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Guest Article: The Tabor Trail (60s Bikeway) and a safer NE Halsey

Posted by on June 13th, 2019 at 10:20 am

A good spot for a bicycle lift? (Graphic: Terry Dublinksi-Milton)

Terry Dublinksi-Milton is a Portland resident and dedicated neighborhood activist and transportation reformer. Last summer we shared his call to create an active transportation network in southeast.

I have worked on and critiqued multiple bikeways over the years and though a smaller bike project than many, I have a personal attachment to the NE 60th and Halsey Improvement project. This project is in my neighborhood of fifteen years and has its own history nearly as long.

That’s why it’s so important for me to get it right. Before I share my concerns on the project and feedback for how to make it better. Here’s a brief look in the rear-view mirror…

60th Avenue Station Plan (2007)
A series of outreach meetings in 2006-2007 developed the 60th station plan that proposed significant changes to local access, bikeways, and MAX light rail. Routes in the plan included NE Hassalo/53rd to 61st, 61st to Sacramento north, and Oregon/63rd to Davis south. For reasons lost to planner history, it was not adopted by council; but the bikeways made it into the Bike Plan for 2030 which was adopted in 2010.

Comprehensive Plan (2014-2017)
As Land Use & Transportation Chair chair of North Tabor Neighborhood Association I helped resurrect the 60th Ave Station Plan and through multiple outreach meetings moved the Tabor Trail to 62nd, extending it south to Mount Tabor Park. NE 61st remained, but a bikeway connection west to 47th, Providence Hospital and points further was added to the Comprehensive Plan.

Growing Transit Communities (2017)
In this refinement of the station area plan, the local access road building was removed in favor of a Vision Zero-compliant Halsey Blvd. The Tabor Trail remained on the same route outlined throughout the comprehensive plan.

Despite this long history, all it took was one community ride-along where a few people expressed discomfort with the hairpin turn at NE 61st (circled in red in graphic at right) caused PBOT to move the climb up Alameda Ridge to 60th. An engineering solution to 61st was not even suggested, thus this meandering alignment suddenly became the current proposal (outlined in yellow).

PBOT’s new route introduces two turns, requiring one to go west, then east, to go west.

Will a student from Madison High follow a route like this to the Waterfront?

While it’s the cheapest to build, plans for NE 60th offer no protection for bicycle users other than sharrows and speed bumps. While 60th has an average daily traffic (ADT, a stat that only includes car drivers) count of 1,040, 61st has only 400. The way I see it, PBOT is using bicycle riders to calm driving traffic, instead of diverting them away from the route to maintain a quality bikeway.

Another option would stay on 60th from the MAX station the entire way north (as PBOT proposes for just a few blocks in their current plans). Parking would be completely removed and replaced with a two way cycle-track and significantly wider sidewalks than proposed.

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This second option has the benefit of being the most direct and predictable up the ridge for cross-traffic but provides no significant protection for the ascent. Option 2 requires a complete redesign of the NE 60th/Halsey intersection and removal of the center turn pockets. These center turn pockets are what requires the segment from Hassalo to Halsey to be moved to 62nd for queuing. The traffic lights were rebuilt last in 1984, do not allow for leading pedestrian intervals (LPIs), and are required to properly time the 57th and 60th signals which should speed up the 71 bus line.

This is by far the most expensive choice. It prioritizes walkers and bicycle users, but it also creates delays for transit and car users.

The final and original route follows a low volume 61st from Halsey to Sacramento. The main fear is the 10 mph hairpin switchback with poor sightlines.

The Trampe Bicycle Lift in action.
(Photo: City of Trondheim)

To safely engineer this troublespot we could remove rarely used westside parking and convert the northbound lane into a physically-protected bike lane. The descent would consist of a shared, low-volume lane southbound. The switchback would make the climb easier than 60th without growling cars menacing at riders from behind. The new traffic pattern would only impact 12 households and 150 average daily driving trips and would have vast benefit to the active transportation network. Moderate in expense, it would provide a direct route and the only truly protected climb up Alameda Ridge just in time to coincide with a newly rebuilt Madison High School. The sidewalk-free side could be striped with a walkway and the one-way would mitigate head-on collision risk between vehicles, thus providing safety benefits for all three traffic modes simultaneously.

