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PBOT decides on 9th Avenue for route of future Lloyd to Woodlawn Neighborhood Greenway

Posted by on March 21st, 2019 at 8:03 am

Close-up of new proposal showing where the greenway will jog over to 9th. See full map below.
(Graphic: City of Portland)

The Portland Bureau of Transportation has shifted course on their Lloyd to Woodlawn Neighborhood Greenway project. Citing a lack of “broad community support,” for the Northeast 7th Avenue route option, they’ll announce later today that the new greenway will be on Northeast 9th Avenue. (Update: Here’s the official announcement.)

The change in plans comes despite major support and a grassroots activism effort to save the 7th Avenue route.

Background

These initial designs for 7th Avenue created much excitement in the community.

The enthusiastic support for 7th Avenue began three years ago at a meeting where volunteers with northeast Portland neighborhood associations gave an overwhelming thumbs-up to making it a low-stress, family-friendly bikeway. There was debate (and dueling petitions) from the start, but supporters of 7th far outweighed the opposition.

When the project was officially announced one year ago, PBOT said the final route could be either 7th or 9th, or a combination of the two; but initial public feedback strongly favored 7th. 7th is the flattest and most direct route between the forthcoming Sullivan’s Crossing Bridge over I-84 and the Woodlawn neighborhood, while 9th has hills and other considerable drawbacks from a planning, budget, and connectivity perspective.

9th also runs squarely into Irving Park, which does not currently have a through bikeway that meets greenway standards.

Once plans for the 7th Avenue route came into focus back in July, those who supported it were even more excited. PBOT’s plans were truly groundbreaking and represented an unprecedented level of human-scale, cycling-oriented designs. There were mini-roundabouts, a park that would stretch across the street (creating to cul-de-sacs that would create dead-ends for drivers), and more.

But there was one big problem: A key segment of the community — one that has weathered institutional discrimination and vast changes to their neighborhoods in a relatively short period of time — was not fully on board.

“This would make it more difficult for people — frankly, low-income people who are trying to use the services of Head Start.”
— Ron Herndon, Albina Head Start to The Skanner in August 2018

Many black people who’ve lived in adjacent neighborhoods for a half-century or more were not comfortable with such transformative changes to 7th Avenue. The backlash to the project reminded us of the controversy in 2011 around the North Williams Avenue project. People like Albina Head Start Executive Director Ron Herndon (shown above), were concerned about how the plans would impact driving access to his building on the corner of 7th and Northeast Fremont. And Herndon wasn’t the only one.

PBOT soon came to the realization that their traditional methods of engagement and open houses were not giving them a complete picture of public opinion. So in September of last year they paused the project and took it directly to black business owners, black residents and black community leaders.

PBOT’s realization and rationale

PBOT’s Nick Falbo (right) at a focus group with black residents in January.
(Photo: PBOT)

“There’s no doubt we underestimated the role that this street plays in the hearts and minds of Portland’s black community.”
— Nick Falbo, PBOT project manager

PBOT Project Manager Nick Falbo said in a phone interview last week that despite their attempts to include all community voices in the planning process, “There’s no doubt we underestimated the role that this street plays in the hearts and minds of Portland’s black community.”

Falbo said they worked hard to make sure their initial plan for a 7th Avenue greenway accommodated all the needs of business owners and other stakeholders along the corridor. They presented it to neighborhood associations and organizations like Head Start and the Soul District Business Association. At the same time, letters of support for 7th Avenue were pouring in.

“But it got the point,” Falbo shared, “Where that support [for 7th] was actually becoming a liability.”

As support grew with the realization that a dream-like cycling street could become a reality, so did the opposition.

“We started hearing from the Soul District Business Association and other black community partners like SEI [Self Enhancement, Inc.] and PCRI [Portland Community Reinvestment Initiatives] and they started raising concerns,” Falbo said. “When Albina Head Start says this might be bad for their families, and when John Washington with Soul District Business Association says this might be bad for their main street, and when service providers in the area say this will be bad for their communities, we really owe it to them to listen.”

Falbo said PBOT realized there was a “big division” in the community. So they held two focus groups in December and January organized by SEI and PCRI. “We learned a lot,” Falbo said. When it comes to 7th Avenue, “It certainly plays a bigger role in the black community than we ever anticipated.”

According to a fact sheet on the focus groups published today, one participant said, “We know change will happen; that’s life. But the change has to be tailored to the community, not just an individual group without regard for others.” Another person said, “As soon as an idea comes up for any kind of project or changes, Black folks need to be at the table. Sometimes, we don’t even know there’s a table to be at!”

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Falbo said a major takeaway from these focus groups was a realization that PBOT’s Bicycle Plan for 2030 — passed in 2010, before the Williams project and the racial reckoning at PBOT that came with it — is woefully outdated when it comes to the issue of racial equity. “What we heard from our black community partners was that they weren’t involved in those processes [the Bike Plan and Transportation System Plan] and when we come to the community and we say, ‘Hey we’ve got these greenways for 7th and 9th,’ a lot of the response is, ‘Where did those [ideas] even come from?'”

And, similar to feelings we heard expressed around the Williams project, there’s a legacy of distrust around change in these neighborhoods — especially when it’s proposed by a government agency and isn’t seen as a benefit to long-time residents. “What they see in a project like this,” Falbo explained, “Is transformative change with the opportunity for unintended consequences and it’s something they fail to see a lot of value in. They’re just not getting things from this project that some others might be.”

Keep in mind, the changes proposed for 7th weren’t just a new bike lane. They would have forever altered the street, and therefore, the neighborhood.

As Falbo put it: “After more communication with these community partners it was pretty clear that we lacked the broad support that would be necessary for transformative change on 7th.”

The proposal

(Click images to enlarge)

Instead of a greenway on 7th, PBOT will put it on 9th. They’ll also create what they call a “Safer 7th”. They say it’s a “double-win”. Instead of changes to just one corridor, we’ll get changes on two.

Proposed route.

On 7th, the focus will no longer be to reduce the number of drivers. PBOT will instead use speed bumps and other measures to slow traffic down and improve safety. “Everything but diversion,” is how Falbo described it.

The existing traffic circle at 7th and Tillamook will be removed, and they might remove several others as well. Falbo says the circles work well on lower-volume streets, but as competition for space increases, they become points of conflict.

PBOT will create new crossings near schools, businesses, and at the bike streets of Tillamook, Morris, and Going. There will also be a new bike lane between Tillamook and Weidler to help people connect to the Lloyd District and the Sullivan’s Crossing Bridge.

The new greenway on 9th will begin at Tillamook and go north to Holman (another greenway). There will be median island diverters to aid in crossing and reduce driving volumes at the intersections with Webster and Emerson, as well as Ainsworth. PBOT will beef up crossings at Tillamook, Fremont, Prescott, Alberta and Killingsworth.

As for how to get through Irving Park, PBOT says they’re still working with Portland Parks & Recreation to figure out a design and funding. The plan will be to go ahead with construction of the greenway project without the new path through park. “We recognize the Irving Park path today is inadequate for bicycling, but we are committed to trying to solve that problem,” is how Falbo put it.

Responses to the new proposal

With the compromise on 7th and the greenway on 9th, PBOT says this new proposal has the broad support they didn’t see when the project focused solely on 7th.

New 7th Avenue resident Kiel Johnson (here with his daughter Lulu) is disappointed by the decision.
(Photo: Kiel Johnson)

PBOT Capital Projects, Assets and Maintenance Communications Coordinator Hannah Schafer says the new proposal gives the community even more. “We’re making improvements on two separate streets… From our perspective this additional engagement we did with the black community helped us build a better project.”

