The contentious ‘Hawthorne Pave and Paint’ project is complete

New median island and crossing on SE Hawthorne at 23rd.
(Photo: City of Portland)

After months of sometimes contentious back and forth between activists and PBOT officials, the Hawthorne Blvd ‘Pave and Paint’ project has been completed.

The project, which targeted Southeast Hawthorne from 23rd to 50th avenues, focused on pedestrian safety and changed the four-lane cross-section to three (slightly wider) lanes (one in each direction, with a center turn lane). The construction also installed and upgraded curb ramps to assist people who use wheelchairs, mobility devices and strollers. TriMet’s Line 14 will also move faster thanks to signal timing and lane striping changes.

In total, PBOT crews repaved 28 blocks, upgraded 163 curb ramps to ADA standards, improved 10 crossings with crosswalks and/or median islands, installed 14 new streetlights, retimed 10 traffic signals, and upgraded the signal at SE César E. Chávez Boulevard.

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But people who rely on different sets of wheels, including folks who hop on one of the many Biketown stations along the street, won’t reap the same benefits. For some bicycle riders, who called upon the city to construct a bike lane on this stretch of Hawthorne, this project was a major disappointment. As BikePortland reported back in February, when the details of the project were announced, activists from the group Healthier Hawthorne struck back against the plan immediately.

PBOT left the door open to bike lanes, but didn’t feel like dedicated access for bicycle riders on one of Portland’s most important main streets was worth the risks that often accompany a bold step toward a new vision. They’ve pointed to existing greenways in the Hawthorne neighborhood as a sufficient substitute for a bike lane on this stretch of Hawthorne. While Healthier Hawthorne founder Zach Katz gives credit to the greenway system, he argues that bikers have to travel too far out of the way — north of Hawthorne several blocks to Salmon Street or south several blocks to Lincoln — to benefit from them.

He also states that, since you can’t see the businesses on Hawthorne from the neighborhood greenways, making bicycle users travel on this route would hurt local businesses. Some business owners have stated their interest in a protected bike lane on this stretch of Hawthorne, which is home to dozens of popular small businesses like thrift stores, boutiques, cafes and a popular outpost of Powell’s bookstore.

Nevertheless, the project went ahead without bike lanes, and this stretch of Hawthorne Blvd is now construction-free and open for business with some important upgrades. Have you used the street since the changes were installed? What do you think so far?

Stay tuned for more photos and my impressions of the completed project.

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nic.cota
nic.cota
6 months ago

We really missed the chance to fundamentally change an inner Portland commercial corridor with direct access for bike users.

Albeit the crossings do feel MUCH safer. But that being said, they would have felt safer with parking-protected bike lanes, too…

It took the world to bend PBOT into considering it, and then when they seceded, they managed to pick what was going to happen from the get-go and justified it with a very misleading survey.

I see why Zach left.

soren
soren
6 months ago
Reply to  nic.cota

Hawthorne is a ped and transit priority street, not a major bikeway according to the comprehensive plan. Hawthorne is also the most likely route for a future BRT that connects to Powell. The real missed opportunity was the failure to install dedicated bus lanes, ATMO.

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)
Admin
Reply to  soren

Those classifications are great soren. But the reality is that PBOT is allowed broad discretion with them. It’s always interesting to me how they value and interpret the strength of the classification based on whatever outcome they want. I mean, if we do a strict interpretation of street classifications, most of the on-street auto parking in Portland would be eliminated. But we can’t have that, right? Because it would start a huge political controversy. So yes, those classifications are important, but they absolutely do not mean bike lanes couldn’t have been built on Hawthorne for this project. The simple fact is PBOT leadership didn’t feel like making the bolder choice and Commissioner Hardesty’s office went along with them. That’s it. PBOT had an opportunity and they decided to not take it.

soren
soren
6 months ago

Portland’s street classifications are kind of like the 2030 bike plan — mostly window dressing. Nevertheless, there is good reason that Hawthorne was not selected as a major bikeway:
comment image

FDUP
FDUP
6 months ago
Reply to  soren

What’s that picture supposed to mean, is it some kind of code for something?

soren
soren
6 months ago
Reply to  FDUP

Mt. Tabor.

Psmith
Psmith
6 months ago
Reply to  soren

I think the point is that Mt Tabor prevents Hawthorne from being any kind of really long east-west major bikeway. Which is true. It would mainly be useful for people in the immediate area, or people trying to access businesses on Hawthorne. It would not be very relevant to areas east of Mt Tabor.

FDUP
FDUP
6 months ago
Reply to  Psmith

What, is there something wrong with a direct route for cyclists on a main street between downtown and SE 50th? With the best climbing grades and access to lots of commercial destinations and high density housing I really don’t understand the ambivalence to readjusting SE Hawthorne for bicycle use. It would still accommodate other users if done correctly, and could be a real showpiece for and benefit to the city.

soren
soren
6 months ago
Reply to  FDUP

a real showpiece for and benefit to the [rich]

The strident demands of infrastructure-rich inner Portlanders to have another showpiece while so many lower-income Portland neighborhoods lack even the most basic infrastructure is precisely why I’m ambivalent.

Mike Owens
Mike Owens
6 months ago
Reply to  soren

Oregon Law. Must include bike infra on new projects.

This type of project by project approach, in which there is no priority given to the citywide needs/plans is why we have different striping/curbs all over the city. Not only is this ridiculous, it is a safety issue. The data that suggests one design is safer over another is not inherent to the one block changed, but to all the connections too.

We give too much weight to opinions, block by block, too slowly.

