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Opinion: Better Naito has ended in the worst way

Posted by on September 21st, 2018 at 1:27 pm

It’s gone. Ripped out last night — a full day before it was scheduled to be removed.

What’s one more day when we already got cheated out of a full week due to a conflict with a nearby bridge construction project?

It’s a lot.

Because there was zero prior warning, it looks like several people rode onto Naito this morning, assuming the lanes were still protected, only to realize they were fully exposed to other traffic.

Thousands will miss it.
(Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

“I had an extremely sketchy moment this morning when I hopped on Better Naito southbound, saw a car coming at me, and realized Better Naito was gone,” tweeted Dirk VanderHart this morning.

This morning at 10:03 am, the Portland Bureau of Transportation apologized for the early removal and acknowledged the mistake, saying it was, “due to an internal miscommunication.” They then sent flaggers to both ends to let people know about the “unexpected” closure.

This error could have led to someone being hurt or even killed. It adds salt into the wound PBOT has created by ripping this rug out from under us at the end of every summer.

It’s a wound that was already smarting even with the installation fully intact.

Ever since it first went in on May 1st, the anemic, low-budget design made it too easy for people in cars to drive in it. In the past two weeks we’ve heard of three incidents where people drove inside the Better Naito lanes at night — twice narrowly missing a rider, and once crashing into one.

On the night of September 9th, Richard Bidmead had his bike-mounted video camera rolling when he captured someone driving a black car without headlights on coming right for him. Then it happened again 10 days later.

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Still image from a video by Walker Devine, moments before he was hit while riding in Better Naito September 17th.

Devine’s bike.

Then on Monday night, 20-year-old southeast Portland resident Walker Devine was hit by someone driving in Better Naito. Luckily he escaped major injury, but his bike was snapped in half…

In an email this morning, Devine said it happened around 8:00 pm at SW Oak. Here’s his account:

“As I approached the intersection I noticed a car make a wide swing into the bike protected lane a block up from SW Harvey Milk/Stark onto the left northbound lane of Naito Parkway. I stopped at the intersection of Naito and Oak because I’ve encountered plenty of drivers doing this move before. There’s enough of a gap for drivers to swing back out onto the traffic lane of Naito. I signaled to them but by the time they were about 4 feet from the intersection I could tell they were not stopping. Then, if felt like they accelerated and hit me. I honestly thought it was an intentional hit and run.”

Devine said both people in the car were upset about what happened and helped him over to the curb. Witnesses called 911 and a police report was filled out. He went to the ER in an ambulance to get checked out and luckily only had some bruises and cuts. “My bike took the brunt of the attack, thank goodness,” he wrote. “I can’t believe that the bike wasn’t my leg every time I look at it.”

In a city that claims to have made Vision Zero its top transportation priority, we should never expose a group of road users to this much risk — especially when it comes from a city project intended to reduce it.

People risk their lives just to get the requisite political attention for projects like this to happen. Then they risk their lives because the project is so low-budget and value-engineered that it promotes unsafe behaviors. Then the project is abruptly removed without any warning or signage whatsoever, putting even more lives at risk.

This is madness. Better Naito should be a huge win for City Hall and PBOT. Instead, far too many riders dislike it (and who can blame them?) and many drivers see the few extra seconds delay it causes as an unspeakable infringement. In the end, the city has made it hard for even advocates of the project to hold their heads high.

We are in desperate need of transportation leadership in Portland. I’m optimistic that newly-named PBOT Commissioner Chloe Eudaly is up to the task. But right now, I’m disgusted by how Better Naito has been handled. We deserve better.

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

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NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Also, if you comment frequently, please consider holding your thoughts so that others can step forward. Thank you — Jonathan

  • Bald One September 21, 2018 at 1:37 pm

    Insult to Injury – they also put up signs saying “no e-scooters” along the riverfront paths.

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    • Brad Noren September 21, 2018 at 2:50 pm

      Oooh, signs. Like the ones that say “speed limit 20”, or “stop”, or “yield to pedestrians”, or “no camping”? I could go on and on and on…

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  • El Biciclero September 21, 2018 at 1:54 pm

    Cynical me says, “This is why we will not be re-installing so-called ‘Better Naito’ in the future. The confusion generated by switching lane usage has shown to be problematic for drivers and bicyclists alike. Safety concerns have grown to the point that the risks and inconvenience for drivers outweigh any minor benefits to the non-motoring population.”

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    • Doug Hecker September 21, 2018 at 2:39 pm

      Not sure why PBOT didn’t use some sort of temporary diverter system to help everyone navigate Better Naito “better.”

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    • Clicky Freewheel September 21, 2018 at 3:05 pm

      The plan for permanent Better Naito involves removing multiple trees from Waterfront Park. This will kill the project outright. PBOT must know that the headlines will read “Bikers Want to Tear Out Trees for Bike Lanes”. Expect Eudaly to offer some excuse about not wanting to appease rich downtown people, despite the actual statistics showing downtown being far more mixed-income than the social justice crowd wants you to believe. I don’t have high hopes for a permanent Better Naito ever happening given our current leadership.