For Falbo, the experience has been a major education. “It definitely pointed to some blindspots,” he said.

Given what happened on Williams Avenue, how did PBOT not see this coming? When I asked Falbo that question, he said they knew they were operating, “in the shadow of Williams,” and that the blindspots with this project were partly based on timing (Williams was eight years ago). “There are different stakeholders now… Many people come and go, and roles change, and we haven’t done the best job maintaining those relationships from that experience. So we had to rebuild those relationships.”

“We hope this decision will in some small way demonstrate this community values the participation of people of color in public investment decisions.”
— Jillian Detweiler, The Street Trust

New 7th Avenue resident Kiel Johnson is an active community volunteer who owns the Go By Bike valet and bike shop in the South Waterfront District and is a regular contributor to BikePortland. He launched a grassroots effort in support of 7th Avenue that we chronicled in a series of articles. He’s disappointed with the outcome. “Sometimes you get the outcome you want, and sometimes you do not,” he shared with us via email yesterday. “The dream of a calm street outside our door where our children could safely go outside had come to represent something more than just an infrastructure project.”

Johnson met many of his neighbors during his work. Those new bonds won’t go away even if his dream for 7th Avenue has. “We may not get the greenway we wanted,” he said, “but we can still make a better community and in the end that is what this is all about.”

The Street Trust used to support 7th Avenue. But upon hearing PBOT’s new plans, they’ve shifted support to 9th. In a statement, Executive Director Jillian Detweiler said, “We hope this decision will in some small way demonstrate this community values the participation of people of color in public investment decisions. A project on NE 9th can deliver the low-car experience needed to make a variety of cyclists feel comfortable without disrupting access to institutions serving people of color. The Street Trust is eager to advocate to complete the greenway through Irving Park to create a memorable route marked by a beautiful off-street segment.”

The project is scheduled for construction in 2020. Stay tuned for announcements of open houses and other opportunities to weigh in on the new proposal to iron out design details.

Learn more at PBOT’s Lloyd to Woodlawn Neighborhood Greenway project page.

CORRECTION, 3/25 at 7:00 pm: An earlier version of this story reported that Johnson walked out of the room upon hearing the news. That is not what happened. Another person in the meeting walked out. I regret the error and the confusion it caused.

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

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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

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El BicicleroJonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)SDHello, KittyAaron Brown Recent comment authors
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SD
Guest
SD

From beginning to end, this is a monumental failure from PBOT and Nick Falbo. I’ve tried to give them the benefit of the doubt previously, and understand the constraints that they are working under, but this is too much. Despite the concerns that they mention, it really just follows the pattern of PBOT knowing what good infrastructure looks like but implementing irrelevant, useless infrastructure out of fear of a few loud voices without clear evidence that these voices truly represent the community.

Zach
Guest
Zach

Yeah, this is absolutely pathetic. It’s infuriating how Nick Falbo and PBOT are appeasing a small group of black NIMBYs and sacrificing safe infrastructure (which transcends race and income) just to avoid appearing “racist.”

bikeninja
Guest
bikeninja

Unfortunately Nick and the 7th advocates ran up against a man ( Ron Herndon) who’s long service to Portland, connections in the neighborhood, and political skills far exceeded theirs. While I personally advocate the 7th street route, the failure to get Ron and the black community on board with the 7th street route doomed them to failure. New arrivals to Portland should spend a bit more time understanding and respecting the history and key figures in the Portland Community before going to battle.

SD
Guest
SD

I would feel a lot better if I was shown evidence that this truly represents the entire black community and other communities that are affected by the project.

It looks a lot more like PBOT’s failure to have a difficult conversation is shifting resources from people of color to their wealthy white neighbors a few blocks over that already have safe access to parks and calm streets for their kids.

Kiel Johnson (Go By Bike)
Member

I’d say that going to battle is exactly what Ron Herndon did 30 years ago that allowed him to build those connections and political experience. We need more people (especially young ones) trying to figure out these problems not less.

Daniel Amoni
Guest
Daniel Amoni

Given the history of injustices toward black residents in this city and country, I think being a black NIMBY, as you say, is largely a positive thing and should be celebrated.

BradWagon
Subscriber

If “history” and or a NIMBY’s concern is just based around wanting to still drive easily then it is largely NOT a good thing.

Flareon
Guest
Flareon

I mean sure, but in the end this argument is still just about a loss of parking, isn’t it?

Maddy
Subscriber
Maddy

Using disrespectful terms to categorize people that hold positions that dissent from your own is certainly not building bridges, or furthering your cause. You are insulting a group of adults, and assuming that their opinion isn’t relevant or intelligently contrived.

Kiel Johnson (Go By Bike)
Member

Not a small number. The groups that PBOT connected with are very important and do a lot of good work that reaches a lot of african american and low income people. And these groups were pretty consistant in their opposition. I wish the process that PBOT used had allowed for more opportunities for everyone to interact and have a dialoge with one another. Instead everyone was just shouting at PBOT. At the beginning I encouraged PBOT to create a community group where people could talk to one another (like they had on williams which was critical to compromise) but they rejected the idea.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

Generally speaking, I don’t like segregating public input. I often learn things from people I initially think I disagree with.

Kiel Johnson (Go By Bike)
Member

My biggest complaint with this process has been how it has pitted neighbor against neighbor, people on 7th vs people on 9th. We need to look at how our planning process happens and ask if it works to build community. I don’t think it does.

Steve B.
Guest
Steve B.

This is a great opportunity for white advocates to consider how *we* participate in these processes, the tactics we employ, the language we use and how we are building relationships with their black neighbors outside of these processes.

Judging from the responses here, we collectively have a long long way to go.

Michael Andersen (Contributor)
Editor

Well said.

I disagree with people of any background who think 9th is the better greenway route. It’s also not the only issue any of us cares about. Seems to me that you win some, you lose some, and once in a while with a lot of respectful work, both before and after crunch time, we as a city can find a win-win all around. I’m going to keep trying to get better at doing my part to find those.

mh
Subscriber

I think this could come closer to a win if the city decided to stop spending money on it. Then it would be like the CRC: a hole they kept pouring money into until they couldn’t. The opposing CRC sides have not grown closer: the ones who wanted it built are still or again trying, the no-builds watch and listen carefully and try to be ready for another round.

Stop spending money and time planning this, put up a bunch of signs saying “bicyclists may take full lane,” don’t brag about half-realized projects, and spend the money where it’s wanted. Can’t find a street where no one will complain about traffic calming? Then stop asking. Put the next diverters in too-white close-in SE, tell the angry drivers and homeowners to suck it up because they’re privileged and already benefit from everything else, but DO SOMETHING UNCOMPROMISED AND RIGHT.

You think maybe a project done right might eventually prove itself?

Clint
Guest

While I’m disappointed in the decision, I understand the complexity in making these changes to our neighborhood. The only thing that needs changing with the 9th Ave. alignment is the lack of diverters on the southern half of the greenway. We can’t honestly expect this deliver a safe, non-stressful experience without them. I ride 9th Ave. with my children regularly and the cut-through traffic is already bad enough to make it stressful.

John
Guest
John

I don’t get all the hate for Irving Park. I used to live in SE while working in NE, and I biked through Irving Park every day for years. It worked fine.

