Naito.

Regarding the PBA, dialogue with them just allows them to take time to put monkeywrenches into the process. They have never and will never be on the side of those who want to make Portland more livable and vibrant.

sikoler
Guest
sikoler

“Regarding the PBA….They have never and will never be on the side of those who want to make Portland more livable and vibrant.”

Well this isn’t true. I think it might amaze both sides if we sat down with the PBA and talked about what we love about Portland and how we can work together to make it better.

Ever heard the saying, “You attract more flies with honey than you do with vinegar”?

We need dialogue and to work together.

9watts
Subscriber

Do you know something we don’t?

What makes you think the PBA is interested in dialogue? Or in solutions that make sense for children and other living things?

sikoler
Guest
sikoler

“What makes you think the PBA is interested in dialogue? ”

I think all sides of transportation issues agree on a lot of fundamental questions.

Drivers do not actively want to hurt others. Drivers want to be safe. Orgs like the PBA want Portland to be a livable city.

Sure, there are areas of disagreement, but my point is Portlanders of all stripe have more in common than a lot of people in this discussion are giving them credit for.

I think it is wrong for any group to think they are the only ones who want Portland to be an awesome, livable city.

And furthermore, I *know* that getting things done requires cooperation and dialogue.

9watts
Guest
9watts
q
Guest
q

You talk about needing dialog and working together, but at the same time you make sweeping generalizations about what drivers think (they seem to be a block group uniformly angry about Better Naito to you) and you talk about the two groups needing to meet, as if people either drive or bike.

2WheelsGood
Guest
2WheelsGood

Ever heard the saying, “You attract more flies with honey than you do with vinegar”?

Who wants more flies? And if you do, poop works better than honey.

9watts
Guest
9watts

Hahahaha. Comment of the Week.

q
Guest
q

I’d guess that many or even most people who bike on Naito are drivers. I bet they like it. Certainly SOME drivers don’t like it.

sikoler
Guest
sikoler

Thanks for the comment.

So what kind of evidence would convince you that drivers do not like “better Naito”?

I think you should be considerate of your answer, as what you demand from others is logically what you must present yourself.

q
Guest
q

You haven’t responded to evidence in that drivers DO like Better Naito, namely the fact that so many people ride bikes there–unless you believe that nobody who bikes also drives.

I’m a driver, and I love Better Naito, for similar reasons that I’d guess many people who bike there like it. Plus–and this is one that many drivers who do not bike might agree with–100% of people biking there are not in cars clogging up Naito or any other street.

Brandon
Guest
Brandon

Thank you for this comment. A lot of the time for me, I can have an experience with a really pissed off driver, and it ruins my enjoyment of biking in Portland,but 95% of the time people are pretty nice. It helps to remember to look at it that way.

Bikeninja
Guest
Bikeninja

In the face of cyclists, biketowners , and scooterers the old timers at the PBA are like an aged punch drunk fighter on the ropes, it is time to deliver them a knockout punch that sends them in to retirement from expressing their Neolithic views on transportation.

sikoler
Guest
sikoler

“their Neolithic views on transportation.”

I get what you’re saying, but is this attitude really helpful?

I think we need dialogue with PBA and others to work together for solutions that benefit us all.

bikeninja
Guest
bikeninja

From the merriam webster dictionary, one of its several definitions for Neolithic.
“belonging to an earlier age and now outmoded.”
This seems perfectly accurate and polite given the state of the world today. Future generations will wonder why we bobbled about at this crucial juncture in time instead of slapping the knuckle-draggers aside and doing what it will take to save our species on this ” pale blue dot” upon which we live. We didn’t have dialogue when it was time to get lead out of paint in kids nurseries, or time to stop lobotomies and electroshock treatment in mental hospitals, or time to stop flushing our sewage straight in to the river, we just did and kicked the people who still wanted these stupid things out of the way.

sikoler
Guest
sikoler

I think you are conflating the automobile with pollution from burning fossil fuels.

They are not mutually exclusive.

The future is no-pollution electric or hydrogen powered cars, not some kind of wholesale abandonment of cars.

9watts
Subscriber

“The future is no-pollution electric or hydrogen powered cars, not some kind of wholesale abandonment of cars.”

A reassuring fantasy, to be sure. But we have not the resources, the political will, or the time to pull off a reboot of our transportation system before things go off the rails.

The only no-pollution mode I am aware of is the good ol’ bicycle, the kind you power with your legs.

X
Guest
X

If you have enough of those no-pollution cars there’s going to be a virgin birth in one of them.