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      • Eric Leifsdad September 21, 2018 at 8:21 pm

        It would be so simple to put jersey barriers across each intersection and leave the whole east half of the street to people walking and biking. You can even have the left turn lanes to bypass turning cars, so that’s a nice 2-3 lanes on the west side of the median for people to drive on both ways. Done and with no trees lost or new pavement necessary.

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  • soren September 21, 2018 at 2:01 pm

    We live in a city that is transitioning towards an exclusive community for the rich so it’s inevitable that Portland will become increasingly car-centric.

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    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) September 21, 2018 at 2:08 pm

      I don’t agree with that soren.

      despite my concerns about Better Naito… I actually think PBOT is doing great when it comes to making progress on street design updates and constraining driving in general. look at all the speed limit reduction/enforcement work… and the new striping with repaving projects… and the streetscape and greenway stuff that’s going on. Of course I want faster and more.. but progress is being made and IMO they should be credited for that.

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      • soren September 21, 2018 at 3:39 pm

        Census data shows that wealthier people (in Portland and other cities) tend to drive the most and bike the least.

        These are some very stiff demographic headwinds:

        Portland 2017: 42.4% of families make over $100,000 (in 2005 dollars)

        Portland 2005: 22.6% of families made over $100,000

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        • Clicky Freewheel September 21, 2018 at 3:45 pm

          Since when is a family making over $100,000/year considered rich? With the cost of living getting higher, a dual income of $100,000 doesn’t buy much nowadays.

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          • soren September 21, 2018 at 10:06 pm

            the numbers are are even more dramatic for families earning more than $150,000.

            then again, i’m not sure why i bother. for the most part bike advocacy in this town is by the rich for the rich.

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            • Toby Keith September 21, 2018 at 11:04 pm

              Oh soren knock it off. All you do is berate everyone. I’m not sure why you are allowed to be so abusive here on BP but it’s certainly a toxic envorinment.

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              • me September 24, 2018 at 10:48 am

                I read BP daily, and have for over a decade. I care about this community and BP’s content. I don’t want to have a toxic or abusive culture here (That can stay at O-live or Portland Reddit.)
                But I honestly don’t see what Soren said that is viewed as either (But I do see your comments here as toxic.) Please be fair, consistent, and more kind.

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              • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) September 24, 2018 at 10:53 am

                Hi Toby,

                I don’t feel like soren “berates” anyone. I do think he has a strong style of sharing his opinion and I realize that can rub people the wrong way. I will watch his comments as closely as possible.

                I also know him outside of BP comment section so that’s why I give him a little more leeway than I might to others who I don’t know.

                Please don’t get personal in your criticisms of him or anyone else. Please focus on the issues and not the people. Thanks.

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              • Toby Keith September 24, 2018 at 5:46 pm

                Jonathan, thanks for the reply.

                But ah now I get it: “I also know him outside of BP comment section so that’s why I give him a little more leeway than I might to others who I don’t know.”

                You seem like a reasonable guy and I like what you do with BikePortland but I don’t think this is the place for me. I’ll move along now, but keep on fighting the good fight and I wish you the best.

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            • Middle of the Road Guy September 22, 2018 at 5:11 pm

              ***Deleted comment because it added absolutely nothing to the quality of the conversation. Please focus on the substance of comments, not who’s making them. Thanks – Jonathan***

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          • OhYongHao September 21, 2018 at 10:56 pm

            Wow, somebody sounds highly privileged. My wife and I make under $30,000 a year and are well enough off to cover monthly expenses and not dip into savings and even add to it. What do others do with the extra $70,000? Gorge their eyes out so they can’t see how well off they are?

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            • Hello, Kitty
              Hello, Kitty September 22, 2018 at 11:15 am

              We tend to focus on the income side of things, and forget about the outgo. There are two spigots, and what’s important is the difference between them.

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          • Beth H September 24, 2018 at 11:24 am

            When your family grosses less than $35,000 a year, that’s when. Perspective matters.

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          • GlowBoy September 25, 2018 at 1:31 pm

            Bear in mind that $100k in 2005 dollars amounts to about $125-130k now. Still not rich by many people’s definitions, but that is about the 93rd percentile of income. Not 1%ers by any means, but 10%ers.

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            • Hello, Kitty
              Hello, Kitty September 25, 2018 at 1:42 pm

              So the proportion of people earning over $130K per year is roughly the same as the proportion that commutes by bike in Portland.

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        • Hello, Kitty
          Hello, Kitty September 21, 2018 at 4:01 pm

          I’d be more convinced if the data showed that people who in Portland tend to drive more and bike less. Gross statistical generalizations do not always paint an accurate picture of what’s happening on a micro scale in specific locations.

          We are seeing cycling rates creep down, and I’d like to know why. Maybe it’s “rich people”, maybe it’s Uber.

