Beaumont-Wilshire neighborhood board votes against PBOT pilot traffic safety project

Screengrab of Beaumont-Wilshire Neighborhood Association meeting Monday night.

At a meeting of the Beaumont-Wilshire Neighborhood Association Monday night, board members voted against a City of Portland traffic safety pilot proposal.

“We don’t want to be blocked from going straight to go to New Seasons [Market], to go visit friends, to go to work, to turn left.”
— neighborhood resident

On the table was a plan vetted by the Portland Bureau of Transportation that would collect traffic data at 10 locations around the notoriously dangerous and busy intersection of NE Fremont and Alameda. After collecting data, PBOT would share results with the neighborhood and then install a diverter on Fremont that would prevent auto users from crossing or making left turns onto the street from Alameda. The diverter would be installed this summer with temporary materials while PBOT continued to collect data to analyze its impacts.

Despite unanimous acknowledgment that something needs to be done, the project was voted down 7 to 4.

Last night’s special meeting was called specifically to discuss this proposal after the neighborhood has rallied to improve safety on Fremont following a crash in December where a woman was hit and killed by a driver trying to cross at NE 44th.

There were about 70 people logged into the virtual meeting and according to BWNA veterans, it was the largest turnout and most heated dialogue on an issue they could ever recall. This decision has attracted so much attention for two main reasons: 1) It involves something (a diverter) that might make it less convenient to use a car and 2) PBOT gave BWNA board members the impression that their vote would be the deciding factor. Board member Tim Gillespie said at the outset: “We have been given the indication from PBOT that they really want our approval before they move ahead.”

Previous BWNA meetings have been attended by top PBOT traffic safety staff and board members at last night’s meeting said they’ve had conversations with Portland’s chief traffic engineer Wendy Cawley. Board members have been given tremendous access to city staff, but many framed their opposition by saying they want more data and more plan options to consider before giving PBOT their approval to move forward.

Advertisement

Before discussion of the proposal, board members shared a presentation that described PBOT’s intent and made the case for why they focused potential changes at Fremont and Alameda. In a nutshell; the intersection has a history of crashes, a large number of people drive too fast on Fremont, and Alameda is a north-south neighborhood greenway route that currently has nearly twice the amount of car traffic on it than it should have in order to stay below PBOT’s volume threshold for a “low-stress, family-friendly” street.

Slide from BWNA presentation.

One of most consequential slides in the presentation shared results of written feedback the board had received from 41 people (above). The slide showed that of those 41 people, 68% opposed the pilot project proposal and just 32% supported it. Many meeting attendees who opposed the pilot felt this unscientific and tiny sample of responses from a neighborhood with about 6,000 people in a city of 650,000 people should be enough to end the debate.

One board member wrote in the chat that, “If almost 70% of the comments were against the pilot then the board should represent the community. No???”

“If almost 70% of the comments were against the pilot then the board should represent the community. No???”
— meeting attendee via Zoom chat

During testimony and chat messages shared during the virtual meeting, the only thing everyone agreed on was that Fremont and Alameda are currently unsafe and something needs to be done to make it better.

However, like we’ve seen when this exact issue has come up in many other neighborhoods, people tend to get very concerned when there’s a possibility their use of a car might become less convenient. There is also a significant level of distrust and reflexive opposition to projects like this whenever some people perceive PBOT is doing something to support cycling over driving. Others felt PBOT simply called it a “pilot” to sneak in something they never intend to remove once installed.

It was notable to me as an observer that several people based their opposition on the fact that they perceived the PBOT proposal as being only intended to improve the neighborhood greenway on Alameda. “The diverter pilot doesn’t address intersection safety at all, it’s designed to support the Greenway,” one person shared in the chat. People were so opposed to the idea of a diverter that they couldn’t fathm steps to improve the greenway would also result in safer conditions on Fremont. Much of the opposition also centered around a confounding misperception that a full diverter and a bunch bright plastic candlestick wands would do nothing to decrease speeding on Fremont or make crossing of the street safer.

“Just to be clear,” read one chat message. “The proposal is intended to control vehicle traffic away from Alameda with candlesticks. Not improving the pedestrian safety.”

Many other people framed their opposition by saying they wanted to see more data before moving forward. This is despite the proposal clearly stating that PBOT would collect more data and ask the neighborhood to weigh in on that data before the diverter installation.

Advertisement

“We have been given the indication from PBOT that they really want our approval before they move ahead.”
— BWNA board member

“We don’t make decisions based on neighborhood association votes.”
— Hannah Schafer, PBOT

Other people who spoke out against the plan made it clear they were concerned how their personal convenience would be impacted. Here’s revealing testimony from one man who lives near the corner of the intersection:

“This is going to really directly impact me and my family in ways that may not impact other people… I hate to put my convenience above everyone else, and that’s not my intent, but the tradeoff is people living in that area are really going to have to deal with it disproportionately on a day-to-day basis. When I’m coming home from work, I don’t want to drive on a gravel street on 38th, I just want to be able to take a left turn and come home and not have to deal with this. I understand your safety is the issue. But I also want to say this is going to have a real impact on the people who live here.”