The 2007 plan called for a bioswale (a planted curb extension to soak up rainwater) at 61st and Sacramento to narrow the intersection which could become a rest area with maps of the entire Tabor Trail. In the near-term, wands could be used to protect the lane. This would have the added benefit of narrowing Sacramento, thereby calming two greenways. A bike lift — like the one used in Trondheim, Norway — could even be added as this is the only climb up Alameda Ridge without curb cut conflicts.

Providing a facility for all users regardless of ability, a lift would be an amazing amenity and become a local attraction. If PBOT is serious about getting young people to bike to school, this is the type of creative infrastructure we need. In our age of climate crises, we must use every tool possible to lower emissions.

Portland’s adopted plans make it clear that walkers and bicycle users are at the top of the transportation pyramid. This means new bikeways are to be protected when possible and direct even if it mildly disrupts single-occupancy vehicle users. In the case of NE 61st, we have an opportunity to improve safety for all traffic modes.

If you want to learn more, I’m leading a Pedalpalooza ride on Monday (6/17) to highlight the choices, investigate other proposed improvements and point to missing connections. PBOT representatives have promised to join us as we circle the station and climb the ridge.

Maxing Access to the MAX, a 60s Adventure
Monday June 17th 5pm, leave 5:15
Normandale Park, near the restrooms
60s Clothing Encouraged

The public comment period for the NE Halsey project closes June 24th, so let’s use this opportunity to get it right!

See you in the streets,

— Terry Dublinski-Milton

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23 Comments
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    John Lascurettes June 13, 2019 at 10:55 am

    A lift would be amazing. I shall not hold my breath.

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      Terry D-M June 13, 2019 at 11:04 am

      That is probably true, but at the mere mention of a lift to help those that are not fully abled excited Commissioner Eudaly when I saw here at Bicycle Advisory Committee. It could be added later.

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        John Lascurettes June 13, 2019 at 1:05 pm

        I’m liking Eudaly more and more as time goes on.

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          Shimran George June 13, 2019 at 2:26 pm

          I agree! I was a little too worried she was too radical in her views, but at least in terms of running PBOT she seems to be doing a good job!

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    CB June 13, 2019 at 11:25 am

    Awesome, thanks Terry for your advocacy! Looking forward to Monday!

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    Suburban June 13, 2019 at 12:30 pm

    This street (61st) may benefit from riders activating the Human Turned Funicular Unit, a device already attached to most bicycles. It’s great to see stakeholders, including young riders discovering this technology to make safer routes to school, satisfy through-put capacity, and multi-modality.

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    MTW June 13, 2019 at 1:48 pm

    A lift up the ridge would be fantasitc! My PM commute requires a climb up the ridge and I usually opt for the most direct (and also most challenging) Klickitat hill east of 33rd. It’s really draining and just generally not fun. But a lift at 61st? I’d travel out of my way to experience that.

    By the way, there’s not a ton of great ways to get up the ridge on foot either. Don’t get me wrong, I’m thankful for the stairs, but for those who can’t use stairs, the sidewalks up the hill (e.g. NE 47th) are really narrow.

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    Jim Lee June 13, 2019 at 2:03 pm

    Trondheim is a fine city, but Norse are so tough they really do not need assistance.

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    paikiala June 14, 2019 at 9:39 am

    The bike lift in Norway is on a curve?

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      Chris I June 14, 2019 at 12:51 pm

      It is not, and a bike lift would not work here for obvious reasons.

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    Eric Porter June 14, 2019 at 3:20 pm

    This is always fun to ride down, but not up. I think it’s time we start slicing into all that nice , underutilized Rose City Golf Course real estate and add a nice multi-use path up the hill through the park from the top of NE 62nd. Seems like a great solution to me.

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      Toby Keith June 16, 2019 at 8:20 pm

      Why? NE 72nd drive already is a nice easy hill right up the middle of the course to NE Sacramento.

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      Sam June 17, 2019 at 2:44 pm

      I agree with Eric and add that 62nd is much wider than 61st. From Rose City Park, I think a few switchbacks could be carved off the existing path right next to the existing steps. What if this was rolled up with the proposed park improvements?