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          • HJ September 21, 2018 at 5:20 pm

            It’s danger. I know more and more bike racers, the craziest, most skilled portion of the cycling community, who are refusing to ride on the roads here any more. Because it’s gotten so hazardous. For myself I’m finding I’ll ride on the road less and less, because the # of close calls keeps going up and nothing is being done to address it. Jonathan mentions enforcement… Where? I don’t see it. Of course up here in the hills there’s literally never been any enforcement. At least not in my 34yrs. We’ve actually got a pretty hot Nextdoor thread going about that.
            Even the rich people want changes. I have the dubious pleasure of living in an old neighborhood in the hills where all the rich folks moved to. Everyone here wants sidewalks and bike lanes. Everyone is pissed off about how dangerous the roads are. How bad drivers have gotten. How even when we beg the cops to come enforce the laws of the road they won’t.
            For my own commuting the bike just got removed as an option thanks to an incredibly idiotic striping move with a construction project on Miller Rd near Barnes that makes the worst spot on my commute even worse. My alternative option is to ride Cornell home. No thanks.
            So yeah, danger. Y’know, that whole ingrained drive to not die.

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            • Tee September 22, 2018 at 1:16 pm

              I agree with this. After some extremely sketchy commutes on the 50s bikeway, I have been riding transit for all or part of my commute a lot more frequently. I’m not slow or inexperienced either, but the added stress just is not always worth it.

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            • Dan A September 22, 2018 at 5:57 pm

              From the wonderful West Midlands Police Traffic Unit blog:

              Cycling is a fantastic thing, it’s benefits are well documented, traffic congestion is reduced, as is pollution, health and wellbeing are boosted for the participants and not forgetting the resultant benefits of less dependence on a stressed NHS. When it comes to playing our part in supporting cycling and cyclists it’s not a case of “why should we?” it’s a case of “why wouldn’t we?” Supporting cyclists and cycling is really a case of policing for the benefit of all, a prime case of policing for the greater good of the community.

              Cyclists don’t cause us, as an organisation, problems, that’s because they aren’t causing our communities problems, they aren’t killing nearly 100 people on our regions roads as mechanically propelled vehicles currently do. Yes we do get complaints of the “nuisance” variety, pavement cycling, some anti-social behaviour (usually yobs on bikes rather than “cyclists”), red light running etc. but you get the idea, most peoples interpretation of “1st world problems” or the “modern day blues”, nothing that’s a priority for a force like our own in a modern day society. Bad cycling is an “irritant” to the wider community rather than a danger, and maybe an improvement in infrastructure and policing may alieve many of the reasons that cause a very small minority of cyclists to be an “irritant”

              So what can we do to do our bit ?, to encourage along with our partnership agencies people onto bikes and get the personal and community benefits already discussed. Well as we already touched upon in the first part of this blog, people’s fear of the dangers of cycling is the largest barrier, particularly the close pass. The media plays a large part, every cycling tragedy is to the fore, not that they shouldn’t be, such incidents can be a force for change but there is very little to re-address the balance, to convince people that cycling is safe. We as a force must do our upmost to protect the vulnerable on our roads and convince them that if anyone does endanger them on the road the perpetrator will be dealt with. The flip side of this is of course that anyone endangering a vulnerable road user should expect to be identified and prosecuted; this is the key to policing the problem.

              It would be really encouraging to see this kind of leadership from the PPB, rather than the collective shrug we generally receive.

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            • El Biciclero September 23, 2018 at 8:09 am

              “It’s danger.”

              This and the comment after it regarding the 50’s bikeway make me wonder. Due to mention of Miller, Barnes, and Cornell, it sounds as though HJ is seeing increased danger on semi-rural (or once semi-rural) roads, while Tee is seeing things on “neighborhood” streets supposedly retro-fitted for better bicycling. In my experience, “danger” in each of these environments comes from different behaviors, so I wonder what would cause such a universal bump in “danger” in such varied contexts?

              I personally haven’t observed (or perceived) a marked increase in “danger” in the 15 years I’ve been riding for in-town commuting and some outer west side recreational rides. Maybe my ability to anticipate and evade has increased in proportion, or I’m forgetting how great it used to be, or I’ve been lucky to use “safer” routes. Nevertheless, I can’t contradict others’ observations, and wonder what we think the underlying cause of increased “danger” might be? Beyond “drivers suck”, what in particular is causing the increase? Is it “striping changes”, as mentioned by HJ? Lack of traffic enforcement? “Sharing fatigue” due to the driver perception that “their” roads are being taken away and given to whiny cyclists? Increased device distraction? Technology-induced expectations of instant gratification that are eroding anyone’s ability to slow down or wait for anything? Whatever the underlying causes might be, how do we prioritize and address them?

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              • Dan A September 23, 2018 at 9:53 am

                I know I’m developing “sharing fatigue” from having to share roads with overly-selfish drivers, and it has made riding less enjoyable for me.