Another woman echoed that sentiment when she said, “Many of us who live right down the street don’t want to be blocked from turning left. We don’t want to be blocked from going straight to go to New Seasons, to go visit friends, to go to work, to turn left.”

Another major reason for opposing the diverter plan was something we’ve heard countless times before: Concerns that all the drivers would just clog up other small, residential streets. “We are trying to protect our neighbors. We are worried kids and residents on smaller streets will be injured with this,” one person wrote in the chat. “I am for greenways, commuting by bike or public transportation, fewer car trips, committed walker, etc.,” another person wrote. “This action is just going to take cars from one area and put them on smaller streets, not lessen the number of cars or increasing safety for all.”

A selection of the Zoom meeting chats.

There were several board members who voted no but who seemed committed to finding a different solution. One of them said, “We want safe areas for people to bike and walk and drive. And so [PBOT] is not going to go away. So I feel really like feel comfortable not supporting the pilot as proposed but committing to work as a team with city to come back with something that reflects listening to the community that put some thought into how we can have a win-win solution.”

And while they were a minority at the meeting, several folks expressed clear support.

One woman who lives on the corner said, “I support it because we have to try something. I can’t tell you how many times we rush out of our house because we’ve heard screeching tires, we’ve had cars turned-over on our corner, we’ve had you know bicyclists have been hit.” Bike Loud PDX Board President Kiel Johnson spoke up to say, “Fremont is supposed to have bicycle infrastructure, but it doesn’t. If we’re not going to put the bike infrastructure on [larger, neighborhood collector streets like] Fremont and Prescott we need to do all we can to make sure that these greenways are as safe as they can be.”

Another person who bike commutes through the intersection regularly said she supports the diverter because, “I’ve just had a lot of scary encounters with cars at that intersection.”

And one of the four BWNA board members who supported the project said, “I think environmental concerns trump a lot of other issues. If we don’t start moving in that direction, just more and more buildings and more and more cars, we’re never going to get to a solution.”

For their part, PBOT says the neighborhood board might have the wrong idea about the power of their vote. “We never communicated that their decision was going to be the deciding factor on the diverter… we don’t make decisions based on neighborhood association votes,” said PBOT Interim Communications Director Hannah Schafer in a phone call this morning. “We aren’t even done with the public outreach process. Taking this to a vote was a decision that they made but that we were not a part of.”

Schafer said last night’s BWNA vote, “Is their opinion.”

“We want to be in touch with neighbor associations,” she continued. “But they do not make the final decision on if — or what — we install to create safer streets.”

Schafer says they will take the board meeting into account as they continue to develop and analyze potential solutions in the future. Stay tuned for opportunities to weigh in.

***

UPDATE, 3/31 at 5:00 pm: BWNA Transportation Chair John Sandie said in an email to the board today that he takes full responsibility for the confusion over whether or not the vote was binding. Below is the text of his email:

Neighbors:

At the Monday, March 28 meeting to review the PBOT pilot proposal for diverting traffic at the intersection of Alameda and Fremont Street, it was communicated that the BWNA Board endorsement would be required for the pilot proposal, as presented, to move forward — versus being an advisory vote.

This statement was incorrect, and totally rests on my personal negligent inferences during communications with PBOT on this pilot proposal. While the discussions during the meeting were valuable as part of PBOT community outreach and will be taken under consideration, the vote taken by the board was an advisory action only, and not a definitive decision regarding this proposal.

I am extremely sorry for the confusion and frustration my error in judgement has caused to all, especially to my fellow BWNA Board members. My credibility should be called into question, not theirs.

BWNA is in discussions with PBOT on possible modifications to the pilot as they continue to gather data on existing traffic patterns in proximity to this intersection, and we will communicate periodic updates on these efforts.

Regards,

John Sandie
BWNA Transportation Chair

Subscribe
Notify of
guest
81 Comments
oldest
newest most voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Bryan Morris
Bryan Morris
3 months ago

Analysis paralysis wins again. The same thing that keeps us from dealing with the homeless crisis/drug addiction epidemic that is destroying the livability of our communities.

SolarEclipse
SolarEclipse
3 months ago

Personal biases/opinions trump Safety at PBOT every time.
The notion that the City needs 100% buy in on a project just leads to nothing being done. Look at street safety and street campers as a primary example of this in action.