If we can’t attain the power to put in place a plan in 2011 for 2030 and move towards it globally, our hopes for a better city are zippo.

FDUP
FDUP
6 months ago
Reply to  soren

I’m sorry, but Hawthorne WAS listed as a major bikeway throughout the 90s, and this isn’t the first time that PBOT has failed miserably to follow through. Just because they decided to downgrade the bikeway classification doesn’t mean it isn’t the right thing to do!

cmh89
cmh89
7 months ago

I will continue to avoid shopping on Hawthorne. I basically avoid that area because of how bad the bike infrastructure is there.

Concordia Cyclist
Concordia Cyclist
6 months ago
Reply to  cmh89

Right there with you – Hawthorne is unfriendly to both bikes, pedestrians and customers due to the noise, lack of people space and street-level air pollution. Better neighborhood business experiences throughout Portland means I have zero reason to spend my money there.

Paul
Paul
6 months ago
Reply to  cmh89

I live in the area and I think biking around here is great. I supported the Hawthorne bike lanes idea, but really, all the non-arterial streets in the area make great bike routes. The greenways are nice but hardly even necessary. Just bike on any street (except Hawthorne, Chavez, and maybe 20th and 30th). The predominantly narrow residential streets make for very little car traffic, usually moving extremely slowly. It’s kind of a biker’s paradise.

JP
JP
6 months ago
Reply to  Paul

I used to live in the area and feel similarly. Even if bike lanes were installed on Hawthorn, I would likely continue to ride on the greenways and residential streets because they are so dang pleasant. Even with bike lanes, I would likely only ride on Hawthorn if I needed to visit multiple businesses that were a few blocks apart.

Zach Katz
Zach Katz
6 months ago
Reply to  Paul

This is something I wish I was able to articulate sooner, but there are two entirely different discussions at play here:

1) What would be a nice, fun addition to the neighborhood for people who already bike and like biking (This is the question you’re addressing)

2) What kind of infrastructure does the street need to match international best-practice principles for enabling mass cycling? (This is the question I attempted to address with Healthier Hawthorne)

A real grid (not a “fake grid” like Greenways) is proven to enable mass cycling, and enabling mass cycling is important because it will solve transportation problems, reduce carbon emissions, increase public health and safety, etc. in cities everywhere: http://www.aviewfromthecyclepath.com/2015/05/the-grid-most-important-enabler-of-mass.html

And grid aside, the Dutch would put bike lanes on Hawthorne simply because it follows sustainable safety principles–making every street safe for everyone, period: http://www.aviewfromthecyclepath.com/2010/01/sustainable-safety.html

Watts
Watts
6 months ago
Reply to  Zach Katz

The grid of minor streets feels pretty real to me.

X
X
6 months ago
Reply to  Watts

The ‘grid’ of minor streets will not get new pavement in my lifetime. NE Fremont just got paved. SE Hawthorne just got paved. They are not meant to be bike streets. I watched bike riders in front of me weaving to avoid pavement damage on bike routes this morning. I take it personally.

I crossed Hawthorne the other day at 23rd, where the picture was taken. It’s actually a street that I would ride on at this point (fully expecting some snowflake motorheads to hate me). That’s despite the fact that the new lane width does encourage some MV operators to accelerate above the speed limit using any gaps in traffic that result from light timing. Anecdotal. Also true.

Zach Katz
Zach Katz
6 months ago
Reply to  Watts

“Fake grid” is a term the article uses to describe a grid that doesn’t provide direct access to all destinations (a superficial, incomplete grid) vs. a grid that does. Yes the Greenway system is a grid in shape, but it doesn’t satisfy the requirements for a fine-grained grid that enables mass cycling.

cmh89
cmh89
6 months ago
Reply to  Paul

It’s kind of a biker’s paradise.

The biggest reason I avoid the area is that I don’t know where things are on Hawthorne and I don’t like taking random streets. I contrast it with Division/Clinton which is much easier to take the “greenway” as it runs parallel to the arterial continuously.

I’m sure the is fine if you know where you are going. I don’t and never particularly enjoyed trying to figure it out so I just avoid the area. I also don’t really enjoy walking Hawthorne as its so busy with cars.

I normally will opt for side streets over unprotected bike lanes but bike lanes have their place. They are particularly useful for people who are in a hurry and don’t want to wind through a million turns and stop signs on side streets or people who don’t know where they are going and need to be able to see and access the businesses on the street.

eawriste
eawriste
6 months ago
Reply to  Paul

Paul generally expresses the comfortable, majority opinion of people who bike in Portland. Greenways are “good enough for me.” It’s really important to make clear the distinction between people such as Paul who are already comfortable biking, and people (such as my dad) who don’t bike on non-separated infrastructure (shared space).

Portland had a lot of people (about 7% in 2014) for the last couple decades who were willing to bike on residential streets and got used to it. The problem with this is residential streets with bike markers don’t make it more likely for other people to bike. I know a lot of people like Paul who are “comfortable” biking and see no inherent problem with PBOT’s incremental efforts. This is why Portland mode share has stagnated. Until people who bike, as well as a sizable portion of the “interested but concerned”, figure out that the most important variable to increasing mode share is a physically separated network, PBOT can maintain the status quo.

Watts
Watts
6 months ago
Reply to  eawriste

This is why Portland mode share has stagnated.

Or maybe it’s that cycling is not currently as fashionable as it once was, or that new residents are more car oriented than previous arrivals were, or any number of other plausible explanations.

