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PBOT: Bike lanes on Hawthorne would be bad for climate change, racial equity

Posted by on September 1st, 2020 at 11:35 am

PBOT is concerned about how these bike lanes might impact transit and racial equity.

“…It is likely that the bike lanes would offer a mostly localized benefit to access destinations on the corridor rather than benefiting people further away in the Foster and Lents areas.”
— PBOT

A golden opportunity to create safe space on Hawthorne Boulevard for bicycle users might be slipping away. That’s the feeling of many local advocates following the release of a draft report yesterday by the Portland Bureau of Transportation on the SE Hawthorne Pave and Paint project.

Since we shared news of this project back in January there’s been a hope that bike lanes could finally be coming to one of Portland’s marquee main streets. There’s strong grassroots support for dedicated cycling space and back in May nearly 60 business owners said they’d support bike lanes.

Since Hawthorne is slated to be repaved from 24th to 50th, PBOT has a clean slate to replace the existing lane striping with something new. Currently this section of Hawthorne west of Cesar E Chavez Blvd (39th) has six lanes — four general traffic lanes and two lanes used to park cars. East of Cesar E Chavez Blvd, the road has five lanes — two for general traffic, one center turn lane, and two car parking lanes.

Here are the three options PBOT has under consideration:

  • Alternative 1: Keep everything the same.
  • Alternative 1 (same as today).

  • Alternative 2: Extend the cross-section that currently exists east of Cesar E Chavez west to 22nd Avenue.
  • Alternative 2.

  • Alternative 3a: Swap a general traffic lane for a buffered bike lane and maintain some of the on-street car parking.
  • Alternative 3b: Swap a general traffic lane for a curbside, parking-protected bike lane and maintain some of the on-street car parking.
  • Alternative 3a and 3b

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PBOT evaluates these three options based on five criteria: “Improve safety; Support Hawthorne’s Main Street function and help people get to destinations there; Connect people to other parts of the city; Will it advance equity and address structural racism? Will it reduce carbon emissions?”

As you can see below, PBOT has positioned option 2 as the clear winner:

Yes it appears PBOT is leaning toward no space for bicycle riders on Hawthorne. This is despite strong support for bike lanes and a 2030 Bike Plan that explicitly calls for them. Not surprisingly, this has set off a few alarm bells. “I hate the lack of ambition here,” tweeted transportation reformer and member of the PBOT Bicycle Advisory Committee Iain Mackenzie. “I think the whole thing is a joke and they will use this data to say why the status quo will continue,” activist and software developer Lance Poehler shared with me via email this morning.

To better understand PBOT’s justification, here’s how they summarize options 2 and 3:

Notably, the bike lane options got dinged for their expected negative impacts on nearby neighborhood greenways, “[auto] parking retention”, climate change and equity.

PBOT believes bike lanes on Hawthorne would force more drivers onto popular neighborhood greenways streets such as Salmon, Ladd, Harrison and Lincoln. PBOT’s analysis shows that the resulting number of drivers that would divert onto these streets would push them above the 2,000 cars per day maximum they allow on “low-stress, family-friendly” side streets.

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2030 Bike Plan map showing bike lanes on SE Hawthorne.

Missing from this evaluation is any expectation that — if we succeed in updating our infrastructure in a way that makes driving less convenient — people might actually change behaviors and drive less.

And in another troubling sign for a city ostensibly committed to fighting climate change and boosting cycling and other non-driving trips, PBOT frames on-street auto parking as a necessity and a right, rather than a privilege. All three options maintain space for parking cars. Alternative 3b would lead to 225 fewer car parking spaces that PBOT says would, “Make it more difficult for people visiting the Hawthorne Business District to find parking,” and “be a significant impact to some main street businesses that rely on short-term vehicle access.”

Keep in mind as we discuss these options that if you use a car, walk or take transit, you are guaranteed some type of dedicated and safe space for that activity. However, if you use a bicycle, only Alternative 3 gives you this type of space. Put another way, for bicycle riders, we’re talking about whether or not there is access. For everyone else, we’re talking about how much access.

PBOT also tries to make the case that bicycle and car users sharing the same lane “would provide some safety improvement for cyclists that choose to take the lane,” because there would be “slower vehicle speeds and wider travel lanes”. They offer no citation for this claim.

The impact on transit times is framed by PBOT as the most serious threat posed by the addition of bike lanes. They say if bike lanes are added, Line 14 bus riders could expect between 8 and 16 minutes of delay. They also say reliability would suffer because drivers would back up behind bus drivers waiting for a gap in traffic to make turns. “Since Hawthorne Blvd is classified as a Major Transit Priority Street,” the report states, “this kind of travel time increase and reliability impact for the Line 14 would be very concerning.”

It’s important to keep in mind that PBOT is currently led by Commissioner Chloe Eudaly. The direct line between transit and racial equity in this report is very similar to Eudaly’s approach to transit in her Rose Lane Project. Suffice it to say, no design concept will survive if it delays transit by 8 to 16 minutes.

“…adding one stretch of bike lane in an area of Portland with among the highest bicycle mode shares in the city is likely to have less marginal benefit than improving one of the most frequent and highest-ridership bus lines in the area.”
— PBOT

For similar reasons, PBOT says bike lanes on Hawthorne would have a “high impact” on driving times and that the, “level of diversion onto lower classified streets would be concerning since it does not align with City policy.”

The report includes no analysis of how a lack of safe space on Hawthorne for bicycle riders negatively impacts cycling trip times.

The justification for giving bike lanes low marks on equity and reducing carbon emissions is also related to these claimed impacts on transit times.

Using their new focus on racial equity, PBOT says the bike lanes’ negative impact on transit speed and reliability would hurt low-income people who live in east Portland areas served by the Line 14 bus. PBOT acknowledges the benefit bike lanes would have for some, but they frame them it a “mostly localized benefit… rather than benefiting people further away in the Foster and Lents areas.” “Therefore, our conclusion is that Alternative 2 [which they say offers the most benefit to transit service] is more consistent with the goal of advancing equity and addressing structural racism with this project.”

