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Better Naito is Portland’s future. It’s time to embrace it

Posted by on September 18th, 2018 at 10:21 am

*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.

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(Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

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.

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

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Todd Boulanger
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Todd Boulanger

Ditto! Better Naito has proven itself to be successful and safe. Let it stay to make Naito a Complete Street 365 days a year!!

Ryan LaBarre
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Ryan LaBarre

I use Better Naito pretty much every day, being forced to either make pedestrians uncomfortable on the busy waterfront path, or risk my own life sharing a lane with aggressive drivers, makes no sense. We shouldn’t have to be forced to make that choice, when the obvious easy solution is to leave the current system in place.

bikeninja
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bikeninja

Right On! I will be there. Let this be the day our children and their children talk about when they recount tales of how the tide was turned and auto supremacy was turned back at the gates. The day we really started making smart choices and turned our path away from a rush towards polluting and paving over the earth in an endless quest for convenience, leisure and an extra buck. Today Better Naito, tomorrow real protected bike lanes.

Kittens
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Kittens

Maybe I’m just being selfish, but I just can’t summon the excitement for this project. I have never personally felt unsafe on Naito And the temporary implementation with flimsy plastic wands and hapless tourists tootling about on myriad rental bikes and confused peds, leaves me cold.

Again as with other major arterials, taking away road capacity from auto users sets us (alternative transport advocates) up on a collision course with the future demands of accelerated population growth and the laws of physics. Remove parking? Absolutely. Reducing available road width with bulb-outs, bioswales, islands? No. We need to make every inch count if we are going to solve this problem. I want to see separated bike lanes, dedicated controlled access transit lanes not parked cars. More people are moving to and visiting Portland every day. And they don’t just sit at home or walk everywhere all year long.

Clearly the only path forward are more efficient forms of transportation but significantly reducing existing capacity with these follies will only exacerbate perceived conflicts.

9watts
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What would Utrecht do?

Dawn McNeill
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Dawn McNeill

Better Naito is not part of my regular bike commute but as a pedestrian who uses the Waterfront path and a runner who likes to use the Better Naito pedestrian lane, I strongly support a long-term installation of Better Naito until a permanent solution can be found. It relieves so much congestion from the waterfront path that is better used by families and festivals. Even in the winter, I would rather have bikes and runners use the Naito lane rather than the multi-use path.

I disagree that this sets us “on a collision course with the future demands of accelerated population growth and the laws of physics.” Frankly we’re already colliding on these issues and promoting better bike facilities which have been proven to have minimal impact on vehicular thru-traffic is a necessary step that Portland needs to take/continue.

David
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David

An interesting note with the Central City in Motion project is that as of last week when I completed the online open house it was ranked 4th of the 18 projects. It also wasn’t particularly close. The thing with the framing of CCIM is that when you have to choose one project it becomes harder, with some of the other options, to put Naito atop that list.

Naito should be made permanent and doing so ASAP makes a lot of sense with the work being done by PGE right now. That project is causing other problems but it also deflects some of the frustration by drivers because Better Naito isn’t as responsible for them being stuck in traffic.

sikoler
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sikoler

“Better Naito is Portland’s future, It’s time to embrace it”

Is it though? Or is “Better Naito” a turf war?

I think the real “future” for Portland is for bike commuters to *work with* car commuters and orgs like the PBA.

We need to work together to solve our problems, and I think the turf war mentality is hampering our own progress.

I wear many hats
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I wear many hats

Better Naito could save the trees if the city engineered a raised sidewalk, cantilevered over the root zones of those trees, thereby adding space, and not taking park space away for concrete. I avoid the esplanade at all times, and the current configuration is the only thing that makes cycling remotely safe along Naito.

Dave
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Dave

GlowBoy
Portland didn’t quadruple the number of cyclists on the streets by forcing them into shared space with cars.Recommended 1

You sure about that? This has all been building since the late 1970’s and the separated infrastructure hasn’t been much.