I have never seen a convincing case that more infrastructure will result in significantly more riders, or that routes on major streets are better/safer/more comfortable than those on minor ones. There seems to be a negative correlation between infrastructure and ridership in Portland.

It boils down to a religious argument, much like the one over “vehicular cycling”. I certainly want to build more/better bike facilities, but my motivations are selfish. I do no think they’ll increase ridership.

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)
Admin
Reply to  Watts

I have never seen a convincing case that more infrastructure will result in significantly more riders, or that routes on major streets are better/safer/more comfortable than those on minor ones. There seems to be a negative correlation between infrastructure and ridership in Portland.

I very strongly disagree with your take here.

You haven’t seen a convincing case for “more infrastructure” because quite simply, it does not exist anywhere in Portland (or in America for that matter). Unlike walkers, transit users, and drivers, people on bikes are the only mode without dedicated, convenient, safe infrastructure that will get them from point A-to-B. Our network is totally incomplete and full of dangerous gaps. And even when we have “protected” lanes they are often filled with debris or blocked by other road users, work zones, and so on.

So yeah, you see a “negative correlation” because we’ve enticed some people out with a few islands of good bike infrastructure, but when they try to get to them, they experience a lot of stress and end up giving up. It’s death by 1,000 cuts for most of the folks who aren’t hearty, experienced riders. And one of those biggest “cuts” is a lack of protected, efficient, convenient infrastructure.

Watts
Watts
6 months ago

You see a “negative correlation” because we’ve enticed some people out with a few islands of good bike infrastructure, but when they try to get to them, they experience a lot of stress and end up giving up.

No, the “islands” theory might explain why cycling rates lag behind our investment in infrastructure, but ridership should at least be inching up, not falling, as our islands become larger and better and cover more routes and serve more people than they used to.

I actually think the most likely situation is that infrastructure has a small impact on ridership, but there are more significant factors (that I suggested above) swamping whatever gains our investments have achieved. I also think the “100% PBL” folks waaay overestimate the natural ceiling on ridership. I personally can’t imagine Portland ever getting above 10%, no matter what we do.

cmh89
cmh89
6 months ago
Reply to  Watts

No, the “islands” theory might explain why cycling rates lag behind our investment in infrastructure, but ridership should at least be inching up, not falling, as our islands become larger and better and cover more routes and serve more people than they used to

Why? What has substantially changed in the last ten years for our “bike network”? PBOT spends most of its time making marginally better improvements to pre-existing routes. Stuff like Rosa Parks, which is technically better but probably doesn’t feel safe for 99% of the population.

Can you point to a single complete route in the city? I really mean it. I’m struggling to think of a single one that doesn’t involve crossing dangerous crossings or sharing lanes with speeding cut through traffic, or riding in a gutter lane with paint as your only protection.

The busiest bike street in the city doesn’t even had dedicated bike lanes through its length!

While PBOT has been doing nothing, motorists are getting worse. I’ve never seen the amount of speeding/red light running/stop light blowing/texting and driving in my life. I first started cycling in a city with ZERO bike infrastructure and I feel more stressed and in danger in Portland than I did there.

I personally can’t imagine Portland ever getting above 10%, no matter what we do.

10% would be amazing. It sounds like a small number but it’s actually massive.

soren
soren
6 months ago
Reply to  cmh89

Why? What has substantially changed in the last ten years for our “bike network”?

The demographic that was most likely to bike for transportation has been displaced or priced out of inner PDX.

In fact, one of the reasons that I moved to the Hawthorne area 21 years ago was because it had the highest cycling mode share in the Portland metro area. Unfortunately, cycling mode share in inner SE census tracts has plummeted as these neighborhoods complete their transition to sterile vanilla enclaves for the rich (e.g. Sellwood/Eastmoreland).
comment image

Watts
Watts
6 months ago
Reply to  soren

I don’t consider Sellwood or (especially) Eastmoreland to be part of inner SE Portland. Other areas that you could have named: Buckman, Sunnyside, HAND, Brooklyn, etc. would be hard to describe as “sterile vanilla enclaves”.

There’s still a fair bit of diversity (as broadly defined) in those areas, despite all the work by nouveau urban renewalists.

soren
soren
6 months ago
Reply to  Watts

I was using Sellwood and Eastmoreland as examples of what HAND, Buckman, Sunnyside, and Richmond are becoming.

eawriste
eawriste
6 months ago
Reply to  Watts

Naa, it’s actually a PBL network that increases mode share. The evidence is overwhelming. Read the research:

Here is a paper on Seville.

Toronto

New York

Lemme know if you want more.

X
X
6 months ago
Reply to  Watts

Other people religiously do not believe in roundabouts, but thanks to a Republican mayor they keep saving lives in Carmel, Indiana.

Vehicular cycling is absolutely cultish but if widespread it could actually work. Data is not digestible by the people sitting on either side of you in this auditorium.

Chris I
Chris I
6 months ago
Reply to  X

VC will never be widespread, because Americans are not fit and bold enough collectively. It will always be less than 5% of the population in any city. VC is not a viable option if we want to break 5% modal share.

soren
soren
6 months ago
Reply to  eawriste

…mode share has stagnated.

Portland’s mode share is almost 30% below the 2014 peak (20% fewer Portlanders cycle to work than in 2014). No matter how much one bargains with reality this is not “stagnation”. Moreover, the ~30% drop in cycling mode share in Portland can be mostly explained by the sharp drop in the percentage of lower-income people who cycle for transportation (Census iPUMS Oregon).

Paul
Paul
6 months ago
Reply to  eawriste

LOL, to be fair to “Paul”, he also supports building a physically separated network. No arguments here.

