“We feel it’s an opportunity to expand how we use our streets and it moves the active transportation conversation forward.”
— Brian Potwin, Commute Options
Portland transportation leaders have shared a number of reasons why it’s still not the time to make any changes to our streets. Meanwhile, other cities are moving forward. The latest one is just over the Cascades.
Bend launched their “Stay Healthy Streets” program today. It’s a devilishly simply approach that takes advantage of easy-to-implement traffic calming measures on six miles of streets. They are placing traffic cones and barricades on neighborhood streets to encourage people to drive slower, more safely, and avoid the streets unless they live on them. Starting tomorrow they’ll deploy lower speed limit signs, signs that caution drivers about the presence of people walking, and printed maps of the network.(Implementation began today with traffic cones reducing the space for driving. (Photos by Ariel Méndez)
Six miles doesn’t sound like a lot, but they were chosen strategically to leverage connections to 22 miles of trails and 13 parks and natural areas where people can find even more places to get fresh air while staying physically distant from one another.
According to Bend Parks and Recreation District Director Ariel Méndez, “The network is being rolled out gradually as materials, staff (and some volunteer) help permits.”
The effort is a partnership between the City of Bend, the Bend Parks and Recreation District and Commute Options, a nonprofit.
Here’s more from the City of Bend:
“These pop-up neighborhood greenway streets will have temporary restrictions of through-traffic and are located on neighborhood greenway routes that are either already constructed, were planned for construction later this summer/fall, or are on the city’s planned network of neighborhood greenways.
This pop up method allows rapid deployment of several of the City’s Stay Healthy Streets Neighborhood Greenway routes. The deployment will be supported with a map of the routes, some temporary “Road Closed to Through Traffic” signs, and the use of traffic cones to create temporary traffic calming. The goal of this effort is to increase physical distancing by increasing available recreational routes and access to trails and parks within the community.
The existing Neighborhood Greenways on NE 6th and NW 15th Streets support safe physical activity. By extending the reach of those existing routes through strategic extensions, the city can create more space for physical distancing. The expanded network of neighborhood greenways will be supported by limiting these routes to local traffic only so that people can more comfortably walk, jog and bike.”
Brian Potwin is the executive director of Bend-based Commute Options, a nonprofit that does education and encouragement around active transportation. “We saw the opportunity and Oakland is the example that really popped out in our eyes,” he told me in an interview today. Potwin spearheaded Bend’s Open Streets events (like Portland Sunday Parkways), so when he emailed his City Manager and Mayor about doing something similar, they understood right away. Potwin said Stay Healthy Streets took about two weeks from initial conversations to cones on the ground. “We’re extremely happy with how swiftly the city has responded to this.”
Méndez says the city has agreed to fund the (relatively low-cost) changes on a temporary basis until May 31, “At which point city council will have to supply funding for additional signs or they get reclaimed for road construction projects.”
And while the City of Bend will see the network as an emergency measure to be kept in place only until Governor Kate Brown lifts the current stay-home order, Potwin, the nonprofit leader, hopes this is just the beginning. “We feel it’s an opportunity to expand how we use our streets and it moves the active transportation conversation forward.”
Learn more about the program at the official website.
In related news: Milan, Italy announced an ambitious plan to reduce driving on their streets after the shutdown is lifted. According to The Guardian, “(22 miles) of streets will be transformed over the summer, with a rapid, experimental citywide expansion of cycling and walking space to protect residents as Covid-19 restrictions are lifted.”
— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and email@example.com
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Too bad we’re not a big city like Bend. That could never happen in Portland. /s
If you want to turn your frustration into action, I encourage you to join our campaign to get the city to build emergency bike lanes on Hawthorne (with the goal of eventually replicating their success on other streets): https://www.facebook.com/groups/betterhawthorne/
Thanks for the heads-up. Added.
Looks like more than the 6 locations suggested in the “bold” plan.
