The quality of Portland’s central city bike network just got a lot better thanks to a new connection between SW Naito Parkway and SW Main.
If you’ve been paying attention, you know that the Portland Bureau of Transportation has recently improved bikeways on NW Naito Parkway (aka “Better Naito”) and on SW Main. “Improved” is a vast understatement when it comes to Naito Parkway, since the 1.5-mile protected bike lane is one of the best in the entire city (and a national nonprofit just named it one of the best in the country). And SW Main, the street that the westbound Hawthorne Bridge bike path dumps you onto, was recently upgraded with a bus/bike only lane, plenty of safe space around the Elk Fountain, and other bike-oriented improvements between SW 1st and Broadway.
The problem was these bikeways was that they didn’t connect to each other. If you were on Naito and wanted to head west into downtown via SW Main, there was no direct way to do it. Until now!
I’m happy to report that Multnomah County has just built an excellent connection between Naito and Main that now gives us a relatively safe bikeway all the way from the river to the north Park Blocks.
The new bikeway is about 250-feet long and it runs alongside a parking lot adjacent to the west side of the Hawthorne Bridge. Prior to this project there was only a brick sidewalk between Naito and Main in this location. It’s an informal cut-through that you might have used before — but it required you to ride through a parking lot or on a sidewalk. Now there’s a bright green bike path installed on the northern portion of the parking lot (love the fact that we took car space to make this!). There’s physical separation from parked cars with a iron fence and there’s a concrete curb that separates it from the sidewalk.
Access to the new bike path from Naito is easy. If you’re on the “Better Naito” bikeway, you can make a two-stage turn at a crosswalk between Salmon and the Hawthorne Bridge. Currently there’s a pedestrian “beg button” to activate the signal and it’s not a super quick change, so I have a hunch PBOT still plans to install a more sensitive signal that will recognize bike riders. PBOT has added “cross bike” striping to the existing crosswalk that helps direct riders onto the new bike path. It’s a smooth transition up to the path and it delivers you very nicely to the intersection of SW Main and 1st. If you are using the southbound bike lane on Naito, you can just pop right onto the new path. (I have a hunch this direct connection might inspire more people to use the old, door-zone bike lane instead of Better Naito if they plan to head into downtown.)
Thankfully we don’t have to worry about right-hooks at the SW 1st intersection because it’s one-way southbound. Speaking of one-ways, this new path is designed to only serve westbound bike traffic because SW Main is also one-way westbound. That being said, because it’s so nice and wide (I estimate at least 10-feet or so), we should expect oncoming traffic hear from people walking and rolling eastbound.
I also noticed that every time I used the signal at Naito to cross into the new bike lane I got a green signal at 1st and Main. Not sure if that’s by design (hi Peter!) or just luck, but I liked it a lot.
I’m very excited about this because when it comes to building a quality bike network, a small piece that connects larger pieces has exponential value. When you add this connection to the protected bike lanes on Naito Parkway, the recent bike upgrades on SW Main, and the new protected lane on SW Broadway, you have something very special. It’s these type of connections that can help Portland go from good-to-great in bicycling terms. (Check the pics above where you can see from Waterfront Park to Broadway in one frame.)
Kudos to Multnomah county for making this happen. If you’ve ridden it yet, let us know what you think.
CORRECTION, 11:43 am: This story initially stated that the project was done by PBOT. That was incorrect. It was a Multnomah County project. Sorry for any confusion.
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I love to see PBOT fill in a missing gap. This appears to be a simple, safe direct connection between existing existing pieces of bike infrastructure. This is the exact type of project that will help Portland go from being a city with a lot of miles of bike infrastructure to being a city with a useful bike network. I hope this project ushers in a new era of PBOT focusing on fixing gaps and addressing high-stress points. More of this, please, PBOT!
HA! I just saw the correction. Allow me to amend my comment to say, nice job Multnomah County; PBOT- take a lesson!
This looks great although I would say we still need to worry about right hooks at 1st and Main based on the driving I see around town.
A friend told me about a driver of a pickup truck that turned the wrong way onto Williams a few weeks back and instead of immediately turning off they proceeded for three more blocks to get to the street they wanted to turn onto despite all the traffic coming at them.
It’s logical behavior. Guys (and it’s 99% guys) buy those trucks to make them invincible on the road.
