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Portland adds space for people on busy streets

Posted by on August 10th, 2020 at 6:02 pm

Many streets in east Portland have high-stress corners with wide turning radii and narrow sidewalks adjacent to fast-moving traffic. (Photos: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

The third leg of the Portland transportation bureau’s pandemic-related Safe Streets Initiative aims to allocate more space to people on busy streets. Their aptly named Busy Streets program is creating new bus platforms, wider sidewalks and expanded corners.

PBOT photo shows crews installing bus platform on SE Washington.

Last week PBOT installed the first bus platform on SE Washington and 80th in the Montavilla neighborhood. The new expanse of pavement will give TriMet Line 15 bus users more space to maintain a safe physical distance while they wait. More bus platforms are coming on SE Stark Street at 82nd, 90th, 92nd and 105th. Stark and Washington will also see several sections of expanded walkways.

Unlike with the Slow Streets and Healthy Business programs, there are no planned lane closures or driving access restrictions. PBOT is using a mix of new pavement, paint striping and physical barriers to re-allocate the space. Check out the graphics below for what the new wider corners and sidewalks will look like…

PBOT graphics show concept for expanded corners and sidewalks.

To choose locations, PBOT leaned on the groundbreaking work in their PedPDX Pedestrian Master Plan and chose to focus the first phase of projects on east Portland’s Montavilla and Gateway neighborhoods. “Both districts not only have heavy pedestrian traffic, but include lots of places that people walk to, including services and jobs, many of which may not provide teleworking as an option,” PBOT said in an announcement today. “These are also places that feature senior services, affordable housing, medical facilities, and transit.”

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Corners will be expanded using paint-and-posts at 10 east Portland intersections:

  • E Burnside Street at 99th and 148th avenues
  • NE Halsey Street and 111th Avenue
  • NE Prescott Street and 102nd Avenue
  • SE Stark Street at 76th, 80th, and 148th avenues
  • SE Washington Street at 76th, 80th, and 92nd avenues

You can view exact locations of all the Busy Street projects on PBOT’s Safe Streets Initiative map.

While PBOT says these projects are temporary, it seems there’d be no reason to erase them once the need for physical distancing subsides (if it ever does). East Portland is tragically car-centric and there’s an urgent need to re-allocate right-of-way away from car use and toward people on foot. Here’s to hoping these become permanent.

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and jonathan@bikeportland.org
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NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. BikePortland is an inclusive company with no tolerance for discrimination or harassment including expressions of racism, sexism, homophobia, or xenophobia. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Also, if you comment frequently, please consider holding your thoughts so that others can step forward. Thank you — Jonathan

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Hello, Kitty
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Hello, Kitty

If they are to become permanent, there needs to be some public process first. Implementing temporary projects by fiat is one thing, but making them permanent without consulting the public will only breed mistrust between PBOT and the public, making future work harder.

Please don’t advocate that PBOT take shortcuts with process; it will inevitably come back to bite us when either some project we don’t like is implemented by fiat, or some project we do like is scrapped because people are convinced PBOT is staffed by liars.

David Hampsten
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David Hampsten

Montevilla, north of Division and west of I-205, is a member of the SE Uplift League (SEUL) neighborhood coalition and is not technically part of the East Portland neighborhood coalition (EPCO) at all. There is no “Gateway neighborhood”. The Gateway urban renewal district is mostly in Hazelwood, a huge sprawling neighborhood of 24,000 that also includes the Adventist hospital, Glendoveer, and the David Douglas public high school complex, to 146th, but it’s also partly in the Woodland Park, Mill Park, and Parkrose Heights neighborhood associations. “148th & Division” is in the Centennial neighborhood association, the second largest in the city with over 25,000 residents that stretches all the way to Gresham. Parts of Stark are both in Hazelwood and in Mill Park, which also has the police station that was attacked recently.

Kyle Banerjee
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East Portland is car centric for the very simple reason that the distances that people have to go are much further. Granted that road conditions are much more hostile out there, but fixing that wouldn’t change how the vast majority of people would get around.

A few specific areas can be made safer and infrastructure might make sense in areas large number of people live within walking distance of goods and services. But that’s far from the general situation out there.

Trying to push through aspirational infrastructure where it doesn’t make sense only breeds skepticism of alternative transport. Anyone who thinks the core is anything other than very friendly, easy, and convenient shouldn’t be expecting people who live further out in East to want do anything other than drive.

Middle of the Road Guy
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Middle of the Road Guy

Trim the dang bush – the person wouldn’t have to walk in the street then.