Yes, but how many city workers died of Covid19 while placing those cones?
Yes Bend shows us (Portland, Vancouver WA, Honolulu, etc.) that innovation can come in small city packages!
Uh, there is mountain biking in Bend too. Far more important than your wishes. The streets are empty and you can ride as much as you want. Too bad you ALL think cars impede that. Folks going the wrong way on bridges and device junkies are a far worse issue. Oh, but you can’t navigate without your rechargeable “brain”.
I’m glad we agree that device junkies driving cars are a big problem.
“We’re extremely happy with how swiftly the city has responded to this.”
Must be nice.
The city of bend is famous for saying something is temporary, then leaving it permanent. People are tired of being directed in and out doors bc of this virus…and now youre directing where to drive. When does this stop? The streets are fine. Why fix it when its not broken? I dont think there will be a good response to this as people in general are real REAL tired of being directed at this point of what they cant do and cant do. Isnt something better to spend our tax money on?
Those cones do look very expensive.
That’s pretty wild they didn’t direct people where to drive before. A world where I can drive my 17-seat SUV on any patch of unoccupied space sounds like paradise.
I agree! I’m sick of big gubbmint trying to “direct” traffic. I’m sick of them telling me what side of the road I have to drive on! I’m sick of being told where I am driving is “technically” a playground. I DONT SEE ANYONE PLAYING
I realize I’m about the last person who should be flying the “offence” flag, but I find the mocking of people’s words by associating them with rural people (with the suggestion that people who don’t live in cities are unsophisticated or even stupid) to be offensive.
I find it interesting that some folks here are quick to get upset over other less direct slurs, but this one tends to pass by unremarked upon. Maybe because y’all think it’s true?
That sounds like appropriation to me.
I’m a kitty. All human speech is an appropriation.
As someone who was born and raised, and spent most of my life in the country, I can assure you its not a slur.
I think I understand what you mean (rural folks tend to be more conservative than urban folks), an assertion I don’t find objectionable, but it’s the use of the word “gubbmint” to express that that offends my feline sensibilities.
If you are searching for a reason to be offended, don’t be surprised when you always find one!
What I find interesting is that slurs that generally support the group’s biases get a pass. You’re hardly the first person to say this, and yet I can only recall once when anyone even commented on it (and that might not have even been on this site).
As for me, I’d like to see more tolerance and forgiveness and understanding and less outrage and finger-pointing and piling on… but what do I know?
The streets are not fine. People are driving too fast on them, especially now with traffic lower (and perhaps a few drivers getting nutso from stress). At least in my state, traffic deaths have doubled since the lockdown, despite traffic volumes being cut in half. THis is the perfect time to apply calming measures, and with reduced volumes they will have very little effect on people’s commute times – assuming they’re driving at a reasonable speed in the first place.
Bend: ‘On your left, Portland!’
Still voting Chlöe, damnit. Single mom. Small business owner. Elected female person. Dedicated bus lane advocate. Being willing to try a thing is at least half of politics.
So despite her being a complete failure at her job, you want to give her another term because she is a single mom?
There are plenty of capable mothers and women running for various positions in local government without needing to vote for someone who has shown a complete and total disregard for anyone not in a car.
It’s a qualification. Running a business, paying employees and rent on a shop while being the person in charge of your kid? Maybe you have children. If not, there’s no way you would understand the challenge of being a parent, sole proprietor of a business, and being elected to office all at once.
Those qualifications are great in the absence of other information, and may be why so many of us voted for her in 2016. Now we have direct data about how Eudaly performs in the role of Commissioner, however, so we don’t need to look for proxies for performance. We can look at how she actually does the job.
If, like me, you want your leaders to listen to their constituents without deriding them, or to build good working relationships with their fellow commissioners, or generally act like a grownup, all while promoting non-motorized transportation, then you should look at one of the many alternative candidates who might do all of these things better.
There’s a lot I like about Eudaly, but she fails most of the basic tests of being a good fit for the job.