Let’s say you ride slowly through the park, maybe 7mph? I’m not very fast. Riding through the park at that speed ( which is less than 1,000 feet depending on the route you take) would take about 90-100 seconds. To me, all this drama about the park just makes the the bike advocates look a little petty.

matt
Guest
matt

The drama for me is that there isn’t a north-south path, so wherever it gets put is going to infringe on how people use the park. It either weaves through the park to the east side, where it will require tree removal and will guarantee conflicts with people, mostly kids, playing soccer and baseball. Going through the middle would totally change the nature of the park and would have even more conflicts. Going to the west means it would have to navigate around the playground and unfenced dog area. I’d rather see them go around the park diverting to 11th. It’s mildly annoying for the bikes, but that’s what happens when you pick a route that dead ends at a park.

GM
Guest
GM

Perhaps a sunken bike thoroughfare with the existing paths in the park going over the top on little footbridges. That’d be cool!

John
Guest
John

So what you’re saying is that you might have to share the path?

psyfalcon
Guest
psyfalcon

Yes, when you should have a road instead.

Catie
Guest
Catie

I know PBOT has put in a lot of work talking to neighbors and businesses on 7th, but still a disappointing outcome. It certainly doesn’t feel like a double-win when auto users get their desire line as PBOT builds greenways adjacent to, but not improving already popular bike routes like NE 28th and SE Main.

PDXCyclist
Guest
PDXCyclist

4 lanes on MLK, 4 on Grand, 2 on 7th. PBOT is saying to drivers: YOU get lane and YOU get lane and YOU get a lane (drivers). For bike users… you have Clinton, right? Stop complaining.

Really though, MLK and 7th parallel each other so people still have easy access to 7th. We have to demand more of PBOT and elected leaders. PBOT needs a visionary permanent director, ODOT needs a good director, and we need good political leadership to move this all forward.

mh
Subscriber

And if a car is going fast enough, it basically launches over a speed bump. (This, in different words, from a PBOT engineer whom I will be discreet enough to not name.) And gee, I hope NE 9th Tillamook to Broadway is repaved.

Love the lack of a straight line from Sullivan’s Crossing…

SuWonda
Guest
SuWonda

Disappointed, but not surprised. Dog legs and thoroughfares through parks is apparently the best we can do. Riders and Park Patrons fight for the scraps of non-car space. Rather than crowding sun bathers and baby strollers, I’ll be taking the lane on 7th. We won’t be able to entice new people ages 8 to 80 to ride bikes if we can’t build a logical, complete and safe network. Portland Platinum Bike Reputation, Tin Bike Infrastructure.

maxD
Guest
maxD

there is no way to run bikes through Irving Park without a significant, serious reduction in recreational value. You will be introducing a fast, transportation corridor through a non-directional space designed for play. Now kids, people with dogs will have to be on the lookout, people using the sports fields will be crowded and have conflicts with bikes. It is such an inappropriate an unnecessary mixing of uses! Such a blow to a beautiful historic park- shame on PP&R for allowing this. BTW, check out the grades in Irving Park across Fremont from NE 9th- yikes!
https://www.google.com/maps/@45.548237,-122.6569583,3a,45.9y,116.42h,87.09t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1szv1hOWOvmAqrLn4QXNdCBA!2e0!7i13312!8i6656

maxD
Guest
maxD

and PP&R putting up signs that say “Fast bikes use 7th”!

GM
Guest
GM

Is there really *no* way?

Or just no way you can think of?

MTW
Guest
MTW

“Reduce illegal speeding with speed humps”

Is that an engineering/planning best practice? I was under the impression that speed humps don’t really reduce the speed as motorists (perhaps subconsciously) will actually increase their speed between the humps?

Otherwise, I’m not THAT unhappy about the end result. City politics is a tricky business. On the plus side, I’m pleased the bike lane will continue on 7th up to Tillamook (the current bike lane ends at Weidler which is replaced with a sharrow.) The transition from a bike lane to sharrow is always a bit jarring, but at least this proposal will connect the bike lane to the greenway at Tillamook. I don’t assume many riders will continue on 7th north of Tillamook unless they must. Speaking for myself, I’ll take my chances with the hills on 9th since it’ll include greenway features while 7th will remain a car traffic “cut-through.”

paikiala
Guest
paikiala

That is more a thing with stop signs. Speed bumps are closer together these days with the 20 mph limit.

Craig
Guest
Craig

NE 7th was the sacrificial lamb so PBOT could get their Race Relations merit badge.

Champs
Guest
Champs

I regularly use of NE 7th, Rodney, Williams, and Vancouver and am one of the few additive residents of color in the neighborhood for some years. I was shaking the whole time I read this post. Some black voices matter more than others, I guess.

The compromises have only just begun if PBOT and The Bicycle Trust think Irving Park is a solution. The rest of what I have to say about either one of them would be censored here.

Kiel Johnson (Go By Bike)
Member

Keep making your voice heard! It takes time to change minds and culture but it will happen.

gtrain
Subscriber
gtrain

I think it is a huge step in the right direction for PBOT to got out of their way to engage with all community members on this project an actually change direction based on feedback.

Steve B.
Guest
Steve B.

Indeed! This is very encouraging.

Nicely done Nick F. & PBOT! It would be great to see PBOT meaningfully employ a racial equity lens to all of its processes going forward. This is a great start.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

Could you explain what you mean by “employing a racial equity lens” in the context of this project? I’m guessing it means “listen to what the local residents want”. Is that right?

FauxPorteur
Guest
FauxPorteur

I lived and cycled in NE and SE Portland for nearly 20 years (moved to St Johns 5+ years ago) and made frequent use of 9th Avenue as a calm N/S route for years, even though for quite a while I lived on NE 7th. Jamming a bunch of infrastructure changes into such a narrow street would’ve been a disaster even if there wasn’t reasoned opposition to the project. Learn from Vancouver BC: put greenways on already calm neighborhood streets. 9th Avenue is pretty much the perfect candidate. Not only can it run North from Lloyd to Woodlawn, it can run south all the way to Holgate. The inner SE segment of 9th is the sleepiest free parking lot in town. I’ve ridden it many times during the day where the only cars I’d see were parked. It’s already an unused route for automobiles, make some minor infra changes (turning stop signs, adding some billiards every couple blocks, add some good street crossing signals and add a foot/bike bridge over I84 and you’re golden. These are all things that Vancouver BC did two decades ago that proved to be very successful. Even as a visitor with a near complete lack of the lay of the land I was able to quickly traverse the entire town on calm neighborhood greenways quickly and stress free.0

X
Guest
X

Paraphrase: we coulda just been riding on NE 9th all the while and saved some time going through this exercise. It’s as good a bike street as it will ever be.

NE 9th: rough pavement, hummocky grade, circle around the park, how do you like your crumbs toasted?

PBOT: doing the wrong thing for the right reasons. Rendering greenways nearly irrelevant for increasing bike mode share.

Flareon
Guest
Flareon

PBOT never repaves streets when they put in greenways either. The 20’s bikeway is mostly cracked and bumpy concrete from the 1920’s that’s is completely unacceptable for a brand new bike route. If we have to accept 9th as a concellation price, the least they could
do is repave the damn street.

Flareon
Guest
Flareon

7th never should have been a greenway anyway, given it’s high car volume. PBOT should have proposed a protected bike lane that can accommodate all road users but instead they continue to push flawed design.

paikiala
Guest
paikiala

maybe you missed the part where cars were not going to be able to go through anymore?

Daniel Amoni
Guest
Daniel Amoni

Thanks for the very comprehensive update on this project, Jonathan! While it is easy to blame everything on PBOT, there is a current of work showing that bike infrastructure is largely built for wealthier, white cyclists. When the pattern of building bike infrastructure echos land takings from black residents to build highways, it might be a good moment to pause and ask if this is really what we want. Not knowing the “real” basis of PBOT’s decision, it still might be that it is the right outcome based on considerations of equity.