For climate change impacts, PBOT said they leaned on Metro’s Climate Smart Strategy, which evaluated relative climate benefits of different transportation strategies. In that report, “make biking and walking safe and convenient” received 3 out of 5 stars, while “make transit convenient, frequent, accessible, and affordable” nabbed 5 out of 5 stars. “This seems especially true in this situation,” the report states, “since adding one stretch of bike lane in an area of Portland with among the highest bicycle mode shares in the city is likely to have less marginal benefit than improving one of the most frequent and highest-ridership bus lines in the area.” PBOT also says that the increased bus travel times would cancel out any climate benefits of new bike lanes.

Now that the report is out, it’s time to share your feedback. PBOT has released an online survey and will host two webinars to hear your input on these alternatives. Learn more on the project website.

— 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 productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. 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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maccoinnich
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Alternatives 2 and 3A/B both have the same number of through vehicle lanes. The difference is the center turn lane (alternative 2 is basically the existing condition on Hawthorne, east of Chavez). If the center turn lane makes such as dramatic difference to bus speeds along Hawthorne, because buses aren’t stuck behind cars turns left, it would probably be worth PBOT’s time to do a more granular study of where that benefit is occurring. It’s hard to believe it’s required for the whole corridor, with no variation in cross section.

With in the existing curb-to-curb width of Hawthorne it would be quite possible to have a cross section that varies. In order to achieve that we might need to remove some parking on one side of the street. But every policy in our Comprehensive Plan says we should do that. It beggars belief that PBOT would put out a report that is so stacked against adding bicycle access, rather than further studying what needs to happen to make it work.

Aaron
Guest

yes! all of us that want bike lanes need to be supportive of PBOT wanting to prioritize buses, for the climate and equity impacts, and instead need to direct our attention to PBOT’s unwillingness to seriously consider removing a lane of parking. We can have a great bus lane *and* bike lanes – it’s the parking that’s pitting these two great modes against each other, and we need to reject that false choice.

Kana O.
Guest
Kana O.

This. If PBOT’s understanding of equity and climate here hinges on transit access, then it’s not that bike lanes specifically are bad for equity or climate; it’s that (by their definition) anything degrading transit access is detrimental to climate and equity. If we accept their premises, then the discussion should be about how to allocate the space not needed to preserve or improve transit access. PBOT precludes an informed discussion by leaving out an important transit | bikes | autos | auto parking permutation—a permutation that both retains good outcomes for the bus (which probably means keeping 3 lanes; the fates of buses and autos seem bound here) and provides good bike lanes (which probably means axing parking on one side). The omission of such an option is perhaps understandable given this is an old school Portland main street, perceived to be covetous of its parking and accessed by people all over the city. But given the goals, plans, and policies on the books and the state of the world, the conclusion PBOT appears to be coming to does not seem to me the obvious or inevitable one.

Maddy
Guest
Maddy

I live in this area, and bike my kiddos around using the great bike infrastructure both North and South of Hawthorne. With limited resources and space, I don’t get why adding bike lanes to Hawthorne is a priority to anyone. In the name of equity, prioritize making this street safer for pedestrians and faster for buses.

Eawriste
Guest
Eawriste

I live here too. Great bike infrastructure? Sharrows? Plastic construction drums? Residential streets? We have limited resources and space because we choose to dedicate all of it to cars. There is plenty of resources and space if we chose to prioritize people and not cars.

Jeff
Guest
Jeff

People drive the cars – this argument never holds water.

Eawriste
Guest
Eawriste

When someone suggested using punchcards and mechanical devices to calculate large numbers, another person said, “Stop it! People use paper and pencil!”

Upstream
Guest
Upstream

Because we design for everyone to drive. Even “bike friendly” Greenways are filled with cars. This city is just a massive parking lot with some buildings thrown in.

Maddy
Guest
Maddy

Buses. We need to prioritize mass transit on Hawthorne, or we will never shake car reliance. And yeah, we really do have great bike infrastructure. I ride it daily.

Eawriste
Guest
Eawriste

In all sincerity by “great bike infrastructure” do you mean residential streets?

Alex Reedin
Guest
Alex Reedin

I agree with eawriste… I don’t think it’s fair to say that inner Southeast Portland has “great bike infrastructure.” I think has some “mediocre”, “middling”, or “passable” bike infrastructure and some “poor” bike infrastructure (which happens to put it among the top 0.1% of neighborhoods in the United States, but that shouldn’t be our standard for “great”). Its transit infrastructure, however, is nonexistent, and that lack is causing severe problems. So I agree with Maddy that bus lanes are a higher priority.

Eawriste
Guest
Eawriste

Great points Alex. Why not both? Why is SOV traffic a default given? The best priority bus stops also offer great protection for bikes and pedestrians. We have some on the Weidler/Halsey couplet, so they’re not entirely foreign to PBOT.

soren
Guest
soren

I live in this area and very much agree with Maddy. Hawthorne is absolute hell for pedestrians (esp between 22nd and 32nd) and has a heavily-used bus route that is severely-impacted by peak SOV traffic. My two priorities for Hawthorne are to make it safer for Pedestrians (e.g. more signaled crosswalks and, perhaps, raised crosswalks) and to improve bus throughput (preferably via dedicated rose lanes). If I had to prioritize Hawthorne-area routes for cycling improvements I would pick the failed Salmon Neighborhood Greenway and the abandoned 34th Bike Boulevard (bike symbol platters still visible in sections).

Momo
Guest
Momo

I love the idea of finally building out the 34th Ave neighborhood greenway! There are routes in the 20s and 40s to get to Hawthorne, but nothing in the 30s, which really is the heart of the main street. There are the old bike symbols you mention, and some speed bumps, but the street needs diversion to really make it work for bikes. I think adding 34th to the bike network would have more benefit than adding bike lanes to Hawthorne.

