“Pilot extended sidewalks using temporary materials along Civic Corridors, Pedestrian Districts, parks, grocery stores and other essential services.”
— Bike Loud PDX
Among the many things that have been paused with the COVID-19 outbreak is the glint of momentum for bicycling advocacy in Portland. At the start of 2020 it felt like we might actually become a cycling-focused town again. PBOT Commissioner Chloe Eudaly had just assigned a top staffer to monitor the Bicycle Advisory Committee and local nonprofit Bike Loud PDX had matured into a stable and effective advocacy group.
Fresh off a successful effort to breathe life into the moribund 2030 Bike Plan, Bike Loud was starting to hit their stride. Fortunately the grassroots group (still with no paid staff) is alive and well.
Portland’s other cycling advocacy group, The Street Trust, is navigating “huge financial impacts” according to Executive Director Jillian Detweiler. But that hasn’t stopped them from continuing to be of service to the community.
On that note, both groups have something to say about making streets social distancing compliant.
Bike Loud PDX just released a list of actions they’d like to see the City of Portland take to respond to the pandemic. The asks come as PBOT Commissioner Chloe Eudaly remains unsure about what to do (if anything) to adapt to the drastic shift in mode split and usage behaviors we’ve seen in the past month.
Below is Bike Loud’s full statement:
While we understand Commissioner Eudaly’s concerns about encouraging people to congregate in streets outside, it is undeniable that many people are biking, walking, and running on streets and sidewalks for transportation to essential services and recreation. Knowing that staying at home in this stage of the pandemic response is crucial, we think it is also important to keep those who must go outside safe and at the same time prepare for the next stage of the pandemic, when restrictions are eased.
We do want to emphasize that the situation is changing rapidly. These priorities that we have outlined may not be the priorities we have in a week from now, or even a few days depending on how things unfold. However, we are positive that Portland will emerge from this pandemic a stronger, more united community. We hope we can do our part.
What Bike Loud PDX is asking for right now:
That the Mayor and Commissioners secure funding through the [federal] CARES Act to make sure our partner organizations do not falter in this time of tremendous need.
That Commissioner Eudaly move forward with the contract negotiations for expanded Biketown bike share, including a wider service area and e-bikes.
That Mayor Wheeler work with the Portland Police Bureau Bike Theft Task Force to donate unclaimed bikes to The Street Trust, Community Cycling Center, Bikes for Humanity, and other local bike shops and community-based organizations to get bikes to people that need them.
That Commissioner Eudaly work with PBOT to move to low-cost pilots for East Portland in Motion (EPIM), Central City in Motion (CCIM), Southwest in Motion (SWIM), and Northwest in Motion (NWIM) projects using temporary materials, including paint, posts, and construction materials.
That Commissioner Eudaly to move forward with her proposed Greenways Project, which would include system-wide traffic-calming and diversion along our Neighborhood Greenways.
That Commissioner Eudaly and PBOT to pilot extended sidewalks using temporary materials along Civic Corridors [a Comprehensive Plan designation], Pedestrian Districts [a Comprehensive Plan designation], around parks, grocery stores and other essential services.
“Eliminate parking on one side of some key streets where people need to access groceries and take out, and delineating that space with paint or cones.”
— Jillian Detweiler, The Street Trust
The Street Trust’s Detweiler doesn’t have as formal of a plan.
In recent emails, she shared with me that from what she’s seen neighborhood greenway traffic volumes are so low people have naturally taken over the street. “I don’t think the City needs be out there yesterday or today with interventions to divert traffic when they are stretched thin,” she shared. Detweiler wants to focus on how best to transition to more normal times. “It’s going to take awhile for people who who have cars to get over the recent aversion to transit not to mention reduced transit service. If we do more to make walking and biking viable alternatives maybe all those trips will not be in cars and we can retain a piece of one of the few benefits to come from this crisis.”
As for what PBOT might do in the near-term, Detweiler said a good place to focus would be the Alphabet District in northwest where she’s heard about “pedestrian congestion”. “My priority for any City response is to eliminate parking on one side of some key streets where people need to access groceries and take out, and delineating that space with paint or cones. There may be some other high density blocks like SE Division where this would be helpful.”
Detweiler also said The Street Trust has dozens of bikes that aren’t being used and is is considering a donation to people who need them.
— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and firstname.lastname@example.org
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