If we want better biking infrastructure throughout neighborhoods, it would be a good idea to do the work of making biking something those residents see as desirable. There are many things besides better infrastructure that can be done to get people on bikes, thereby making biking something they can relate to in a positive way.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

>>> When the pattern of building bike infrastructure echos land takings from black residents to build highways <<<

You mean like bulldozing a bike "highway" through a neighborhood park?

I hope PBOT asked residents what they thought about the equity of "taking" a portion of a community gathering spot and turning it into a transportation facility for wealthier white cyclists.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

Where the route passes through the park, will it be aPBOT or Parks facility? I’m not sure either seems right.

mikeybikey
Guest
mikeybikey

from PBOTs official announcement:

“An improved route through Irving Park is currently not surveyed, designed or funded. When we have that capacity, PBOT and Portland Parks and Recreation will seek funding for a route that will provide an improved connection through the park.”

MTW
Guest
MTW

Isn’t the Parks department broke? Like, as in, closing down parks/pools type broke.

Flareon
Guest
Flareon

Can’t wait for the backlash talking about “crazy bikers running over children in the park” even though that’s the official route PBOT wants us to take now.

Terrence D-M
Guest
Terrence D-M

Mount Tabor Park is finally getting their new path connection south soon, so there is hope. This path was first suggested in 1912, hm.

mh
Subscriber

As in “We have no idea how to do this. We have no plan. We’re hoping for magic.”

paikiala
Guest
paikiala

It’s been done before.
The Bush greenway goes through Benedict park.
https://goo.gl/maps/5ooDSTrhfXv

HJ
Guest
HJ

All these disappointed voices just because the infrastructure will be 2 blocks over? Yeesh. If the folks who already have to work twice as hard to get by want it there instead just do it. 2 blocks is the category of first world problem. Try having nothing but 45mph roads with heavy traffic, no shoulders, no sidewalks, no bike lanes, and no alternate routes in all directions within a mile of your home and tell me if 2 blocks is really such a big deal. Oh, and nobody willing to work with you to advocate for improvements because the whole area is a giant jurisdictional pissing match and the edges always get ignored. For 30+ years.

Alex Reedin, now in Albuquerque, NM
Guest
Alex Reedin, now in Albuquerque, NM

It is *NOT* about 2 blocks. It is about what could have been a great place to bike from A to B vs. what will be, at best, a slow and mediocre place to bike from A to B. 9th will be too slow for people who are time-poor, in a hurry, or just tired.

– The Irving Park path will never be fast.
-The crossings at major streets will suffer from a lack of signalization and priority
– 9th is relatively narrow (leading to slower cycling because of anxiety about drivers not stopping at stop signs, because of “courtesy queuing” when people driving are oncoming and people cycling don’t want to go into the door zone, etc.)
-9th is relatively hilly

I’m pretty sure that it will be OK for slow recreational cycling, but even for that, 7th would have been better. (Mostly due to better crossings of major streets).

I moved to Albuquerque from East Portland, so I get what you’re talking about. But your argument would be better worded as something like, “You’re so disappointed because you just get a *mediocre* place to bike? I have *nowhere* to bike!”

xfs
Guest
xfs

Ignoring the politics here — the only argument against 7th is car access to Head Start from the south? Please fill me in if I’m wrong.

Flareon
Guest
Flareon

I really don’t even understand this logic. You’re allowed to drive on greenways, in fact the way PBOT usually designs them often makes them more appealing to cars. If anything, they might have to drive a few blocks out of the way to access a building, which in that case, welcome to what it’s like to ride a bike on Portland.

xfs
Guest
xfs

The dual cul-de-sacs adjacent to Irving Park (at 7th & Cook, presumably) would block car access to Fremont from the south. Otherwise, I agree with you.

joan
Subscriber

Yeah, the issue would be a diverter on NE 7th at Fremont. The way around that would be pretty long, involving either going through the MLK and Fremont intersection or all the way around Irving Park. I heard this frustration from some of my neighbors who live near Rodney and Ivy. The east-west blocks are wide here and a diverter can mean a much longer route for some.

Annoyed Citizen
Guest
Annoyed Citizen

If people had proposed it on 9th, if that was the actual “will of the community” at large then they would have asked for it to be on 7th so they could disrupt that. It’s just how they operate. Reference Natural Grocers vs Trader Joes.

Flareon
Guest
Flareon

Normally I’d support measures to address historic racial injustices but when I see a small group claiming to represent the “black community” use the exact same arguments against bike infrastructure as the Southeast NIMBY groups did for SE Lincoln, I am suspect. This groups knows PBOT will cave to their car-focusted interests if you use race as a factor, so that’s what they did. It appears to have worked.

I just don’t understand how a half-assed greenway that would barely qualify as cycling infrastructure in any city that actually cared about cycling would somehow negatively impact all black people in North Portland.

Doug Hecker
Guest
Doug Hecker

Some items you’ll never be able to understand. Tossing comments around with the banner of “transcending race” doesn’t somehow give you the soapbox you were hoping to find. You must also be for kicking people out of their homes for more LEED certified ones as well.

Flareon
Guest
Flareon

Oh hey, building up straw men sure is fun isn’t it? One, LEED is 100% a scam, and two, no I would never want to kick anyone out of their homes. Really don’t understand the angle you’re going for here.

Doug hecker
Guest
Doug hecker

Like I previously mentioned, some items you’re not supposed to understand so I’ll chalk both up to just that.

Flareon
Guest
Flareon

That’s a thought-terminating cliche meant to shut down conversation. Why not instead help me understand? In this day and age, we need more dialog and less accusations and yelling at each other.

Doug Hecker
Guest
Doug Hecker

To tell black community what they should do and be part of defeats whatever purpose you’re trying to make. Portland has been doing that for years and look at what it has created. If you want to understand then I would suggest viewing this project from a lens other than a bike centric lens and maybe, just maybe somebody else’s. The end results of this project seems to show that as many groups of people got what they desired. Read many of the comments above and I think you’ll see people stating about how unfair or not “as good” as it could. Sometimes we have to bend and flex. I don’t see the issue. I also don’t see what good it is to demean the community members who were opposed because that also doesn’t promote conversation either.

joan
Subscriber

Well, there isn’t a group here claiming to represent the black community. And this is quite patronizing.

Kiel Johnson (Go By Bike)
Member

It was not that small of a group.

One of the things I heard was how negatively displacement has affected people. After college I decided to stay in Portland because of the bicycle infastructure. I think it is fair to say that Portland’s bicycle infastructure is a draw and attracts a certain type of person to the city. We need to do a better job at having this draw benefit people whose issues are not biking infastructure.

Doug Hecker
Guest
Doug Hecker

Did I really just read someone talking about black NIMBY’s? Wow. I don’t even think that is possible. I do wonder what groups of people favored this project? I do have a guess. Probably white and maybe even male?

Flareon
Guest
Flareon

Uhh yeah. Turns out people wanting to maintain car culture transcends race…

AnnaG
Guest
AnnaG

not true, some of us are brown, female, and old, to boot.

Doug Hecker
Guest
Doug Hecker

And I think that is great. Thanks for your input.

Irakli Gozaslishvili
Guest
Irakli Gozaslishvili

I am very disappointment with an outcome and more so with an attempt from PBOT to portrait this as a double win. They clearly chose to prioritize interests of families driving to Albina Head Start over families that leave on 7th ave, at the very least they should find courage to admit that.