                Just as a recent example, I was riding with my 10-year-old son up a steep hill on a ‘training ride’ in our neighborhood, and focusing on going around parked cars safely. We ride to the far right, and then look back over our shoulders when we need to slide left to around a parked car. So on this hill there was a spot with parked cars on both sides of the road, making a bit of a pinch point, and we needed to go around it just as a driver was approaching us from behind. She saw us looking back and trying to drift left around the car, but then she decided to continue on forward, driving right next to the parked car on the right, forcing us to come to a virtual stop behind the parked car instead of letting us get past it. Then, 1 house later, she needed to turn right into the driveway, so she put on her blinker and waited for us to pass her before turning.

                What I’d like to know is, why, when driving in your own neighborhood around people with small children, one would feel the need to do such a thing. We are neighbors. I have a small child with me. You are practically home already. If you can’t share the road just a tiny bit in a situation like this, how do you drive out there in the wild? On this same short ride, I also saw a an old lady crossing the road, and two drivers criss-crossing in front of and behind her instead of just stopping to wait a few seconds for her to get across the road. We were the only ones who stopped.

                So, yeah, when I think about taking a ride on Skyline where I can share blind corners with people like this, it just doesn’t sound that appealing to me anymore.

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              • Johnny Bye Carter September 25, 2018 at 10:31 am

                “We ride to the far right, and then look back over our shoulders when we need to slide left to around a parked car.”

                Please stop doing this. It’s bad behavior (as noted in the DMV cycling handbook) and is more likely to cause you to be hit by a car.

                Yes, I know it’s uncomfortable having a car RIGHT behind you.

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              • Dan A September 25, 2018 at 10:54 am

                Right, I’ll just tell my 10-year-old to ride in the center of the road all the time, especially when he’s out riding around on his own. What a great way to avoid conflict.

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              • Hello, Kitty
                Hello, Kitty September 25, 2018 at 11:00 am

                I hope you would teach your son to ride in the center of the lane when that’s safest.

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              • El Biciclero September 25, 2018 at 12:59 pm

                “…driving right next to the parked car on the right, forcing us to come to a virtual stop behind the parked car instead of letting us get past it. Then, 1 house later, she needed to turn right into the driveway, so she put on her blinker and waited for us to pass her before turning.”

                When it comes to things like this, I’ve come to imagine that the conventions and laws of using our streets incentivize gambling behavior. Gambling isn’t really a thing unless the gambler perceives something akin to “winning” and “losing”. Squeezing that yellow/red light to speed through an intersection without getting caught? “Winning”. Slowing down to avoid squeezing a bicyclist against parked cars? “Losing”. In the case you described, it sounds like the driver took a gamble to try to “win” by getting ahead of you, but then realized it wasn’t really worth it—maybe she scared herself realizing how close she came to you and your 10-year-old)—and gave back the 5 seconds she “won” from you.

                There is also a strong element of “vehiclist” mentality that says, “I’m driving a car, so I am inherently superior to everyone else, therefore, I deserve to be ahead of any non-motorized person”.

                Put those things together and it’s a recipe for irrational endangerment.

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              • Dan A September 25, 2018 at 1:18 pm

                Sure, when we’re avoiding the door zone, setting up for a left turn, or approaching an intersection. Otherwise, no, I don’t teach him to ride in the center of the road while going 8mph.

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            • I wear many hats September 24, 2018 at 10:25 am

              I’ve been in PDX 15 years, commuting year round, and now have little need or desire to go out and ride for pleasure on our city’s roads apart from my commutes, as they are all quickly becoming death traps ( and yes I’m one of the MAMILs who pin numbers on their jersey). PBOT is getting some things right, but failing miserably at the same time.

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        • jd September 22, 2018 at 4:52 am

          It does seem like in general, people who can easily afford to drive, do. The question relevant to this blog (income inequality seems out of scope) remains how we can make biking more enjoyable for both the people who choose it and the people who save money that way.

          Sending cyclists into oncoming car traffic sure seems unhelpful. I wish they’d make Better Naito permanent, and I say that as someone who mostly drives it these days.

          We do seem to have lost some of the energy in Portland that would have made Better Naito into Even Better Naito, rather than Near Disaster Naito.

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        • Middle of the Road Guy September 22, 2018 at 5:10 pm

          $100,000 in 2017 is equivalent in purchasing power to $79,675.26 in 2005, a difference of $-20,324.74 over 12 years.

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          • soren September 23, 2018 at 1:48 pm

            Why do you always assume I’m wrong?

            Portland 2017: 42.4% of families make over $100,000 (in 2005 dollars)

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            • Beth H September 24, 2018 at 11:37 am

              If nearly half of all Portlanders are earning this kind of money, they’re the half from which the city and county will get the most revenue, and in purely economic terms they are the ones who matter more to governments trying to create infrastructure.

              I recently read about an initiative in Africa where a dirt-poor community was devastated by river-blindness, a disease that is treatable with the right medication. After doing a purely economic study, it was determined that helping a community so abysmally poor would not be “cost effective”; after the river blindness epidemic was brought under control, how would that improve the lot of people with little or no economic ability to lift themselves up?
              In short, why improve the lives of poor people if they’ll continue to be poor afterwards? Human questions of suffering a justice don’t come into play in a purely economic equation, because that’s not how economics works.
              In the end a pharmaceutical company made the patent for the drug available for free to anyone, so that a generic form could be made far more cheaply and treatment could be more easily available.