Watts
Watts
7 months ago

The crosswalks on “lower Hawthorne” that the surrounding neighborhood associations fought for so long to get are installed and are a FANTASTIC improvement over the situation before. I crossed at one yesterday, and it felt so much safer than the old configuration. Originally I was hoping for flashing beacons, but they really don’t seem necessary.

I haven’t yet tried riding further up yet; the 4-lane configuration let me take the lane and vehicles could pass so it felt ok. I hope things are still chill with the new configuration.

soren
soren
7 months ago
Reply to  Watts

In my experience, crossing Hawthorne at 25th no longer feels stressful or dangerous and drivers are far more considerate all along Hawthorne. (I noticed the same phenomenon when Division’s 4 lanes* were shrunk to 2 lanes.) In contrast to the claims of “Healthier Hawthorne” supporters, traffic speeds have plummeted during periods of congestion and, anecdotally, have decreased during other periods. My primary concern about this road diet is that line 14 will experience delays due to the dramatic increase in congestion during peak hours. It’s maddening that PBOT favored private SUV/truck/(sedan) parking over installation of dedicated bus lanes on one of Portland’s most important transit routes.

*two of the lanes were temporary lanes but they were filled with speeding cars during periods of high use.

X
X
6 months ago
Reply to  soren

Yeah, the buses are just screwed. But, gridlock favors the bold (rash?) bike rider. Dooring may be an issue if you pass on the curb side.

Counterintuitively the best tactic for an opening door may be to turn into it at speed. It puts heavy damage on the property of the person clearly at fault and the sprung door absorbs some of the energy of the crash. A full face helmet might be advised. Wald racks…

Boyd
Boyd
6 months ago
Reply to  Watts

The handful of crossings that have been installed are great. But pedestrian and bicycle safety issues still abound.

I feel less comfortable biking in Hawthorne than I did when it was two lanes because people in cars seem to feel entitled to squeeze past bikes in Hawthorne’s new, super wide lanes. In the old configuration, cars had no choice but to change lanes to go around cyclists. In the new configuration, people in cars treat the street as if it has a de facto, unmarked bike lane, and they make abusive and threatening passes if you don’t get way over to the side to let them through.

On the pedestrian side, I saw an adult crossing Hawthorne with a very small child at an unmarked crosswalk at the SE 40th intersection a couple nights ago. The eastbound traffic wasn’t going to stop for them, and a person in a car had to lock up their brakes and skid for about ten feet to avoid running them over. We need more pedestrian crossings.

rick
rick
7 months ago

How many car parking spots were removed? Is it one partial victory? There’s a high cost for free and maybe very cheap car parking.

Watts
Watts
6 months ago
Reply to  rick

So what, exactly, is the cost of free parking? Could you give me an estimate of how much you think the city will spend over the next year, or decade, if you prefer, for the parking on Hawthorne, compared to the cost of doing something different with the space?

My bet is that free parking is in fact the cheapest option, by far.

(And, to answer your question, most parking was preserved.)

cmh89
cmh89
6 months ago
Reply to  Watts

So what, exactly, is the cost of free parking?

Well, we lose huge amounts of space to the storage of empty cars. Space that could be used for trees or other greenery, expanded sidewalks, bike lanes, or rented out to businesses that create jobs.

The “free” storage of empty vehicles probably provides the least amount of utility out of all our options. Even charging for parking is better than providing “free” (i.e. subsidized) parking.

Watts
Watts
6 months ago
Reply to  cmh89

The cost of converting the parking areas along Hawthorne to greenery or sidewalks would be astronomical (much much higher than free parking, which is essentially free). I have no problem with installing metered parking, but I think that’s a question for the locals to decide.

I get that at the macro level, when you’re starting for scratch (which is what you seem to be talking about), you might make different decisions, but those aren’t the starting conditions.

eawriste
eawriste
6 months ago
Reply to  Watts

There is a world of difference between capital improvement projects to permanently redesign a street, and quick fixes to evaluate spaces on a trial basis. If PBOT allowed volunteers to redesign many parking spaces on Hawthorne (eg via Better Block), it would be a tiny fraction of any capital project. IMO this is one of PBOT’s biggest flaws: PBOT allows very few, low-cost trial projects. That is ultimately why Hawthorne failed. A lot of people were not able to imagine something better because PBOT only allows one single jump to a final version.

Andrew
Andrew
6 months ago
Reply to  Watts

First of all, the cost of converting 25 blocks of parking spaces to sidewalk or greenway would not be “astronomical”.

Free parking might not cost much to maintain, but it also has no value to the city and minimal value to the community. A bike line, or a dedicated bus lane would provide much more value in terms of effective transit – which is what a road ought to be doing.

Watts
Watts
6 months ago
Reply to  Andrew

but it also has no value to the city and minimal value to the community

I’m not sure the businesses on Hawthorne, or those who want them to remain healthy, or who collect taxes from them, or the residents who already feel area parking is overly constrained, or those who make deliveries there would agree.

That said, if stakeholders wanted to do something different, I’d support them, but I’m not into people who know better imposing solutions on unwilling recipients in a democratic society.

PS Moving curblines is very, very expensive (think drainage, for example). Running a bus where the parking is would require removing a bunch of curb extensions, which is both expensive and bad for pedestrians.

FDUP
FDUP
6 months ago
Reply to  Watts

That’s why curb extensions were a bad idea from the get-go!

