Southwest update and dispatch from PBOT Bicycle Advisory Committee tour

From right to left: Roger Geller, Keith Liden, Marianne Fitzgerald.

The Portland Bicycle Advisory Committee (BAC) and community members gathered on Sunday for a tour of some of Southwest Portland’s most recently built bike infrastructure. Leading the group was Portland Bureau of Transportation’s (PBOT) Bicycle Coordinator, Roger Geller.

The event had a bit of a “passing the baton” feel to it—or at least a sharing of the baton. The BAC has a new chair, Ally Holmqvist (who was along for the ride), and an infusion of fresh faces on its roster.

On hand were two longtime SW neighborhood activists, Marianne Fitzgerald and Keith Liden, to bring folks up to speed on area issues.

The group gathered near “the crossroads” intersection of SW Barbur Blvd and Capitol Highway. As BikePortland has extensively covered, the crossroads is one of the worst intersections in Portland, and is the location of a large gap in what is soon to be an important north-south bikeway running from Lake Oswego to Hillsdale.

Bicycle Advisory Committee tour of SW Portland sets off.

Geller said that PBOT was aware of the problem gap, and explained that even though Capitol Highway is under city control, the nearby I-5 freeway ramps give ODOT authority over any PBOT design. He hinted at a possible approach for cyclist safely between Barbur and Huber, and said that the two agencies were working together.

Fitzgerald then spoke about lack of stormwater management as the key to understanding southwest active transportation issues. The land on which the group was standing, she pointed out, was the site of the future West Portland Town Center, a zoning and urban development plan which she criticized for only paying “lip service” to transportation.

Stormwater facilities are expensive to build, private developers fight building them, and the city ends up letting them off the hook for required active transportation improvements. That’s one of the main reasons SW Portland has the least sidewalk coverage of any area in town.

Fitzgerald concluded by saying that the city needed to build more stormwater collection and treatment basins, like the four that BES has built to accommodate runoff from the Capitol Highway project.

And with that, the group set off on its tour. (I wasn’t able to join them as I’m not riding my bicycle these days.)

Stormwater basins

It’s been almost a year since we last looked at the stormwater collection and treatment basins that make the multi-use path along the Capitol Highway project possible. Last November, BES contractors had finished the basin at 42nd/Woods Creek, and it was waiting to be filled with soil and for native, water-filtering vegetation to be planted.

As you can see in the photos above, now they’re just waiting for rain!

SW Capitol Highway Project

The multi-use path on the west side of Capitol Highway, looking north. (Photo: Lisa Caballero/ BikePortland)

The Capitol Highway project is in full swing, the entire street is in a state of almost … well, kind of like when the contractor has done the framing, and the drywall is up, and you can see where it’s going — but there is still a lot of work to do.

That gnarly ADA ramp

Finally, BikePortland ran a couple of stories last month about the struggle BES contractors were having in Portland Heights building ADA ramps to meet the city’s standards. More concrete pours followed and it looks like these ramps are acceptable.

Newly built ADA ramp at SW 16th Ave and Elizabeth Street. (Photo credit: Lisa Caballero/BikePortland)

And that’s a wrap!

Lisa Caballero (Assistant Editor)

Lisa Caballero (Assistant Editor)

Lisa Caballero is on the board of SWTrails PDX, and was the chair of her neighborhood association's transportation committee. A proud graduate of the PBOT/PSU transportation class, she got interested in local transportation issues because of service cuts to her bus, the 51. Lisa has lived in Portland for 23 years and can be reached at

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1 year ago

Look at all of the dead grass in the “protected” bike lane in your first photo. That’s gonna be slippery and dangerous when the rains arrive in a few weeks. Couldn’t think of a better illustration of the neglect of this “protected” bike infrastructure.

In general I’m underwhelmed by these examples of “improved” bike infrastructure in SW Portland. It’s good for ten-year-old kids but not great for any cyclist who wants to ride efficiently with traffic.

Ernest Fitzgerald
Ernest Fitzgerald
1 year ago
Reply to  Fred

It goes without saying that no matter how much the City does for cyclists, it’s never enough for some people. In fact, I’d say it’s the norm for posters.

Ernest Fitzgerald
Ernest Fitzgerald
1 year ago

Thank you for the update Lisa. It’s always exciting to see journalistic coverage of areas where I live and cycle.

Robert Wallis
Robert Wallis
1 year ago

I do not live in the area, but a great article nonetheless, particularly the insight upon the nexus between stormwater and active transportation improvement decisions. I continue to be impressed by Lisa’s articles.