Eric Leifsdad
Eric Leifsdad
3 months ago

I noted more than one of their board members incorrectly referring to Alameda as a “collector street”, which is incorrect. In the Transportation Systems Plan, it’s designated as a Local Service street for car traffic and nearby 41st is the Neighborhood Collector, but Alameda *is* a Major City Bikeway (the highest bike route designation.) Check the map on portland-tsp.com

SolarEclipse
SolarEclipse
3 months ago
Reply to  Eric Leifsdad

If there aren’t any signs on the street indicating what the street is, do you really expect someone to know? I haven’t a clue what the main streets are designated by some beaurocrat at PBOT that are around me.

Chris I
Chris I
3 months ago
Reply to  SolarEclipse

If someone is going to throw out the term “collector”, I think the onus is on them to do their homework. People can be ignorant about street designations, sure, but those people shouldn’t attempt to use wonky terms they clearly don’t understand.

CO
CO
3 months ago
Reply to  Chris I

“A collector road or distributor road is a low-to-moderate-capacity road which serves to move traffic from local streets to arterial roads.”
Regardless of how the current city designation, Alameda has functioned as a collector for many years and was probably originally designed as one.

Bjorn
Bjorn
3 months ago
Reply to  Eric Leifsdad

In fact until recently the city had actually posted signage designating the street as local traffic only. I wish they would bring back that signage although really we need hard diverters to eliminate some of the cut through traffic that is going from wilshire park all the way to sandy. By turning all but a couple of the stop signs the city created a magnet for cut through traffic and has done nothing to mitigate it, hence we have a green way with more than double the maximum number of motor vehicles allowed by the city’s own standards.

Allan Rudwick
3 months ago

“We don’t want to be blocked from going…” you wouldn’t being blocked, your car would. Driving culture in a nutshell

X
X
3 months ago
Reply to  Allan Rudwick

Yeah.
“…I hate to put my convenience above everyone else…but…”

Kiel Johnson / Go By Bike

Thank you for the important clarification. It was certainly not the impression that was given at the meeting last night. PBOT needs to be very clear with groups about how these decisions are made. Issues like these will continue to be a PR disaster for PBOT until they do. It is okay to say we will listen to all opinions but ultimately safety concerns need to be made by our transportation experts.

So much neighborhood energy went into that meeting because they all thought they were responsible for making the final call. Would love to see people spend as much time organizing neighborhood block parties as they do opposing any change to their streets.

X
X
3 months ago

The rolling Sunday block parties on NE 7th were first-class traffic calming!

Babygorilla
Babygorilla
3 months ago

Is the cost to signalize this intersection with something like the partial red lights (like on Sandy or Broadway in the NE 20s) that much to make it prohibitive? That seems like the best solution to any problem at an uncontrolled intersections. With the advance of technology in lighting / networking, the physical infrastructure in installing something like that wouldn’t seem like it would exceed the total costs to go through various stages of planning and study to figure out a final plan when and presumably the traffic studies PBOT would do for an signalized intersection would not vary that much from studies for a non-signalized intersection. Is it a function of limited market for certified equipment that may be based on old tech / legacy systems that leads to high installation costs?

foobike
foobike
3 months ago
Reply to  Babygorilla

Yes, this was my first thought as well. It would probably make sense to also install a bike box with some form of bike lane so bikes can easily navigate around the car queue (talking Northbound here), get to the front and trigger the signal for crossing.

I also can’t help wondering if some of the volume on Alameda at this intersection could be reduced by maybe doing something about a couple of other intersections:

  • Allowing a left turn at the Northbound 41st & Fremont intersection, as I’d guess a fair bit of the traffic on Alameda is diverting off 41st to get to Fremont or points North of Fremont. Am assuming left turn is not allowed due to the school, so maybe disallowing the turn only at certain times? Or maybe there’s some other reason that the left turn is not allowed there?
  • Even for car users, the 33rd & Fremont intersection is unpleasant and rather dangerous, given the grades involved and the difficulty of making turns onto 33rd from Fremont which causes cars to back up Westbound on Fremont. My guess is a lot of cars cross Fremont and stay straight on Alameda (Northbound) to get to New Seasons (as that one commenter noted) and points North, rather than making a left onto Fremont and dealing with the right hand turn on 33rd. And they may be looking to avoid 33rd and the lights on it altogether (shrug). In any event, they take the path of least resistance to get there, which is Alameda, 37th, and various residential roads.

Just spitballin’ here but it seems streets like Fremont, 41st and 33rd have been more or less ceded to car traffic (I rarely bike on those roads given much better alternatives), so why not do whatever can be done to encourage cars to stick to these streets while making it less easy to use bike greenways (or whatever their designations) like Alameda and 37th.

Oh yeah, of course the biggest safety improvement that would help crossing at this intersection and crossing anywhere along Fremont in general is a no-brainer: let’s get speed cameras on Fremont, please!

