Support builds for bike lanes on Hawthorne as community awaits key report from PBOT

Healthier Hawthorne has taken over the windows of Starbucks at SE 37th.
(Photo: Zach Katz/Healthier Hawthorne)

A grassroots campaign to build support for protected bike lanes on Southeast Hawthorne Blvd has reached a fever pitch ahead of an expected release of a design recommendation by the Portland Bureau of Transportation.

The vision.
(Rendering by Healthier Hawthorne)

It’s been just over a year since we first shared how PBOT’s Hawthorne Pave and Paint project was a golden opportunity to reconfigure and restripe lanes on this key commercial corridor in one of the most bike-centric parts of the city. SE Hawthorne between 24th and 50th has a history of crashes and is designed solely for people in cars, trucks and buses. Only the bravest bike there and it’s an act of faith to cross on foot. There are lanes for parking cars, but there’s zero dedicated space for bicycling.

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Sensing the opportunity, activists organized under the Healthier Hawthorne umbrella to urge PBOT to create space for cycling. Much to their chagrin, PBOT released a report in September that did not support bike lanes. Their surprising analysis said a configuration with bike lanes would necessitate other changes that would lead to a 8-16 minute transit delay and would be harmful to climate change and racial equity goals.

But it soon became clear PBOT’s analysis was misleading: The source of transit delay was a single intersection (Cesar E. Chavez Boulevard), and PBOT staff acknowledged they didn’t evaluate a design (where bike riders would mix with other users) that would alleviate the delay and allow for bike lanes.

A month after releasing their initial evaluation, PBOT agreed to take a second look. PBOT expected to release the new recommendation in November. Then it was December.

Asked for an update today, PBOT Communications Director John Brady said, “We are still evaluating the design options, and we hope to release our recommendations soon.”

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Meanwhile, Zach Katz of Healthier Hawthorne has been working overtime to push protected bike lanes. He’s engaged city council staffers on the issue, posted about why PBOT’s evaluation report is misleading and has led a charge with volunteers to build support. They’ve created a video (above) with interviews from Hawthorne business owners in full support of protected bike lanes. A petition for the cause — boosted by coverage from KATU-TV — has garnered over 1,600 signatures. Flyers have been posted up and down Hawthorne, and the Starbucks at SE 37th has been plastered with quotes from neighbors and business owners.

Flyer spotted on Hawthorne.
(Photo: Hami Rahmani)

PBOT has heard the message.

But they’ve also heard different messages and consternation in City Hall is likely building as release of the evaluation nears. If PBOT doesn’t recommend a protected bike lane option, they’ll go against many of their own adopted planning goals and disappoint thousands of people who want them (including dozens of business owners). If they do recommend bike lanes, they might kick up the ire of other voices like neighborhood groups and others who sometimes fear change — especially when it’s coupled with a loss of auto parking and space for driving.

In October, the Hawthorne Boulevard Business Association came out against the bike lanes. Their letter detailed fears of losing “valuable parking spaces” which they claimed would “hamper visitor willingness to shop” and would “impact livability” if visitors parked on side streets.

For their part, PBOT Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty and her colleagues will stay mum on the topic until the report comes out.

Matt Glazewski, a policy advisor for Commissioner Mingus Mapps (who was speaking on his own behalf and not as a representative of the commissioner), said in a interview yesterday he thinks now is the time for bike lanes on Hawthorne. “I’m supportive of option 3-B [parking-protected bike lanes],” he said. “I think people are discounting that now [during Covid] is a good time to make those kind of changes.” He sees the bike lanes not only to serve cycling demand, but as a way to create valuable space for humans and business functions. “Providing that extra buffer from traffic gives people space to step off the curb safely and partnering with the Healthy Streets program gives space to outdoor dining and shopping.”

Stay tuned.

CORRECTION, 2/3: This post was edited to reflect that Matt Glazewski’s comments were made on his own behalf and not as a representative for Commissioner Mapps’ office. We regret any confusion caused by this error.

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and jonathan@bikeportland.org
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hamiramani
hamiramani
1 year ago

There is much excitement and anxiety building. Thanks to the work of folks like Zach Katz and others (including some on the BAC and Bike Loud PDX) – who have questioned PBOT’s assumptions made in their analyses – we are likely close to seeing a revitalization of Hawthorne. If PBOT decides to go against the will of so many folks in favor of a few entrenched voices that advocate for continued ‘car culture’ there ought to be a reevaluation of who is running that bureau. We need courageous leadership NOW.

Let’s make Hawthorne the example upon which we model (very near) future changes to Belmont, Division, Powell, Sandy…

eawriste
eawriste
1 year ago
Reply to  hamiramani

Awesome work Zach!

Zach K
Zach K
1 year ago
Reply to  eawriste

Thanks Eawriste! Let’s win this thing.

ivan
ivan
1 year ago
Reply to  Zach K

Thank you for all your work! Your post that Jonathan mentions above is really worth reading, for anyone who wants the (stupid) reasoning behind PBOT’s original claim:

https://www.healthierhawthorne.com/blog/equity-and-climate-why-pbots-alternatives-evaluation-report-is-misleading

eawriste
eawriste
1 year ago
Reply to  ivan

Yeah, really embarrassing this came out of PBoT.

was carless
was carless
1 year ago
Reply to  hamiramani

Unfortunately, PBOT has been swayed in favor of the Hawthorne Boulevard Business Association for around 40 years to not do any improvements whatsoever on Hawthorne. It is high time for change – particularly since today no one is driving or doing any business on Hawthorne.

The sidewalks are too narrow, its lacking bicycle facilities and the street is just run down and needs a major overhaul. Not to mention the lanes are too narrow and buses are too wide for the lanes, and parking on the street has never been easy. The street itself is dangerous and invites high speed driving that makes it relatively unsafe to actually cross, hindering the pedestrian and shopping experience that the foolish business owners are trying to hinder by wanting their employees to park their cars in front of their business all day long, and then complain that they don’t have enough parking.

