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Vancouver (Washington) council says yes to protected bike lanes, no to 393 parking spaces

Posted by on February 26th, 2020 at 4:38 pm

Existing conditions versus what was adopted on Monday night.

Project map.

“It was a very emotional evening,” Niche Wine Bar owner and longtime Vancouver (Washington) cycling advocate Leah Jackson shared in an email Tuesday morning that included a photo of a dog-eared project booklet dated December 2005.

On Monday, Vancouver City Council voted to support a plan for protected bike lanes on Columbia Street. They did so knowing their decision would impact 393 auto parking spaces.

Known most recently as the Westside Bike Mobility Project, the plan aims to improve cycling access on Vancouver’s key north-south corridor. Columbia Street connects residential neighborhoods to downtown, Esther Short Park, and the I-5 bridge to Portland. When I biked on Columbia with resident Ben Sanders in 2015 he said, “It’s a bike street, but it’s also a car street.”

By the end of next year, Columbia will become much more of a bike street.

According to City of Vancouver Principal Transportation Planner Jennifer Campos, Monday’s vote endorsed a plan that will create about 3.5 miles of protected bike lanes and a host of other upgrades to the existing bikeway between the I-5 bridge and NW 45th Street.

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Here’s the breakdown:
– E Mill Plain Blvd to 45th: Protected bike lanes in both directions
– 13th to Mill Plain: Buffered bike lane northbound, sharrows southbound
– 8th-13th: Protected bike lanes in both directions
– Columbia Way – 8th: Existing bike lanes to remain and improvements made to shared use path

The most eye-popping fact about the plan? The space to build the new protected bike lanes comes by re-distributing what is currently used as 393 auto parking spaces. Yes, our neighbors to the north just vanquished 393 parking spaces on a key corridor in the name of safer streets.

Slides from council presentation. They chose Alternative 1.

What makes the vote even more noteworthy is councilors could have endorsed a compromise option that would have maintained parking on one side and “taken away” only 223 parking spaces.

The lede from The Columbian newspaper coverage puts a fine point on what happened:

Vancouver will move forward with a plan to install protected bike lanes along Columbia Street and remove nearly 400 parking spaces, following a near-consensus from the city council that pedestrian and cyclist safety was more important than maintaining convenient parking along the corridor.

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Leah Jackson’s proof of how long it took to get this victory.

Leah Jackson was at the City Council meeting Monday night and could not fight off tears. She and other advocates worried council members would only support a watered-down option that would have kept the parking lane and opted for sharrows instead.

“We in the cycling community were very afraid… [the compromise option] would have been a big hit to safety,” Jackson shared.

Jackson has fought for better bicycling in Vancouver for many years. After this project ran into strong opposition last year, City Council said more public outreach was needed. Jackson joined the citizen’s advisory committee and spent the last six months in meetings.

“I am not going to lie, I cried as some of them [council members] made their statements in support of safety and street equity,” Jackson shared. “Leaving council chambers Monday night I felt appreciated, respected and valued. As a business owner I am delighted to see us take a step toward safe, multimodal transportation.”

The new bikeway will be implemented as part of repaving projects this year and next. It will be completed by the end of 2021.

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and jonathan@bikeportland.org
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Alan 1.0turnipsSummersongClark in Vancouver (BC)gilly Recent comment authors
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Stephen Keller
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Stephen Keller

Way to go Vancouver! We frequently travel through the west side on recreational rides. This will make way easier to stop for lunch in that area. Dollars in the community.

Champs
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Champs

Still some inertia, though. Columbia is more physically challenging than other alignments but is already established as *the* route and closer to the waterfront they’re developing.

Some people would call that pragmatism. Of course if we’re on that, then the city’s helmet law could stand review.

curly
Subscriber
curly

I actually took my bike to work today and rode from the Fort Vancouver area to the waterfront. My first ride in the ‘Couv since I started working there last April.
An East Portland resident and an avid cyclist, I see the commuters on the Glenn Jackson bridge daily. A HUGE shout out for those who ride the bridge! A loud, dirty, gorgeous ride (the view of Mt. Hood is amazing).
Congratulations Leah! I still have 25 year old plans for East Portland. Many of which have yet to be built.

Matt Hattie
Guest
Matt Hattie

400 spots so a few people can ride their bikes is a not a good trade off.

mh
Subscriber

Someone please educate me on why we Portlanders feel superior. City Hall, PBOT, STOP BEING SO FEARFUL.