J Chris Anderson
Guest
J Chris Anderson

PBA transportation committee is stacked with parking and freight interests. I think the right approach is for active transportation people to advocate for freight/bus only lanes. This might crack the carhead at PBA.

Andrew N
Guest
Andrew N

No offense but you just sound naive. We don’t need to be facilitating any sort of dialogue with the retrograde PBA, who have already done terrible damage to our city over the years. In doing so we’d be doing them a favor by adding a veneer of legitimacy to their reactionary agenda. They should simply be marginalized by a future Mayor not named Ted Wheeler, a mayor who wins election in 2020 by promoting a platform centered squarely on climate change, with policies generally radiating outward from that single-minded focus (hello, stopping the expansion of I-5). Wheeler is vulnerable. We should be going for the electoral jugular so we can put an end to the last 13 years –13 critical years– of stagnation.

PS another thing about the PBA: they’ve become extra-superfluous with the rapid growth of Business for a Better Portland.

Andrew N
Guest
Andrew N

PPS that was meant to be a reply to sikoler, not any of the following commenters.

Deborah Schultz
Guest
Deborah Schultz

This is a great resource that should remain year-round! I ride it twice daily, and it easily shaves at least 5 minutes off the commute in each direction. I can also ride faster on it because i don’t have to dodge tourists and bollards. It’s safer for everyone, right? Even though I ride at off-peak times I find it always busy, but still WAY faster than the waterfront.

X
Guest
X

Exactly right. In case anyone is offering the waterfront path as a facility for bike travelers, as opposed to people recreating, it has objective hazards that would be unheard of on a automobile route. It’s got massive bollards that block lines of travel, with no energy absorbing features, and about a hundred blind spots that could easily be hiding a small child.

That is not a hypothetical, if I hadn’t been riding a mellow pace on a bike with excellent brakes, and my hands on the levers, I could have killed a 3-year old? who ran across to rejoin his family on the other side of the path. If there’s a blind spot, there’s a person in it.

I’m incredulous about the number of bike riders dicing on the waterfront. I still use that route when I’m not in a hurry, you’ll know me, I’m the person going 8 mph ‘on your line’. Needless to say I’m watching for suspect family groups with no child in sight.

Brent
Guest
Brent

I would love to see Better Naito year-round. I’ve sent message to PBOT requesting it every year.

fourknees
Guest
fourknees

I like Better Naito and think it would be good to implement long-term. What about this treatment on the Burnside bridge, NE Broadway, etc….I feel these would be even better locations.

I wonder if in the “off-season” if it would be worse or better, to turn the right hand lane into parking and creating a protected bike lane. My thinking is worse because of the feedback when parking is then removed. However if it’s parking then the complaint from cars about cars would be interesting.

Ellen Harlat
Guest
Ellen Harlat

on my ride last night I saw 20 wands already removed, looked like they are getting a nice early headstart on disassembly.
it was fine while it lasted, I guess, but honestly, I saw so much abuse of the “facility” and misuse by motor vehicles of all kinds (multiple streetcleaner trucks using it as a fillup station, even an 18 wheeler coming into the bikelane off of Washington. epic, indeed)

I am looking forward to its removal. I find that I prefer the old formation of my tiny gutter bikelane full of sunken drains.

Mark smith
Guest
Mark smith

So how much did it cost to put down and remove cones two times? Plus…has anyone justified $4,000,000 for paint and sticking some plastic eands in the ground?

X
Guest
X

Where does that number come from? Are you saying Better Naito costs $4,000,000 to put up, or take down? That might be a real number for a permanent protected bike lane from Harrison up to the Steel Bridge. It doesn’t sound right for striping and plastic wands.

Gary B
Guest
Gary B

The costs of the temporary Better Naito were covered in a report here a ways back, when it was added to the budget. The $4M is the estimated cost for the permanent Better Naito, which included substantial concrete work. You can see what that might look like in the handy links that JM included right in this story: https://bikeportland.org/2018/05/24/mayor-wheeler-moves-permanent-better-naito-talks-forward-282155

The CCIM rendering shows it as a planting strip between the NB and SB auto lanes, and then a concrete curb separating the NB auto lane from the 2-way cycle track. $4M seems entirely reasonable for that much work.

Mark smith
Guest
Mark smith

Jersey barriers and it’s done. Pbot is making this over complicated.

Jason
Guest
Jason

I’m guessing signal work will be a large expense. Current car signals may need to be tweaked or removed for the single lane, and a good amount of bike signals.

Mark smith
Guest
Mark smith

The real reason this should happen is because it’s true east to west mobility..and the other reason? It’s visible. To everyone.