Fred
Fred
1 year ago
Reply to  was carless

Thanks for this history. I’ve not lived in Portland for my entire life, but I’ve wondered for a while why Hawthorne is just the worst of all worlds: horrible to drive on, thanks to the many aggressive drivers who just *have* to get around you (b/c they can, in the narrow left lane), esp when you are driving the speed limit; horrible to walk on, since you take your life in your hands to cross; and impossible to bike on.

Aren’t there many examples of two-lane streets in Portland that accommodate cars (with parking in front of businesses), bikes, and peds? (Belmont?). Hawthorne business owners need to realize their street would be SO MUCH BETTER if they would agree to eliminate the four-lane speedway that makes everyone feel unsafe.

Momo
Momo
1 year ago
Reply to  Fred

It’s worth pointing out that the Hawthorne Business Association IS endorsing getting rid of the four narrow travel lanes. They just prefer the three-lane option (two lanes and a center turn lane with median island crossings at regular intervals) rather than bike lanes.

Oregon Mamacita
Oregon Mamacita
1 year ago
Reply to  Momo

I work on Hawthorne and I agree that is it is far from ideal for any mode of transportation. But I just cannot imagine how bike lanes could be incorporated since the streets and sidewalks are already narrow. It seems like the bike lanes should be Lincoln etc. No excuse for not having better bike parking. Also, people are going to want an east-west thoroughfare between Burnside and Powell. This is not a political post, this is a post about wanting better driving and safety. There are lots of aggressive work trucks with Washington plates on SE Hawthorne. Those drivers are not going away.

Brian
Brian
1 year ago

Lincoln is already pretty chill. My hope in support of this is that I can ride up and down Hawthorne. I dig the street and the vibe, I like hanging out on it, and I would like to check out multiple spots on any given day from 52nd down to 12th on my bike with my son. I don’t necessarily need it as a commuter option. It’s more of a destination option that could use a livability improvement.

Oregon Mamacita
Oregon Mamacita
1 year ago
Reply to  Brian

My office overlooks Hawthorne. It is a busy route for delivery trucks and also emergency vehicles. I like hanging out at the Bagdad too, but I just don’t see how it becomes like Clinton. It sure would be nice to de-clutter all the broken down cars on the side streets and make the AirBnB hosts provide on-site parking if they are going to host 4 people who all show up in separate SUVs. To me, de-cluttering the streets by taking away all night parking would be helpful.

Hello, Kitty
Hello, Kitty
1 year ago

Maybe City Council should simply ask residents and businesses what they want as part of their decision making process.

hamiramani
hamiramani
1 year ago

Totally agree. How many times in human history have unpopular decisions ultimately been judged to have been the right ones? I would venture to guess, many times.

Hello, Kitty
Hello, Kitty
1 year ago
Reply to  hamiramani

Often. And often they’ve been wrong. It’s also easier to sustain unpopular decisions in an undemocratic system; less so in ours.

Hello, Kitty
Hello, Kitty
1 year ago

Your complaint was that Council has painful memories of Hawthorne’s past battles, so rather than rely on what people thought then, I was proposing they refresh themselves about what people think now.

I suspect they’d find that people’s thinking has evolved. Last time this came up, HBBA (the Hawthorne business association) supported Option 1 (i.e. keep things the same). Now they support Option 2 (1 vehicle lane, center turn lane). And who knows — with solid evidence that PBLs would increase business at local shops, and strong backing from PBOT, maybe they’d support Option 3 (PBLs).

I fundamentally disagree with your assertion that we should leave this to the “trained professionals” (who, in any event, support Option 2). The Rose Quarter project is much more technical than this one, yet most here (including me) want a strong community voice in that project. It doesn’t work to only involve the public in decision making on projects you personally oppose.

If you want faster progress, we need to build public support for change, and give more weight to community voices. Community pressure is how we got our 25% mode share goal and our (more) aggressive emissions targets (albeit neither has turned out to be a stunning success). In this case, if we want PBLs, that’s the way forward.

SERider
SERider
1 year ago
Reply to  Hello, Kitty

So many projects in Portland have been killed or massively delayed by death by a thousand public outreaches.

I'll Show Up
I'll Show Up
1 year ago

Love the video and show of support. Equally, or more so, I love seeing all of the BIPOC business owners along Hawthorne!

was carless
was carless
1 year ago

How about they build a parking garage for cars, and let the streets be used for people.

They could start by knocking down the Bagdad Theater for a nice 3-story parking garage. That should make everyone happy!

SERider
SERider
1 year ago
Reply to  was carless

What?????

SERider
SERider
1 year ago
Reply to  SERider

Also important to point out that New Seasons essentially did this when they went in (making their own parking structure. Does anyone know if that was required by the city?

SilkySlim
SilkySlim
1 year ago
Reply to  was carless

Not sure if I agree w/ the Bagdad knock down portion, but I kind of hear where I think you are coming from. I think….

In my head I’m saying: how many street parking spots per maybe 10 blocks of Hawthorne (in my head I’m picturing 30th to 39th section)? Please correct me, but I thinking at high capacity like 6 cars per block, multiplied by 20, that’s 120 cars that “need” (I know, not really) somewhere else to be to handle a top-tier street reconfig.

If there is a handy spot available to serve as a parking lot or garage, couldn’t that be a win-win? Drivers that need a spot can find one. They don’t spend time circling, they just go straight to the lot. The street is improved for better foot/bike/remaining car/transit traffic.

And yes, I know goal of street config is to make it more attractive to visit w/o your personal vehicle. But I’d take this compromise.

SilkySlim
SilkySlim
1 year ago
Reply to  SilkySlim

BTW, this idea is driven by the success I saw in my home town, Silver Spring, MD. The centerpiece of that project, which has been lauded from just about every angle, was shutting down a dead center block (Ellsworth Dr.) to be only pedestrian traffic. Just one long extra long block, but the basically the town epic center, with movie theaters, restaurants, shopping, music, etc. (sound familiar?) right there. A big thing that made it work was an almost adjacent parking garage with big capacity.

