First Look: New Rose Lane on SW Alder (video)

(Note: This project isn’t 100% complete. Please see update from PBOT at end of post.)


The Portland Bureau of Transportation celebrated the opening of their latest Rose Lane on SW Alder on Wednesday.

The Rose Lane initiative was launched in 2019 under former PBOT Commissioner Chloe Eudaly and its development has remained a priority under Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty. The goal is to speed up buses to make them more competitive with driving and deliver better service to bus riders. When it launched, Eudaly said it was the most effective way to simultaneously address climate change and racial disparities with transportation infrastructure.

With the SW Alder project, PBOT’s work complements TriMet’s Line 15 route change that moved the eastbound bus from SW Salmon to Alder to reduce travel time and simplify the route. To keep buses moving faster, they’ve built two new bus platform extensions (at 10th and 6th) and have created a dedicated bus lane between 4th and 2nd as Alder approaches the Morrison Bridge. The project also includes new crosswalks and several new stations.

At an opening event yesterday, PBOT staff talked to passersby and handed out free ice cream at Firefighters Parks at the 18th/Alder/Burnside intersection.

As you can see in the video, PBOT Director said the project is a “win-win” for transit and bicycle users. On the project website, PBOT says the project creates a “comfortable”, “safer”, and “protected” bikeway. Unfortunately I didn’t see or experience much of that while biking through it yesterday. I didn’t see the protected bike lanes (that we expected as per our story in April) and I experienced a mish-mash of disconnected bikeway treatments. One block I was in a door-zone bike lane, then a bus/bike mixing zone, then I was surrounded by car users, then I was in a bus/bike only lane (that was being illegally used by drivers).

This is unfortunately what I’ve come to expect biking downtown. It doesn’t feel like something that would entice a more novice rider onto a bike. It’s not comfortable and it doesn’t feel like the scale of progress we so urgently need.

Rose Lanes are necessary because we have too many people using cars and they make our system unsafe and inefficient. So while relatively tiny upgrades to the transit system are a great thing that benefits all of us, if we want our streets to reach their full potential, we must do more to reduce service levels and access for car users. Incremental steps for “alternative transportation” while letting drivers run amok, is not progress. And it just doesn’t make sense to me why PBOT would do any project these days that doesn’t make significant and tangible upgrades to the bike network.

These projects often take a bit of time to settle in and perhaps PBOT has more to do. Based on my experience yesterday, I certainly hope so (see update below).

Take a look at the video and roll through it next time you’re downtown and let us know what you think.


UPDATE, July 1st: I should have checked in with PBOT before doing this video and post! Sorry about that. Below is more information about this project from their comms person Hannah Schafer.

This project was designed and scoped specifically to be a transit project, but we also improved some of the more critical bike connections including from the future 4th Avenue bike lane to the Morrison Bridge as well as extending the SW 2nd Avenue bike lane from Alder to Washington. Because of existing curb extensions at 5th and 6th, and the need for bus platforms at 6th and 10th, there just wasn’t space.

The project isn’t fully complete. We have items that still need to get done. The block from 4th to 3rd still has right turn arrow signage, but the project will actually be prohibiting that right turn. There are also some blocks in Goose Hollow that will be improved for bikes once some building construction is complete. Finally, we also have plans to add tuff curb but, like many things, tuff curb is currently on backorder so it may take a few weeks until that goes in.

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Andrew Kreps
Andrew Kreps
1 month ago

Your comments match my first impression looking at your photos. Well, it took a long time for the curbside bike lanes to cease to be used as car parking, so. Maybe it’ll settle in. Also was anything actually rose colored? I only saw about a 30′ segment in your video. Most of the point of these things for me is color separation. It’s easier for people to understand.

pigs
pigs
1 month ago

Baffles me why there needs to be 2 lanes for car traffic anywhere downtown.

Fred
Fred
1 month ago
Reply to  pigs

Aggressive drivers need a lane to blow by slower, safer drivers, of course.

Chris I
Chris I
1 month ago

Would be nice to see bollards on the front side of the asphalt waiting pad. Definitely wouldn’t catch me waiting in that space as it is built now.

Matt
Matt
1 month ago

PBOT and missed opportunities seem to go hand in hand. Sad. Frustrating. Maddening.

Fred
Fred
1 month ago
Reply to  Matt

It makes more sense when you realize that the P in PBOT stands for “performative.”