Flareon
Guest
Flareon

Good question.

maxD
Guest
maxD

The damage this will do to Irving PArk is really shameful. If this path is direct and has accessible grades, it will impact the playground, three ball fields, and up to 16 mature trees. It will bisect a park and create a an incompatible edge. As Portland densifies it SHOULD BE doubling down on its parks so that people living closer together have clean, safe place to be outdoors, where kids can safely run around. Instead it is reducing the function and safety of an already heavily used park, and increasing the traffic on a neighborhood street. This is failure to look after the health and safety of the community in the name of appeasing the black community. Chloe Eudaly touts this as a win AND supports the Rose Quarter freeway widening expansion?

Flareon
Guest
Flareon

Funny how according to PBOT, a low-impact bike route will negatively impact the black community, but paving over parkland and widening a highway won’t. I suspect there are other forces at play here.

GM
Guest
GM

Funny how y’all are raging against a plan that exists only in your minds, since there literally is no plan to bulldoze, pave, or cut down anything.

Now the fact that there isn’t a plan is also a problem, but perhaps wait until there is one before you pillory it? Just a thought.

SD
Guest
SD

Phase 1 no real changes to 7th. Phase 2 no real changes to 9th. If you think head start could shut down a safe street reconfiguration just wait till ”friends of Irving park” gets rolling.

SD
Guest
SD

I promise I didn’t just start this group to back up this comment : ) https://www.friendsofirvingpark.org

JR
Guest
JR

Another disappointing outcome from PBOT relative to bike facilities. We get a bike boulevard with a built-in detour around Irving Park. Lovely.

Why are they removing the traffic circle at Tillamook? It slows down cars for people using 7th Ave to get between the offset Tillamook streets east and west of it. I don’t see how this is a better outcome for anyone other than those driving on 7th.

Catie
Guest
Catie

Its very awkward to use headed Westbound. Its perched on an incline so lots of bikes cross on the south side instead of going up and around. I’m happy for a change here.

mh
Subscriber

I’ll be happy to block northbound car traffic while I wait on 7th for a chance to turn west on Tillamook.

Doug Klotz
Subscriber

I would welcome bike lanes (if protected) on 7th from Broadway to Tillamook. But my route from heading north on 7th is to turn west on Tillamook. Currently I turn around the traffic circle. If the circle is gone, then I guess I’ll have to take the lane for two blocks to get ready for that left. What’s the point of the bike lanes then? If not the circle, then some sort of island, perhaps like SE Clay and SE Ladd (but with a longer turn pocket), or an arrangement like Stark and 42nd?

Catie
Guest
Catie

Some refuge island type pocket that is placed better (further up the hill?than the circle could create a safe space for turning bikes.

Adam
Guest
Adam

PBOT.

Spineless to the very end, as usual.

joan
Subscriber

Quite the contrary. I’d say for PBOT to do additional outreach and listen to the most marginalized members of our community is excellent and much overdue.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

I agree with this — it’s hard to fault PBOT for listening too much. And yet… what happens when, 20 years down the road, when fashion changes and cycling for transportation becomes more widespread, the community asks why it always gets lower quality routes than other areas? Will people remember they got what they asked for?

mh
Subscriber

And when black neighborhood kids start getting run over on 7th?

joan
Subscriber

My black neighbors asked, for decades, for a traffic light at N Vancouver at Cook, where folks turn off Vancouver to get onto the Fremont Bridge. PBOT identified it as a high-crash intersection. Kids walk through here to get to majority black Boise-Eliot/Humboldt Elementary. But you know when that intersection finally got a traffic light? When New Seasons opened, in the midst of major neighborhood gentrification.

Black residents in my neighborhood for years asked for all kinds of safety and traffic improvements that they never got. White folks moved in, and all of sudden, PBOT and folks on bikes are demanding changes and infrastructure to accommodate their safety.

Do all the white people here really think that my black neighbors don’t care about their kids? That they’re uneducated about the potential dangers to their children? What’s going on with all these comments?

Black kids in Portland face so many barriers that white kids don’t: cars are less likely to stop for them when they’re crossing the street; cops are more likely to stop them when they’re engaging in behaviors that white kids get a pass on; black kids face harsher consequences in school for infractions that white kids get away with all the time. This is all statistical and fact-based, not conjecture or hyperbole.

So when some white folks and PBOT come in and say, “Hey, we’re got some great ideas for changing up the street,” I totally understand why my black neighbors might be skeptical. And I don’t understand why folks here can’t stop and listen and think a bit more about the concerns expressed by some of our most underrepresented and marginalized community members.

SD
Guest
SD

Great comment, which I agree with completely AND is why I am frustrated the PBOT has perpetuated the disproportionate distribution of resources. This isn’t a win for the neighborhood or for marginalized communities, it is an easy way out where PBOT can avoid heat from drivers who want every street to be their high speed arterial and claim that they are honoring the community. Unfortunately, people are buying PBOTs press release without asking questions about their process and lining up to fight on either side of a divisive narrative without data on where the community actually stands.

idlebytes
Guest
idlebytes

Isn’t it a little bit more nuanced then how you make it out here? I don’t doubt that our institutions development decisions have some racial bias but adding infrastructure improvements when there’s new development in an area has nothing to do with race. A large building was built that would attract a lot more traffic so the city required that a traffic light be installed.

Flareon
Guest
Flareon

PBOT doesn’t listen to anyone’s feedback though. If it wasn’t their idea, they’re not interested. I can see why the black community would feel like PBOT isn’t listening to their needs but they don’t listen to anyone’s needs. It’s all a sham and PR stunts with them.

paikiala
Guest
paikiala

I guess by ‘New Seasons’ you mean the local improvement district that funded the signal change?

“Credit goes to the members of the Boise and Eliot neighborhoods and the local business community – many of whom have been advocating for this traffic signal for a very long time,” said Portland Bureau of Transportation Director Leah Treat, “It is because of their community spirit and persistence that we have this signal here today.”

The North Vancouver and Cook Street LID was approved by City Council in May 2014 and included six participating property owners. It was the first LID in the city to focus primarily on traffic signals and utility undergrounding. It raised $1,055,000 for the following improvements:
Joy Mack

Realignment of eastbound lanes — North Cook Street from the Interstate 405 off-ramp to North Vancouver Avenue
New mast arm traffic signal — North Vancouver Avenue & Cook Street intersection
New mast arm traffic signal to replace existing span wire signal — North Vancouver Avenue & Fremont Street intersection
New mast arm traffic signal to replace existing span wire signal –North Williams Avenue & Fremont Street intersection
New left turn signal from N. Fremont St. westbound to N. Vancouver Avenue southbound

https://www.portlandoregon.gov/tRANSPORTATION/article/548656

joan
Subscriber

As Jonathan wrote about extensively, my neighbors asked for a signal for more than 40 years. “People who live in the Boise-Eliot neighborhood have been asking for a signal in this location since the Fremont Bridge was built in 1973. Yes you read that right: They’ve waited over 40 years for a safer intersection.” Even before New Seasons was built, PBOT had already identified it as one of the ten worst intersections for right-hook collisions. Over four decades, PBOT certainly could have found the money if it had prioritized safety in my neighborhood.
https://bikeportland.org/2015/10/14/why-the-new-traffic-signal-at-n-cook-and-vancouver-is-such-a-big-deal-165728

joan
Subscriber

I really wish I truly believed that the people liking this comment really cared about black kids getting hit for any other reason than the political theater.

mark
Guest
mark

I really do care about black kids getting hit by careless drivers. I feel like our streets have prioritized motor traffic for too long at the expense of all of us who walk or ride.

SD
Guest
SD

I wouldn’t say that business owners and business groups are the most marginalized. It is much more likely that they are the ones that are benefiting from the status quo, which includes high volume high speed traffic on a residential street.