JR
Guest
JR

Agreed. Simply study where left turns are happening more often and provide dedicated left turn pockets, and perhaps prohibit left turns in some locations where desire to left turn is less, but causes congestion. Denying space for an entire set of road users due to left turns, parking, etc is redunculous.

cmh89
Guest
cmh89

“Beggars belief”? Have you not been paying attention? PBOT has been actively fighting green infrastructure by adopting the green washing language invented by the petroleum industry. PBOT has jumped on the “more cars moving faster is actually good for the climate!” train.

It’s a joke of a Bureau. I wish we didn’t have to choose between the useless incumbent or the nimby bootlicker challenger.

Middle of the Road Guy
Guest
Middle of the Road Guy

That sounds like far-Leftist language.

cmh89
Guest
cmh89

Every thing sounds “far-left” to members of the right.

Eawriste
Guest
Eawriste

I’m confused. Does this sound like it was written in the ’90s to anyone else? If parking is more important than safety, why not take out the sidewalks? Businesses need cars not bikes because bikes are for recreation off main streets. Since there are currently no alternatives to using a car on Hawthorne, everyone should drive. If everyone drives we can’t add a PBL because people will use other streets too much. People on bikes are safer riding with cars. Did PBOT copy the cyclist fallacy bingo cliffs notes?

David Hampsten
Guest
David Hampsten

Typo: 1960s, not 1990s.

zuckerdog
Guest
zuckerdog

While I applaud PBOT’s shift in policy to now wrap climate change and equity into the planning/decision making process, the process is still limited/flawed and leads to the “vanillation” of projects. Projects like Hawthorne (as well as most types of projects) are complicated and nuanced and does no justice to try to assess and rank alternatives by creating a discrete number of variables. I get it, you need to create a (limited) set of variables/metrics that can be presented to public and elected officials so you can make a coherent presentation.

I see this process analogous to what I remember learning about climate models 20-plus years ago: the variables are so vast and interactions are so complicated that it would take a 1990’s computer so long to run the model that the results of the model would be outdated. So you have to simplify the model.

Don’t you remember, the matrix has rules. Good planning and design professionals, with enough understanding of intended goals and outcomes, can land on better solutions, its just hard for them to articulate why they are the best solution when the rules confine them.

Let’s accept that better designs can’t always fit into tidy benefit/impact models and start breaking some more rules. Otherwise we are going to continue to get more vanilla projects.

soren
Guest
soren

“analogous to what I remember learning about climate models 20-plus years ago”

give me a break. climate models 20, 30, and 40-years ago did an excellent job of predicting where we are now.

https://www.carbonbrief.org/analysis-how-well-have-climate-models-projected-global-warming

the reason that USAnians have done nothing to address ecocide is not due to uncertainty but because USAnians are unwilling to make even the smallest sacrifices for the common good.

Hello, Kitty
Guest
Hello, Kitty

Speak for yourself.

astral
Guest
astral

While there are obviously exceptions, especially among younger people, everyone I know over 45, even people who pride themselves in being liberal or progressive, will immediately bury their head in the sand or start spouting psychotic nonsense in order to justify refusing to make even the slightest change in their behavior, even if it would ultimately benefit not only their community, but themselves. Forget making sacrifices, people aren’t even willing to help themselves.

Hello, Kitty
Guest
Hello, Kitty

A lot of people under 45 are spouting psychotic nonsense as well!

But it also shows that we know different people.

zuckerdog
Guest
zuckerdog

Point taken. “Those” climate models were accurate predicting the trend but had a hard time providing a level of certainty and specificity. Maybe a better analogy would be developing a model to predict the weather. But I think you are missing my overall point/analogy…

Toadslick
Subscriber

This is so incredibly disappointing.

Kiel Johnson (Go By Bike)
Member

If you can’t do it right then wait until you can.

Remove more parking to increase transit times. You can add angle parking on side streets if that is an issue (or, gasp, charge people for parking). Not adding bike lanes on Hawthorne is unacceptable.

Michael Mann
Guest
Michael Mann

Agreed. Hawthorne neighborhood is long overdue for parking meters.

Momo
Guest
Momo

How would removing parking help the bus? Most of the parking is framed by curb extensions, so you can’t turn it into a bus lane. The pinch points are at the curb extensions and at Cesar Chavez, where the entire curb to curb is used by travel lanes. Removing parking doesn’t really help at all.

Eawriste
Guest
Eawriste

PBOT often installs curb extensions without consideration for future design precluding bicycle infrastructure, often assuming parking will remain indefinitely. Curb extensions can be removed or redesigned. So for example at 36th Hawthorne is 6 lanes of cars (ie 2 lanes of parking and 4 lanes of through traffic. PBOT could easily expand the sidewalks to include the existing 2 parking lanes, install 2 lanes of protected bike lanes on either side (with prefab bus stops), and keep 2 lanes of car traffic. At 39th Westbound traffic can have a bus/delivery only sign. At 12th Eastbound traffic can have bus/delivery only signs. By limiting through traffic, Hawthorne buses will have priority. Local car traffic is free to travel at 20mph for short distances on Hawthorne for deliveries etc.

PBOT’s criteria:
Crashes: dramatically reduced
High End speeding: dramatically reduced
Greenways: given diverters, no effect
Ped Crossing: reduced speed, less traffic, safer
Crossing spacing: shortened
Bike parking: Expanded sidewalk space allows for increase
Car parking: zero (this isn’t bad)
Loading and deliveries: side streets or early morning in street
Landscaping: plenty of space for art or public eating with expanded sidewalks
Ped access: see expanded sidewalks
Transit: See SOV diverters
Driving: only impact on commuter SOV traffic, no impact on local traffic
Equity: if PBOT is equating this with bus priority, then this is a vast improvement
Climate: Dramatic increases in bus, ped and bicycle modes.