David Hampsten
David Hampsten
1 month ago

A new type of bicycle facility: Value-engineered bike lanes (VEBL). I’ve seen them in other cities too.

I note the asphalt used for the bus platforms is a type that I think is easy to later remove should they get funding for concrete or need to change something else.

Babygorilla
Babygorilla
1 month ago

It seems the project starts at 18th. I haven’t ridden 19th in about a month, but as of then the treatment at 19th and Burnside for getting to Alder purposefully directs riders to a conflict with vehicles continuing south on 19th without giving them any signal priority, physical separation or protection. I was hoping that that would be fixed by now but maybe it’s just going to stay that way.

maxD
maxD
1 month ago

Pbot building these discontinous, isolated segments of bike infrastructure is maddening to me! It flies in the face of all transportation planning principles. If a bike lane just ends, at a minimum they should provide a merge sign and sharrows on the lane bikes are expected to join. Why is it that when it comes to bike routes, PBOT engineers abandon their training and switch to magical thinking, “This will be a really useful and safe place to ride a bike for 3 blocks, I guess people will use teh bus to bring their bike here, bike the handful of blocks with bike infrastructure, then put their bike back on the bus!”

Fred
Fred
1 month ago
Reply to  maxD

Couldn’t agree more strongly, maxD. Those “Bike lane ends” signs are so welcoming. I like to imagine the reaction of car drivers if they saw a sign saying, “Car lane ends.”

David Hampsten
David Hampsten
1 month ago

Buildings: I note in the video at 1:11 a couple of new tall buildings under construction. For former residents like myself, could someone tell me a bit about them? Thanks.

jayson
jayson
1 month ago
Reply to  David Hampsten

i believe you are talking about the ALTA Art Tower at 15th and Alder, which was built on land adjacent to the Artists Repertory Theatre.

https://news.theregistryps.com/wood-partners-opens-314-unit-alta-art-tower-in-portland/

Incidentally, the building behind Jonathan at the beginning of the video appears to be the apartment building that replaced the former Monte Shelton Motors that occupied that space before being sold.

https://www.nextportland.com/2017/05/10/1638-w-burnside-approved-by-design-commission-images/

There is also the new Ritz Carlton Hotel being built at 10th and Alder where the food cart village once resided. (Not sure if that one was in the video.)

jayson
jayson
1 month ago
Reply to  David Hampsten

Playing the video again, I think you ARE talking about the Ritz Carlton in the distance. Not sure what the other building is exactly.

David Hampsten
David Hampsten
1 month ago
Reply to  jayson

Both buildings are very tall (for Portland) and are between Alder and Washington east of I-405. The first seems to face Washington between SW 11th & 12th, the other faces SW 10th. Both are unfinished in the video. I could easily believe that at least one of them is a new hotel.

Thank you for the other project links – I lived in Goose Hollow close by from 2000-2003, in a slummy building right across light rail from the newspaper printer.

jayson
jayson
1 month ago
Reply to  David Hampsten

here is more information about the building under construction on washington between 11th and 12th.

https://www.nextportland.com/2017/12/13/eleven-west/

here is more about the hotel/condos on 10th between alder and washington.

https://bpmrealestategroup.com/property/block-216-portland-oregon/

Lastly, here is the building that now occupies the former Oregonian press building at SW 17th and Yamhill, next to the MAX stop.,

https://www.oregonlive.com/news/erry-2018/10/48d08868919607/seattle-developer-to-start-con.html

soren
soren
1 month ago
Reply to  David Hampsten

David, I think you will appreciate this aspect of that tall perpetually unfinished tower:

https://www.oregonlive.com/business/2022/02/portland-ritz-carlton-developer-waffles-on-affordable-housing-pledges.html

Portland developer Walter Bowen signed an agreement with the Portland Housing Bureau last March pledging to make 27 luxury condos in his opulent Ritz-Carlton tower affordable to people like the plumbers and drywallers working on the building…

Among the thousands of pages of city records obtained by The Oregonian/OregonLive are emails suggesting city officials don’t believe Bowen has any intention of including the affordable units, despite the agreement.

In other words, the city has been outmaneuvered and outsmarted …The delay tactics could keep the $8.1 million, which the city would put toward affordable housing elsewhere, unavailable at a time when the housing is sorely needed.

