First Look: New bikeway between SW Naito Parkway and Main

The new bikeway as seen from SW 1st and Main. That’s Waterfront Park in the background. (Photos: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

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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maxD
maxD
1 month ago

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!

maxD
maxD
1 month ago
Reply to  maxD

HA! I just saw the correction. Allow me to amend my comment to say, nice job Multnomah County; PBOT- take a lesson!

idlebytes
idlebytes
1 month ago

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.

Fred
Fred
1 month ago
Reply to  idlebytes

It’s logical behavior. Guys (and it’s 99% guys) buy those trucks to make them invincible on the road.

Laura Caposi
Laura Caposi
1 month ago

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.

rainbike
rainbike
1 month ago
Reply to  Laura Caposi

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.

FDUP
FDUP
1 month ago
Reply to  rainbike

No permit required to open carry!

Jay Cee
Jay Cee
1 month ago
Reply to  FDUP

In Portland and a few other cities have a no loaded open carry law within the city without a concealed permit

Jay Cee
Jay Cee
1 month ago
Reply to  Laura Caposi

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.

Chris I
Chris I
1 month ago
Reply to  Laura Caposi

He called your bluff.

Fred
Fred
1 month ago
Reply to  Laura Caposi

Ha! “Far left Jonathan” published it! Credit to him. I wrote a similar comment so let’s see if that one makes it also.

Scott
Scott
1 month ago

PBOT required the County to do this work. So score one for government coordination!

Serenity
Serenity
1 month ago

Don’t feel too bad Jonathan. I don’t think everyone at PBOT or MultCo know, either.

David Hampsten
1 month ago

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.

qqq
qqq
1 month ago
Reply to  Scott

Why was the County required to do it? What triggered it?

maccoinnich
1 month ago
Reply to  qqq

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.

qqq
qqq
1 month ago

Maybe someone at ODOT will read this and see a chance to claim credit while it gets sorted out.

Watts
Watts
1 month ago
Reply to  qqq

Pete Buttigieg called me and said USDOT was responsible.

Jay Cee
Jay Cee
1 month ago

Very cool! Need to check this out

Fred
Fred
1 month ago

because it’s so nice and wide (I estimate at least 10-feet or so)

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.

Pablo R
Pablo R
1 month ago

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:

https://forums.bikeportland.org/t/brand-new-flanders-bike-bridge-trashed/1224

03719A74-3DCF-4C1B-9DCF-026E8F4F53C8.jpeg
Ben
Ben
1 month ago
Reply to  Pablo R

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.

Jenny Parto
Jenny Parto
1 month ago

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.

Jenny Parto
Jenny Parto
1 month ago

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.

Serenity
Serenity
1 month ago
Reply to  Jenny Parto

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.

Jenny Parto
Jenny Parto
1 month ago
Reply to  Serenity

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.

Serenity
Serenity
1 month ago
Reply to  Jenny Parto

Banning camping is de facto criminalizing homelessness.

dwk
dwk
1 month ago
Reply to  Serenity

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.

Watts
Watts
1 month ago
Reply to  Serenity

don’t want to see people criminalized simply because they don’t have a home.

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.

idlebytes
idlebytes
1 month ago
Reply to  Fred

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.

Serenity
Serenity
1 month ago

I rode it yesterday, it looks great. This feels much better than having to just come off the bridge.

FDUP
FDUP
1 month ago

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.

Andrew Kreps
Andrew Kreps
1 month ago

Ha, I used to regularly zip through that parking lot and mount the curb. Kudos.

Watts
Watts
1 month ago

Please stop for pedestrians in the crosswalk! (Minute 1:00 of the video)

Mark Remy
Mark Remy
1 month ago

Jesus Christ:

Screenshot 2023-02-02 at 5.03.09 PM.png
Jay Cee
Jay Cee
1 month ago
Reply to  Mark Remy

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?

rain panther
rain panther
1 month ago
Reply to  Mark Remy

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.

Buster
Buster
1 month ago

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!