This looks great. Too bad it will be marred with graffiti and likely blocked with tents and drug addicts as well. And too bad far left Jonathan won’t publish this comment because he has in head in the sand about the negative impact the downfall of Portland has had on our bike share. As a small statured lesbian female I don’t feel nearly as comfortable riding in Portland as I did 5 years ago. Just too many scary folks wandering around.
If you’re concerned about safety, consider getting a concealed carry permit and an every day carry with standard capacity mags before Measure 114 goes into effect. The clock is ticking. I think I saw maybe one police car last week.
No permit required to open carry!
In Portland and a few other cities have a no loaded open carry law within the city without a concealed permit
I definitely don’t feel as safe riding around as 5 years ago! Also the out of control drivers and no traffic enforcement has me really thinking that every ride might be my last.
He called your bluff.
Ha! “Far left Jonathan” published it! Credit to him. I wrote a similar comment so let’s see if that one makes it also.
PBOT required the County to do this work. So score one for government coordination!
Yes I feel so bad for giving PBOT all the credit. I just didn’t have any notion that County would be involved. I’m in touch with MultCo to try and figure out exactly who did what. Still haven’t figured it out!
Don’t feel too bad Jonathan. I don’t think everyone at PBOT or MultCo know, either.
Doesn’t the county own the Hawthorne bridge? I’d check with their bridge folks first and have them refer you to who you need to talk with.
Why was the County required to do it? What triggered it?
They are remodeling and securing the existing parking lot, used for Multnomah County Sheriff vehicles. The parking lot extends beyond the property lines into the SW Main right-of-way, which I imagine (though don’t know for sure) that PBOT has jurisdiction over.
I’m still waiting to learn how this whole thing came about and who did the work on it. PBOT said it wasn’t them. MultCo said it wasn’t their transportation people. It’s like no one wants to take credit for it! Will share more when I hear more.
Maybe someone at ODOT will read this and see a chance to claim credit while it gets sorted out.
Pete Buttigieg called me and said USDOT was responsible.
Very cool! Need to check this out
Sorry, but I gotta mention it:
How long before this nice wide MUP is half-covered by tents? And what is the plan for addressing them when it happens?
WW had a great piece the other day about Portlanders who are sooooo angry that the special taxes they pay are NOT being used to address illegal camping. Seems like an important issue for the viability of Portland generally.
It’s really exhausting to read so many comments that ask this exact same thing. I saw a bunch of folks ask this same question when the Flanders Bridge opened and then when the Blumenauer Bridge opened… and fwiw the people and tents never came.
Look: Everyone knows that all the people sleeping in the right-of-way is a huge and difficult issue and we are all frustrated and sad and mad about what feels like the lack of progress on the issue in general. What’s your point? I feel like a lot of people just say this stuff to try and score points against “the left” who they see as being to blame for it. That’s is not without some thread of truth, but that issue is far more complicated and nuanced and deserves a much more mature and respectful conversation than these petty little comments allow.
What’s the plan? Well there are lots of folks working on housing policy and other homelessness related issues. That’s the plan. This is a big and complicated issue! While I share your frustrations, I will not support or platform anything that leads to people being harmed just so a bike route is “clear”.
Not true Jonathan and you know it. Here’s photos of.a tent blocking the Ned Flanders bike bridge, marred with graffiti and another one of a tent burning on the bridge. Portland often resembles Gotham city. I found these on the Bike Portland forum. I’m guessing you won’t publish this comment because it goes against your narrative.
Take a look:
yeah sometimes in a big city things like that happen. It’s unfortunate and I personally have never seen personal belongings or campers on the Flanders or Blumenauer bridges. But really you are totally missing my point. What good does it do to constantly make the point over and over again? We all know what’s going on out there. Some of us just choose to tackle the problem a different way and I personally don’t think posting sad pictures and saying how terrible portland is is a good way to make things better. And since it’s my platform, it reflects that personal opinion.
Obviously I’m disappointed in how the city has handled these issues. There’s been a complete lack of good leadership on this. Thanks for your comment.
I cross the Flanders bridge at least 3 times a week or so and I’ve never seen a tent on it or a fire or anything, it’s always clear and there’s usually other people walking on it. Better Naito is also typically clear.