Adam
Guest
Adam

Yeah, they do the “outreach”. But they’ve already made their decision at the beginning of the process. The outreach is just due process.

Jimmy
Guest
Jimmy

Flareon
PBOT never repaves streets when they put in greenways either. The 20’s bikeway is mostly cracked and bumpy concrete from the 1920’s that’s is completely unacceptable for a brand new bike route. If we have to accept 9th as a concellation price, the least they could do is repave the damn street.Recommended 4

This. When I first read about this intersecting with Holman I thought…umm yeah, still not going to use it because of the condition of the surface on holman. In my mind the city shouldn’t get to include greenway miles on their brag sheet if the oavement resembles a gravel road (actually some gravel roads are in better shape). Personally I think pouring all the money into greenways with the worst surface conditions is almost pointless. It certainly doesnt encourage new riders or reinforce some of the great benefits of riding. You’ll never get people out of your cars if the heavy auto streets get priority for re-surfacing.

Are there any lower cost creative solutions to help just bike travel on greenways? What about laying a 3 ft strip in the center of each lane? Autos will straddle it so still dealing with the rougher surface a bike users get a dedicated smooth strip.

X
Guest
X

In fairness, some blocks of really crummy pavement on NE Going did get a thorough repaving, a tear-out down to grade with slick new asphalt pavement. Just a few blocks but you take what you can get…by and large it’s possible to lay odds on future bike streets based on the decrepitude of the pavement.

paikiala
Guest
paikiala

As with most absolute statements, this one ‘never repaves greenways’ is also false.
N Bryant has been resurfaced. SE Harrison was also. Going east of 33rd was resurfaced. Clinton west of 26th was resurfaced last year. Woodward east of 52nd is on the list for 2019.
There will always be more to do.

snarky_and_disappointed
Guest
snarky_and_disappointed

Should have put ODOT in charge of the project.

They know how to get work done.

Chad
Guest
Chad

Setting aside the lack of support from the black community, there were more problems with the 7th alignment than portrayed by the press release and the comments here. It would have been like developing NE Prescott instead of NE Going for an east-west greenway.
– Sections of 7th between Fremont and Broadway had little chance of volume being reduced from >5000 vehicles to <1000, even with the diverters.
-The diverters would have failed on volume guidelines (not rerouting traffic to another street such that the daily volume exceeds 1000 vehicles.)
– 7th Ave currently accommodates 25% of the collected northbound volume (summing MLK and 7th) of peak hour evening traffic crossing Fremont. Improving the MLK light timing would not have offset this removal of capacity. Motorist backlash about the Fremont bottleneck was assured.
– Northbound peak hour cut-through traffic would be poorly absorbed after the NE Fargo diverter.
– NE Siskiyou & NE Morris cut-through traffic would spike.
– 7th avenue businesses would have been impacted.
– Guidelines and supportive data for the Two Plum Park turn-around intervention was inadequate in PBOT design guides and manuals and elsewhere.

SD
Guest
SD

….But instead PBOT goes for a polarizing PR win by scapegoating a handful of black business owners.

Flareon
Guest
Flareon

Would have been nice for Mr. Maus to state all these reasons as well instead of trying to pin it all on the black community.

xfs
Guest
xfs

Very helpful! Thanks, Chad

paikiala
Guest
paikiala

Pure conjecture.

SD
Guest
SD

What PBOT calls outreach is really just passively listening to people who think they benefit from high volume car infrastructure. Usually, that’s self-interested business owners. The “good of the community” is disingenuous spin. It’s like consulting the bottled water salesman about where to put in clean drinking water infrastructure.

joan
Subscriber

If you are a white person and don’t live in this community, I’m not sure you can be in a position to judge PBOT’s outreach to the black community.

SD
Guest
SD

Outside of actually working on the outreach efforts, we can evaluate PBOT’s outreach based on want they have written and all of the other coverage of their outreach and their past efforts. Of course, we all have varying degrees of experience in this type of work. Based on what has been written and the details that PBOT has provided, it has been clear that PBOT has been making it up as they go, do not have much longitudinal experience, and have failed to work with or the communities involved. It is possible that they have information about their process that shows that they took a comprehensive approach, but this hasn’t been made public.

What they have shown is that they are well-intentioned and apprehensive, but the result remains that they are concentrating valuable resources in places where they already exist and denying those resources to traditionally marginalized ethnic and racial groups.

SD
Guest
SD

I don’t think people need to have a certain background to want PBOT to engage communities in a meaningful way that accounts for everyone’s voice. However, I have lived in this community for more than 15 years and have worked with vulnerable and marginalized groups for most of my life. In the time that it took PBOT to come to this point, they could have had people go door to door and talk with everyone affected by the changes in 7th street design and developed a clear understanding of everyone’s voice and answered questions about the details of the project and its expected effects. Based on everything I’ve read and their approach in the past, they use a process that is not representative and is biased toward people with specific interests who may not live in the immediate area. Their process is reactive not proactive, and while some may be pleased with the outcome it is difficult to believe that this is the right way to do it.

Flareon
Guest
Flareon

I am curious what the age demographics of these groups are. Judging based on the arguments they make against the project, I’d guess they’d skew older. Maybe it’s time to get some younger voices in there, although I suspect they are focused on more important issues.

Flareon
Guest
Flareon

I say this because I’d imagine that a black person that grew up in Portland in the 1960’s to have a much different (and justified) attitude towards public improvements than someone younger. I wonder if this is where much of the distrust of public transportation agencies comes from.

Maddy
Subscriber
Maddy

I would argue there are ethical issues with excluding or marginalizing the opinion of older residents. If we want to revamp the transportation options in Portland to be less car-centric, they need to work for all ages and demographics. Young white guys are dominating the conversation, and we can’t just be a city that only works for young white guys.

SD
Guest
SD

Totally. The whole point of safe 7th was to create infrastructure that would be comfortable for walkers and bikers that are not young males. This group includes the interested but concerned that tend to be older, female or people that are not familiar with biking. It also includes younger riders who are capable of riding their bikes to school or around the neighborhood, but don’t have safe streets to ride on. It would have also reclaimed a residential street from high volumes of cut-through car traffic for the people that live on 7th. The design that PBOT is going with is a dream for the fearless young male cyclist. It is a fast, direct, “take the lane” route that people who can comfortably ride at 15-20 mph will enjoy. For everyone else, it will be green way harassment from cars, the door zone and blocked sight lines for street crossings and longer and longer lines of idling cars every evening.

Terry D-M
Guest
Terry D-M

This means no bike access to commercial establishments on MLK either. As Clinton supports Division, 7th would support MLK. 9th is too far to have a robust effect.

On 9th, where is the southern diversion? Prescott? At least include world class diversion on this consolation prize.

With Irving Park, the route will either damage the recreation elements or wrap around adding four blocks. This barrier makes 9th a good community and family route but terrible commuter corridor. We will not be able to get even close to our mode share goals without both types of routes. 7th could have been both, 9th can not.

In the comprehensive plan we can give 14th to bike commuters, so I guess PBOT will have to learn from this and build another corridor.

Hess Mills
Guest
Hess Mills

“9th is too far to have a robust effect.”

This is conjecture.

Nick Fox
Guest
Nick Fox

I am happy that the process has been big and deliberate, but man I am personally disappointed about the outcome. That said… I’m really surprised by how much *cheaper* this option appears to be. The original designs for 7th were these beautiful, impactful diverters and parks. And on 9th, at least as drawn, there’s not a diverter at all? Not even one at the start or north of Fremont or Killingsworth? Part of my disappointment, I guess, is that this design feels cheap. Fine, move it to 9th, but at least invest in it similar to the modeled plans on 9th…

There are obvious cynical answers to this, but… is there something I’m missing?