That’s kind of what I’m picturing for Hawthorne.

Zach K
Zach K
1 year ago
Reply to  SilkySlim

Yeah, Hawthorne really needs a public parking garage. Right now there are dozens (hundreds?) of private lots for specific businesses (often hidden behind them) that have a capacity way in excess of their actual needs—so a lot of wasted space that would be better served by one or two centralized public lots.

SERider
SERider
1 year ago
Reply to  SilkySlim

Wouldn’t it makes sense to just expand the Fred Meyer’s parking lot then?

mh
1 year ago

I love

    the repeated cuts to oversized motor vehicles putting out visible (and audible) exhaust. I wish an interviewee would have explicitly said they don’t care about loss of auto parking. Several suggested it, but no short, pithy statement. I’m impressed by Zach’s tenacity and the very well done video.

ivan
ivan
1 year ago

I take it this isn’t the moment to pressure PBOT directly or this post or Healthier Hawthorne would advocate for it?

Zach K
Zach K
1 year ago
Reply to  ivan

Hey Ivan, the best way to show your support right now is to sign the petition to show Commissioner Hardesty how many people—not just the “bike community” but the WHOLE community—want a safer street: https://www.change.org/hawthornebike

And of course, sharing the petition with everyone you know & on social media would help tremendously.

ivan
ivan
1 year ago
Reply to  Zach K

Yep, signed that awhile back — but I’ll push it out to folks I know.

Brian
Brian
1 year ago

Upper Hawthorne has been my favorite urban place to hang out in the city since moving here 23 years ago. I recently moved to SE 52nd, just off of Hawthorne, and spend a considerable time walking and biking on the street. In addition to having lanes for cycling, a strong case can be made for increasing the enjoyment of the area by decreasing the auto-centric nature of the street. It’s just so much less enjoyable to walk the street, dine outside, have a beer outside at the Bagdad with cars flying by. When I’m with my son I constantly have one eye on the street for safety. Not to mention the noise, exhaust, horns blaring out of anger.

eawriste
eawriste
1 year ago
Reply to  Brian

My hope for the future of the area would be to make a 50th/52nd one-way couplet and PBL. This would connect Hawthorne to Foster, which also needs a redesign.

Damien
Damien
1 year ago
Reply to  Brian

I find this is frequently missing from the discussion when I argue for things like diverters with my neighborhood association – too many think strictly in terms of cars versus bikes “and well, there just aren’t that many people on bikes” while leaving aside that fewer and slower cars make the neighborhood nicer for everyone else, whether or not they’re on bikes.

SERider
SERider
1 year ago
Reply to  Damien

It usually helps your case to go at it from the safety standpoint. Talk about kids walking next to the street or schools.

Steve Scarich
Steve Scarich
1 year ago

‘fever pitch’ journalism at its best.

FDUP
FDUP
1 year ago

Probably referring to this:

“Only the bravest bike there and it’s an act of faith to cross on foot.”

Really? Thousands of pedestrians cross Hawthorne safely every day and if you put your mind to it, it’s not so hard to bike the flat parts safely in both directions either.

Hello, Kitty
Hello, Kitty
1 year ago
Reply to  FDUP

Heck, the downhill part’s not to bad either. If you hit the lights right, you have the street to yourself. I frequently ride uphill as well, at least as far as the hardware store.

hamiramani
hamiramani
1 year ago

100% accurate and appropriate.

eawriste
eawriste
1 year ago
Reply to  FDUP

The “get over it” ideology, which has dominated cycling for decades does not address people who would bike if it were safe. It does not address the needs of the community when families wish to simply get to the store.

hamiramani
hamiramani
1 year ago
Reply to  eawriste

Totally agree! It is utterly selfish to think “I can do it, so can/should you”. If our children (and older folks) cannot ride their bikes without fear for life and limb then our streets too unsafe for everyone.

eawriste
eawriste
1 year ago
Reply to  hamiramani

Apart from safety the “I can do it, so should you” mentality does not address the incredible economic boost PBLs nearly always give to adjacent businesses.

hamiramani
hamiramani
1 year ago
Reply to  FDUP

I invite you to take 10-15 minutes during peak hours and watch pedestrians play Hawthorne Frogger and put their lives at risk just to cross the street. As for biking…forget it! I consider myself a pretty hearty person who bikes essentially everyday to work (and for almost all my other needs), but I will not bike on Hawthorne.

rick
rick
1 year ago
Reply to  hamiramani

Hawthorne is a world away from Barbur Boulevard or Boones Ferry Road in Portland.

hamiramani
hamiramani
1 year ago
Reply to  rick

Does that make it okay? We strive for the best on ALL of our roads not for the lowest bar. That has been the status quo for decades. Time for real change.

soren
soren
1 year ago

I live two blocks off Hawthorne and would stand to benefit immensely from pedestrian and cycling improvements. However, I don’t support this project because it improves a predominantly well-off area (and one that is gentrifying into a very wealthy area) that has better infrastructure than most of Portland’s marginalized communities. The climate argument is, of course, garbage but PBOT’s equity lens is good to see and desperately needed:

One way that structural racism has been present in the planning profession has been the tendency to focus on aggregate benefits and impacts rather than looking at disparate benefits and impacts for different races. We also have not always considered the effect on lower-income households who may be forced to live further out from a corridor study area but do travel through it. Using the PBOT Equity Matrix, we can see that the areas immediately surrounding the Hawthorne Blvd project area have higher-income households and lower-percentage people of color than the city as a whole Given the need to invest in areas with lower incomes and more people of color, this supports our overall approach of limiting the cost of this safety project and leveraging the paving project.

source: www[dot]portland[dot]gov/sites/default/files/2020-08/hawthorne-pave-and-paint-evaluation-report[dot]pdf

We live in a thoroughly racist and classist socioeconomic system and people in well-off inner neighborhoods who ignore this to their benefit often help perpetuate inequity

Sadly, I believe that the Portland political pendulum is swinging back towards the “wants” of wealthy people so I would not be surprised to see a renewed focus on inner Portland (e.g. more “Carbon Gentrification”).

soren
soren
1 year ago

I would support driver-calming via grinding/re-striping and ped/disabled improvements (crosswalks, islands, and ramps) but agree with PBOT that costs should be kept low to free up money for more needed work (traffic violence mitigation and transportation equity). It’s likely that PBOT will continue to see substantial revenue drops in 2021 and possibly beyond so the chronic zero-sum-transpo-funding-game is likely to worsen.

