*Video montage of Better Naito in action this summer courtesy of Streetfilms.
Today is an opportunity to demand better biking in Portland.
The Street Trust and Bike Loud PDX have teamed up to host a ride and rally for Better Naito. The event will start at Salmon Street Fountain at 5:00 pm today (Tuesday, 9/18). People will meet, mingle and make signs showing their support for this vital project and then they’ll ride as a group up and down Naito Parkway. The ride will end at the City of Portland’s Central City in Motion plan open house which runs from 4:00 to 7:00 pm at OMSI.
Despite four years of successful implementation, the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) plans to take down the protected lanes on Naito this weekend. Many concerned Portlanders want the lanes to stay. So far, the city hasn’t presented a reason for removal other than a promise that Better Naito would only be a “seasonal” facility.
Safety isn’t seasonal.
Even though one of the main justifications for Better Naito is to protect the crowds who attend summer festivals in Waterfront Park, its benefits extend far beyond. It’s a key north-south corridor that connects to some of the busiest destinations in our bike network (the Steel and Hawthorne Bridges, the Stark and Oak couplet, and so on). Better Naito also relieves pressure from the multi-use path in Waterfront Park — a path that the Portland Parks Bureau has urged bike commuters to stay off of due to safety concerns.
The park path is too crowded and not intended for purposeful, A-to-B travel. And despite its shortcomings (a reflection of poor engineering and meager budget, not of its necessity) Better Naito is a big improvement. Take it away and Naito becomes a high-speed arterial were the least efficient, most dangerous, and most toxic vehicles on our roads dominate our waterfront.
That is madness.
Better Naito should stay in place until a new, improved, and permanent reconfiguration can be installed.
The project is a tangible incarnation of the future of Portland. We need to embrace it once and for all.
Lest you think this is just the naive vision of a bike activist; let’s recall that there’s $9 million sitting on PBOT’s desk that they’re eager to spend on protected lane projects like Better Naito throughout the central city.
On the same day Portlanders will rally in support of protected lanes, PBOT will host an open house for the Central City in Motion plan. That plan (which PBOT thinks they can drum up $30 million for once adopted by City Council next month) will prioritize a list of road redesigns that will significantly increase space for cycling, scooting, walking, and using transit. Once this network is complete, getting around Portland will be easier, safer, more efficient, and more equitable.
If you can spare the time, please consider showing up to Salmon Springs Fountain today around 5:00 pm to demonstrate your support for Better Naito and the future of biking in Portland.
See you there!
If you want to share feedback about Better Naito, email NaitoParkway@portlandoregon.gov. Also make sure you’ve weighed in on the 18 Central City in Motion projects under consideration at CentralCityinMotion.com.
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