Zach
Guest
Zach

PBOT’s “evaluation” doesn’t mention these huge benefits to 3b:

Equity: Giving people in outer SE (Lents, Foster, etc.) an affordable and fast alternative to transit. Commuting from Lents to downtown by 20 mph e-bike (coming soon to Biketown!) will be much faster than riding the bus, but people will only do it if they have a safe and direct route.

Safety:: Increased safety and comfort for pedestrians because bikes and scooters won’t need to ride on the sidewalk anymore. Also, people riding bikes and scooters won’t continue to be injured and killed by drivers (the report mentions this basically as an aside, but that’s a pretty huge deal!).

Accessibility:: Protected bike lanes give people with disabilities a safe, fast, and comfortable way to get around, and lets them be independent by not relying on the bus. Protected bike lanes offer a much smoother ride than narrow, crowded, non-ADA-compliant sidewalks.

Transit-friendly:: Transit speed can be *improved* with 3b if things like signal priority, all-door boarding, stop consolidation are implemented when funds are available. Banning left turns can be implemented immediately, which would prevent buses from waiting behind turning cars.

Great for business:: Protected bike lanes offer a massive benefit to businesses by way of increased visibility. Thousands of people who currently ride on the greenways will be passing by your store, grabbing a smoothie on the way to work, dinner on the way back, etc.

COVID safety:: Bus ridership is way down, and people will probably be reluctant to take the bus for at least another year or two—especially low-income and POC who are more vulnerable to catching and spreading the virus. Biking is more COVID-safe.

Looking to the future:: Offering people an attractive alternative to driving is the only way to reduce car dependency in the long-term, which we need to do for climate reasons, spacial reasons, public health reasons, etc.

Momo
Guest
Momo

Why would people in Lents and Foster ride their bikes on Hawthorne when they have Clinton and Lincoln-Harrison available? Those are much more direct for long-distance trips because Hawthorne dead-ends at Mt Tabor. Let’s face it, bike lanes on Hawthorne would primarily benefit the (mostly affluent) people who live around Mt Tabor, Richmond, and Sunnyside.

Zach Katz
Guest
Zach Katz

Foster > 50th > Hawthorne would be the fastest, most direct route from Lents to downtown.

Also, this is something no one ever talks about. but many people (the “interested but concerned”) don’t feel comfortable biking on greenways because they don’t feel safe biking with cars breathing down their necks.

Hello, Kitty
Guest
Hello, Kitty

Would Hawthorne really be faster and more direct than Clinton? Clinton would give you more “diagonal time” if you are heading for the Hawthorne Bridge.

Momo
Guest
Momo

Clinton is definitely faster, safer, and more attractive to more people. I don’t for one second buy Zach’s argument that interested but concerned people prefer bike lanes on bus streets (even high quality ones, which these wouldn’t be) over neighborhood greenways. That goes against all the available evidence. Greenways are the most family-friendly type of bikeway we have, you can go out any day and see kids and parents riding together on them.

astral
Guest
astral

Experienced, dedicated cyclists may not mind, but a lack of dedicated infrastructure is definitely a turn off for a lot of people. I know plenty of people who cycle less or avoid it altogether because they can’t get past having cars breathing down their neck. Bike lanes solve this.

Eawriste
Guest
Eawriste

Little to no infrastructure changes will affect vehicular cyclists. Protected bike lanes are for the vast majority of people (walking, biking and driving) who recognize physical separation is necessary to keep SPAM alive (in a can or not).

Alex Reedin
Guest
Alex Reedin

I’m pretty sure Hawthorne / 50th is faster for fast riders. As an ebiker, I definitely didn’t think it was smart or responsible to bust down Clinton at 20mph the whole way due to sightlines, people walking, people driving through side street stop signs, etc. But, Hawthorne is *more* pleasant at 20mph than at lower speeds. Not sure if that would still be true in a bike lane; I’m guessing yes if buffered but no if parking protected.

John
Guest
John

If it is any consolation, those center turn lanes end up being pretty good places to ride.

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

I would hope that they have solid pedestrian refuges at least every other block. Leaving them wide open enables dangerous passing and speeding (which allowed someone to kill a teenage girl near here a few years back).

David Hampsten
Guest
David Hampsten

When I was involved with the East Portland Action Plan 2009-15, East Portland’s concern for central Hawthorne varied depending where you lived. For everyone living beyond I-205 (90% of us), Hawthorne was an utterly insignificant and very inconvenient street in inner SE portland. For folks in Lents, between I-205 and 82nd, it was a bit more important, but not as much as Foster or Powell. West of 82nd the street is “main street”, but that’s outside of East Portland.

Apparently pBOT is using East Portland as a proxy for communities of color and poverty, so I am curious how exactly pBOT defines “East Portland” – is it everything east of MLK? East of 50th or 60th? East of 82nd? Or the area within EPCO, east of a line that includes 82nd and I-205, jogging at Division?

Personally I find the whole process repugnant. pBOT rejected complaints from East Portland on previous projects (such as on Foster), but now suddenly cares. How did they get input from EP? From BIPOC communities? Do tell.

For what it’s worth, IMO Alt 1 is unsafe for anyone at any speed, car drivers included; Alt 2 is designed for car drivers – have you tried crossing a street with a constant stream of cars with irate drivers? Not fun nor safe; Alt 3a is good for cars and bicyclists, but not for transit users or pedestrians (long crossings, crazy traffic); Alt 3b is the best of a bad bunch, safest for pedestrians and transit users, the top of the pBOT safety pyramid.

I’d prefer to see continuous bus/BRT lanes, no through-traffic more than 3 blocks on any section, and lots of car-free pedestrian malls, but that’s just me.

Yes, I did the survey.

Allan Rudwick
Subscriber

I am suprised they didn’t pitch a Rose Lane (bike/bus shared lane) concept in the current lane configuration. As in make the outer lanes transit + bike only. I think this could solve some concerns. It wouldn’t be parking-protected, but it would be a huge step in the right direction

Joseph E
Guest
Joseph E

The lanes are too narrow for a shared bike/bus lane according to PBOT’s policy. But if you remove parking on one or both sides, then it could work.