Champs
Champs
3 months ago

In Mt. Scott, the neighborhood identified a problem and PBOT quickly responded with a remedy, whatever you think of it. In Beaumont, PBOT had an apparently unsolicited plan and was waiting for the okay less than four months later.

My street has had issues for years. PBOT declared defeat and pleads poverty. I wonder what the difference is.

idlebytes
idlebytes
3 months ago
Reply to  Champs

They installed a stop sign on my street finally (at a greenway). People still speed in front of my house but now they at least slow down a couple blocks later. They also filled in some pot holes it feels like I’m living in Laurelhurst now, sans sidewalks. 🙂

PS
PS
3 months ago
Reply to  Champs

Have you tried having the young people in your neighborhood shoot at each other from their cars? That seems like the ticket to getting your own plastic barrels, a visit/photo op from Hardesty, a shaky statistical analysis “suggesting” success, and your very own article here in BP.

Champs
Champs
3 months ago
Reply to  PS

I live by Dawson Park, so…

cmh89
cmh89
3 months ago

In summary, wealthy older land owners in Alameda chose to chase the fast and safe road’ unicorn and are willing to sacrifice everyone else’s safety to do it.

Quintin E. Jones
Quintin E. Jones
3 months ago
Reply to  cmh89

The whole classism/ageism thing is not helpful.

cmh89
cmh89
3 months ago

Well, Neighborhood Associations have long be criticized for being entities that are only inclusive for affluent, older landowners, so its not an off hand remark, its a critique of the outreach vehicle PBOT has chosen which inherently excludes younger, less affluent, and more diverse populations in Portland.

Watts
Watts
3 months ago
Reply to  cmh89

The bar to joining a NA is very, very low. Bowling leagues, to pick one silly example, with fees to join and a higher time commitment, are far more exclusive. As is bike riding, which requires equipment and a certain level of fitness and ability.

cmh89
cmh89
3 months ago
Reply to  Watts

The bar to joining a NA is very, very low. Bowling leagues, to pick one silly example, with fees to join and a higher time commitment, are far more exclusive. As is bike riding, which requires equipment and a certain level of fitness and ability.

And as we all know, the only aspect of being part of a group is if it cost money! Obvi

Luke
Luke
3 months ago
Reply to  Watts

A bike can be a double-digit dollar expenditure, and if we weren’t all still stuck on the idiotic and exclusionary “vehicular cycling” paradigm, cycling would be the most accessible means of transportation to anyone not physically disabled (though it can still be more accessible to those unable to walk long distances). As cmh89 hinted, as well, the time commitment to neighborhood associations is often at least a big a barrier as anything financial.

soren
soren
3 months ago
Reply to  Luke

Not just the time commitment but there is often zero outreach to lower-income people.

Sigma
Sigma
3 months ago

Dude, there’s a picture.

Brandon
Brandon
3 months ago

Class is a huge factor in most societal issues. As it is here.

Lisa Caballero (Southwest Correspondent)
Editor

Good article, I’m glad you were able to talk with Hannah Schafer and that she was able to clarify that

“we want to be in touch with neighbor associations, but they do not make the final decision on if — or what — we install to create safer streets.”

That’s been my experience. I was the Transportation Chair for my neighborhood association for a couple of years, and I am currently a non-board member of my NAs transportation committee. No one at PBOT ever led me to believe that the NA or neighborhood had any sort of final vote or approval of anything. But the PBOT project managers listened to and considered public comments.

A good example of this was the Patton/Greenway/Talbot intersection project which I wrote about for my very first article for BP

with a followup here:
https://bikeportland.org/2021/04/15/first-look-new-bike-lanes-traffic-calming-treatments-on-sw-patton-and-greenway-330076

A well-run NA acts as a facilitator between the public and the bureaus. It appears that the BWNA did a lot of the same things we did: collect public responses, explain the project and problems to the public, hold public meetings, report what’s going on in their newsletter. My transportation committee met on site with neighbors, met at their homes, facilitated a zoom meeting with PBOT staff. I spent two hours on the phone with one neighbor agreeing with him that plastic wands are ugly—it’s a lot of volunteer time!

PBOT listened and changed/improved the design based on the comments we collected for them. That included, btw, me reaching out to a long-time cycling activist (who lives outside the neighborhood but rides the bike route) and directing PBOT to his Go-Pro video of the intersection so they could better understand the problems.

If you find it easier to ride up Montgomery to Council Crest, please understand that our neighborhood association spent years getting that intersection right, that it was part of the Southwest in Motion plan (put together with the volunteer time of a lot of people many of whom are or were on NA boards—including cycling activists).

The plan for those intersections was improved by the process of NA, neighbors, bike activists and PBOT planners listening to each other to arrive at a best outcome.