Jenny
Guest
Jenny

Can anyone explain how the parking will be improved with this ‘Safer 7th’ option? Will there be parking on the West side of 7th?

Flareon
Guest
Flareon

I’m just gonna say this: Portland’s approach to community outreach effectively kills every single project they set out to accomplish. There has to be a better way to get everyone’s voices heard without awaiting money on innefective measures and build-outs.

paikiala
Guest
paikiala

More false statements. Kills implies ceasing to exist. mediocre, maybe. achievable, no question. Improved conditions, certainly.

PDXTom
Guest
PDXTom

A number of folks have already mentioned what is a better alternative (NE 11th) to the NE 9th routing and the horrible conflict it creates with Irving Park. And yes, wait till you see the opposition that arises to any PBOT proposal for bike paths in that park.

A much better solution is here [NE 7th -> NE 9th (via NE Halsey)-> NE 11th (via NE Siskiyou)]:
http://tinyurl.com/y3qpjajb

(Sorry, couldn’t figure out how to make that URL a functioning link)

1. It avoids Irving Park
2. It provides traffic lights to cross NE Weidler and NE Broadway (at NE 9th)
3. It avoids the turning streetcar tracks at NE 7th and NE Weidler southbound
4. It creates a new crossing at NE 11th and NE Fremont, another street in need of some calming and more safe pedestrian/cyclist crossings

No, it is not a straight shot N-S but we already experience that on other Greenways (recent example: Klickitat-Siskiyou-Morris Greenway).

Flareon
Guest
Flareon

Honestly, the choices should have been 7th or protected lanes on MLK. 9th is a non-starter. Will be just as bad as the 20’s bikeway. PBOT at least needs to propose two viable alternatives, rather than the good one and the poison pill one.

paikiala
Guest
paikiala

Because, you know, black business on MLK don’t deserve any on-street parking…
(snark)

Alex Reedin, now in Albuquerque, NM
Guest
Alex Reedin, now in Albuquerque, NM

This is extremely disappointing. Yes, we live on a slave ship – but the slave ship is sinking!! Can’t we all work together to further racial equity AND actually reduce the number of miles traveled (and greenhouse gases emitted) by cars? My belief is that any project that doesn’t include diversion on 7th will result in little increase in practical, “A to B” type cycling, and thus will have little impact on greenhouse gases. 9th will be too slow – the Irving Park path will never be fast, the crossings at major streets will suffer from a lack of signalization and priority, and 9th is relatively narrow and hilly. It may help with public health by increasing recreational cycling by families, but climate change has really got to be at the top of the priority list given the global trajectory and Oregon’s failure to meet its climate goals.

Couldn’t PBOT pay for a new entrance to Albina Head Start, Inc. off Fremont to avoid an additional inconvenience to disproportionately Black and low-income folk? Can’t the City actually do something *substantive* about displacement and housing affordability for Black folks? I’m pretty sure that, had the City not failed dismally on those fronts with no turnaround in sight, this would be a different discussion. I’m sure everyone involved would agree the NE 7th Ave. issue is pretty small-bore compared to the mass displacement of Black folks from N/NE Portland.

Andrew N
Guest
Andrew N

This result is entirely predictable.

If there is one thing that Portland’s transportation advocacy network has failed miserably at, it is building effective political power at the local level. That is why we, incredibly, don’t have a single voice on city council. It’s why we have a commissioner overseeing PBOT with zero qualifications for running a major transportation agency (at the discretion of the mayor, of course, who appears to lack vision and/or passion for much of anything). It’s why the I-5 expansion proposal has gotten as far as it has. It’s why we have an overwhelming amount of substandard bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure (hello MLK/Going crossing!). It’s why it feels less and less safe to ride around the city with children. It’s why there is virtually no way we’re going to hit the mode split targets outlined in the 2030 bike plan — a bike plan that cost taxpayers a lot of money to produce, by the way.

Someone wonky, relatable, electable, and charismatic needs to step up and run for mayor on a climate change platform and then clean house at PBOT (bye Nick; hello Janette). Until then, stagnating, fundamentally auto-centric agencies like PBOT will never walk their talk and will continue to bikewash us with the help of organizations like the League of American Bicyclists and the Vision Zero Network.

Maybe it’s time for a weekly Critical Mass riding at a leisurely pace up and down 7th and MLK between Broadway and Alberta? Thursdays at 5pm?

emerson
Subscriber

This is exactly correct. We can talk on committees and outreach all we want, but nothing will change until we have power.

Buzz
Guest
Buzz

Meh, Sam Adams was as worthless as Vera Katz before him and Tom Potter, Charlie Hales and Ted Wheeler after him.

mh
Subscriber

I’m in! I need reasons to not call in sick on Thursdays; this would be a good one.

pdx2wheeler
Subscriber

Ruin a park to save a paved street… Wow!

Keviniano
Subscriber
Keviniano

It’s striking to me that so few posters here are taking this as a humbling moment for bicycle advocacy in Portland.

I recognize that BP comments are largely an in-group forum, so I expect some venting. Even so, it appears that urgency around climate change and traffic violence is leading to some hubris and many folks here being unwilling to check their blind spots around the continuing impacts of Portland’s profound and shameful history of institutionalized racism. While PBOT’s decision may bring some regained trust with PBOT in segments of the Black Portland, if the comments here are representative of the sentiments of the bicycle advocacy community at large (I hope they aren’t) then, as much as it hurts to say this, I think the lack of political power of bicycle advocates in the city may be well-earned.

I’m surprised and deeply saddened to see how many folks are doubling down on the wrongness of this outcome and the righteousness of their position rather than seeing this loss as an opportunity to reflect on and learn from the deficiencies of a movement that clearly failed to seize an opportunity for a coalition.

I didn’t know Ron Herndon at all, so I googled him after reading bikeninja’s comments above. Wow, that guy is amazing — he seems like the kind of leader ALL of Portland should be deeply proud to have. It’s just striking that for some the takeaway is that bike advocates just tangled with the wrong person, rather than “how can we learn from this leader?” or “how is that we failed to effectively cultivate the relationships and trust that would have lead to better infrastructure for everyone?” For me it’s less a question of how can bike advocates can get folks like Ron Herndon to come to their side and more one of how bike advocates can effectively come to the side of a civil rights leader and advocate for head start?

I think we need some spaces where leaders from Black Portland and bicycle advocates can meet and some sustained understanding and trust can develop. I think it would need some actual funding to create. Some pre-work within the advocacy side is probably in order. This “we’ve got a project so let’s do some outreach to the Black Community” business just isn’t going to cut it.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

Speaking only for myself, I would love to have more people from Black Portland take a leadership role in traffic safety and climate change. These are issues that affect that community as much as any other. Perhaps this has already happened and I am simply unaware of it.

Aaron Brown
Guest

do you seriously think “Black Portland” doesn’t care about “traffic safety and climate change” just because a respected, vaulted community leader simply requested that PBOT move a neighborhood greenway two blocks to the east?

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

hy would I think that?

Mr. Grey
Guest
Mr. Grey

This here is your comment of the week, Jonathan.

It’s not that PBOT can’t design an excellent bikeway; Nick Falbo is the best in the business at smart, effective bikeway design, as partially evidenced by the level of excitement the original NE 7th Ave Neighborhood Greenway design generated among advocates, this forum, and many community members.

We have the tools we need. The problem has been and will continue to be creating shared understanding of the problems we face and having frank conversations about the tradeoffs we have to make to address them—conversations in which everyone is involved and folks of all persuasions are listening.