Chris
Guest
Chris

Wouldn’t they need to remove the bump outs at the intersections to do that?

Momo
Guest
Momo

That wouldn’t work because of the pinch points created by curb extensions. At most you could do a bus lane in one direction, but then you wouldn’t be able to do pedestrian median islands. The Alternative 2 concept does include bus lanes approaching Cesar Chavez, though.

soren
Guest
soren

I’d gladly trade the curb extensions for a few more signaled crosswalks (even crappy RFBs). It’s beyond ridiculous that there is not a marked crosswalk between 20th-27th and between 30th-34th in an area with dozens of street-facing shops, bars, restaurants, and community services (and many new leases available).

Eawriste
Guest
Eawriste

I hear you Soren. Still, if we are redesigning a street, should we shoot for a few mediocre crossings to a car-centric design, or redesign the street to be safe at almost all crossings?

Alex Reedin
Guest
Alex Reedin

It is nuts that, with transit the “highest priority”, at least a bus-only lane isn’t one of the considered alternatives.

Alex Reedin
Guest
Alex Reedin

Actually, I think that, short of moving curbs, a bus-only lane is what advocates should push for. On blocks with bus stops, use the space that is currently parking for a giant bus pull out, so that the regular service buses can get out of the way of the express buses. On the other blocks, I don’t know, planters and street seats and bike parking. That is the best outcome for the city that you are going to get out of this project. If presented directly to Commissioner Eudaly, I bet she would raise a stink and get that alternative at least added to the list. Would some business owners try to kill it? Yes. But at least you’d have a fighting chance,

And, after it is built, I wouldn’t be surprised if some people broke the law and rode bikes in the bus lane.

Alex Reedin
Guest
Alex Reedin

No parking, no right turns except at 39th, bus lanes,

Momo
Guest
Momo

Alternative 2 does include bus (and right turn) lanes approaching Cesar Chavez, which is the only place they are physically possible without moving curbs. For bike lanes to continue through at Cesar Chavez, they would have to be shared by bikes, buses, and right-turning cars.

Hello, Kitty
Guest
Hello, Kitty

Transit isn’t the highest priority; pedestrians are, then bikes, then transit, with cars way down at the bottom. At least according to PBOT’s transportation hierarchy.

Admittedly, that policy is at least 5 years old (older than most cell phones!) so it’s probably been forgotten in all the cooing over this year’s model.

Eawriste
Guest
Eawriste

Exactly. And dedicated space for each should be represented by this priority.

Momo
Guest
Momo

That’s not even remotely how that policy works. It’s not a hierarchy applied to every street, it’s a broad citywide strategy for people movement that only applies at a citywide aggregate level. PBOT uses street classifications to determine mode priorities for each street, and as the report notes, Hawthorne is “high” for pedestrians, transit, and main street function, and “medium” for cars and bikes.

Hello, Kitty
Guest
Hello, Kitty

That’s a fair comment; however, Hawthorne is a City Bikeway, so it seems unfortunate that it would be reconfigured without providing any facilities to support local bike trips around the business district.

Erin
Guest
Erin

The priority is different for different types of streets in Portland. Policywise, Hawthorne prioritizes pedestrians and transit first, followed by bikes, then autos.

David LaPorte
Subscriber
David LaPorte

Why are “ability to retain on-street parking” and reduced “travel time for drivers” positive things we are trying to benefit? Aren’t the climate and bike/pedestrian goals only realized if we disincentivize driving?

Dagny Taggart
Guest
Dagny Taggart

It doesn’t work. Only a few folks are going to bike or use public transit. Until the virus hysteria is over, even the few who like public transit will not use it. Thus, best way to reduce emissions is keep cars moving so they operate for the least amount of time possible.

David Hampsten
Guest
David Hampsten

The best way to reduce emissions is to not allow the cars to move at all. Are the trips really necessary? Can’t people work from home?

Middle of the Road Guy
Guest
Middle of the Road Guy

We can also shop from home instead of looking locally 🙂

Eawriste
Guest
Eawriste

We must keep cars moving at all cost! Whether this means dedicating all transportation funds to cars, removing neighborhoods to widen freeways, filling up any space (including sidewalk space), or sacrificing the lives of people who choose to move without a car, we must keep them moving as we have for 100 years!

astral
Guest
astral

Nothing that encourages driving is “the best way to reduce emissions” under any circumstances. If you really believe that most people will always choose the automobile as long as it’s an option, then the only sane choice is to remove it as an option entirely and convert streets like Hawthorne to bus only.

Hello, Kitty
Guest
Hello, Kitty

An economist would suggest a saner choice — raise the price of driving to reduce the demand for doing so. We have tons of established mechanisms for this, including tolling, gas tax, carbon tax, parking meters, etc.

Eawriste
Guest
Eawriste

Yes, congestion pricing is a good start. Although this doesn’t necessarily affect specific streets like Hawthorne. A safer option to reduce SOV cut through traffic would simply to limit entry to buses/deliveries at 39th, 30th and 12th. This allows local traffic, maintains bus frequency, and limits Hawthorne as a cut through thoroughfare.

Hello, Kitty
Guest
Hello, Kitty

Why are “ability to retain on-street parking” and reduced “travel time for drivers” positive things we are trying to benefit?

Probably because there is overwhelming community support for those things. PBOT has a terrible history of setting goals then promptly forgetting them. Hawthorne is a high-crash corridor, and the report barely even mentions Vision Zero. Remember when that was their thing?

Momo
Guest
Momo

??? Safety is literally one of the sections of the report, and it emphasizes that some alternatives have a much bigger crash reduction than others. Vision Zero seems to be pretty well-represented here, and the people in these comments pushing the bike lane alternatives should actually offer some justification for why PBOT should choose the less-safe option.

maxD
Guest
maxD

I understand that this is a repaving project that ends at 22nd, but it seems ridiculous that they would not consider painting the lane changes between 22nd and 12th. That section would benefit from the Alt2 proposal quite a bit, but if extended the bike lanes to reconnect at 12th, Alt 3 would start to look a lot better!