The process for the Alameda project is not complete. Good luck everyone!

SolarEclipse
SolarEclipse
3 months ago

I say this out of complete ignorance . . .
Why does it take a neighborhood association years of work to get an intersection “right”? Aren’t their guides/manuals/whatever that are available for the road engineer to reference, based on years of prior road building experience, that gives a guide for doing whats “right” in a particular location based upon traffic patters, road grade, lights, trees, whatever?
Why are we paying these traffic engineers if they have to let the NAs do the work for them?

Pinot
Pinot
3 months ago
Reply to  SolarEclipse

There certainly are. PBOT/CoP has however decided that the “engagement process” is more important than the engineering.

Watts
Watts
3 months ago
Reply to  SolarEclipse

Why does it take a neighborhood association years of work to get an intersection “right”?

PBOT is often unaware of how intersections/corridors really work. You learn a lot more about these by travelling through them daily for years as opposed to an engineer’s hour-long site visit and a table of statistics.

I think PBOT should engage with community members even earlier in the process, and get buy in from the beginning. Ask the NA to form a subcommittee, for example. That would give PBOT more credibility at the later stages when they could point to the trusted community members who informed the design from the get-go.

cct
cct
3 months ago
Reply to  SolarEclipse

ironically, the issue is often that engineers ARE doing the work, and NOT listening to the NAs or residents. try getting a crosswalk in hillier and curvier parts of town east and west – no matter how much safer it might be to at least have ‘ped Xing’ signs and zebra bars, the engineers will say “not enough sightline (350′ IIRC) for a safe crossing” and nix it. to be fair, it’s hard for them to improvise, because the first time they put in a crossing with 250′ of sightline and someone gets hit, guess who gets sued for not following engineering handbook?

Lisa Caballero (Southwest Correspondent)
Editor
Reply to  SolarEclipse

SolarEclipse,

I’ve yet to see an engineering guide or manual capture the complexity of the Vista/Patton/Georgian/Broadway/Greenway/Talbot/Audrey dual intersections. Oh, and that’s all on a hill!

PBOT’s original plan was wonderful, it is a tricky area and PBOT gave the problem to a talented designer. I ran pretty hard interference for the original PBOT plan.

THEN, a couple of really annoying bike riders who didn’t like the the placement of the bike route weighed in. Boy was I irritated! They weren’t even on the transportation committee! Nevertheless, the transportation committee captured all opinions, made a spreadsheet, and passed everything on to PBOT.

Lo and behold, PBOT listened to those pesky bike riders! PBOT moved the bike route and beefed up the bike facilities at the intersection of Montgomery and Patton.

So, if you like the new crossbike, the two crosswalks, and the narrower mouth at Montgomery, you can thank the NA-facilitated process, because none of that was in the original plan.

You’re welcome 😉

Charley
Charley
3 months ago

The process you’re describing sounds like the optimal version of a beneficial neighborhood association.

And it sounds like maybe someone at the BWNA misunderstood the relationship to PBOT’s planning!

Doug Klotz
Doug Klotz
3 months ago
Reply to  Charley

I would hazard a guess that many neighborhood associations could not be called “beneficial” in regards to improving their neighborhood for everyone, not just the homeowners.

Quintin E. Jones
Quintin E. Jones
3 months ago

I’m not a neighborhood leader but I’ve found it nearly impossible to get PBOT to reply to me about traffic concerns in my neighborhood.

Doug Klotz
Doug Klotz
3 months ago

In my experience, PBOT staff are careful in how they phrase things when talking to the public. I would hazard a guess that some NA folks “listened selectively”, even if subconsciously, and thought that PBOT would go with whatever the NA decided, when that was not actually the case.

Fred
Fred
3 months ago
Reply to  Doug Klotz

Exactly, Doug. See my comment lower down about the aggrandizement of NA power.

Zaphod
3 months ago

This dialog brings up a big picture issue that PBOT hasn’t successfully resolved. And that is around cut-through streets. As an example, speed bumps on one street pushes traffic to another. It’s not a surprise and it’s a problem. A broad adoption of approaches that really solve this problem is warranted. Surely PBOT has tools to model traffic patterns. If people need to get between two parallel streets, what’s the fastest way to do it? Where does Google Maps send you? That analysis should inform design. It’s time to lean into approaches that make it very difficult for people to utilize safe routes and side streets as their A-to-B solution. Physical barriers, signage and speed bumps deployed along the “problem street” and adjacent ones at the same time to solve these problems robustly. Why is it that Portland in general and PBOT in specific hasn’t really effectively been a leader and gotten it right. There’s enough power in the brain trust so…what gives?