Elevating Keviniano’s comment may help readers here consider this situation as something other than a loss for bike advocacy—a chance to grow and learn and create coalitions that bring us where we all want to go.

Thank you for your thoughtfulness, Keviniano.

Alex Reedin, now in Albuquerque, NM
Guest
Alex Reedin, now in Albuquerque, NM

Unfortunately, coalitions are bound to be fractious unless they are collectively strong enough to win the change each party seeks. In Portland, with the status quo still so strong (though weakening), it’s not surprising that bike advocates and the Black community are fighting over the scraps of who gets to get around safely, quickly, and comfortably on 7th Ave. If there were a majority of Commissioners that would support both substantive reparations to longtime Black Portlanders (including something like a large amount – thousands of housing units – of City-funded development aimed at re-energizing the Black community in Albina and monthly housing assistance to those who can’t or don’t want to live in those City-owned units) and funding a citywide network of truly high-quality bike infrastructure, whether it’s on 7th, MLK, 15th, whatever – there would be room for a true compromise that would actually address the needs of both parties. Because the status quo is still a majority on Council and the progressive coalition only a minority, we’re left with this fractiousness.

In sum, though there is further coalition work that needs to be done, I think it’s the lack of progressive political power in Portland that’s the main cause of these divisions, not PRIMARILY tone-deafness or racism by bike advocates. I think, for the average Portland bike advocate (who in my experience has a basic understanding of the history of race in Portland and is compassionate if not always connected to low-income communities & communities of color), their time, energy, and money would be better spent acquiring political power on behalf of the coalition rather than engaging in deep soul-searching (if they can only choose one). Funding the Street Trust 501c(4) generously so that they can afford to play in both state politics AND local politics would be a good place to start.

Being a good coalition partner is great (IMO the Street Trust did a real internal culture change in the past decade and has gotten pretty good at this), but as long as the status quo is just throwing you bones and denying everyone in the coalition the dinners they’re demanding, it’s going to be hard not to fight over the bones.

Aaron Brown
Guest

Thank you, Kevin(iano?), for this excellent comment.

Allan Rudwick
Subscriber

I’ve been following NE 7th (especially the area south of Fremont) for a while now from the Eliot NA Land Use Committee. There have been a bunch of people living directly on 7th that have been raising safety issues for years. If this project can reduce the conflicts around the traffic circles, traffic volumes and speeds it will be moving this street in the right direction. The plans showing 7th as a diverter-heavy bike route with minimal auto traffic on it got me super-excited, however those dramatic changes are above what we actually need to make the street safe for walking & bicycling. Almost everything I wanted to see happen as a neighborhood advocate before I heard about this project will be in the final proposal.

Here’s to a safer 7th.

joan
Subscriber

Thanks for your work on this, Allan.

Mark smith
Guest
Mark smith

We are still reaping the consequences of when black and brown folks were forced to sell their homes for pennies for the freeway. Deal with that issue and bike fixes will come through easy. Ignore it and this is what happens. You do realize that cdot wants to literally bulldoze through the backyard of Harriet Tubman school then deposit millions of pollution spewing cars there? If everyone on this thread and the other thread about this supposed tragedy organized against the second assault on black families….

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

Did ODOT underpay for houses they bought from black and brow folks? Did they pay more for similarly valued houses owned by white people?

joan
Subscriber

No, they had them condemned for reasons like, “Has a clawfoot tub.”

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

I’m not sure I understand what you mean. Do you mean ODOT did not pay for the property they took?

joan
Subscriber

In some cases they paid as little as $50 for homes. In other cases they condemned homes. They didn’t replace any of the homes, and this was at a time when it was nearly impossible for black families to live anywhere outside of historic Albina because of redlining and housing discrimination. http://cityobservatory.org/housing-reparations-for-northeast-portland/

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

If anyone got shortchanged by ODOT (or other agencies) in one of their land “acquisitions”, I would totally support compensating them or their heirs. I am generally very wary of the use of eminent domain in any context.

joan
Subscriber

As well, this follows the destruction of almost 500 homes, about half black-owned, for the construction of Memorial Coliseum in the late 1950s. And, more than 1000 housing units on 76 acres were destroyed for Emanuel Hospital and projects that were never built. This is why there are so many empty lots near the hospital.

PSU Professor Karen Gibson wrote an excellent piece on the disinvestment in and destruction of the neighborhood: http://kingneighborhood.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/BLEEDING-ALBINA_-A-HISTORY-OF-COMMUNITY-DISINVESTMENT-1940–2000.pdf

mh
Subscriber

Some of us are, putting time and money and testimony into the No More Freeways PDX coalition.

Johnny Bye Carter
Subscriber
Johnny Bye Carter

“PBOT’s plans were truly groundbreaking and represented an unprecedented level of human-scale, cycling-oriented designs.”

This was how we knew it would never happen.

Johnny Bye Carter
Subscriber
Johnny Bye Carter

“The existing traffic circle at 7th and Tillamook will be removed, and they might remove several others as well. Falbo says the circles work well on lower-volume streets, but as competition for space increases, they become points of conflict.”

That’s a traffic pattern change.

And they’re increasing the number of drivers on the street. I thought we were past the age where we changed streets so that more people could drive on them.

Andrew Kreps
Guest
Andrew Kreps

Is there any evidence showing that traffic circle-enabled intersections have a higher collision rate than their wild west equivalents? I’ve never heard of anyone calling a traffic circle problematic. Then again we don’t know how to yield in them in this country.

paikiala
Guest
paikiala

PBOT regularly hears complaints from cyclists about selfish drivers trying to beat them to a circle. Different streets have different forms of circles. many of the ones on 7th are at T intersections and are in the form of a D meaning not much slowing on the flat side. Traffic circles are shown to be very good at reducing high velocity intersection crashes with other drivers. The police also refer to them as DUII-catchers.

Andrew Kreps
Guest
Andrew Kreps

Taken from the skanner’s report ” a street design intended to limit automobile access ” is apparently how the 7th ave plan was interpreted.

It is not about limiting access. It’s about slowing down the killing machines. We can all agree on that one, right?

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

Not when a diverter was part of the project.

Alex Reedin
Guest
Alex Reedin

This may seem like picking hairs, but I feel like “limiting access” is when people feel they cannot get to destination A by mode Y for trip Z, whether that’s because it takes too long, it’s too stressful, it feels too dangerous, it’s illegal, or whatever. In this case, I think there’s a vanishingly small percentage of motorists who would feel they cannot get to (say) the Head Start Inc. for their daily pickup/dropoff by car if the diverter were put in. It would just be the tiny percentage for who an extra minute or two from going around the block would make that trip infeasible.

Our society has gone about as far towards universal-access for cars as it’s possible to go, and the diverters wouldn’t change that. The diverters would limit *routes* for driving, not access.

Something that limits *access* is, say, the prohibition on driving on Leif Erickson. Or, to take a more impactful example, access for the vast majority of people by bike to most suburban and rural destinations is limited by the fear of fast-moving cars in close proximity to where they would bike with no physical barrier, and the paucity of non-arterial routes that go through and have comfortable crossings of arterials.

Access is something that transportation projects can increase for biking, walking, and transit – but they mostly can’t increase it for driving, because driving access is already amazing. That’s OK. We don’t have to have a weird, special definition of “access” for driving.

paikiala
Guest
paikiala

The former 7th plan physically prevented car movement at several locations along the route.

Matt
Guest
Matt

Isn’t the pickup/dropoff for Albina Head Start on the Ivy side of the building? I don’t understand the limited access on 7th problem people keep bringing up.