Racer X
Guest

For more information on this project…folks may want to “attend” the next PBOT BAC meeting (Sept 8 via Zoom at 6PM), as there will be a project presentation and questions from the PBAC representatives at 6:10 PM (so don’t be late!).

PBAC AGENDA:
https://content.govdelivery.com/accounts/ORPORTLAND/bulletins/29cd36c

Zoom meeting information:
Register in advance for this webinar:
https://zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_UKwDE3RpSRqPgfYDg9AVHg
After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.

igor
Guest
igor

Adding bike lanes between 21st and 50th will increase auto and bus transit times by “8 to 16 minutes”? Is that correct? The distance is 1.6 miles, and right now Google says a car can drive that in 6 minutes, so the current average speed is 16mph. PBOT is saying that the bike lanes will slow traffic down to between 6.8 mph (14 minutes) and 4 mph (24 minutes). Is PBOT saying that after adding bike lanes it might be faster to walk Hawthorne than to drive it?

maccoinnich
Subscriber

It’s an odd claim, given that parallel bus routes on Belmont and Division, each of which are two lane streets, currently have similar timings.

Momo
Guest
Momo

I’m pretty sure both of those streets have much lower volumes of traffic, don’t they? It’s also worth noting that the auto travel time section mentions a big reason for the increased travel time being the intersection of Cesar Chavez. Currently there are two lanes going through that intersection, and with bike lanes it would be down to one lane in each direction. On a busy enough road, that can lead to really long queues that cause a sort of breakdown in traffic flow to the point where the delays grow exponentially. If you look at what PBOT did on outer Glisan, they dropped travel lanes in between signals but then widened out at each signal. In the case of Hawthorne, there isn’t enough room to widen out at Cesar Chavez and still have bike lanes. I think that’s what’s causing the traffic model to predict such long delays for cars and buses.

Eawriste
Guest
Eawriste

Evaluating the efficiency of roads based on car capacity and speed often precludes safety. Traffic models based solely on measuring the number of cars will often make it appear that safety is an unfortunate sacrifice for efficient flow. We can decide how many and what type of cars to allow on a street… and how safe it is.

Hello, Kitty
Guest
Hello, Kitty

I’m probably showing my fascist leanings, but I think vehicle throughput is an absurd measure of equitable outcomes. Is that the best the agency can come up with given that equity is their new “top priority”?

David Hampsten
Guest
David Hampsten

It shouldn’t be the movement of vehicles, but of people. Where’s the equity in moving driverless robot cars delivering goods and services?

Middle of the Road Guy
Guest
Middle of the Road Guy

If we were truly looking at equity, we’d build a white peeps lane that was slowest of all.

Dagny Taggart
Guest
Dagny Taggart

Looks like PBOT evaluated many of the pros and cons and came up with the correct answer. Most folks are going to use cars no matter how inconvenient driving becomes – you’ll discover just one reason why from mid October to mid May – the weather isn’t conducive to biking even for experienced cyclists. Yes, the hard core ones will do it, but even with good bike routes non-cyclists are not going to suddenly think: “I should get out of my comfy car and ride a bike like that cyclist there in the cold/rain/dark.” Because of this FACT, keeping the cars moving WILL reduce CO2 emissions from cars along this street.

I’d assume cyclists can navigate this street as-is, or if not, using a side street – so it’s a win-win: less CO2, cars move along, cyclists navigate just fine as they currently do.

David Hampsten
Guest
David Hampsten

Why do the cars need to move at all? They didn’t during the shutdown, traffic was way down, even during the wet season. During the shutdown, residents adapted to a new reality. Why go back to the polluting rat race?

Tom
Guest
Tom

30 million in this country lost their jobs during the shutdown. Don’t think people and businesses want the shutdown to be the norm.

Eawriste
Guest
Eawriste

The reason people exclusively use cars instead of other modes is exactly this mindset: cars are the default mode. All other modes are for recreation. So our roads reflect this. If our roads prioritized space for bikes and trains/buses, most people would use bikes and trains/buses. There are other countries where the latter exists. It is a choice.

Middle of the Road Guy
Guest
Middle of the Road Guy

Yeah, but you’re not a real American unless you can throw everything in your lifted truck, take a dirt road into the frontier and live off the grid for a few weeks – all in a moment’s notice.

Eawriste
Guest
Eawriste

Follow me on a bikepacking trip with your 4x 😉

FDUP
Guest
FDUP

This is a familiar story from PBOT, they used a similar justification to keep bike infra off Hawthorne 20 years ago, as Yogi Berra said, it’s deja vu all over again!

squareman
Subscriber

Help me out here if I’m wrong, but isn’t the most common unexpected delay in the lanes on Hawthorne people trying to parallel park and traffic either backing up in the right lane because of it or drivers trying to go around them (leading to more collisions)? Seems to me option 3a/b would reduce those trying to parallel park by about 50-60% and not cause 12-18 minute delays. Then again, I haven’t hung around the Hawthorne district in a very long time — so I don’t know how bad traffic has been before or during COVID.

Clark in Vancouver
Guest
Clark in Vancouver

A travel lane should be for travelling, not for storage.

What a waste of an opportunity when they’re paving it anyway. This display of “options” looks like it’s designed to pit two disenfranchised modes against each other so that the privileged can continue with the status quo. What a scam.
There needs to be pressure to have them produce some more options that remove car parking. How many parking spots are there off street? Are there side streets and parkades near by?
This reminds me of Vancouver, BC when the first protected bike lane went in on Hornby Street downtown. A few dozen parking spaces were repurposed. The city showed how many parking spots there were in the immediate vicinity that could be used instead. It was still a tough fight but it helped calm some people down and the project got made. (And it’s great!)