Boyd
Boyd
3 months ago
Reply to  Zaphod

That’s what PBOT did with the Clinton Greenway diverter at 32nd Ave. They installed speed bumps on Woodward on for several blocks to deter cut through traffic. Now if only PBOT would abandon their speed bump design that allows many cars to cruise over them at 30+ and the grooves that encourage center line violations…

soren
soren
3 months ago
Reply to  Zaphod

“PBOT hasn’t successfully resolved. And that is around cut-through streets”

The City Council unanimously voted to approve PBOT’s Neighborhood Greenways Assessment Report which explicitly calls for traffic calming, including diversion, when there are >1000 vpd on a Neighborhood Greenway.

The problem is not that this has not been “resolved” but that the city has once again relegated a plan/report to the top shelf of its sub-basement of active transportation shame.

https://www.portlandoregon.gov/transportation/article/542747

EP
EP
3 months ago

I don’t live there, but I’ve biked through that intersection for years. Where do I vote?!

Last night I watched a car FLY down our street and blow a stop, followed by a police car. Can I get two diverters? I don’t get these NIMBYs that get to have it all, but don’t want any kind of change, even if it’s good.

Watts
Watts
3 months ago
Reply to  EP

The NA board expressed its opinion, nothing more (the vote was on what that opinion should be, not whether the project moves forward, a decision that remains in PBOT’s hands). You can (and should) express your opinion too!

If you figure out how to get your diverters, please let me know. I want one myself.

Quintin E. Jones
Quintin E. Jones
3 months ago

I ride through the intersection all the time. What we need is a beg button with flashing light signage so car’s barreling down Fremont actually stop for cyclists and pedestrians. The diverter won’t get cars to stop for a safe crossing.

Steve C
Steve C
3 months ago

A rapid flashing beacon crossing across Fremont at Alameda would be very nice.

Some of the frustration comes from the half measures in place right now. Cars are not legally required to stop for cyclists at these new dashed green “Cross-bikes.” Only some people know this and it creates conflicts with motorists and cyclists. Maybe one driver will notice me, slow to a stop, but the drivers in the other direction might not. The key for my safety if we aren’t going to control the speed of drivers along Fremont, or in general, is the predictability of their speed. The current configuration is unpredictable and based on the whims of drivers you encounter.

So I put my foot down, try to put my head down and sorta look away if I want cars to get the hint and keep going. I’m not going to force the issue of getting cars to stop if I know in the end, if they hit me, they will be in the right.

As a pedestrian I definitely force the issue at both marked and unmarked crosswalks as drivers are required to stop for me. But even then I need to be hyper vigilant and I wouldn’t recommend everyone assert their right to cross as drivers rarely stop if they can get away with it.

CO
CO
3 months ago
Reply to  Steve C

I think speed on Fremont and the unsafe intersection it creates is one of the reasons the BWNA board voted this down so they can go back to PBOT and ask for a solution that addresses safety at the crossing.

Chris I
Chris I
3 months ago

Speed cameras on Fremont would be nice.

El Oso
El Oso
3 months ago

I live on NE 37 and attended last night’s meeting. I am disappointed in the decision and will advocate Pbot go forward with the pilot. However I can see some of my neighbors perspectives especially around the added traffic created by tacovore and lack of communication about what additional measures Pbot can take

Fred
Fred
3 months ago
Reply to  El Oso

Thanks, Bear!

King Cully
King Cully
3 months ago

Can someone just go plant diverter cones at that intersection anyways? At some point if PBOT won’t do anything then we the people will do.

SD
SD
3 months ago

That Zoom chat though… “Does Alameda have to be a greenway?” “Tacovore needs less seating and moar parking”
My friends, we are sick and dying.

CO
CO
3 months ago
Reply to  SD

So to explain that comment – the city changed the zoning a few years back that allowed tacovore to get rid of their parking and add seating for 100+ outside. I believe the point is that this brings a lot more congestion and traffic to that corner. This intersection isn’t just residential. Diverter blocks traffic from Fremont & Alameda from getting to the restaurant. Its not just neighborhood traffic. Diverter will push traffic down to small side streets adjacent Beaumont school. Cars will be diverted off Alameda but also Fremont cars will have to work around the neighborhood to get to the restaurant.

SD
SD
3 months ago
Reply to  CO

I get what you are saying. The problem is that we can’t have all the things that we want in a neighborhood; restaurants, corner stores, bars, schools, parks, trees, free range children, senior citizens that aren’t killed in the street AND prioritize cars and all of the space that they require at the same time. Car dominant neighborhoods are not inevitable.

Doug Klotz
Doug Klotz
3 months ago
Reply to  CO

I don’t understand how a business getting rid of their (off-street) parking would bring more traffic to that corner. I’m guessing the outdoor seating was because of COVID, and they actually didn’t have an increase in customers. If anything, these changes should discourage folks from driving to this restaurant. Perhaps they’ll even bike or walk!