Todd Boulanger
Guest
Todd Boulanger

Yes this is great news. A long community discussion through 3 eras of bikeway design (nothing lane, down [& up] hill sharrows & now protected. But I do want to clarify what the Columbian “mis”reported: this plan does not actually remove the ability of 400 car drivers from storing their personal car property on these streets, since there were less than 30 drivers using the curbzone on the 1+ miles north of 22nd Street. The side streets, alley and driveways can accommodate the demand. There are more daily cyclists on this portion of the corridor than parkers. (Just look at Google and Strava.) Plus this street lost its bus line last year. So cycling became the solution.

And this was the vision and opportunity that Council embraced.

Dan Bolton
Guest
Dan Bolton

It’s good to see that the city of Vancouver Washington is taking steps toward responsible human transportation safety. I would say however it is a bit short compared to it’s increasing population size. After experiencing forty years of Vancouver’s aggressive drivers and haphazard sprawl I moved North to wide shoulders (even in the countryside), generally lowered speed limits (even in the countryside),and the Olympic Discovery Trail. The best part of this region is that people of varying ages use the resource!

Facts
Guest
Facts

Nationally, 0.6 percent of workers commute by bike.

Gene Presler
Guest
Gene Presler

If this bad idea becomes a bad Vancouver WA bad idea, and a Hough Neighborhood bad idea, and Columbia Street becomes a bike lane not well utilized…will they return the 400 parking spaces back to the city taxpayers? Newspaper they also said these lanes would be used for electric vehicles . One of the bonehead councilors wants electric golf carts housed at Clark College and rented out so people can enjoy the waterfront .

Vonda Roberson
Guest
Vonda Roberson

Another waste of taxpayer money.

Robyn
Guest
Robyn

This is bad idea. I’m happy for the movement towards safer commutes for everyone, BUT a very large majority of us do NOT commute via bicycle. Plus, the number of disabled (myself included)out number the cyclists by another large margin and the loss of ALL parking along those streets is a huge impact to their ability to reach those businesses. The businesses will suffer some losses as well as by nature most people don’t care to put in extra effort when there’s more conveniently accessible establishments elsewhere. In my opinion, the compromise option of keeping parking on one side would have been better for both the public and businesses alike.

Mike Bolton
Guest
Mike Bolton

This is appalling. So, as a motorist, I am forced to pay taxes to support the roads, supports transit, and NOW SUPPORT BICYCLISTS! I think its high time bicycles had to pay a 500 dollar fee to have a plate and be on the roadways. They should also be required to carry insurance, wear a helmet, and a safety vest.

Mike Bolton
Guest
Mike Bolton

This commenter has been put on the blacklist because of inappropriate comments. They can still comment but must be approved by me first. Please keep it civil folks. — Jonathan

Sergey S Melnik
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Sergey S Melnik

So are the bicyclists going to pay for this? Are the bicyclists going to be required to have registration, insurance, and a license plate? I have no issue with biking and bicyclists but this road is already built and done. I would totally understand if this was a brand new road and they were deciding whether to bike lanes in but this road is done and now the corrupted city is gonna retrofit bike lanes at the expense of 393 lanes. What a joke. The traffic and lack of parking is already bad but we have to cater to these bicycle snowflakes.

cmh89
Guest
cmh89

Haha where did this article get linked from? Lots of crazy conservatives spamming that I’m quite certain don’t normally read a Bike blog. Poor fellers, sad that OLive shut down the comment section?

and cmh89, how does your comment help the situation? It doesn’t. It only makes things worse. A good comment sections takes all of us working together. Please think twice before leaving comments like this in the future. Thanks. — Jonathan

turnips
Guest
turnips

exciting stuff. I hope it improves the odds of getting a USBRS route through Vancouver and Portland. there’s a decent connection to the Burnt Bridge Creek Greenway and Fruit Valley, which is an acceptable (though certainly not exceptional) route north. there will still be a significant gap, but plans for the Six Rivers Trail in Cowlitz County are slowly gaining steam.

I ride the whole length of Columbia once a week or so. looking forward to the change.

MIKE BOLTON
Guest
MIKE BOLTON

***Portion of comment deleted because it referred to physical violence and included inappropriate insults. — Jonathan ***

pdx2wheeler
Subscriber

You know it’s a good thing for cyclists when people who drive motor vehicles are going bananas about it. Please welcome the new folks here as they enjoy their banana before us!

MIKE BOLTON
Guest
MIKE BOLTON

What most interesting about all those automobile stats being posted… is that the liberal snowflakes cry about how dangerous guns are… yet, guns are a protected right, and vehicles are a privilege… and liberals conveniently ignore the statistics that moror vehicles are FAR FAR FAR MORE DANGEROUS THAN GUNS… but bring them up when they want bicycles…
hypocrite much?