“I mean, at what point and at what cost is it OK in your mind to invest in roads west of 82nd?”

I know its unpopular but I’ve been calling for a temporary moratorium on infrastructure in transportation-rich areas until basic infrastructure is funded in less-advantaged areas. IMO, Portland desperately needs “transportation equity” bonding that would shift these improvements forward but I’m not sure there is sufficient political will.

SERider
SERider
1 year ago
Reply to  soren

“IMO, Portland desperately needs “transportation equity” bonding that would shift these improvements forward but I’m not sure there is sufficient political will.”

Yet another reason to get rid of the at-large City Council system.

eawriste
eawriste
1 year ago
Reply to  soren

I strongly disagree Soren. We should be focusing on a building a safe network connecting all neighborhoods.

1) Simply because the median income is higher and it is primarily white, does not mean only those people use it. When we build infrastructure, particularly a bicycle network, we cannot only build the network in poorer neighborhoods.

2) Coming from E Portland, I know how much different the needs are compared to inner SE. We need to build protected bike lanes along 122nd, Stark/Washington, and most if not all of the major thoroughfares in East Portland. But the main point is building a network. PBoT has been building milquetoast, piecemeal infrastructure for decades without focusing on connecting neighborhoods safely and practically with protected infrastructure. Using “Equity” to avoid building this safe network, just maintains barriers between neighborhoods.

hamiramani
hamiramani
1 year ago
Reply to  eawriste

So well-said!

soren
soren
1 year ago
Reply to  eawriste

“building a safe network connecting all neighborhoods.”

As someone who lives two blocks from Hawthorne, I agree with the PBOT report that bike lanes would not connect well with lower-income areas.

If we want to connect “all neighborhoods”, we would prioritize walk/roll infra on all of Burnside, all of Stark/Washington, all of Powell, all of Broadway/Weidler/Halsey, all of Sandy, all of Lombard, all of Columbia, all of Barbur etc. (Hawthorne was not designated a major bikeway in the 2030 bike plan precisely because it does not link up well with the network). And if racial capitalism constrains us from rapidly building these networks, 15 min NG’s with associated ped/roll infra* in ALL of portland should also be a priority.

cmh89
cmh89
1 year ago
Reply to  soren

Judging the project by the neighborhood around it seems pretty flawed to me. It is indicative of PBOTs neighborhood approach to planning over transportation network approach to planning.

One of the nice things about the Rose Lanes plans is that they focused on the end user and where they were going rather than the neighborhood the Rose Lane was in.

I live in a chronically under-served neighborhood (St. Johns). We have terrible public transit, unsafe roads, and no bike infrastructure of note. I hate that the city ignores us, but I still wouldn’t complain about the city converting N Willamette or N Concord into real, safe, greenways, even though those neighborhoods are affluent.

We should always take easy wins when we can. This is taking advantage of something PBOT is already going to do. If we were talking about a $10mm redo of Hawthorne with all the bells and whistles, we’d be having another conversation.

X
X
1 year ago
Reply to  cmh89

Three bus lines serve St Johns. One of them goes to Milwaukie by way of Cully but maybe some people are heading SE anyway?

I’m guessing you would feel better served if Trimet did a better job of connecting bus lines. They would do a better job of making connections (and keeping spacing between buses) if street designs did a better job of supporting bus operations. I ride bikes almost always and buses maybe twice a year, but unless we move the bus lines off Hawthorne I think they should have priority.

Efficient bus operation in inner SE serves people who live miles to the East. Among other things, it can bring them to businesses located on Hawthorne Blvd.

eawriste
eawriste
1 year ago
Reply to  X

We can do both. Limiting commuter traffic through Hawthorne is easy by placing bus/bike only signs at major intersections. People can still drive via local roads along Hawthorne, but bus and bike transport can easily take priority if we limit commuter car traffic.

Hello, Kitty
Hello, Kitty
1 year ago
Reply to  eawriste

People can still drive via local roads along Hawthorne

Meaning people can drive on Salmon and Lincoln as alternatives to Hawthorne? Not sure I’m on board with that.

eawriste
eawriste
1 year ago
Reply to  Hello, Kitty

Reread, please HK. Cars can still drive on Hawthorne with this idea.

Hello, Kitty
Hello, Kitty
1 year ago
Reply to  eawriste

Sorry — I was confused by “bus/bike only signs” and “people can still drive via local roads along Hawthorne”.

Neither sounds like you intended for people to be driving on Hawthorne. Can you please clarify what you meant?

eawriste
eawriste
1 year ago
Reply to  Hello, Kitty

Sure. Currently Hawthorne is used by long-distance commuters to drive through the neighborhood, when Powell or other major streets can easily suffice. Limiting this cut through commuter traffic and prioritizing other modes (eg buses, bikes, pedestrians) is quite easy with placing “bus/bike only” signs at major cross streets (eg 39th, 20th, 12th). Local traffic and delivery vehicles have access to Hawthorne, but cut through commuter traffic is diverted to other major streets.

Hello, Kitty
Hello, Kitty
1 year ago
Reply to  eawriste

I have no complaint about diverting through vehicles to Powell (there are no other suitable E-W streets), but when I’ve proposed that in the past, PBOT has told me it is both infeasible and inequitable. If they’re wrong, I’m open to the idea.

cmh89
cmh89
1 year ago
Reply to  X

Three bus lines serve St Johns. One of them goes to Milwaukie by way of Cully but maybe some people are heading SE anyway?