Watts
Watts
6 months ago
Reply to  FDUP

I have to disagree — curb extensions are some of the most pro-pedestrian infrastructure we can build.

cmh89
cmh89
6 months ago
Reply to  Watts

The cost of converting the parking areas along Hawthorne to greenery or sidewalks would be astronomical

Not really “astronomical”, probably in line with maintaining the pavement over the next couple of decades.

nomical (much much higher than free parking, which is essentially free

Did we get the pavement for free? The labor to pave the parking spot? I could see why you think its a good deal when you just discount all the costs associated with it.

Watts
Watts
6 months ago
Reply to  cmh89

I dismiss the original expense because it’s already been paid for; it’s a sunk cost. Unless we can recover that money somehow, we can only compare the costs of alternatives moving forward.

Maintaining the current (new) pavement in the parking strips along Hawthorne will be very cheap (free?) over the next couple of decades. That’s the “high cost” alternatives will compete with.

I’m open to other uses of the area, but arguments made on a cost basis need some pretty solid support.

cmh89
cmh89
6 months ago
Reply to  Watts

I dismiss the original expense because it’s already been paid for; it’s a sunk cost

Uh what?

Unless we can recover that money somehow

We had the opportunity to not spend it in the first place.

I’m open to other uses of the area, but arguments made on a cost basis need some pretty solid support.

I mean, you’re just making things up like the cost of pavement being “free” so…

Watts
Watts
6 months ago
Reply to  cmh89

We had the opportunity to not spend it in the first place.

Indeed; but we don’t have that opportunity any more. That’s my point.

cmh89
cmh89
6 months ago
Reply to  Watts

Indeed; but we don’t have that opportunity any more. That’s my point.

We literally just paid it, like months ago. That’s what we are talking about. We had the option to do something else. It’s not really a sunk cost when it hasn’t been spent yet.

Watts
Watts
6 months ago
Reply to  cmh89

Even rewinding to a few months ago, repaving the parking areas was by far the cheapest option. There may be arguments in favor of removing parking, but reducing cost is not one of them.

FDUP
FDUP
6 months ago
Reply to  Watts

So, comparatively speaking, how would that compare in 2021 dollars to the cost of converting 2/5 of the original sidewalks to roadway back in the day?

X
X
6 months ago
Reply to  Watts

What’s the cost of free parking? I don’t know but if I dredge through some of my old econ notes, in a couple of months I could make a case for any number between $0 and $100,000.

The better question is, what’s the cost of a human life? People get killed in painted crosswalks all the time and the adjudicated value of a life is commonly more than $1,000,000. Good street design saves lives, and a street that is attractive to people-not-in-cars is actually good for business.

rick
rick
6 months ago
Reply to  Watts

There is a high cost for free car parking. A book was written about that. “The high cost of free car parking.” Rural Sandpoint, Idaho recognized that factor in recent years and I doubt that it has hurt the Amtrak station ridership or local business.

eawriste
eawriste
7 months ago

PBOT’s MO is a sort of plans-with-no-teeth, scattered incrementalism. There is no intention for building a network of protected bike lanes. There is no real effort to build the 2030 bike plan (“What is that?”). And there is just enough support for putting sharrows on residential streets from people who bike and the general public to make practical, direct, and safe infrastructure seem like a radical idea. The best hope for building a safe network is through an organized, and well-funded group (such as TA in NYC), which I hope Bikeloud may some day become.

Mike Owens
Mike Owens
6 months ago
Reply to  eawriste

The bike lobby is also tiny and mostly disregarded, even after groundswells like the 2030 plan. SO much work by so many went into it. It may be a bit obsolete in areas, but for the most part PBOT has decided to entirely ignore and just throw 5,000 different blocks together in a jumble of confusion.

It doesn’t help that the “greenways” are fine folks speak up. Data shows we don’t move folks to alt transit w/o protected infrastructure. Data shows businesses flourish when parking and cars removed and limited. Hawthorne goes against every bit of the lessons learned elsewhere.

I can’t imagine how folks who dedicate themselves to this issue feel. As a bystander, I’m about done trying. This city is asinine in this regard. Totally bonkers.

FDUP
FDUP
6 months ago
Reply to  Mike Owens

Exactly! I gave up 20 years ago, it’s not worth it to beat your head against the brick wall of PBOT for too long, that’s why advocacy is dead.

FDUP
FDUP
6 months ago
Reply to  eawriste

That used to be the BTA before they lost their teeth.

ivan
ivan
7 months ago

Apart from whether or not Hawthorne has PBLs, I still find it bizarre that they didn’t continue this project on down to 12th Avenue, since the stretch from 12th to 20th is particularly ludicrous and dangerous to have as two lanes in each direction, and they had a parallel project going from 12th to Grand.

(I also don’t get why this project went to 23rd instead of to 20th, but maybe it’s something about the curve at the light.)

Does anyone know if PBOT has decided whether/when to complete this safety gap?

Anyway, as several folks have said, it’s a lot better than it was but so much less better than it could have been.

maxD
maxD
6 months ago
Reply to  ivan

agreed, it is insane not to connect the projects between 12th and 23rd!

Brighton West
6 months ago
Reply to  ivan

This was a repaying project first, so I’m guessing the boundary was set by pavement health or just budget. The restriping was an add on.

Sigma
Sigma
7 months ago

Just about $13K raised on gofundme for the lawsuit that was supposed to compel bike lanes. What happens to that money?

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)
Admin
Reply to  Sigma

We’re working on a story about that Sigma. Stay tuned.

dirk
dirk
6 months ago

didn’t zach katz skip town with everyones money?

Zach Katz
Zach Katz
6 months ago
Reply to  dirk

I did move, but I still have the money in safekeeping and it will be used for its intended purpose (or refunded). Update forthcoming!