The situation raises the question of whether the city has been aggressive enough when working with developers on affordable housing deals as Portland enters the seventh year of a housing emergency.

Bowen has become one of Portland’s premier local developers, with two major downtown developments under his belt and a third — the unfinished Ritz-Carlton tower, known as Block 216 — already reshaping downtown’s skyline.

He’s also made prior affordable housing promises that have yet to pan out.

The city has a very long track record of “requiring” fantastically wealthy housing speculators to fund affordable housing and then failing to pursue these agreements when the developer threatens to pull out (or implements other delaying tactics). This capture of our city government by wealthy developers is another example of why the “free” market wlll never address our low-income housing crisis.

Will
Will
1 month ago
Reply to  soren

IZ was always a neoliberal practice. Relying on private parties (both for and non-profit) to provision a core social service is not how we should be doing things.

soren
soren
1 month ago
Reply to  Will

IZ transfer in lieu could have functioned as revenue for cooperative social housing via Eudaly’s TOP ordinance. But Eudaly was sabotaged by neoliberal council members and disparaged by the left (e.g. DSA).

maccoinnich
1 month ago
Reply to  soren

IZ fee-in-lieu income is negligible because the City designed the program to make providing units on-site the most attractive compliance option. As such, almost no one is choosing the fee-in-lieu compliance option (with the notable exception of what the Ritz Carlton project will likely wind up doing). The city would need another revenue source for buying existing apartment units.

David Hampsten
David Hampsten
1 month ago
Reply to  soren

Soren, thank you very much for the link and follow-up story – and I do sincerely appreciate it! Likely he offered to do the affordable housing pledge to get height bonuses before reneging on them, a common practice among unscrupulous developers looking to the bottom line (and the top floor) in any major city. We had to deal with lots of similar developers when I served on the Hazelwood NA board in East Portland, unfortunately.

Bjorn
Bjorn
1 month ago

Without automated enforcement drivers will continue to use/clog the rose lanes.

resdar
resdar
1 month ago

Only the bus lane / bus stop tidbits are new. The bike lane bits have been there since last year, long enough to show up on Google maps street and satellite view.

I bike commute on Alder! Alder has been the only palatable way south of Burnside to go eastbound over 405 even since before the bike lanes (which aren’t good but are slightly less bad). It’s easy to get to from the north on 19th, or from eastbound Morrison with an illegal left turn at 18th.

Which is to say that there’s a ton of easy opportunity for improvement east of 405 and south of Burnside. 18th south of Burnside should be a critical connector, but instead it’s a bad place to bike for no good reason. Columbia should be the eastbound bike route complement of Jefferson. Maybe the Salmon / King / Park intersection controls could become safely navigable on foot/bike and a bit less of a love letter to drivers taking the back way to the side routes around Hwy 26 traffic jams.

 
 
1 month ago
Reply to  resdar

Honest question: what’s wrong with Yamhill? I’d think that it’s better to take than Alder since it has so much less traffic, and it’s easy to get to from Morrison -> 17th -> Yamhill. Just have to be slightly careful going over the MAX tracks.

resdar
resdar
1 month ago
Reply to   

On Yamhill I feel like if I’m not getting caught by a passing MAX shuffling the signal timing, I get stuck behind drivers confused about how to turn, or occasionally dodging really confused drivers like this one or this one. But mostly for me Yamhill is out of my way by a couple of blocks 🙂 I wouldn’t go out of my way to avoid it.

Fred
Fred
1 month ago

The NIMBYs in Hillsdale, in SW Portland, are trying to block installation of the Rose Lane project there:

https://www.hillsdalepdx.com/

They want residents to sign a petition and ask city officials to delay the lane (which means, let’s face it, that the lane will never happen).

I’m going to write to those same politicians and ask them to ignore the NIMBYs, and I hope everyone else does also. I’m also going to avoid patronizing the businesses in Hillsdale that support the petition. Their fears of the Rose Lane seem completely unfounded. Haven’t they heard about the climate crisis?

Chris I
Chris I
1 month ago
Reply to  Fred

PBOT admits the $200,00.00 Rose Lane Project will provide no benefit in TriMet transit times at current traffic counts.

 

The original project was justified based on pre-pandemic traffic counts. With so many people still working from home, it is not clear if traffic will ever reach pre-pandemic counts again.

Leading with two lies right up front on that page. I guess it makes sense.