It’s another paving project from the City of Portland that comes with changes to cycling facilities. And it’s another project where the bike lanes will be outdated from the moment the paint on the new striping is dry.
The Portland Bureau of Transportation announced today they will begin the North Denver Avenue paving project on Tuesday of next week (9/3). As part of their Fixing our Streets program that uses funds from a voter-approved gas tax increase in 2016, PBOT will spend $1.9 million on new pavement from North Lombard to Watts.
In addition to smooth pavement, the project comes with updates aimed at making crossings and bike lanes safer. “These upgrades,” PBOT wrote in a statement today, “will also improve safety conditions by adding safer pedestrian crossings and improving the existing bike lanes… and will include new striping and refuge islands at N Russet, Terry, and Watts streets as well as the widening of preexisting refuge islands.”
Initial plans called for a more robust parking-protected bike lane. There was strong community support for the protected lanes, given how much people like them on nearby North Rosa Parks Way. But for reasons we still don’t fully understand or agree with, PBOT opted for these less-safe, unprotected lanes that will provide only marginal improvement over what exists today.
This seems like yet another example of PBOT making a significant compromise in the safety of the most vulnerable road users because of “concerns” from a small number of adjacent residents. In a December 2018 letter, PBOT Project Manager Geren Shankar acknowledged that most people he heard from wanted the parking protected lanes. However, because some neighbors complained about the lanes’ impacts to parking and garbage roll-cart access, PBOT backed away from the design, “In the interest of moving forward with the needed paving maintenance.”
PBOT has said they could still switch to a parking-protected design in a future project. But it’s unclear when that might happen.
This project is expected to be completed by October 1st.
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