Watts
Watts
6 months ago
Reply to  Zach Katz

I’d be happy to hold on to it for you!

Zach Katz
Zach Katz
6 months ago

The Grid. The most important enabler of mass cycling, but a cycling concept which is often misunderstood: http://www.aviewfromthecyclepath.com/2015/05/the-grid-most-important-enabler-of-mass.html

Mike Owens
Mike Owens
6 months ago
Reply to  Zach Katz

Surely city planners must know this…

(sarcasm)

Alan 1.0
6 months ago
Reply to  Zach Katz

The term is misunderstood by David Hembrow in that piece, or at least he’s using it differently than I’ve always understood it in urban design contexts: The Grid

Lack of cardo and decumanus isn’t the problem for bikes. The problem is discontinuity and infrequency of desirable routes for bicyclists, and that is what Hembrow’s graphic shows. In other words, he really means a network, and “the grid” is only one type of network, and either the grid or a non-grid street system can be designed as bike-friendly network if there is a will to do so.

(sorry if this is a duplicate. the first one disappeared prior to moderation, and I don’t see any reason it would not be approved, so I suspect gremlins.)

Zach Katz
Zach Katz
6 months ago
Reply to  Alan 1.0

Agreed that it’s a confusing name for the concept (maybe less confusing in a European context since it can’t be confused with the design of the city itself).

I think the point he’s trying to make is how a lot of cities (like Portland) tout a grid-shaped network as complete (because look! it’s a grid! how could it not be complete?).

But yeah, that’s a very valid criticism of his terminology—not so much his point though 😉

Alan 1.0
6 months ago
Reply to  Zach Katz

Zach, I like the advocacy you’ve done for bikes in Portland, keep going where ever you may be! But when you write things like “The Grid. The most important enabler of mass cycling…” it doesn’t convey what I think you mean to the audience I think you’re addressing. If what you wrote was true in its normally understood meaning, then Portland, which has a very strong grid particularly in the Hawthorne area, would not have any bike route problems and there’d be no need to listen to what you’re trying to say. What Portland needs is a bike route network.

Zach Katz
Zach Katz
6 months ago
Reply to  Alan 1.0

Thanks Alan. Note that I didn’t write that, I was just copy and pasting the title of the article.

I think I figured out why he uses the word grid: In this article[1], he uses the word Network too, and makes the point that the Dutch system consists of *multiple* networks (neighborhood, city, and regional), and he’s using the word Grid to refer to how tightly those networks overlap. A grid of networks, not streets.

[1] http://www.aviewfromthecyclepath.com/2008/09/grid.html

hamiramani
6 months ago

I live a block from Hawthorne so I interface with the streetscape regularly.

Is it better? Yes. But is that what we’re going for? Why not choose to make this area excellent?

Sadly, Hawthorne remains a car sewer. The car fumes literally stink up the place and the noise pollution can be quite revolting. The parked cars add to the hostile environment. The sidewalks are cramped and clearly do not serve the relatively large number of people walking (especially at holiday time). The few intersections that now have crosswalks with a pedestrian island feel safer. Yet, this is a very small number of intersections. If PBOT is interested in providing safe crossings then EVERY intersection should have crosswalks and pedestrian islands on BOTH sides of the intersection (ie, east and west).

We can have a people-centered Hawthorne if our leaders chose human-scale design over cars.

Do PBOT staff ever go to intersections and observe for a few minutes (hours?). It doesn’t take very long before one starts to see a person trying to cross have to meekly wait for a parade of drivers before one decides to stop or until there’s a gap; it doesn’t take long to witness someone trying to bike on Hawthorne (how dare they?) get hunted from behind by a driver that just can’t wait to get to the next red light; it doesn’t take long to witness the all-so-important center turn-lane get abused by drivers trying to pass a bus or even another driver who may actually have some sense of humanity.

Let’s get rid of the center turn lane; it’s not needed most of the the time anyway.
Let’s get rid of ANY turning off Hawthorne except at arterials like Cesar Chavez.
Let’s narrow the travel lanes to reduce the possibility of speeding.
Let’s give people walking some freakin’ breathing room.

We can make Hawthorne a more hospitable place for people, but that means there will have to be fewer cars; it will mean lower speeds.

When will we have people streets?

Kiel Johnson / Go By Bike
Reply to  hamiramani

This street design would have been such an improvement if we were living in the 1990s. Sadly, it isn’t going to get us much closer on our ccurrent climate or mode goals. I think the failure of PBOT to get behind a bold vision was also a failure of Portland advocacy groups to not pressure PBOT, instead leaving all the heavy lifting and blame to Zach (who in my opinion did an amazing job getting a lot of people on board). This is the same thing that happened on 7th, and 28th… Our advocacy groups talk a lot about a sustainable transportation system on a broad level but there are not any resources being spent on the ground to win these small but very important battles.

Rod B.
Rod B.
6 months ago

It can be hard, from an equity perspective, to push for more transformative change along inner neighborhood corridors like Hawthorne when East Portland east of 82nd has such huge infrastructure shortcomings. Or, is that just an excuse for not doing the big moves needed to move us away from auto dependency and address climate change in a meaningful way?

Zach Katz
Zach Katz
6 months ago
Reply to  Rod B.

It’s an excuse.

This argument that it’s “inequitable” to push for bike lanes on inner corridors like Hawthorne, Belmont, etc. is predicated on the assumption that East Portlanders essentially only move around their own neighborhood, and have little-to-no need or desire to leave East Portland —i.e. commuting to their job on Hawthorne, shopping downtown, meeting friends by the water, etc.