              As with all questions affecting entire communities, how do we respond when purely economic arguments are made? There have been numerous efforts to apply humanistic thinking to economics (and few vice-versea), and they all fail because the to are not meant to work so easily hand-in-hand.
              New infrastructure is being developed according to who is generating the most economic growth (and therefore can be relied upon for more revenue to pay for the growth).
              Poor people are growing in number here as well, but they cannot be relied upon as a revenue stream — nor should they be.
              The benefits of earning more money come with a responsibility to should a greater burden to help bring everyone else along. Or at least that was the lesson for generations in a more benign capitalist vision. Today we have no one teaching such ethics, and it’s every man for himself, in pretty much every aspect of modern human life.
              I am saddened by all of this, but not terribly surprised.

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        • chris m September 22, 2018 at 8:23 pm

          This post ( that Michael did a few years ago shows basically that driving increases a lot as people go from 0-approximately $40,000 a year in household income, but then basically plateaus. Which is to say that people who make slightly below average incomes drive only slightly less than the very rich.

          One way to get a very high share of people to drive would be to crush the local economy, which would have devastating effects for people’s well being. I imagine the 2008 crash and following recession caused a significant drop in VMT.

          The alternative which has worked in many wealthy cities from Munich to Seattle is to aggressively invest in prioritizing transit and cycling over cars. Munich is the richest city in Germany and also has the highest proportion of cyclists. And Seattle has seen booming growth and rising salaries with almost all new commutes coming via the bus. I think I would prefer to go in the direction of these cities than attempt to somehow engineer an exodus of anyone who makes more than 50k/year.

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          • soren September 23, 2018 at 1:59 pm

            From the link you cited:

            “Update 1/26: In the comments, BikePortland reader Soren links to a study of 2013-2015 credit card data, showing that (a) yes, rich people drive much more than poor people, and (b) gas taxes are still a higher burden on poor people than on rich people as a share of income, because income inequality is more extreme than gas use inequality.”

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    • Doug Hecker September 21, 2018 at 2:36 pm

      ::does not compute::

      That kind of message will fall on deaf ears when people look around and actively see multimodal projects happening all around us. I could list them if needed.

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      • soren September 21, 2018 at 3:45 pm

        Bike mode share in Portland has dropped 13% since 2014 (7.2, 7.0, 6.3, 6.3) according to Census 1 year estimates.

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        • dwk September 21, 2018 at 5:46 pm

          People are lazy, gas is cheap…
          ‘Sharing” transportation (which is a joke) , like Uber, E-scooters and all the other venture capital funded disasters are contributing to the lower cycling numbers yet are constantly praised by comments here (like yours) and by this site in general.
          Care to look in the mirror?

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          • soren September 21, 2018 at 10:02 pm

            my mirror shows someone who has always opposed capitalism. what does your mirror show?

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            • Middle of the Road Guy September 22, 2018 at 5:13 pm

              Capitalism does some wonderful things, as well. If you were not ideological opposed and had the ability to be objective, you might grasp that.

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              • Que September 24, 2018 at 8:30 am

                Capitalism at its current scale is a humanitarian disaster.

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              • Hello, Kitty
                Hello, Kitty September 24, 2018 at 10:08 am

                Is it? Can you point to an alternative that works better?

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              • me September 24, 2018 at 10:51 am

                Capitalism- We cant have a few mega rich without have a TON of very poor

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              • Hello, Kitty
                Hello, Kitty September 24, 2018 at 10:53 am

                That doesn’t follow. But again I ask for a better alternative.

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    • Bennett Shane October 2, 2018 at 3:39 pm

      haha dude I make 25k a year and I live on Naito.

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  • RH September 21, 2018 at 2:08 pm

    Anyone have a ladder PBOT can borrow? They can use to reach the top shelf where the dusty Vision Zero book is currently resting.

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  • 765 UNIT September 21, 2018 at 2:23 pm

    the majority of comments on twitter and various news stories about this today are mainly from motorists huzzahing the removal, and stating they want it to remain permanent. every year of this Better Naito “attempt” has become more dangerous for me to ride, personally. it seems to provide a troll chute for cars to play chicken with us, to shrug and go “aw shucks” when they force us into the curb. the city makes it too easy for vehciles of all sizes to enter the damn thing, and then we are stuck dealing with motorists’ pranky fallout.

    i am sorry for Mr Devine’s loss of bike! glad he got out intact, and used an ambulance so as to be able to officially document this incident.

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    • Ivan Boothe September 21, 2018 at 8:55 pm

      Welcome to the annual Portland event, Worse Naito.

      Worse Naito, a project jointly sponsored by PBOT and the Portland Business Alliance, commences each fall after drivers injure and maim a sufficient number of bicyclists and pedestrians in a poorly-protected, temporarily-marked “safe zone” along the city’s flagship downtown park.