FDUP
Guest
FDUP

Once the curb extensions go in, the parking is basically preserved in perpetuity with hardscape that can be hazardous to cyclists.

soren
Guest
soren

“…adding one stretch of bike lane in an area of Portland with among the highest bicycle mode shares in the city is likely to have less marginal benefit than improving one of the most frequent and highest-ridership bus lines in the area.”

It’s nice to see a statement where PBOT overtly criticizes the classist demands of the YIMBY elite.

Nevertheless, an option that removes parking and installs two dedicated bus lanes would have far more benefit to those who depend on transit (and live outside of the elite urban core). Apparently, preserving the Hawthorne Business Association’s vehicle storage subsidy is still more important than maximizing movement towards transportation equity and decarbonization.

Zach
Guest
Zach

Not many people realize this yet, but commuting from outer SE by 20 MPH e-bike is almost always *significantly* faster than taking the bus. And cheaper! [1]

[1] A yearly Biketown pass (e-bikes are coming this month) is cheaper than a TriMet pass ($99 vs $1,100!), and even owning an e-bike is extremely affordable. You can get a very good used one for just a couple hundred dollars—and that price is likely to go down even more in the coming years.

soren
Guest
soren

Let them ride e-bikes.

Alex Reedin
Guest
Alex Reedin

I e-biked from Lents to downtown, often via Hawthorne/50th/Foster, for years, and started a Portland bike advocacy group, but I still am not gonna push alternatives 3A and 3B. They are better than Alternative 1, that’s for sure, and probably better than Alternative 2. And you are absolutely right that many people could e-bike from East Portland to their destinations. But they won’t, under current conditions, whether or not Alternative 3X is selected.

We don’t have a comprehensive e-bike adoption program to help low-income folks use them. People would need financing (not just for the bike, but also for storage… if it’s even feasible to get them storage at their home/workplace/etc.). People would need assistance choosing the right clothing and routes. People would need logistical help getting their ebike to a mechanic when it needs it. People would need some sort of escape plan in case they invest a good bit in e-biking and it just doesn’t work for them (they get a lemon, they get injured or sick, being out in the cold and rain and exposed to the threat of death by automobile for a good while 2x daily on top of their demanding job just drains them…)

Anyway, mass e-biking for East Portland is a great idea, and it could absolutely go somewhere. But this project is not the place to start with it.

Zach
Guest
Zach

FYI, this comes across as a pretty classist comment. It seems like you think low-income people are too stupid to figure out how to do things like “choosing the right clothing” (uh, when it’s cold, wear a jacket?) and “planning a route” (take the hopefully soon-to-be protected bike lane?).

Alex Reedin
Guest
Alex Reedin

Are you serious?? It took me *years* to memorize the city’s bike routes in the area I usually traveled (routefinding is way more than just learning *1* route), and to figure out my clothing in a way that I liked. I think that’s absolutely normal.

I think bike infrastructure on Hawthorne is a worthy goal for someday. But IMO, it’s going to take moving curbs or making Hawthorne essentially not a car street (it doesn’t really need to be; it more or less dead-ends into Mount Tabor). And IMO, neither one is a realistic goal politically for this project in 2020.

Alex Reedin
Guest
Alex Reedin

And, I think most low-income people don’t have the time (routefinding) or money (clothing) to mess around, get lost, try a number of different rain gear options, etc. as I did. I actually think a targeted advice help line for low-income people curious about biking or e-biking would be really helpful for bike adoption.

soren
Guest
soren

Also cash grants that help lower-income people purchase e-bikes (or other forms of e-micromobility). Instead of this, our state government provides cash grants that largely help the wealthy buy Teslas.

Zach
Guest
Zach

I mean, that’s one of the reasons 3b is a great design—it’s the first step in giving people a simple, safe way to traverse Hawthorne all the way from 50th to downtown, without needing to find or memorize any byzantine routes. We seem to totally agree about that, which is why I think it’s weird that you think now isn’t the “right time.” How much longer do you want to wait? It’s not like PBOT repaves streets every year—this design is likely going to be in place for at least a decade. We’ve got to do the right thing for the future NOW.

maxD
Guest
maxD

3b would work well for people riding bikes, except if those people want o continue on their bike east of 50th or west of 22nd. It is so extremely disappointing that PBOT continues to opportunistically insert disconnected chunks of bike infrastructure. If bike lanes are selected, they should spring for the additional paint to extend them between 12th and 53rd

Alex Reedin
Guest
Alex Reedin

What I’m advising you to do (as a former Portland bike activist who now lives in Albuquerque and doesn’t have a dog in the game) is to cut your losses and advocate for a bus lane instead. Reading the report, and knowing who Commissioner Eudaly is, I just don’t see a way to victory for you. Eudaly is way into equity and transit and just isn’t going to see better biking in inner southeast Portland as something that justifies potentially making transit worse.

And yes, even policy-wise (as opposed to politics-wise), I do think that the best outcome is to wait for bike infrastructure on Hawthorne, as long as it means getting a freaking bus lane. That bus lane would really do a lot of good for a lot of people.
1) For Portland’s greater good, you need transit to be fast *and* there to be good bike infrastructure.
2) If Hawthorne continues to be a major car street, transit will be slow. Slightly more so (I don’t believe the 8-16 minutes for a second, personally) if space is reallocated for bikes rather than cars/transit.
3) If you put in a bus lane and a bike lane, with the current footprint, there is no space for car lanes both ways.
4) To get more footprint, you would need to get rid of all those pedestrian bump-outs. But that costs a lot of money, and I don’t think you’re going to get Council to spend that kind of money on inner Southeast Portland right now.
5) To make Hawthorne “not a major car street” would probably be the best thing for the city. I have a few ideas for this – a) bus lanes on both sides, posts/planter divider, then center turned into an ambiguous two-way area with advisory bike lanes. b) 1 combined car/transit lane each way and protected bike lanes, but all cars have to turn off every few blocks. The cars turning off every few blocks is enforced by retractable metal posts triggered to retract by the buses – this is a real thing in Europe)

But… I don’t think these are politically feasible in Portland right now. Hopefully they will be in 10 years. Sorry. Being a bike activist is rough. Please keep at it, and keep building those bridges! Good job getting the business community on board!