Of course, the opposite is true: Many East Portlanders work and play downtown, commuting via these inner corridors (or would if it were safe), and would benefit greatly from protected infrastructure on these streets. It’s all one city and it’s all connected.

Ironically, the people who espouse this erroneous argument—despite probably having good intentions (“let’s help their community before helping ourselves”)—are perpetuating the class divide between inner and East Portland by, in practice, “keeping out” East Portlanders by depriving them of infrastructure that would connect the city and share inner-Portland opportunity with those in outer areas.

Watts
Watts
6 months ago
Reply to  Zach Katz

While I was never a real proponent of your Hawthorne project, I think you nailed it here. PBOT uses “equity” in a rather perverse way, often to support of the status quo.

I think the real problem is that “equity” in a transportation context is slippery and ill-defined, so can mean much different things to different people. It’s an awful primary mission for a transportation bureau, and generally seems to achieve nothing more than sowing confusion and conflict.

Aaron
6 months ago
Reply to  Zach Katz

Dude, if you really cared about connecting East Portland to Inner Portland, you wouldn’t have been so flippant about the legit concerns about the possibility that the hawthorne project could have slowed bus service. The 14 is a frequent service route that connects Lents to downtown, and you were pretty quick to throw the concerns of transit riders under the bus if it meant the city could build the protected bike lane.

Boyd
Boyd
6 months ago
Reply to  Aaron

That’s a false dilemma that PBOT created, pitting bikes against buses. The real issue is that PBOT wanted to maintain a center turn lane to allow unrestricted turning movements for the people that wanted to cut through or access homes in the neighborhoods to the north and south of Hawthorne. If, instead, pbot had eliminated the center turn lane and limited the number of locations where left turns are allowed, they could have added pbls without delaying buses.

This is not bikes vs East Portland bus riders. Not at all. It’s wealthy, car owning residents of the neighborhood around Hawthorne vs bikes.

soren
soren
6 months ago
Reply to  Boyd

Line 14 is already being negatively impacted by the daily traffic jams on Hawthorne and PBLs would have likely made this slightly worse as drivers cued up at areas where turns are allowed. If I had known congestion would be this severe I would have opposed this project categorically (even though I personally benefit from it).

Boyd
Boyd
6 months ago
Reply to  soren

I don’t know what to tell you. Not building safe pedestrian infrastructure was not an option. If buses have to be slowed in order to save lives, so be it.

soren
soren
6 months ago
Reply to  Boyd

If buses have to be slowed in order to save lives, so be it.

Such an inner PDX attitude.

Boyd
Boyd
6 months ago
Reply to  soren

I guess. I mean, I’m very much in favor of massive improvements to the public transportation service and infrastructure in all parts of Portland, but I’m not willing to sacrifice safety to do it. If your position is that you think it’s okay for people to keep dying while trying to cross Hawthorne so that we can ensure that buses aren’t delayed for a few minutes then I think your priorities are completely out of whack.

Portland’s Transportation prioritization hierarchy places transit, pedestrians and bicycles above SOVs. If a street is being redesigned, it should include facilities that provide for those uses before cars are even considered. The problem here is too many SOVs, not bikes and peds.

soren
soren
6 months ago
Reply to  Boyd

Not building improvements for transit should also not have been an option. And we could have done both.

Aaron
6 months ago
Reply to  Boyd

I’m not here to defend PBOT – I’m not commenting on the design of the street, or how PBOT may or may not have been spinning the decision. I’m specifically pointing out many of the advocates of the protected bike lane who repeatedly expressed disinterest in giving a damn about the bus riders as part of the holistic changes necessary for the project. Climate justice means that fixing hawthorne needs to speed buses from Lents to downtown, and I question the motivations of advocates that overlook that concern.

I’m also just going to point out that this article has received tons of clicks and comments, while the previous story – regarding how ODOT is gonna spend $1.2 *billion* dollars, is a MUCH MORE SIGNIFICANT concern if anyone is truly worried about the health of the entire transportation system than fifteen blocks of a bike lane.

Boyd
Boyd
6 months ago
Reply to  Aaron

Absolutely agree that expanding freeway capacity is something that has the potential to torpedo climate goals and regional planning priorities in one fell swoop. The impacts of ODOT investment in freeways in Portland will reverberate for generations in truly awful ways. I’ve been on the record in comments on multiple articles on this website lamenting the drive to expand capacity on I-5.

That being said, if we are to combat the drive to make Portland more car and freeway centric, we will have to increase density in neighborhood centers throughout the city, making them more walkable, bikeable, and transit friendly. If we redevelop streets with subpar active transportation facilities, we will be creating a situation where residents feel that they have to be reliant on their cars to get around.

Fixing Hawthorne and other arterials in Portland AND not expanding freeways are two sides of the same coin. If you don’t push on both fronts at the same time, you might as well go ahead and admit defeat.

And I also think that radical changes on East Portland arterials are more important than changes in inner neighborhoods. But PBOT should always be putting in bike lanes every time they are resurfacing streets. It shouldn’t even be a question or a debate. If there isn’t room for parking and bike lanes, bye bye parking. It’s ridiculous that this argument even needs to happen or that activists need to waste their breath debating this stuff. PBOT is legally required to do it. Full stop.

soren
soren
6 months ago
Reply to  Boyd

On some streets there is no other alternative than to choose between transit and cycling infrastructure. Hawthorne should have been prioritized for transit due to its existing transit line (that serves Lents and Powellhurst-Gilbert) as well as the proposed BRT line.