I’m not saying we don’t have service, I’m saying our service sucks. It’s infrequent and slow. Downtown is ~7 miles and I work an 8-5 job. For me to take the bus, I’d spend around 2.5 -3 hours a day between riding and waiting for buses. Partly this has to do with the terrible times. For example, the 16 goes from downtown St. Johns to SW 6th and Oak in around 30 minutes, which isn’t bad at all, the only problem is it comes a little less than once an hour in the afternoon and less than once an hour in the morning so I get the choice of arriving an hour and ten minutes early for work or twenty minutes late.

I just Googled to see how long it’d take to get from my house to downtown Milwuakie right now, the fastest is an hour and 40 minutes to go 15 miles. It’s a 26 minute drive right now.

Efficient buses don’t mean anything to people who can’t rely on them because our service is so poor. The fact that there isn’t a bus that just runs up and down Lombard bring people to the Yellow Line just shows what a joke TriMet. If they had built the SW corridor, it would have been faster to travel from Tigard to downtown than from St. Johns to downtown.

Doug Allen
Doug Allen
1 year ago
Reply to  cmh89

There is a bus that runs up and down Lombard, the 75, and it connects St. Johns with the Yellow Line. Increasing the frequency of both the 75 and the Yellow line would make this connection more useful. They both meet TriMet’s current “Frequent Service” standard, but that standard is inadequate. The recently failed Metro funding measure had nothing for improving bus frequency in it.

soren
soren
1 year ago
Reply to  cmh89

“…but I still wouldn’t complain about the city converting N Willamette or N Concord into real, safe, greenways”

I was not complaining about Neighborhood Greenways. And, BTW, Hawthorne is paralleled by four Neighborhood Greenways (3 blocks to the North, 4 blocks to South, 10 blocks to the South, and 13 blocks to the South).No other Portland neighborhood comes close to being as greenway-rich as the inner east-side. (Yes, these facilities should be improved but that is off-topic.)

“If we were talking about a $10mm redo of Hawthorne.”

I’m assuming that the design, associated-outreach, and implementation of cage-separated bike lanes from 11th to 50th* would cost millions. If someone were to prove me wrong, I reserve the right to revise my stance.
(PBOT’s reluctance to install temporary, cheap infra is pathetic but I see no signs of this changing.)

*disconnected bike lanes from 24th to 39th (or even 50th) would be a very subpar implementation. ideally, cage-protected bike lanes would run from 11th to 50th and then connect to the 50s NG via traffic-calmed spur.

cmh89
cmh89
1 year ago
Reply to  soren

I also don’t know the cost. I do know that will cost twice as much as it should for half the value after PBOT compromises with every NIMBY they can find.

I agree with you, it does come down to cost. I’d prefer PBOT stopped building bike lanes all together and focused on ped safety. If they have really wanted to make biking easy, they can use traffic diverters for 1/100th the cost and a thousand times more useful.

soren
soren
1 year ago
Reply to  cmh89

“I’d prefer PBOT stopped building bike lanes all together and focused on ped safety.”

Me too.

eawriste
eawriste
1 year ago
Reply to  cmh89

I think this is a red herring and a fundamental misunderstanding of street design. It is virtually impossible to build for one safe mode, you build for ALL. For example, narrowing traffic lanes allow shorter crossings for pedestrians, but also slows people in cars making it safer for people on bikes and in cars. PBLs typically benefit pedestrians and people in cars just as much as people on bikes, for much the same reason. A lot of the fatalities in East Portland can be mitigated by slower speeds, building PBLs along with pedestrian medians, and narrowing traffic lanes, particularly at crossings, to just one lane. Fewer pedestrians get injured, but it also benefits drivers who drive slower, more predictably, and bikes who have physical separation.

soren
soren
1 year ago
Reply to  eawriste

I don’t disagree but the unwillingness of Portland to adequately fund life-saving crossing treatments and signaled crosswalks on the worst stretches of its high-crash corridors requires traffic violence triage, ATMO.

dwk
dwk
1 year ago
Reply to  soren

Completely agree and I live in nice Northeast,
This city right now needs to fix the crap that is broken and that is a lot of stuff.
Hawthorne is fine…

Hello, Kitty
Hello, Kitty
1 year ago
Reply to  dwk

If we don’t fix Hawthorne now, the road base gets damaged and then we have a much more expensive project on our hands. This project is fixing the leaky roof before the house gets moldy and rotten.

SERider
SERider
1 year ago
Reply to  Hello, Kitty

Yes, this happened when PBOT re-paved Woodstock 6-7 years ago. The old pavement wasn’t THAT bad, but they claimed they didn’t want to wait for it to get worse. Unfortunately there they refused to put in any bike lanes (so the lanes just disappear for the “downtown” Woodstock area, even though they are there after 52nd and before 39th. PBOT was still trying their “if we just make the speed limit slow, bikes don’t need their own lane” argument.

NM
NM
1 year ago

Safety for peds is significantly increased with the addition of a center turn lane in Alternative 2 while keeping the option available to widen the sidewalks in the future. Creating a potentially unsafe mixing zone at Chavez for bikes in order to not decimate transit reliability, eliminating the ability to extend the sidewalks into the future, and limiting the safety improvements of marked and unmarked crosswalks (of which there are many, and heavily used) by not having a center turn lane all in a neighborhood with lovely greenways and connections to/bike parking for the business district – I’m just not sold that *this* is the protected bike lane project to demand and keep PBOT staff time and political energy focused on.

eawriste
eawriste
1 year ago
Reply to  NM

That is exactly why we should push PBoT to install protected intersections, which shorten the crossing distance. Why shoot for safety for just one mode when you can design for all?

NM
NM
1 year ago
Reply to  eawriste

Right, that is my point: the protected bike lane option limits safety improvements (current and future) for people walking

Zach K
Zach K
1 year ago
Reply to  NM

No, it doesn’t. Two lanes for cars calms traffic much more than three, and is easier to cross. And take another look at PBOT’s mockup of 3b; even without a center turn lane, there is still room for median crossing islands. And since this project is just restriping the street, it doesn’t at all preclude wider sidewalks in further capital reconstructions.