CO
CO
3 months ago
Reply to  Doug Klotz

It was a zoning code change and not just covid. The neighborhood and congestion at the corner is very different on Mondays when Tacovore is closed.

CO
CO
3 months ago
Reply to  Doug Klotz

Getting rid of parking causes more people to drive around looking for parking and in fact they park on the north side of the Alameda greenway. People are actively dining inside now as well as outside allowing them to serve more people. I think those immediately in the neighborhood do bike/walk there but they draw a ton of patrons from outside the neighborhood who drive causing some of the congestion. This is what happens when commercial properties are allowed in residential zones and then people are surprised when there are issues.

cmh89
cmh89
3 months ago
Reply to  Doug Klotz

I don’t understand how a business getting rid of their (off-street) parking would bring more traffic to that corner.

Its odd because Tacovore appears to have dedicated parking spaces on both sides of the building, which means they have significantly more parking than your average central-city restaurant, not less.

CO
CO
3 months ago
Reply to  cmh89

Most restaurants are in commercial areas not in the middle of a residential zone.

cmh89
cmh89
3 months ago
Reply to  CO

Most restaurants are in commercial areas not in the middle of a residential zone.

Tacovore’s building is zoned residential? It looks like its been a commercial building for a long time and its about a block from a huge commercial district and a school. What’s “residential” about it?

CO
CO
3 months ago
Reply to  cmh89

It is completely surround by residentially zoned houses. Commercial district starts at 41st. That lot was zoned residential (with conditional uses) until a few years ago. Typically lots like this were corner markets in the past.

soren
soren
3 months ago
Reply to  CO

Beaumont-Wilshire’s low density zoning is incompatible with Portland’s climate goals or the goals of its comprehensive plan. Beaumont-Wilshire needs less “residential zoning” and more multi-story apartment buildings (preferably social housing) popping up everywhere.

Just imagine what that would do to “parking”.

cmh89
cmh89
3 months ago
Reply to  CO

Cars will be diverted off Alameda but also Fremont cars will have to work around the neighborhood to get to the restaurant.

The solution to side-effects of greenway diversion is further side street diversion. I don’t think its particularly difficult to figure out where traffic is diverting to and if its not the street you want, you then make that street a not through street.

There should almost no streets in Portland, that aren’t collector streets or highways, that allow a motorist to continue going straight for more than three or four blocks.

Watts
Watts
3 months ago
Reply to  cmh89

There should almost no streets in Portland, that aren’t collector streets or highways, that allow a motorist to continue going straight for more than three or four blocks.

This is the situation in East Portland.

Sigma
Sigma
3 months ago
Reply to  CO

What specifically changed with the zoning update? Was it just that they could convert their parking lot to seating? Because before Tacovore, it was a pizza restaurant, and before that, it was a bodega. It’s been zoned for commercial use for as long as I can remember.

CO
CO
3 months ago
Reply to  Sigma

The lot was a residential lot with conditional uses applied that called for a parking lot and no outside seating to maintain low impact on the neighborhood. Zoning now allows for outside seating (they have more than 25 tables plus a food truck that serves ice cream). The increased seating/food truck means more people, more impact on neighborhood and surrounding streets.

John
John
3 months ago

I can see why BWNA thought their vote mattered, after all BP’s prior article said

“ As has become common practice, PBOT has told BWNA they will not proceed with the pilot project unless they get a supportive vote from the board. “

Doug Klotz
Doug Klotz
3 months ago

Yes, it sounds like the NA was mischaracterizing what PBOT told them. But they got an increase in attendance, so…

John
John
3 months ago

BP prior article said this was now PBOT’s “common practice” and linked to yet another BP article about a PBOT proposal in King https://bikeportland.org/2019/10/18/city-asks-king-neighborhood-to-decide-on-greenway-diverter-306408 which said

“ The only traffic diversion would be at Killingsworth. That is, if PBOT feels enough people support it.

Throughout the meeting PBOT made it clear to attendees that the public would hold the power this time. “We want to put you in control,” Falbo said. One PBOT slide called their design merely an “idea” not a “proposal”.”

So does PBOT actually want, seek, need local agreement for these projects, or not? Or does it depend on which neighborhood is involved, or is PBOT saying different things to different groups, or does PBOT seek local input only when the neighborhood agrees with PBOT?

John
John
3 months ago

I don’t quite understand how this diverter would either slow traffic on Fremont or cause cars on Fremont to stop for crossing pedestrians.

Seems like speeders on Fremont would be unimpeded. They might even go faster, with less turning traffic to care about.

As for cars trying to turn left onto Fremont from Alameda, seems they will have to go right-left-left-left-right so five turns instead of one, on narrower streets with poorer visibility, no lighting, no marked crosswalks, no curb bulbouts, and possibly bordering the school.