      Worse Naito lasts each year until mid-spring, when PBOT temporarily suspends the program due to the sheer number of pedestrians and bicyclists who insist on walking in the street when periodic events are happening within the city’s flagship downtown park. The end of Worse Naito is often heralded with stern letters and warnings from PBA public relations flacks and a few select commuters interviewed by television news.

      As soon as the summer event crowds disperse (and sometimes before they do) PBOT once again restarts the Worse Naito initiative. Ever improving, PBOT launched Worse Naito in 2018 more than a week early, including a special bonus day as a gift to the people of Portland.

      Thank you for joining us at Worse Naito. We hope you make it down the street OK.


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  • Shoupian September 21, 2018 at 2:46 pm

    I am getting mixed signals from Commissioner Eudaly. She said before she supports active transportation, but her agency just removed a very popular safety improvement in downtown Portland ahead of schedule and unannounced. So I have some serious doubts about her commitment to improving the safety of walking and bicycling.

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    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) September 21, 2018 at 2:51 pm

      FWIW it’s only been her agency for a few weeks.

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      • Shoupian September 21, 2018 at 2:59 pm

        True. And a commissioner’s first acts speak loudly about their priorities when they take on a new agency. Three days after a well organized advocacy ride for Better Naito, PBOT responded by removing the facility in stealth mode. It looks really bad on PBOT and the commissioner who run it, no matter how you look at it.

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        • jeff September 21, 2018 at 3:19 pm

          expecting anything from Eudaly is a waste of time that will only lead to your own disappointment. Vote for someone better.

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        • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) September 21, 2018 at 3:36 pm

          Yes. I agree. It looks really bad.

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          • David Hampsten September 21, 2018 at 6:45 pm

            You are blaming the wrong people. True, part of the job of the transportation commissioner is to take the blame for his or her agency’s mistakes or failures, but even if she was a seasoned pro, she doesn’t actually run PBOT any more than the mayor or governor does. The director of PBOT is nominally in control, but it’s actually the section chiefs and their immediate underlings who run their subdivisions within the bureau semi-autonomously. PBOT is and always has been a bit of a mess since it was formed in 1988 – nobody’s really in charge.

            Chances are, when Better Naito was implemented earlier this year, someone at PBOT put in an advance work-order to maintenance to remove everything at such-and-such a date, and a maintenance supervisor had a crew available to do it a day early, so they went ahead and did it with the best of intentions to save taxpayer money by doing it early rather than behind schedule. S__t happens, even at PBOT.

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            • Hello, Kitty
              Hello, Kitty September 21, 2018 at 7:07 pm

              “Hi Temporary PBOT Director, this is Marshall from Commissioner Eudaly’s office. We’re getting a lot of calls about Better Naito, and we’d like you to just leave it up this year, at least until we get things sorted. Yes, we’ll be in touch. Ok, thanks!”

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              • Tee September 22, 2018 at 1:12 pm

                Her director (or whatever his title is) Marshall Runkel really bungled a recent interview on Think Out Loud re: airBnB. He really could not be less qualified either.

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              • Hello, Kitty
                Hello, Kitty September 22, 2018 at 1:30 pm

                Went back to listen to that segment, and I have to agree.

      , segment on audits.

                Why Portland continues to allow short-term rentals of viable long-term rental properties in the midst of a housing crisis is beyond me. Marshall acknowledged the problem, but seemed uninterested in discussing it.

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      • Daniel September 21, 2018 at 6:16 pm

        True, but had the slightly updated closure date been made public a few weeks ago, this would have been just a minor annoyance and not something that risked peoples’ lives. I’d be really curious as to whether Runkel knew that this might happen, and if so why he didn’t share it with the folks who use Better Naito when he came to the BikeLoud rally on Tuesday night.

        I’ll be honest – I try not to jump on the bandwagon with all the folks who *really* dislike Eudaly for whatever reason, but I also don’t see any evidence that she has any real interest in cycling as transportation. Her statements on the topic have been equivocating at best, usually tend to divert the conversation to other subjects that she cares more about, and I’m not sure why BikePortland continually assumes she will be any kind of advocate for improved cycling infrastructure.

        My guess is that this is indicative of PBOT’s approach to come – lip service toward bike commuting when it’s easy to do, and a steady reprioritization away from projects that support it. I hope I’m wrong, I really like a lot of the projects included in the CCIM plan and I want to see them built!

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      • Toby Keith September 21, 2018 at 8:27 pm

        Sorry but she is not impressive in any way. But if we’re talking about a city council that seems hopelessly equipped to deal with a modern Portland than yes she fits in quite well.

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    • Tee September 22, 2018 at 1:01 pm

      I doubt how much she truly cares or actually even knows about active transportation. She gave some lip service in her campaign to active transportation (re: she wants to bicycle more but can’t due to her family situation). However, the safety of vulnerable road users has always seemed like an afterthought behind housing for her. Vision Zero is an equity issue, but I don’t think she really gets that.