MIKE BOLTON
Guest
MIKE BOLTON

Nice to see the liberal echo chamber. So if people disagree they arent allowed their opinion…
Typical liberals. My response is a direct result of my vehicle being continually damaged by cyclists.

hotrodder
Guest
hotrodder

MIKE BOLTON
a direct result of my vehicle being continually damaged by cyclists.Recommended 0

Lots to ponder there……How who where why when?

Alan 1.0
Subscriber

Vancouver council, you’ve done me proud! Huge thanks to Leah, too…you’re an inspiration!

Seems like this will make driving easier for cars, as well as bike riding, since bikes will have their own lane and cars can slide by safely and smoothly while riders don’t have a door zone to avoid. (Northbound especially.)

Just curious, for comparison with those ~400 parking spaces, how many total public car parking places (street or structured) are in downtown Vancouver? (in other words, percent reduction) I have not had difficulty parking downtown, day or night.

Richard Yonce
Guest
Richard Yonce

It is just like people of our city that we trusted with there jobs to take away something from tax paying residents and give to a minority something that the tax payers. pay for with there taxes even if bike riders do pay taxes. it doesn’t give them any more right to take over our streets when taxes are paying for that inconvenience for the majority. In actuality it is a invasion of rights of others to feel secure in the decisions our city officials are making for us. Why not make a bike trail down along the freeway that goes all the way down to the river oh that might inconvenience the bicyclist right and you would not have to take anyone’s parking that is what they have done in the Seattle valley maybe we should take a lesson from them

Phil the biker
Guest
Phil the biker

Here’s the deal…the city of Vancouver was not honest with the citizens in their outreach, the data gathering was flawed, the Citizens Advisory Committee and the selection process was a joke and the council paid no attention to all of the neighborhood associations, businesses, historical preservation groups and veteran support associations asking that an alternative route be considered. The CAC came up with 5 very viable and safe routes that were actually selected as a preferred route over Columbia that removed fewer parking places…20 to 30 instead of 400…through cool neighborhoods with less traffic. As an avid biker and commuter, I think it is long overdue for the city to treat us as equals on the roads, however when there are less disruptive alternatives to historically significant neighborhoods, keeps us safe and gets everyone from poor A to point B, why create more of a problem where there really wasn’t one to begin with. When government moves forward with a heavy hand through a corrupt process that has zero transparency, one has to wonder what else is next…Trump part #2?
Bless us all because we will need it

anonymous
Guest
anonymous

I live along this corridor and while it is the obvious bike route, this entire plan has been both poorly reported and planned. The northern part of Columbia is entirely residential and has far too much traffic on it, largely from commuters trying to bypass I-5. The city refuses to put any kind of diverters or real speed impediments on the road. They are lowering the speed limit from 25 to 20, but people drive over 40 mph on it frequently and there is absolutely no speed enforcement. The refusal of the transportation planners to look at any real traffic calming is a serious problem that is no way addressed by this plan. Also, the vast majority of the removed parking “spaces” are not in downtown, but in residential areas to the north of it.

A lot of the residents along this are worried that is now creating a speed canyon for cars and will make it less safe for pedestrians in the affected neighborhoods. There’s also no protection against turning cars, backing from driveways, or exits from alleys which interrupt this lane every 50 feet in the northern part of it. The intersection at Fourth Plain has enormous numbers of cars turning right northbound and there has been no attempt to prevent them turning through the proposed bike lane, meaning this is wide open for a right hook collision.

The bike (and pedestrian) community would have been far better served by limiting traffic on Columbia and turning it into a neighborhood greenway on the northern half of this planned lane.

Allan Brettman
Guest
Allan Brettman

First-time commenter, long-time reader here. My comment: Hallelujah. OK, I have more to say than that. My house is a few blocks from the northern end of this 3.5-mile Columbia Street bicycling corridor. Has been since 1995. I commuted by bike much of the time when I worked in an office on Columbia near downtown Vancouver. Going forward, this will help ensure many more years of not owning a car. Thank you, Leah, and the Vancouver cycling community.

antonio rebensdorf
Guest
antonio rebensdorf

I live right off of 30th and Columbia, and I’m so excited for this. Columbia is in terrible shape, and the existing sharrows are a joke. There are a lot of angry residents that feel this is being imposed on them and it will be the “death of downtown “. Can’t wait to prove them wrong.