But she’s completely failed at the job she was elected to do. We’ve seen how her “qualifications” have played out. It’s objectively more dangerous to exist as a pedestrian, cyclist AND motorist in Portland today than it was when she took office.
She had her chance and blew it. Lots of people raise kids and run businesses, that doesn’t mean they are particularly effective at running a massive agency. And to be honest, her main problem is that she has shown zero interest or initiative in making Portland less car dependent. Her managerial skills are certainly not her biggest flaw.
My bad, I read your last sentence wrong. Disregard for anyone not in a car? That seems like an odd characterization. Is she running around a 2 AM putting tacks in bike lanes and I just missed the story?
Wouldn’t it be nice if we measured people by the content of their character, and not their gender?
>>> Chlöe <<<
Is she a metal band?
There has been zero publicity over here in Bend about this. At least, if there has, I missed it. I read the local newspaper, the local TV stations’ websites, etc and no coverage. Citizens over here don’t like surprises like this and have almost no trust in either the City Transportation or ODOT. ODOT’s record over here is beyond horrible, killing thousands of trees with poison, and building an overpass that had to be torn down due to faulty design.
I want to correct myself. There was a piece on last night’s TV news. I missed it and they rebroadcast it this morning.
Don’t rely solely on local media for Bend news, especially when the City has such a strong Communications team. The City does a great job of communicating and engaging for all those truly interested. Use these resources if you want to stay informed:
Looks like a start, but no E/W connection. Get on your bike and ride…”The Streets belong to the People!”
“Six miles doesn’t sound like a lot, but they were chosen strategically to leverage connections to 22 miles of trails and 13 parks”
As much as attention to biking and handing asphalt over to human powered transport is great, the continued and predictable official equation of cycling with recreation is ill considered, should be avoided when possible. Biking is and must be so much more than recreation.
You and I will disagree on this point forever, but I will add that trails and parks can be used for more than recreation. Especially in Bend.
The practical matter of how someone might use the trail is not really pertinent to my argument. We all know when we hear /parks/ and /trails/ and /bikes/ in the same sentence which side our toast is buttered on.
My concern remains that in the world we live in where biking (=recreation, kids) must still after all these decades contend for legitimacy, prioritization, funding in the public realm with the auto (=taking care of business, adults) reifying this 1970s distinction works against us, against biking-as-transportation.
A lot of people aren’t working right now, or are working from home. Recreational riding might be the only option, unless you want to ride to a closed office.
A lot of people aren’t working, but I and a few others, are. I live in North Portland, and work in Hillsboro. Until my fitness increases to the point of being able to ride up Saltzman and commute 45 miles round trip a few days a week, I bike to the MAX downtown. The lower steel bridge crossing is empty at 5:30 in the morning, but is not socially distanced at all at night. I tried the upper deck of the steel a few times, but more people are catching on, so I have to stop and be passed by other speedy cyclists on that narrow sidewalk. I guess I could take the Broadway bridge, or get off the MAX at Rose Quarter, but I enjoy the extra bit of distance.
Williams is also a bit crowded at times, and it would be nice to ride up 7th without cars racing me to stop signs or tailgating me going up the hills.
To directly respond, commuting and recreation are both abundantly necessary by bike right now. Placing temporary endcaps on alternating north/south blocks on existing greenways (7th, 9th, etc.) would help divert traffic to Williams, MLK, 15th, etc. This doesn’t seem too hard to put in place…
I was responding to a quote directly about Bend in this particular case of the pandemic-induced shutdown.
Hey Kathy, I am sure you will be fine with the 99.99 percent of roads left.
Having bike commuted in Eugene, Corvallis, Portland, and now Bend for 12 years, y’all are making me smirk when reading comments in bikeportland that have some envy of us up here.
Terrible idea. Nobody is going to care about these signs, and all these cones do is make driving through kinda sketchy. Get these cones outta here!