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  • Hello, Kitty
    Hello, Kitty September 21, 2018 at 2:48 pm

    I’m not feeling the outrage, but I do think the annual in-out is a pointless waste of resources, and a poorly crafted compromise that benefits no-one, and only serves to up the ante for both advocates and opponents.

    Better Naito is much better than Normal Naito, but I’d really like and us to figure out a Good Naito and make it permanent. (I see permanence as inevitable, I just hope it’s better than what we’ve been getting. Maybe with the next PBOT commissioner?)

    And a special thanks to Dan and Chloe for their backbone, and setting up our annual disappointment, reminding us how much work we have yet to do.

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  • Daniel September 21, 2018 at 2:54 pm

    I’m sorry, what? “Internal miscommunication” is the best line they can come up with?

    I have a very hard time believing that a mistake like this was simply someone putting the wrong date on a form. The work here was done proactively instead of delayed, a team of road workers must have gone out a night early to disassemble things and restripe. I’m guessing they’re paid hourly, and they must have an extensive scheduling system they use to coordinate work all across the city.

    The timing of work like that would be crucial, and I’m sure road worker hours during time periods which skirt regular rush hours (say, the weekend that Better Naito’s removal was officially rescheduled to) are a pretty hot commodity. The fact that the removal was already rescheduled sets the stage here; PBOT would likely have had scheduled workers well in advance for the original removal date, and moving it earlier means they now would need to get hours from a very limited labor pool that’s probably already assigned to projects.

    That leaves two possible ways this could have occurred – the first is gross incompetence, which is what PBOT is blaming here. If PBOT had accidentally closed a major car corridor during rush hour without warning anybody, OLive would be publishing an article listing anybody who could be at fault and their salaries in a few hours and the comments would all be calling for their heads.

    The second is what seems more likely to me: someone figured they could save money and ease scheduling by getting the removal done ahead of time, and then framed it as an “internal miscommunication” because they thought it would save more face to mess up and apologize, versus letting commuters know that Better Naito was going to get removed even earlier (and accepting the backlash from the commuters who use it every day).

    Frankly, I think someone at PBOT is lying.

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    • i-765 UNIT September 21, 2018 at 3:54 pm

      FWIW, i rode thru it at approx 3am this morning–all was intact. i encountered 4 cop cars and a fire truck, lights blazing after they apprehended a “thief” who had tried to escape them by bike. i also encountered 3 streetcleaner trucks.
      very eventful 3 block section!
      but otherwise the wands were all still very present.

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    • Daniel September 21, 2018 at 4:17 pm

      In fact, their own blog post just prior to announcing the “accidental” early removal of Better Naito pretty much confirms that they needed to poach people this weekend to work on a different project:

      So according to PBOT’s own post, they announced on the 20th (the day Better Naito gets “accidentally” removed early) that they would suddenly be closing SE 50th to complete that much overdue project this weekend. PBOT’s project page for SE 50th even says “PBOT is diverting most of its resources – both financial and staff – to complete the paving before the end of September at the latest”.

      I’d understand it if needing to divert resources away from the Better Naito removal due to a higher-priority project meant that Better Naito got left in place for longer, and I’d also understand if it at least had been communicated about prior to making an emergency change. Instead, PBOT clearly made a really dangerous decision in order to meet other commitments, and then pretended like it was an accident.

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      • Johnny Bye Carter September 25, 2018 at 10:46 am

        At least the 50th project isn’t currently diverting drivers onto the Lincoln greenway.

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  • Tom Hardy September 21, 2018 at 3:02 pm

    The current commissioner Eudaly has been making some very poor decisions lately. After campaigning on transportation issues (bicycles) and homeless support issues, the only thing she has come up with has been buss tickets out of town or any bicycle improvements she has been able to squash.

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    • Bjorn September 21, 2018 at 3:23 pm

      I am also not surprised that this happened under Eudaly. She seems to have no ability to do the operations end of the job of commissioner and I am very disappointed that the Mayor felt that Transportation was a place where she would do less damage than she had at BDS and so he moved her there.

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      • Tee September 22, 2018 at 1:05 pm

        Moving her off of BDS was the best thing Wheeler’s done this entire time. However, putting her in charge of transportation was one of his less good ideas. Any reason she could not have been in charge of water bureau or only in charge of ONI (or whatever it’s called these days).

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        • Resopmok September 23, 2018 at 4:50 pm

          As i recall from many comments on this blog, it was speculated that she was moved to transportation not because she would do less harm there, but because it was more likely to kill her political career. That, and she needed to be moved from BDS.

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    • Bert September 21, 2018 at 3:43 pm

      If by “campaigning on transportation issues” you mean throwing a hissy fit at the 11th hour when she found out her disabled son wouldn’t be able to use Biketown, then sure. In fact, every thing Eudaly has campaigned for seems to be for her own personal gain masquerating as social justice nonsense. If you think Eudaly has any political agenda other than ruining everyone she believed has wronged her in the past, you’d be mistaken.

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  • yarp September 21, 2018 at 3:19 pm

    Despite the histrionic, hyperbolic post – he comments to defend Eudaly and PBOT. Have you no shame?