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    Mark smith June 17, 2019 at 9:40 pm

    The area in question is a literal pedestrian ghost town bordered by slowly turning over single family homes overpriced to the point that most people living there drive. Zone the whole area mutli family 5 level and let me know. That’s the missing ingredient here.

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    Terry D-M June 18, 2019 at 7:14 am

    I want to thank the nearly two dozen riders who came yesterday to the Tabor Trail ride, and especially PBOT for listening. After nearly 300 feet of climbing and many discussions the final consensus is that the protected one way climb up 61st is the superior choice, even without a lift. 62nd south of Glisan and 60th North both have one block if 12% grade, 61st is at 11%.

    the 62nd MUP is a nice idea, but it is out of our price range at this time, particularly because of ADA grade requirements. In the time we chatted at 61/Sacramento we saw several riders using 61st as in each direction. For Madison High Students, this will be a nice route timed to be done before the rebuilt school reopens. Overall, a great fun wonky ride that really accomplished something useful, I hope.

    Please comment in favor before the 24th! Happy Pedalpalooza and see you in the streets!

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      Michelle Neidiger October 4, 2019 at 7:59 am

      Hi Terry D-M,

      So let me get this reworded: you believe we should not invest our combined tax money for the benefit of all of Portland’s citizens? Do you understand that 1/4 of our population has a disability?

      This is a terrible idea, Terry. Not only is this against federal law, but this is also an entitlted, myopic ableist perspective shared by about .5% of 6% of our population who is using this area for commute biking.

      If PBOT does this, they are directly negating the work Portland City Council says they are committed to change as part of the Office of Community & Civic Life.

      I am embarrassed to have you as my neighbor.

      https://www.portlandoregon.gov/civic/article/383361

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        Terry D-M October 4, 2019 at 8:25 am

        Hm,

        Just so you are aware, the vast majority of the cost of this project is the reconstruction of stoplights (close to $1 million). This is to improve AUTOMOBILE connections and to move the 71 bus more efficiently. The other project that eats up a significant amount of cost is the sidewalk expansion to access the MAX station. That costs millions as well. All these improvements are for the benefit of everyone, particularly the disabled.

        So, you seem to be irrationally lashing out about the smallest part of the project in cost, which will provide a safe route to school for Madison High School. The vast cost helps auto drivers, bus riders and walkers/ wheelchair users accessing the MAX. The bike elements though lowest in cost, will have the largest impact in lowering carbon emissions long term and provide safety benefits to local children.

        If you don’t believe, ask the project manager for a cost break down, or are you afraid of real Data?

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        Terry D-M October 4, 2019 at 8:33 am

        I am also meeting someone today about bike access on TriMet. She uses A trike for her disability, as do many of her social group who also bike with Disabilities. Thus I wonder what misconceptions and stereotypes you have about the disabled. I also have friends disabled by chronic disease where biking, safely, is a prescription to mitigate side effects. Long term HIV for instance, Constant low impact exercise is needed to keep side effects under control. Biking is one excellent choice.

        Thus it is obvious to me that you just irrationally dislike bikes, or maybe you need to look past your own life experience. We live in city where everyone’s needs are different.

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    C. A. Gullikson June 20, 2019 at 3:41 pm

    Thank you for your efforts in adding sorely-needed bike infrastructure to our neighborhood! (I live in Madison South.) I agree with the your thoughts on the one-way climb up 61st. I walk on that street pretty frequently and very rarely do I see cars using it.

    Sorry I missed your ride! I’m submitting comments to PBOT right now.

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    Michelle Neidiger October 5, 2019 at 12:39 pm

    Got It, Terry D-M in Tabor,

    When you write dozens of posts on something you think is correct in your small myopic world, (and isn’t even your street) it is helpful, true, and rational. But when a woman with an equally valid and more succinct counter viewpoint speaks out in a couple of posts; it is lashing out and irrational. More reason to be very embarrassed for you. Please. Hush. You do not speak for all. I did not ask you any questions. Mediator, please do not post further comments from this person. He has had more than enough time to speak, and now he is just being discourteous and snide.

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    Michelle Neidiger October 5, 2019 at 1:32 pm

    BTW Terry, I am sure you meanies will not even read this and believe I am on some rant BUT.