NM
NM
1 year ago
Reply to  Zach K

The benefit of a center turn lane goes beyond median islands, it allows for safer turning by vehicles which is one of the leading causes of pedestrian crashes at intersections.

Future sidewalk extensions would require reducing the bike lane width (or would require removing all parking).

Zach
Zach
1 year ago
Reply to  NM

There are MANY effective ways to ensure drivers turn safely without sacrificing safety for people on bikes and scooters (like banning left turns, which is already in place at some intersections, curb extensions to calm turning radii, etc). Center turn lanes mostly just enable cars to drive faster, and often, speed (see: Fallon Smart’s death).

Streets that are two lanes and yet are very safe for pedestrians: NW 23rd, NW 21st, NE Alberta, NE Mississippi, SE Division, NE 28th….

Hello, Kitty
Hello, Kitty
1 year ago
Reply to  Zach

Center lanes are plenty safe when coupled with median crossing islands, as they would be on Hawthorne.

soren
soren
1 year ago
Reply to  Hello, Kitty

Median islands are one of FHWA’s “proven safety countermeasures” with a ~56% reduction in pedestrian crashes according to their systematic review.

safety[dot]fhwa.dot.gov/provencountermeasures/ped_medians/

And 4 to 3 traffic lane conversions alone decrease pedestrian crashes by ~19-47%.

safety[dot]fhwa.dot.gov/provencountermeasures/road_diets/

eawriste
eawriste
1 year ago
Reply to  soren

Great to see data on 4 to 3 conversions again. I agree that 4-3 is a good option, except here we have the opportunity to also provide safety for ALL modes. Right now the de facto PBoT design hierarchy places car capacity at top, then parking, then pedestrian priorities, then buses, then finally bike facilities if they fit. The city has a theoretical hierarchy of modes, but ask yourself if pedestrians and bikes are actually 1st and 2nd, what would a street look like? Would we see as many “crossing closed” signs? Would we see as much commercial parking? I haven’t seen any street designs that reflect the policy hierarchy.

Zach K
Zach K
1 year ago
Reply to  soren

There’s a LOT of missing data there. Two things that data doesn’t take into account are:

1) The even more dramatic pedestrian crash decreases that a 4-2 lane conversion provides (there are no studies on this yet AFAIK, but we have plenty of evidence that 2-lane streets are safe, especially with traffic calming–just look at Alberta or NW 23rd)

2) The fact that the center turn lane does nothing for the safety of people biking. It’s easy to pretend this doesn’t matter, but the 20-year-old delivery cyclist I talked to yesterday who had just gotten sideswiped by a truck on Hawthorne deserves to be kept safe from the dangers of automobiles. He could have easily been killed, and he knew it; that sh*t is traumatizing. We need to prevent injuries and fatalities as best we can, and protected bike lanes are proven to do that. Center turn lanes have a track record of encouraging speed, and killing children like Fallon Smart.

Hello, Kitty
Hello, Kitty
1 year ago
Reply to  Zach K

moving to comment below

NM
NM
1 year ago
Reply to  Zach K

There’s a lot to respond to here, but the end result is I still am not convinced of this project being a win for everyone so there is no point in debating each ped safety measure that is or is not included.

Final point I’ll make: the petition seems to imply that people in mobility devices will use this protected bike lane as well. I’d really encourage a closer look of whether that is even feasible with the width – especially given the previous point I made that if sidewalks were to be extended in the future, the bike lane width would need to narrow even more – as well as if people with disabilities or disability rights groups have been consulted on that proposal.

Zach K
Zach K
1 year ago
Reply to  Hello, Kitty

Theoretically, but:

A) PBOT made it clear they’re not doing any concrete construction with this project, so there wouldn’t be any median crossing islands

and more importantly, B) that’s an unacceptable design because it would come at the expense of micromobility safety entirely.

Center turn lanes are a solid design option for traffic calming genuine urban “highways,” like Powell or Cesar Chavez–but Hawthorne is a neighborhood main street, not a highway, so we need to treat it as such.

Hello, Kitty
Hello, Kitty
1 year ago
Reply to  Zach K

Center turn lanes have a track record of encouraging speed, and killing children like Fallon Smart.

Median islands solve this problem completely, and might even be safer for pedestrians than a two lane profile because they effectively turn the larger street into two single-lane one-way streets.

PBOT is installing islands as part of the project, and the design seems appropriate for a street with volumes like Hawthorne’s.

This isn’t an argument against bike lanes, but please let’s at least get the facts right.

Zach K
Zach K
1 year ago
Reply to  Hello, Kitty

PBOT says in the report that it’s possible to install median islands in a two-lane configuration. In fact, they even show us what they’ll look like in the 3b design:comment image

Momo
Momo
1 year ago
Reply to  Zach K

It’s just barely possible to fit them in, but the median islands would only be 6 feet wide (that’s very narrow, barely a refuge) and the bike lanes would narrow to 5 feet with no buffer from traffic. The other option, with the center turn lane, allows for 10 to 12 foot wide median islands.

Zach K
Zach K
1 year ago
Reply to  Momo

The marginal benefits of 10-12 foot wide median islands over a 6-foot ones would be not-so-marginally outweighed by the downside of a center turn lane encouraging faster speeds. (Not to mention zero safe bike/scooter infrastructure).

Hello, Kitty
Hello, Kitty
1 year ago
Reply to  Zach K

You keep tying center turn lanes to increased speed. Can you explain where you see the connection a bit more?

I’m also nut understanding where the loading zones will be if there is no place for a truck to stop on the street.

Zach K
Zach K
1 year ago
Reply to  Hello, Kitty

Wider streets encourage speed, narrower streets encourage people to slow down. This is traffic calming 101.

How do you think deliveries work on all the two-lane retail streets like NW 23rd, NW 21st, SE Division, NE Alberta, NE Missisippi, NE 28th…? They either find a parking spot or use a side street (some of which have designated loading zones).