I think the better solution would be a controlled intersection at Fremont/Alameda – i.e. a signal light. Costs money, but would actually make things better.

Fremont, like it or not, has become a major E-W route. It needs to be treated as one, with signals.

Just the facts, Ma'am
Just the facts, Ma'am
3 months ago
Reply to  John

Agreed. That turn sequence you mentioned is unacceptable.

Stephan
Stephan
3 months ago
Reply to  John

I agree. This was one of the concerns brought up during the meeting. It seems like the project was framed to improve safety, but really sought to address another issue (too many cars on Alameda), which did not help the cause.

Another point people brought up is that they would have liked to discuss different options with PBOT, and felt like they were trying to push this project forward without further consideration of alternative project designs (such as a bike/walk button mentioned above).

I would have voted for the pilot simply because I would vote for any improvement to biking / walking in Portland, but it seems to me that PBOT did not exactly excel at communicating this project with the NA, and that had a negative effect on the discussion.

Anina Bennett
Anina Bennett
3 months ago

I agree bike safety is critical. But the city’s solution of installing traffic diverters is causing other fallout and safety issues. I would love to see other solutions like traffic signals and raised bike lanes instead. We live in a SE residential neighborhood that’s now fenced in by multiple diverters and speed bumps. The net effect has been to force more car traffic onto residential streets. We have serious safety issues on side streets where cars cut through on routes where kids walk and bike to school.

Zachary
Zachary
3 months ago
Reply to  Anina Bennett

Would you be willing to say more about why multiple diverters and speed bumps have had the net effect to force more car traffic onto residential streets? It was always my understanding that speed bumps, diverters, stop signs, etc disincentivized cut through traffic (ie made it slower than simply staying on the arterials), but you appear to be suggesting this hasn’t been your neighborhood’s experience. I’d appreciate hearing more. Thanks!

soren
soren
3 months ago
Reply to  Anina Bennett

That may be your perception but as documented here in previous posts PBOT’s counts* show either a decrease or negligible change.

*after mitigation as part of test diverters

me
3 months ago

Years ago I spoke at the BWNA about the possibility of supporting “Let’s get Going” (Turning NE Going into a Greenway.) The board was generally welcoming, and interested and supportive…however there were two hostile/ unwelcoming folks who didn’t want me to be able to talk about it (I was on the agenda) and repeatedly interrupted me with unrelated comments. One demanded to video me, holding his phone as close to my face as possible. The rest of the board apologized for these two’s behavior.

I applaud folks who are truly committed to try and find ways to make Portland streets safer for all.

I hope the city will somehow become bold and put in safer improvements whether a small group of NIMBY’s approve or not. The neighborhood associations do not really represent any of their neighborhoods. Every one of them is filled with folks who are older, whiter, wealthier, and more conservative than the average resident in their neighborhood.

Fred
Fred
3 months ago

NAs often think they have a lot more power than they actually have. Some years ago I observed a meeting of the Multnomah NA in which someone convinced the entire meeting – not the board but everyone at this particular meeting – to vote on whether to “approve” the construction of a large apartment building. The vote was something like 70-30 opposing the building. Guess what? The building was built and the vote had no impact whatsoever.

I guess it’s logical that NAs will always vote, since “the only power you have is the power you use” – even when you don’t actually have any power.

Watts
Watts
3 months ago
Reply to  Fred

Usually the way it works is the NA votes to take a position, and then writes a letter advocating for that position (any group in the city can do the same). Many times these letters are ignored, occasionally not, depending on the agency’s underlying agenda.

SD
SD
3 months ago

PBOT could more effectively achieve its sustainable transportation goals if it modeled implementation after the relentless steps that have led to car-dominance. One example would be to have neighborhood associations compete against each other to opt out of safe street / traffic calming projects. PBOT could list all of their proposals for the year and one lucky neighborhood association that can out-NIMBY all of the other neighborhood associations would be awarded the chance to opt out of PBOT’s fabled “ramming something down their throats” for that year. I would happily buy a ticket to watch the finals “community meeting style” at the Schnitz.

Toadslick
3 months ago
Reply to  SD

This strategy is underrated and brilliant.

Roberta Robles
Roberta Robles
2 months ago

I take real issue with the story of “inclusiveness” from this neighborhood. I never received the welcome wagon described in this article. As a new mom, nobody ever rolled out the welcome mat. Indeed I was treated like the “help” since I’m Latina. Nobody said hello.

These people are lying about their inclusivity, and or telling a story that is not historically true. This NA is not welcoming to POC. They have also warped the entire elementary school boundaries around the Alameda School to bus in rich kids and make Sabin kids walk to school from farther distances.

These people actually thought their vote on a diverter was binding. That is how much entitlement they have.

I’m so glad I left.