AJ
Guest
AJ

Jamie
“bicycles damage cars and just ride away”Mr Bolton,Hit and run automobile crashes resulted in over 2000 deaths in 2016. There have been an average of 682,000 hit-and-run crashes each year since 2006, and nearly 65 percent of people killed in hit-and-run crashes were pedestrians or bicyclists. (source: AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety) I have seen 3 hit and run crashes in my neighborhood personally over the last few years. I have been rear ended 3 times over the years by drivers with no insurance. I have never been hit by a person on a bicycle.“they ignore rules of the road, they ignore traffic signals,”Deaths caused by drivers running red lights reached a 10-year high in 2017. Over the past decade, 12.9 percent of those killed in Oregon by drivers running red-lights were pedestrians or cyclists. 28% of crash deaths that occur at signalized intersections are the result of a driver running through a red light.Even with the notoriously (negligently, if you ask me) lax enforcement of traffic laws in our state; Drivers, in the last 5 years still managed to rack up 30,671 DUIIs, 45,309 Seat Belt Violations, 64,500 Out of State Speeding Tickets, 72,032 instances of Using Cell Phone/Mobile Communication Device, 75,156 Driving Without a License/In Violation of Restrictions, 119,167 Driving Uninsured, 123,799 Violation of the Basic Rule(!), 185,406 Failure to Obey Traffic Control Device, 187,387 Driving While Suspended or Revoked; and nearly a half a million (425,195) Speeding tickets.But, please tell me more about your hurt feelings because someone on a bicycle passed you while you were stuck in traffic.Recommended 24

Comment of the week!!!

MIKE BOLTON
Guest
MIKE BOLTON

As all the dbag demirats say… RESIST! Keep patting each other on the back, seems you want a street war, like what happened in capital hill after the pedophile gay bike loving former mayor of Seattle forced bike lanes… thats fine. Im safe in a 80k lb truck… good luck.

Todd Boulanger
Guest
Todd Boulanger

Mike Bolton: as a former dump truck operator, I have to say, that is some impressive personal truck you are describing…80,000 lbs. If its not a commercial cab and trailer then its a super hum dinger of an SUV. I can see why a block of parking spaces is important to you. I know you must them be paying 10x the road fees that a normal family SUV pays.

Clark in Vancouver (BC)
Guest
Clark in Vancouver (BC)

I want to thank Mike Bolton for illustrating the need for this project. He’s showing that there are people with big trucks who hope that people get mowed down.

Summersong
Guest
Summersong

At the point of upsetting some folks, I did not support this bike lane.

I commute by bike almost every day with my four children on a cargo bike. My oldest is just learning how to bike, but is not road ready yet. I used to bike in this area every single day on Columbia coming from Orchards (NE of Vancouver), west outside of city limits, and eventual south on Columbia to the I-5 bridge. Full disclosure, I don’t regularly bike in this area often anymore, but from what I see, conditions are similar to what they were when I did. Despite the steadily increasing population, most of the area affected is higher middle income single family housing.

With that background, I have two main objections to the project: necessity and equality.

For necessity, I don’t really fell this specific area of town is unsafe for biking. I’ve biked Columbia in morning rush hour traffic, evening rush hour traffic, and several times at 1:30 in the morning. If you feel like going down Columbia is unsafe with it’s thin traffic and speeds of 25 mph, there are even calmer streets parallel to Columbia and also 25 mph. One such street, Daniels, passes by two different elementary schools. There was a route on the table that increased the bike infrastructure for Daniels instead of Columbia that took less parking, increased access for the most vulnerable of bike riders, but included a jog in the route for riders coming from or going to the I-5 bridge.

For equality, the very first thought that came to mind when I did the initial survey for this project was, why of all areas are they putting bike infrastructure in here? The answer is that every single one of Vancouver City Councilmembers (who had the finally call for this project) live here instead of the other side of town where there is a more dire need of bike facilities. It’s not that the needs of east Vancouver aren’t known, they’re just always passed up for funding for more projects on the west side. If I want to go anywhere along 112th Ave (the road where two young men recently lost their lives on an area that DOESN’T EVEN HAVE A SIDEWALK), I have to either walk on the sidewalk if there is one, or bike a half mile to several miles out of my way taking a number of side streets that wind and curve and are impossible to remember without directions. There is another road, NE 136/137th that has a bike lane for a large portion to the north and south, but inexplicably has none in the middle of a narrow two lane section with no shoulder and 40 mph speeds. If I want to go further east to Camas (or to go to my dr office or Costco) I would have to either go literally miles out of my way to travel on safe roads, or once again travel on narrow shoulder less roads. City council is FINALLY extending the bike lane on NE 1st street out until NE 177th ave, but it’s not going to NE 192nd Ave (which has extensive bike lanes) until funding happens who knows when.

Anyway, City Council did do two things that I felt were positive after a year of debating and commissions: they plan on lowering the speed limit to 20 mph on Columbia and they have decided not to trash up Vancouver’s historical part of town with those horrible white plastic poles. Some very nice sounding alternatives are on the table that would better match the area and hopefully not anger the neighbors anymore than they are.

TLDR City Council, please fund some bike lanes on the east side. You know the ones.