SERider
SERider
1 year ago
Reply to  Zach K

So does speed of buses count for anything in your equations?

Hello, Kitty
Hello, Kitty
1 year ago
Reply to  Zach K

Yes, I took the class. Center turn lanes with median islands are more like alternating sections of wider and narrower streets. It’s not clear to me that that would increase speeds. Maybe, maybe not. I think it’s a legitimate question, but I’m not sure your certainty in the answer is warranted.

Given the density of merchants and the scarcity of parking on the side streets (i.e. you’d better hope the zone is available when your delivery arrives), having watched this sort of issue play out before, I expect the loading issue will become a stumbling block if this option becomes a serious possibility.

Not only must there be a manageable solution (as you say, it works on NW 21/23), but people whose livelihoods depend on it will have to believe it will work.

mark smith
mark smith
1 year ago
Reply to  Hello, Kitty

I love center turn lanes because I park in them as a truck driver. But otherwise they are wasted space. Get ride of them. Businesses know how to work around congested areas. Putting in parking for trucks is a waste. They are always full because some delivery driver hogs them for hours or some car drivers camps out with a disabled placard and parking enforcement refuses to do anything .

It’s a mystery t me how everyone is worked up that a bike might impede a bus. What a problem to have! Right now millions of cars block buses every day and nobody cares…

If the street is slow enough…you don’t need bike lanes.

Momo
Momo
1 year ago
Reply to  Zach K

You’re wrong about A, PBOT has said that median islands would happen with the project with either 3-lane or 2-lane option. You might be thinking of the curbs, PBOT has said they’re not moving curbs around or removing curb extensions. That’s because moving curbs changes the drainage and triggers all kinds of extra costs, whereas median islands are pretty low-cost and easy to install.

Zach K
Zach K
1 year ago
Reply to  Momo

Ah yes, you’re correct about that. My mistake. Still have no idea why you’d want an over-sized median—that encourages speeding by making Hawthorne feel more like a raceway than neighborhood street—that also prevents safe bike access.

NM
NM
1 year ago
Reply to  Zach K

Continuing to argue against anyone who cares about the trade-offs of pedestrian safety elements of this project is really not inspiring a sense that you’re open to collaborative advocacy. It’s 2021, and this feels like a 2004 campaign that is way too myopic on bikes. IMO, this style of advocacy is part of why we don’t see a broader investment in bicycling infrastructure in this city. A little outreach and collaboration with folks who might have a different approach and priority goes a long ways to actually getting projects like this built. Just saying the words equity and accessibility in the petition doesn’t mean the project actually does those things, especially when the response to concerns in those areas is to just tell people they are wrong. This campaign is super frustrating because I support protected bike lanes.

Zach K
Zach K
1 year ago
Reply to  NM

People want to bike on Hawthorne and not be scared to die. Sorry if that feels too “myopic on bikes” for you.

NM
NM
1 year ago
Reply to  Zach K

Wow. I want people walking to also not be afraid to die (and actually not die, since people walking are the ones who have been killed on Hawthorne), and I want people with disabilities to not be expected to share a narrow bike lane with fast cyclists because we’ve prioritized that space over a wider sidewalk. I also think there are about 500 projects that are more important than this in places where people on bikes and walking are killed regularly. Hope you’ll show up with the same energy for those, and maybe engage with folks who care about safe streets in their community with a little more respect. Good luck.

Aaron
1 year ago
Reply to  Zach K

your inability and unwillingness to reflect on good faith and well-intentioned criticism about how to be an effective advocate from people who have spent their lives fighting for safer streets in this community is going to be your downfall, dude. I urge you to consider that maybe all of the comments you are hearing from long-time advocates who have had demonstrable success fighting for safer streets are not trying to silence you or stop your work, but instead pleading with you to consider alternative methods of community engagement – not just because it’s morally the right thing to do, but also you’ll be infinitely more successful in the long run. Your dismissal of good faith critiques suggests you’re less interest in improving the community as much as putting your name behind a particular end outcome. You will actually be a more effective advocate for livable streets if you lead with empathy and willingness to engage with folks with different perspectives; I don’t know how else to articulate that the continued smug dismissal of these other concerns is doing grave danger to a growing-but-still-fragile effort to reframe livable streets as an initiative that benefits everyone, not just middle class white folks affluent enough to live in inner southeast Portland.

Steve B
Steve B
1 year ago
Reply to  Zach K

Yikes, Zach. Not a great way to respond to constructive criticism.

If you’re truly and honestly concerned about folks dying while biking, you might want to look at where those bike fatalities are actually happening. You might be surprised to find out they are not concentrated around Hawthorne Blvd. NM is raising concerns about the safety of all road users and especially pedestrians, as well as discussing the nuances of this project and how it may have an adverse impact on our communities that are not fortunate enough to receive this level of attention or investment.

Would a bike lane on Hawthorne be nice? Yes, absolutely. Must we place it there while ignoring very real concerns about impacts to transit priority and walking safety, about racial equity, about geographic and class equity? No way!

Zach Katz
Zach Katz
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve B

I believe—for reasons I’ve stated many times—that 3b is the safest option for pedestrians. Some people seem to disagree, and that’s fine. Feel free to message me on FB if you want to discuss more; I don’t think the comments here are the best place for a civil discussion. Thanks.

Steve B
Steve B
1 year ago
Reply to  Zach Katz

The comments here aren’t the best place for a civil discussion when folks disagree with you apparently? Zach, who have you reached out to and worked with among folks who disagree with you, particularly those who work in disability rights, pedestrian advocacy, transit advocacy, BIPOC communites? It’s not their job to reach out to you privately. You’ve been very public about your “vision”, your unwillingness to listen and consider other viewpoints while responding with condescension is alarming.

eawriste
eawriste
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve B

Steve, “Would a bike lane on Hawthorne be nice?” perfectly exemplifies the traditional view of how we use cycles: they are just toys for recreation and should be kept on residential streets. You may well ask “Would sidewalks be nice?” or “Would car lanes be nice?”