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    • Middle of the Road Guy September 22, 2018 at 5:13 pm


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  • Jim Lee September 21, 2018 at 4:19 pm

    Clicky Freewheel
    Since when is a family making over $100,000/year considered rich? With the cost of living getting higher, a dual income of $100,000 doesn’t buy much nowadays.Recommended 1

    $100 k yearly is very large money by anyone’s standards.

    I never have had a family, live in a small shared house, ride TriMet and a nice fixie–on $10 K a year Social Security.

    By the way , high dual incomes are a vast social problem, concentrating wealth as they inevitably do, and are the primary cause of “homelessness”.

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    • Beth H September 24, 2018 at 11:52 am

      “By the way , high dual incomes are a vast social problem, concentrating wealth as they inevitably do, and are the primary cause of ‘homelessness’.”

      I would suggest that high dual incomes would not be as necessary if everyone lived as simply as you do — or, in the case of cities like Portland, if everyone could AFFORD to live as simply as you do. There simply isn’t enough affordable housing stock left here for that to be possible, and there is little meaningful political will to remedy that problem. Unless you’ve lived here for a long time (say, 30+ years); have already managed to find truly stable housing (i.e., you bought a home before everything got stupid ten years ago; and you have a great job and/or a golden parachute), you’re stuck.
      I, too live lightly, in a small, dilapidated house and without a car of my own. I ride a bike or take the bus everywhere.
      And while you and I can appreciate the joy of living so lightly, not everyone aspires to that vision.
      An awful lout of folks have been suckered by the idea that they can buy their way to happiness.
      It’s hard to un-train a lifetime of consumerist conditioning, so that you learn to want and need less and be happy with it.

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  • bikeninja September 21, 2018 at 4:22 pm

    This needs to be a reminder to us that no matter how much progress we have made ,the forces of darkness lurk in the shadows ready to take back what they think is theirs and return us to a time when cyclists knew their place. A time when those on two wheels cowered in the ditches and demanded nothing. They won’t easily accept that their time is over, and we must keep our guard up to stave off cheap shots like this.

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  • rick September 21, 2018 at 5:50 pm


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  • Scott Kocher September 21, 2018 at 5:53 pm

    Luckily I noticed the cars before I swung from the Waterfront into the (non) Better Naito lane near NW Couch this morning, but it reminded me of one of the worst scares of my life. One beautiful sunny Sunday last summer I was with a small group enjoying the end of the day at Sunday Parkways. Not many folks were left and somehow we ended up being one block off the SP route without realizing it. One of the kids in our group was a few bike lengths ahead and went thru what none of us realized was cross traffic coming full speed through the next intersection. I can’t even begin to imagine.

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  • Richard September 21, 2018 at 8:58 pm

    Thank you for sharing my videos, Jonathan — I really appreciate you shining a light on this issue. Just a slight correction: My last name is “Bidmead.”

    The story of the driver hitting someone in Better Naito is upsetting beyond all belief. I know exactly what this is like, and it’s horrifying. As an aside: It is an investment, but if anyone can afford it, please arm yourselves with a bike cam (I recommend Cycliq). They may not keep you safe, but the footage is invaluable in cases such as these, even if the camera breaks (it is auto-saved on a tiny SD card that will likely survive).

    I agree with others saying that the temporary nature of Better Naito was/is a terrible idea. It has allowed for embarrassing low standards, and it has given credence to the view that protected bike lanes are “optional” rather than life-savingly necessary. It doesn’t surprise me that most people are celebrating its removal, given the implications of such wishy-washy messaging. “Vision Zero is a thing but only during summer with a weak illusion of safety that cars can still bulldoze and drive and park in until they get their lane back because their convenience matters more than your life.”

    If such a signature plan like Better Naito can’t just be implemented as policy, I have no hope for any other streets with less popularity, support, and fanfare. So disillusioning.

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  • Peter Hass September 22, 2018 at 7:22 am

    I enjoyed using Better Naito while it was available…even with the need to dodge the occasional car driver using it! Maybe it’ll be back next year or maybe it won’t. Like the constantly moving tents around Portland, I see it as a very visible symbol of our city’s failings.

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  • Adam Christopher Douglas September 24, 2018 at 10:40 am

    why is all this taking so long? PDX should have been a perfect bike city by now.

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  • Johnny Bye Carter September 25, 2018 at 10:54 am

    “This error could have led to someone being hurt or even killed.”

    Only if they’re as oblivious as motor vehicle drivers and not watching where they’re going.

    But I appreciate you pointing out that the transportation mode doesn’t matter. It’s people that make these stupid mistakes. And it’s better when they do it on a bike so they don’t endanger others as much.

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  • Johnny Bye Carter September 25, 2018 at 10:55 am

    “I noticed a car make a wide swing into the bike protected lane a block up from SW Harvey Milk/Stark onto the left northbound lane of Naito Parkway.”

    This would be illegal even if Better Naito wasn’t there. But it’s something that’s rarely enforced and many people do it.

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