The Portland Parks and Recreation bureau is nearing completion of a master plan that will dictate a new design for the South Park Blocks.
The planning area is 12-block stretch of downtown between Southeast Salmon and Jackson. The goal is to create a “safe, accessible and welcoming” space for all users — including bicycle riders. Existing conditions on these blocks are dominated by car users who will find a lot of space devoted to on-street parking and lanes in both directions and no bike lanes or dedicated bike paths. The draft plan reveals significant upgrades for bike riding that will be in line with using this route as part of the Green Loop, a proposed six-mile linear park.
One bright spot is that Parks will re-allocate space currently used to park cars along some blocks of Park Avenue West and use it to create a separated bikeway and planted buffer (see graphics below).
Many of the more exciting ideas from the draft plan — like carfree blocks and raised crossings — didn’t make the final cut. That’s too bad. The land use and context of these blocks make them a perfect place to reduce car driving and storage space. You might recall that the Downtown Neighborhood Association strongly opposed bike lanes late last year and tried to have them moved over to Broadway.
One method a few downtown residents are trying to employ is to have the South Park Blocks designated as a “historic district.” Parks addresses this in a FAQ released this month by saying, “There are opportunities to highlight these resources in the master plan and guide new park development to be compatible, yet distinct from what is historic. The original design intent will remain a recognizable characteristic as the future park is planned and designed.”
Keep in mind this is a master plan, not a project design exercise. The City will take this plan and consult it as capital projects arise. Decisions about parking and bikeway details will come later. That being said, it’s very important that Parks hears from the community about how this space should be used.
The detailed online open house and comment survey still available. It’s open through today (6/29) so if you have feedback, make sure to send it in ASAP.
— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and email@example.com
— Get our headlines delivered to your inbox.
— Support this independent community media outlet with a one-time contribution or monthly subscription.