    Just so you are aware, stop mansplaining an issue I am well aware of and have been actively involved in improving since 2006.

    The sidewalks at NE 60th were cut back and narrowed to make way for emergency vehicles. The impact of this decision greatly devalued these small single starter home properties and made this neighborhood within Rose City Park less desirable. This along with the inferior air quality due to multiple pollution sources and the north prevailing winds; the area has become neglected when it comes to funding. 60th ave has mostly rented 2nd homes that have only recently become a ‘desirable’ development area. The air quality issues are a serious challenge. The zoning was RH until the 2016 adopted changes in the comp plan.

    These sidewalks are not ADA compliant. I SEE people in wheelchairs having to go into the street to get to the MAX station. It is also still not a very wide street. You can find the ADT numbers here (the last data was gathered in 2015)
    https://pdx.maps.arcgis.com/apps/webappviewer/index.html?id=7ce8d1f5053141f1bc0f5bd7905351e6

    And here is the pocket book to understanding that data: https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/policyinformation/pubs/pl18027_traffic_data_pocket_guide.pdf

    If you do an extensive search, the 60th Ave area has had few city-funded improvements since 1986 when the first MAX lines were constructed. Portland funded and installed the first crosswalk beacon at the MAX station / I-84 onramp in 2014. The last street paving project was in ~2005.

    Now, are you implying tax dollars shouldn’t be funding sidewalks in general? Or accessible sidewalks for all people, because walking is secondary to .5% of an entitled able group of people to bike a hill?

    Because the spending is getting split with bike and signal improvements, these sidewalks still will not meet current development codes for safe walking or other neighborhood enhancement funding that goes into almost 80% of other projects in this City.

    These sidewalks have been pulled out of the funding priority for a decade and that money has been used to create that lovely bike infrastructure you like to use. It connects 70% of the city now. Biking numbers were at 8% in 2010, and have decreased and remained flat at 6% for 5 years. The population increases ~10,000 / yr and the average car to person ratio in Portland stands at 1.5 per person. (up from 1.3). Like it or not, People are driving.

    So get mad at the City, get educated, listen, and stop being so rude. I walk and my husband bikes. He completely disagrees with you, too.

    It is well known The Kids, that you speak for, use 72nd Ave. Stop stating your skewed opinions as if you know the facts.

    Here is a memo from 2011 that talks about the issues the neighborhood has been trying to have improved (and are finally getting the funding).
    http://www.portlandonline.com/shared/cfm/image.cfm?id=349940

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    Terry D-M October 5, 2019 at 2:23 pm

    I know all of this as well, as I have been in the neighborhood since 2003 and followed this every step of the way. I support all parts of the project, ESPECIALLY SIdewalks. I would prefer removing parking and added full 12 foot sidewalks with bioswales, but due to water supply lines the bureau said no. The cost would be high, but it would be better than free parking used by commuters. Yes bikes take 72nd, but why not 61st as well since Evey half mile is a basic needed density of bikeways. 28th, 41st, 53rd, 61st, 72nd. About every half mile, a bikeway for everyone. Choices are just that, choices. You don’t have to right to deny neighbors choices on a street system owned by the public Sector. It is not your street, nor is it mine.

    Plus, Why would you not want bike access to the MAX station. It is the ONLY station from downtown to the end of the line without bike access once the east Halsey and the 82nd MAX connection is built. Why is the 60th MAX special? Riders and rollers in your neighborhood deserve the same access as the rest of the city.

    You have been wanting so long I am not sure what you are opposed to other than “bikes.” Feel free to insult me more if it makes you feel better, but I’m done responding.

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    Michelle Neidiger October 7, 2019 at 8:00 am

    Terry, Good, Finally, Please be quiet and hold your comments. Stop clutching your pearls. You insulted me.

    You said,
    Thus I wonder what misconceptions and stereotypes you have about the disabled. I also have friends.

    I LIVE WITH my father who has had a mobile disability for 30 years. MY NEIGHBOR is deaf. I WORK and CONSULT on UNIVERSAL DESIGN solutions on Commerical structures for SENIORS and HOSPITALS to be BUILT for all. My specialty is for LIGHTING and SIGNAGE practices for the vision impaired.

    Shut up. YOU do NOT know. YOU assume.

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