That it happened once (as evidenced by your picture) is bad and all but it’s not like the bridge is useless or anything it’s almost always perfectly fine. It feels to me like if you actually used the bridge on a regular basis, you’d realize this.
I’m not claiming Portland has handled the homelessness crisis well or anything (it clearly hasn’t) but it’s not true that pedestrian/cyclist right of ways are always covered by tents, and the fact that it has happened before isn’t a good reason not to build high quality bike paths.
Actually a city policy the ends the enabling and allowance of dangerous street camping will make houseless people safer AND improve our community for the rest of us Letting people live in dangerous squalor is the antithesis of compassion.
The thing is there is no reasonable or humane city policy like that. Saying that is very easy, but then there’s a reality. We can’t just “end” something that has such deep roots in systemic problems like poverty, drug addiction, mental health, housing scarcity, and so on. The solution to this is a combination of many different policies coming together in an effective and humane way. I do not support the status quo, but I also don’t support simply rolling up on camps and “sweeping” people away. I also don’t want police anywhere near these camps.. Both of those things have proven to fail and they do not address underlying issues. That being said, we could do a much better job enforcing against crimes in general, which is something Portland hasn’t been able to do the right way (and that is also much more complex than it seems).
Bottom line is this situation sucks for everyone! But it’s especially bad for people living out on the streets without a place to get warm and safe and without the support to stop bad habits.
We need to stop arguing over who has compassion or who is to blame, and we need to focus on more candid and respectful conversations that will lead to progress.
Thanks for your comment.
Offering safe dry shelter and enforcement of no camping laws is a reasonable and humane policy. No it’s not a cure for homelessness but moves us to a better place. That is why over 80% of Portlanders support that approach. The city is finally moving in that direction, unfortunately Multnomah County and many of the nonprofits are fighting to keep the status quo based on an ideological and unrealistic quest for a local nirvana, one where taxpayers will provide free permanent housing for all who arrive on the shores of Multnomah County. We desperately need common sense and pragmatism to return to civic life in Portland.
Nobody wants to keep the status quo, Jenny. They also don’t want to see people criminalized simply because they don’t have a home.
Offering safe dry optional shelter is not criminalizing homeless. People can take the offer of shelter, move on or choose the consequences of some type of enforcement action. Everyone has rights AND responsibilities. There is no RIGHT to camp wherever one pleases when options are available.
Banning camping is de facto criminalizing homelessness.
No one wants to keep the status quo?
Its called the status quo because nothing ever changes so someone likes the status quo, namely those who do nothing to change it.
I completely agree with this. Bad behavior should be penalized, not status, and the rules should be consistent.
Either everyone should be allowed to erect structures without a permit on the sidewalk and in natural areas, or no one should.
That seems pretty unlikely. There weren’t any camps there before. I’m guessing the owners of the World Trade Center have security that keeps it pretty clear not to mention the county sheriffs that park there. It’s difficult when certain bike infrastructure gets used for camping like the 205 path but that doesn’t mean all bike infrastructure is overrun with campers. It’s not very helpful acting like it either.
For what it’s worth I live by the 205 path and ride it to both ends in Vancouver and Milwaukie and have never been bothered by people living on and around the path. I’m sure there are some conflicts but concerns about campers seem to be a bit overstated and unnecessary fearmongering.
I rode it yesterday, it looks great. This feels much better than having to just come off the bridge.
This only works b/c they added the crossing signal on Naito. Before that, using the cross walk on Naito was a highly risky operation.
Ha, I used to regularly zip through that parking lot and mount the curb. Kudos.
Please stop for pedestrians in the crosswalk! (Minute 1:00 of the video)
We had a record year for murders, record year for deaths by car drivers, a meth, fentanyl, and mental health epidemic, trash and sprawling homelessness everywhere, and a police force that refuses to do their job on even the most basic level… I mean, people- even on the left- are justifiably scared and feel like there is no one to turn to, what do you expect them to do?
I don’t know about you, but the notion of a bunch of bike riders resorting to carrying guns because they think it’ll protect them from people encroaching on the bike lane doesn’t make me feel all that much safer.
What a great connection! I have ridden on that sidewalk so many times, because it’s the only way to get from Naito directly to Main, and it always feels a bit sketchy to do, not to mention technically illegal. So this is very welcome news, indeed. Thank you, Multnomah County!