People belong on a street regardless of mode. Pretending there are transit and pedestrian tradeoffs while questioning whether safe space for bikes should even exist illustrates a very real bias in your question.

Zach Katz
Zach Katz
1 year ago
Reply to  eawriste

Eawriste, exactly. Thanks for articulating that in a much better way than what I was attempting with my (admittedly snippy) earlier comment.

Steve B
Steve B
1 year ago
Reply to  eawriste

Who is “pretending” there are transit and pedestrian trade offs? There very clearly are and they have been stated many times in this comment section. Because you want to ignore these *real concerns* does not mean they aren’t real.

Bikes belong on Hawthorne and I’m not debating that. I’ve been advocating for bikeways in this town for over a decade. I also care about transit users and pedestrian users, and thankfully so does PBOT and Commissioner Hardesty (and former Commissioner Eudaly).

eawriste
eawriste
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve B

Then we fully agree Steve. Protected intersections are what you’re looking for. That is the safest design for pedestrians, based on decades of research. Similar design is used to expedite bus riders. If you want to fight for all modes, that is the goal.

eawriste
eawriste
1 year ago
Reply to  NM

NM I understand you feel frustrated, and I honestly have no idea what you mean. You state that the campaign is “myopic on bikes” and yet the project itself improves safety for all modes. What is the different approach you propose? What are your concerns with equity and accessibility?

NM
NM
1 year ago
Reply to  eawriste

I’ve made a lot of comments on this thread, I think I’ll let those represent my concerns and thoughts. Again, I don’t think this is the project we should be focusing our political and advocacy energy on so I’m going to take my own advice and stop weighing in.

eawriste
eawriste
1 year ago
Reply to  NM

Perhaps read again. Protected intersections improve safety for peds, people on bikes, and drivers by narrowing the road and shortening crossing distances at intersections. This is standard design in most European countries. Here’s a video to illustrate.

NM
NM
1 year ago
Reply to  eawriste

I understand what a protected intersection is but that doesn’t seem like what is being proposed in any scenario here?

eawriste
eawriste
1 year ago
Reply to  NM

You’re unfortunately correct NM. That is why we need to push for PBoT to include this in their standard design for PBLs. Often times PBoT will build curb extensions and then use them to preclude building safe infrastructure, or build a PBL without safe intersection design (eg Cully Blvd). PBoT often points to the cost, but NYC DOT often uses simple paint and bollards to make this effect.

Ted Labbe
Ted Labbe
1 year ago

I’d like to suggest to the Healthier Hawthorne folks (and to PBOT) that they reconsider and rework the paint and pave alternatives to consider how we can boost protected space for bikes AND large-form trees in the Hawthorne St right-of-way. If you look at PBOT’s original design alternatives they show only skinny green street planters but there is no enhanced widths for planting medium- or large-form trees. We need Portland bike/ped activists to partner with urban tree advocates to make both of these things happen. The parking lobby is loud and strong in Portland.

Tree advocates have been saying to PBOT for years that we need better designs that integrate medium- and large-form trees. They have ignored us! Maybe we should get together on this one thing! Let’s talk!

eawriste
eawriste
1 year ago
Reply to  Ted Labbe

I love this idea ted. Mid block parking spaces can certainly be a good location for trees (which Hawthorne lacks), and protected intersection space can have low bushes and plants (for visibility).

I'll Show Up
I'll Show Up
1 year ago

I hate to put a fly in the ointment. If the poster above shows what was shared with the business owners, they were not given accurate information. I’m all for bike lanes on Hawthorne! But, the road is not that wide. The depiction shows bike riders being side by side and then shows parking next to it. Hawthorne is simply not wide enough for that. The bikes lanes would be substandard, 5 foot wide lanes and most parking would be removed from the street on both sides. This would definitely cause more neighborhood cars as they search for limited parking on the side streets. None of which causes me to be against the idea! But, I do think that it’s quite possible that the businesses did not get the whole picture before signing up as advocates. I hope I’m wrong.

eawriste
eawriste
1 year ago
Reply to  I'll Show Up

Here are the measurements. Hawthorne is indeed wide enough.

soren
soren
1 year ago
Reply to  eawriste

The fancy graphic that “Healthier Hawthorne” used to pitch this project to businesses has parking on both sides of the street.

Momo
Momo
1 year ago
Reply to  soren

In reality, most parking would be removed for sight distance triangles with a protected bikeway option, especially in blocks with driveways. Plus at the ends of the blocks where the PBL would have to weave around curb extensions. Hawthorne is not the ideal environment for PBLs, it would be better if there were more continuous blocks with no driveways or curb extensions, and fewer intersections.

eawriste
eawriste
1 year ago
Reply to  Momo

Good point Momo. Similar to Rosa Parks, Hawthorne has a lot of unnecessarily continuous residential streets that PBoT can easily turn into cul de sacs or one ways to discourage cut through traffic. This would both increase potential mini park/cart space (such as at Holman and 13th), make those residential streets safer, and reduce potential for right hooks on the PBL intersections.

Zach K
Zach K
1 year ago
Reply to  soren

So does PBOT’s graphic.comment image

I'll Show Up
I'll Show Up
1 year ago
Reply to  Zach K

Did you show the business owners this graphic when asking for their support?

Zach K
Zach K
1 year ago
Reply to  I'll Show Up

That graphic literally didn’t exist when I did business outreach. My business outreach was one of the things that contributed to PBOT creating that graphic/alternative.

Pete
Pete
1 year ago

There are lots of good bike routes north and south of Hawthorne. If I’m doing something on Hawthorne, I usually lock my bike up and walk. I’m certainly not opposed to bike lanes on Hawthorne but I’d much rather see more bike infrastructure being focussed on East Portland before inner SE at this point.

rick
rick
1 year ago
Reply to  Pete

True. Plus, why not a shared lane with TriMet?

eawriste
eawriste
1 year ago
Reply to  rick

Why not a shared sidewalk/bus lane?