PBOT bike planner leads Bike Loud ride in northwest

(Photos by Amit Zinman and Click for captions)

This past weekend, Bike Loud PDX and a staffer from the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) led rides on the west side through neighborhoods like downtown, Slabtown, Nob Hill, the Pearl and into the Northwest Industrial Area.

I tagged along on the Friday afternoon ride (they did a repeat tour Sunday) and had a great time checking out projects I’ve spent time reading about in various city planning documents but had never actually seen first-hand. Since I live in on the other side of town, this isn’t an area I find myself in as often as I’d like.

Geller talks about bike lane expansions on NW Naito Parkway and NW Front Ave on the Portland waterfront.

Bike Loud chapters around the city have been doing monthly policy rides for several months now. Past rides hosted by the West chapter have featured PBOT staff members Gabe Graff, who talked about the Central City in Motion plan and Senior Transportation Planner Nick Falbo, who talked about street seats and plazas. This time around the PBOT staffer was Bicycle Coordinator Roger Geller, who’s been in the city’s bike planning department since the 1990s.

Geller’s ride and talk focused on Portland’s Bicycle Plan for 2030 and how it’s coming to fruition in Northwest Portland.

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NW Johnson under I-405 is one of several greenways being developed in northwest.
(Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

We met up downtown at Director Park before heading out, first heading east toward the waterfront, where Geller pointed out upcoming projects on Northwest Naito Parkway as it turns into NW Front Ave. The group consisted of eight people, some of whom – like Tuttle and Holden Regnier, a Bike Loud volunteer who says he’s helping organize the West chapter – are immersed in the bike advocacy world.

“Ideally, what you want is for people who live in this district to be able to walk out their door and say, ‘oh, biking exists here.'”
— Roger Geller, PBOT

I had my friend Patrick Riley, a cycling enthusiast new to the world of transportation policy advocacy, come along. I was interested in finding out what he’d think of diving into some nitty-gritty city planning topics through a policy ride like this.

One of the projects Geller highlighted was to extend the Front Avenue protected bike lane from where it currently ends at 19th Ave to NW 21st or NW Nicolai. This would help provide a better connection into the Northwest Industrial Area and be another step in reaching the area’s cycling potential.

Geller said he thinks it’s important for cycling to become more visible in this area so people know it could be a viable means of getting around the neighborhood. “Ideally, what you want is for people who live in this district to be able to walk out their door and say, ‘oh, biking exists here,'” Geller said.

I would’ve felt a lot more hesitant to cycle in this area had I not been with a group of other people, but it was cool to see how an area that is so car-centric now could become a cycling haven.

(Click for captions)

When we passed the NW Johnson St neighborhood greenway, Geller talked about the city’s plan to beef up urban greenways downtown through Northwest in Motion. He said these greenways located in the densest parts of town can require a lot of upkeep and traffic diversion maintenance to ensure they’re able to stay safe for people walking and biking.

When we rode across Couch Park on NW 19th Ave and Glisan St and Geller pointed out the fact that, one on side of the park, there’s a curb ramp for people rolling to get onto the street, but on the other, it just drops off.

“Little things make a big difference,” Geller said.

Geller identified the bike lane on NW 19th Ave as a specific example of how he thinks PBOT is demonstrating bike transportation as a priority. The transportation bureau thinks the Northwest in Motion plan can double bike usage in this dense part of town, and Geller said projects like these show that goal coming into fruition.

“The fact that this bike lane exists here today reflects our policies becoming much stronger in promoting biking as transportation,” he said.

In the end, I found the policy ride to be a great format for learning about projects and being able to actually imagine the purpose they’ll serve when completed.

Riley says he thought it was a way for someone new to bike policy to get their foot in the door in an engaging and informative way.

“The main thing that was cool to me was seeing the individual human guide behind that kind of infrastructure and realizing that it’s just people making those decisions and trying their best to improve a place,” Riley says. “After hearing about the things in the works, now I want to know how they develop!”

Tuttle says the Bike Loud West chapter is thinking about doing other focused policy rides on topics like bike parking, biking and homeless encampments, and safe routes to school. The next policy ride on the west side will be in March led by PBOT Signals, Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS), and Street Lighting Division Manager Peter Koonce.

Stay tuned to our calendar for ride details once they’re confirmed.

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maccoinnich
maccoinnich
4 months ago

When we rode across Couch Park on NW 19th Ave and Glisan St and Geller pointed out the fact that, one on side of the park, there’s a curb ramp for people rolling to get onto the street, but on the other, it just drops off.

“Little things make a big difference,” Geller said.

The maddening thing about this is that the 6″ curb on Glisan is part of a curb extension built by Parks, as part of recent renovations to Couch Park. Parks and PBOT couldn’t come to agreement over whether the NW/SW 20th Ave Neighborhood Greenway should go through Couch Park. So now there’s a situation where it de-facto does go through the park, but it’s just harder to get through the park than it should be. The ramp on Hoyt only exists so that Parks maintenance vehicle can access the park when needed.

It’s a relatively small thing, but a perfect example of how poorly the bureaus work together under our commission system of government.

Racer X
Racer X
4 months ago

Oh well, there goes another great and effective advocacy group cozying up to the [bike]man!

First it was the LAW, then BTA, and now this! [Tongue planted deeply thru my cheek.]

Roberta Robles
Roberta Robles
4 months ago
Reply to  Racer X

Everybody should be cozying up to everybody else. We are all on Turtle Island together. No escape.

Any advocacy group that is opening up MULTIPLE CHAPTERS is effective.

We have a huge hurtle I like to call the Oregon State Legislature.

Right now there is a huge turnover happening and if we play nice we may (not literally) blow up the entire Joint Transport Committee. Lee Beyers has done nothing but build freeways all over Springfield. This guy and the whole committees uses highway transport dollars to make conservative Republicans happy.

Rise up Eugene/Springfield your senator is selling us out in Portland.

hamiramani
4 months ago

“The main thing that was cool to me was seeing the individual human guide behind that kind of infrastructure and realizing that it’s just people making those decisions and trying their best to improve a place,” Riley says.

It’s so important to humanize each other. Nobody is perfect. No institution is infallible. We can show appreciation for the hard work being done by folks like Roger Geller while applying the requisite pressure on our institutions to always be improving. It’s a dance…Let’s enjoy it.

David S.
David S.
4 months ago

Yeah I don’t do Bike Loud anymore. Too extreme for me.