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104 businesses sign letter asking for protected bike lanes on Hawthorne Blvd


PBOT plans to restripe this section of Hawthorne with a center turn lane and three general purpose lanes instead of four.
(Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

A project poised to repave and restripe a popular section of Southeast Hawthorne Blvd without bike lanes is set to begin next month and an activist who’s spent over a year pushing for them hasn’t given up hope.

Last week we received an email from Ben Manker-Seale, the owner of Focus Group Vintage on Hawthorne and 34th. It included a letter in support of protected bike lanes on Hawthorne Blvd signed by over 100 other Hawthorne Blvd businesses (see full list below). The legwork behind the list was Zach Katz, founder of Healthier Hawthorne, a grassroots group that has pushed the Portland Bureau of Transportation to install bike lanes on the street since April 2020. Katz has raised nearly $13,000 via GoFundMe to pay for a possible lawsuit against PBOT for their decision to not stripe bike lanes as part of the Hawthorne Pave & Paint project.

Reached for comment on the letter, Manker-Seale said, “First and foremost I care about this city and about the vibe of this street.” “It’s not just about cyclists. What I really want for the street is that good community feeling,” Manker-Seale added, “like how everyone wants to move to Europe. We could do that here but we have people in government that care more about parking.”

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Back in February, with a clean slate to work with, PBOT opted to stripe Hawthorne between 24th and 50th with three general purpose lanes and auto parking lanes on both sides (known as Alternative 2, above left). One of the design alternatives — Alternative 3b (above right) — would have restriped the street with two general purpose lanes, a parking lane on one side, and protected bike lanes adjacent to each curb.

The letter signed by 104 business owners (or managers) urges PBOT to reconsider that decision. Here’s a snip from the letter:

“… Design Alternative 2 does not serve the needs of the business community. It does little to improve safety does nothing to bring more people to businesses and does nothing to address our city’s goals for improving equity and addressing climate change. This design also led to the death of 15-year-old Fallon Smart in 2016 [Smart’s father has also urged PBOT to reconsider their decision], and we cannot support a design on our street, which is proven to be deadly.

The business community strongly supports Alternative 3b. Protected bike lanes will significantly improve safety for people walking, biking, and driving, bring many more people to businesses and dramatically advance our city’s goals for improving equity and addressing climate change. It will also get people on bikes, e-scooters and skateboards off of the sidewalk, which is an increasingly dangerous problem, and will only continue to get worse unless something is done.

We understand Alternative 3b will necessitate some parking removal at intersections in order to improve safety for people walking, biking and driving. We believe this is a more than acceptable trade-off for making the street a safer, more vibrant place to be, which is likely to increase sales, especially as the city increasingly encourages travel by eco-friendly modes of transportation…

For the sake of Hawthorne’s safety and our business’s future prosperity, please consider reversing your decision and choosing Alternative 3b before the repaving begins in June.”

Here are the business who’ve signed onto that statement:

1. Focus Group Vintage
2. House of Vintage
3. Eastside Guitar Repair
4. Neza Taqueria
5. MudBay
6. Wildish Botanicals
7. Coava Coffee
8. Starflower
9. Tender Loving Empire
10. Salon 29
11. Rice Cafe
12. Matt’s BBQ
13. Backstory Books + Yarn
14. Safeway Starbucks
15. SeaSweets Poke
16. La Morenita PDX
17. COIT
18. Tibet Spirit
19. Martian Arts Tattoos
20. David Hastings Studios
21. Tattoo 34
22. Seven Virtues Coffee
23. Cha Cha Cha Taqueria
24. Khao Moo Dang
25. Tōv Coffee
26. Top Ten Nails
27. ORO
28. Whole Family Health Clinic
29. Gold Dust Meridian
30. The UPS Store
31. Sylvia’s Psychic Insight
32. Hawthorne Market
33. Next Level Burger
34. White & Green Thai
35. Pepino’s
36. Short Round
37. Mellow Mood
38. Mio Sushi
39. Farmhouse Kitchen
40. SFNY Pizza
41. Bar of the Gods
42. iPhone Repair
43. No Name Pho
44. Books
45. Buffalo Exchange
46. The Fresh Pot
47. Bishop’s
48. Moberi
49. Mt. Tabor Fine Wines
50. Fat Straw
51. Roosevelt’s Terrariums
52. Float On
53. The Reclaimory
54. Space Room
55. Danse Macabre
56. The Sapphire Hotel
57. Dar Salaam
58. Baka Umai
59. ¿Por Que No?
60. Hawthorne Auto Clinic
61. Ringcraft
62. Adorn Body Art
63. Dairy Hill Ice Cream
64. Hawthorne Game Exchange
65. Nick’s Coney Island
66. Frog + Snail
67. ***Business removed by owner request***
68. Kids At Heart
69. Super Natural Eco Boutique
70. Qué Bacano!
71. Baby Blue Pizza
72. Sparkyz Tattoo
73. George’s Shoe Repair
74. Farma
75. Kaya Shack
76. Hawthorne Nails Care
77. YoYo Market
78. Kabob
79. OK Omens
80. 7/11
81. Hello India
82. Ancestry Brewing
83. The Whole Bowl
84. The Hazel Room
85. Talerico’s Produce
86. Away Days
87. Straightaway Cocktails
88. Eastbank
89. Potato Champion
90. Riyadh’s Lebanese Restaurant
91. Thai Touch Cuisine
92. TeaScape Massage & Teahouse
93. Hometown Hair Lounge
94. Auto Battery & Electric
95. Portland Bhakti Center
96. Gol Soccer Bar
97. Move Better Chiropractic
98. ***Business removed by owner request***
99. 5 Star Cleaners
100. Fit Body Boot Camp
101. Tabor Bread
102. Tomorrow Records
103. iChihuahua Repair
104. Maruti Indian Restaurant
105. Clever Cycles
106. Farina Bakery

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Manker-Seale added that he worries most about tourists who don’t know about side-streets like Lincoln where many bike riders prefer to ride. “I see people ride their Biketown bikes up and down the street… It doesn’t make sense to not put bike lanes on Hawthorne when they’re pushing Biketown, and no one wants to go all the way down to Lincoln then come all the way back up to Hawthorne.”

“PBOT makes protecting pedestrians its number one priority and this is reflected in the Hawthorne Pave and Paint project.”
— Jo Ann Hardesty, PBOT Commissioner

In a statement shared by KATU-TV last week in defense of PBOT’s decision, Commissioner-in-charge of PBOT Jo Ann Hardesty said pedestrian safety was one of the main goals. “Area residents told us crossing busy Hawthorne was one of the most dangerous part of using the street,” Hardesty wrote in response to a letter from Fallon Smart’s father Seth Smart.

Hardesty further explained that it will be safer to walk around and across Hawthorne due to the new center turn lane and planned median islands, improved street lighting and crosswalks that are coming as part of the project. Hardesty also highlighted the lane reduction (from four to three general purpose lanes) which she said would improve crossing safety and reduce driving speeds. Without adding the bike lanes, Hardesty also said PBOT’s design will allow for wider sidewalks and curb extensions in the future.

Katz disagreed strongly with Hardesty statement and published a point-by-point rebuttal on the Healthier Hawthorne website on Tuesday.

Hardesty is scheduled to address the PBOT Bicycle Advisory Committee Tuesday night (5/11). It’s unknown if she’ll talk about the Hawthorne Pave & Paint project, but it’s worth noting that some members of the committee have said PBOT’s striping decision was, “profoundly disappointing”.

CORRECTION 6/11: This post initially referred to signers as “business owners,” but not all the names on the list were owners of the businesses. some were just employees/staff. I regret the error. – Jonathan

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