Burnside, Powell, and Sandy are streets with ample room for cycling infrastructure and should be prioritized for PBLs. Unsurprisingly, all of them are major bikeways according to the comprehensive plan.

Boyd
Boyd
6 months ago
Reply to  soren

ORS 366.514 says otherwise. The language is clear and unambiguous, regardless of what PBOT claims

soren
soren
6 months ago
Reply to  Boyd

The language is clear that resurfacing projects are not covered by ORS 366.514.

Boyd
Boyd
6 months ago
Reply to  soren

Considering the amount of new concrete that was poured, you have to define reconstruction pretty narrowly to exclude what was done on Hawthorne. Yes, they didn’t replace or realign the road bed. But this went beyond a basic grind and pave.

Brighton West
6 months ago
Reply to  Boyd

A lot of the new concrete was new curb ramps to meetADA standards that kick in during repaving. Sadly ADA standards changed slightly since the old ramps were built 15 years ago.

Psmith
Psmith
6 months ago
Reply to  Boyd

Repaving projects are exempt and always have been. It says “Constructed, reconstructed, or relocated.”

FDUP
FDUP
6 months ago
Reply to  Boyd

Except PBOT’s got it completely wrong, they prohibit left turns at the arterial crossings but allow them everywhere else, how ass-backwards is that? It actually encourages cut-through neighborhood traffic.

Zach Katz
Zach Katz
6 months ago
Reply to  Aaron

Actually, the original Facebook group (before Healthier Hawthorne focused on bike lanes) was to make Hawthorne a pedestrian promenade with bus-only lanes running down the center. I even commissioned this gorgeous artwork:
comment image

I even continued to advocate for that to Hardesty’s office when it looked like PBOT was going to prioritize parking over bike lanes. But that option was never really on the table, and I *thoroughly* debunked PBOT’s bullshit about how bike lanes would slow down transit, which I think is what you’re referring to in your comment: https://www.healthierhawthorne.com/blog/debunking-the-hawthorne-decision-report-how-pbot-lied-about-bike-lanes-and-got-away-with-it

You seem to love to pretend that it’s either bus lanes or bike lanes when they’re literally both possible (and complimentary! People in the Netherlands bike to the bus and that is very possible in Portland). I think you can come across as “flippant” about bike infrastructure in the same way I might have come off that way about transit, and I’d encourage you to learn more about how the two modes can work together and why they’re equally important for improving a city’s transportation system.

eawriste
eawriste
6 months ago
Reply to  Rod B.

Hey Rod B. I live in, and am from E Portland. Equity is certainly an important variable to evaluate projects. The problem is that PBOT has not operationally defined it well. Thus, they end up with nonsensical conclusions in their reports (eg Most people in East Portland use the bus, so bike lanes on Hawthorne would be inequitable.) Or, X number of dollars/miles of bike lane must be in East Portland regardless of its practical use/impact.

If PBOT were genuinely interested in making a significant impact on mode share in East Portland, 122nd would have had PBLs a decade ago. Projects such as SE 136th, while nice, don’t really connect to much, and aren’t central to a NETWORK. The idea that a physically separated network of PBLs should exist in East Portland (or in Portland in general) continues to remain a foreign concept to PBOT.

Watts
Watts
6 months ago
Reply to  hamiramani

When will we have people streets?

When enough people want them.

mh
6 months ago
Reply to  hamiramani

To my surprise, because I advocated for a far different treatment, the current auto-oriented configuration actually has done at least one good thing: it has created congestion. When I’m coming home around 5:00, crossing Hawthorne southbound to go east at 34th, traffic is usually backed up almost to 34th. With the new islands, impatient drivers can’t race up the turn lane. It is a stinking car sewer, but even with the wider lanes, drivers usually can’t speed.

Brian
Brian
6 months ago
Reply to  mh

Usually. Last week I saw a person use the center turn lane (heading East) leading up to 34th to speed by a bunch of cars and swerve into the car lane at the last second before the light. It blew my mind. Then, she used the bus lane leading up to Cesar Chavez to bypass a bunch of cars, and then sped forward through the light in that bus lane to race to the front! It was incredibly dangerous behavior. Older, white, SUV (Jeep?) with a cargo carrier on top. Michigan plates.

Boyd
Boyd
6 months ago
Reply to  Brian

Shocking and maddening, but not surprising. I feel like bad actors in motor vehicles are feeling totally enabled by the lack of traffic enforcement in this city, and by the windshield bias of officers that lead them to allow reckless behavior to continue, even when they do happen to observe it.

Rain Waters
Rain Waters
6 months ago
Reply to  hamiramani

When this idea of drive thru everything is defueled

soren
soren
6 months ago
Reply to  hamiramani

We can make Hawthorne a more hospitable place for people…

I very much agree that we should have made Hawthorne more hospitable for people traveling by bus from FOPO (ongoing gentrification), Lents (ongoing gentrifying), and Powellhurst-Gilbert.

JP
JP
6 months ago

I crossed the street in front of Jam and didn’t almost die.

SD
SD
6 months ago

Hopefully, this pans out better than the repaving of NE Fremont. I was excited to see better painted crosswalks and better curbs, but since the repaving, driving speeds have increased and the number of cars that stop so that me and my little kid can cross the street has noticeably decreased.

Neil C
Neil C
6 months ago

I really like the Islands to break up the width of the road when trying to cross it. It makes it much safer for pedestrians, whereas a bike lane would still have required pedestrians to try and cross 4 lanes in one go.