David Hampsten
Guest
David Hampsten

If you need business community support (who doesn’t?), talk with your local reality association. I’ve found they are natural allies of walking and bicycling advocates – they want to sell houses to rich buyers, and walkable/cycling communities sell far easier and for much more money than car-centric communities.

soren
Guest
soren

. I’ve found they are natural allies of walking and bicycling advocates – they want to sell houses to rich buyers

The problem with this kind of collaboration with gentrifiers is that, in the long run, it harms and displaces Portlanders who are most likely to use active forms of transportation.

https://transitcenter.org/in-portland-economic-displacement-may-be-a-driver-of-transit-ridership-loss/

David Hampsten
Guest
David Hampsten

No doubt. But the same could be said of your own usual friends and allies. Life is messy that way. It’s up to you if you want to make any progress. Like Alex, I have ‘no skin in the game’.

Momo
Guest
Momo

And who lives at 50th & Hawthorne? Mt Tabor is a pretty affluent neighborhood, no? Anybody outside of that specific spot would just use Salmon, Lincoln-Harrison, or Clinton if they want a fast and direct route.

Alex Reedin
Guest
Alex Reedin

Also, I don’t know if you’ve seen this Comment Of The Week. It doesn’t necessarily prove my point or your point. But it is a really interesting story from someone who was previously poor about how that interacted with how she got around.

https://bikeportland.org/2016/01/29/comment-of-the-week-getting-around-portland-while-poor-173736

Momo
Guest
Momo

That is so incredibly tone-deaf. Just a regular bike plus all the required gear is often out of reach for low-income people, and people of color have often said that riding bikes doesn’t feel safe because of increased exposure to racist profiling from police and others. You really can’t make an equity argument for bikes based on “affordability” when it’s far easier to get a car loan with zero down than pay all the upfront costs of a bike, and you have to deal with the racial profiling issue if you want people of color to see it as a viable option.

Alex Reedin
Guest
Alex Reedin

This really points out the weakness of Council’s oversight of PBOT and the lack of transportation vision at Council. It results in project-by-project planning and a lack of willingness to consider committing to transformative change. IMO, what should have happened *years* ago in the Foster Rd. saga was a consideration of the entire 14 transit corridor, with significant portions of dedicated bus lanes along the entire corridor being IMO the best option.

The parking removal that many are suggesting, while ultimately the right answer, is not feasible without removal of myriad curb bump-outs for pedestrians. And that’s “not in scope” for this “pave/paint” “project.” Why aren’t the “projects” defined as large enough to meet our city’s supposed transportation vision/plan? No/limited support from Council.

Also… if transit is such a priority, why isn’t there a “1B” alternative suggested where the right lane is a bus lane? Oh, right, parking. I think a combined bus/bike right lane, with parking spaces repurposed for a slow-bike area, is what bike advocates should push for, If PBOT says too much bus/bike conflict – fine. Make it a bus only lane. But PBOT is letting their assumptions about parking politics constrain them from considering the best options, even within the (too) narrow confines of this “project”.

Momo
Guest
Momo

Removing parking doesn’t create space for a bus lane. It’s 36 feet in between curb extensions. At most you could do a bus lane in one direction, but then you wouldn’t have room for pedestrian median islands.

Alex Reedin
Guest
Alex Reedin

I’m proposing essentially the current lane striping, but with the right lane bus-only. I know that TriMet thinks the lanes are too narrow already (and as I recall, they are narrower than a bus, maybe 6″ narrower than a bus?) but I still think a bus lane would help buses get by. Especially since the parking would go away, so the right lane would be de facto wider for much of the length of Hawthorne.

Yes, there would be no pedestrian median islands, just as there aren’t any now. But, if the bus lane were abided by, I think it would significantly improve the subjective crossing experience for pedestrians, and probably the safety of crossing the street too.

soren
Guest
soren

IMO, what makes Hawthorne hell for pedestrians is the lack of signaled crosswalks between 30th-34th and 20th and 27th, not a lack of median islands. Both stretches have the highest average speeds so the speed limit should also be lowered to 20 mph between Grand and 30th.

Zach
Guest
Zach

One more thought:

Their negative equity and environmental grades are entirely based on the prediction that bus travel time will increase by 8-16 minutes due to being stuck behind turning cars.

What if we just ban left turns? This would be great for pedestrian and driver safety, too.

Momo
Guest
Momo

That doesn’t solve the problem, because the increased travel time is mostly due to the reduction in capacity at the Cesar Chavez intersection. It mentions that in the report in the auto travel time section. Not sure why it doesn’t mention that in the transit section, but it makes sense that both would be for the same reason. There’s no way left turns alone could account for such a large delay time.

Eawriste
Guest
Eawriste

chloe@portlandoregon.gov

Let our PBOT commissioner know how how important parking is versus safety.

ChadwickF
Guest
ChadwickF

Ooh! Can someone please draw me the PBOT sasquatch mascot driving like, a 1995 Dodge Voyager with no hubcaps, expired tags, spewing smoke & backfiring?

Eawriste
Guest
Eawriste

Here’s an example of a scenario where PBOT prioritizes safety:
1. Based on existing research and best practices PBOT proposes the safest design (ie PBL with protected intersections)
2. PBOT then builds multiple trials to test this design in real life, gathering data on what works best
3. PBOT seeks community feedback on these trials
4. PBOT tweaks the design based on feedback
5. PBOT builds the design

Instead we have a commissioner and department that precludes the safest most data-driven design based on preexisting ideology, not research, where car parking and crashes are essentially equal. Think about this. Parking and climate are equal under their criteria.