Beaumont-Wilshire residents profess love for car parking near Wilshire Park

Screenshot from virtual BWNA meeting Monday night.
(Source: PBOT)

Since it was just Valentine’s Day, we need to have at least one love story on the front page. So here goes…

At a meeting of the Beaumont-Wilshire Neighborhood Association (yes, that one) Monday night, the Portland Bureau of Transportation presented their latest plans for a new bike path along the south side of NE Skidmore Street adjacent to Wilshire Park. The project is part of their effort to establish a safe and convenient east-west neighborhood greenway on Mason-Skidmore and connect to a new crossing of NE 33rd Avenue.

The idea is to make a two-way bike lane next to the park that is protected from the rest of traffic by parked cars. The bike lanes would be five-feet wide and there would be an additional two-foot buffer to the parking spaces. To make room for this, PBOT would narrow the driving space to a 14-foot lane for both directions of car travel.

Monday night’s meeting was the first public showing of PBOT’s plans. I mention that because PBOT already reached out to neighborhood association leaders to ask what they felt about a traffic diverter at NE 36th or 37th to help make the street safer and reduce driving volumes. They rejected the idea and PBOT shelved that element of the plan before it was ever made public (really bugs me when the do that, but I understand they want to get a project done and not have it devolve into another controversy).

So last night, PBOT Project Manager Scott Cohen gave folks the rundown of the current design proposal. After reminding them that PBOT already pulled the diverter off the table,  Cohen also sought to reassure them about parking: “What we’ve done is tried to preserve all of the parking possible.”

To build the bike lane and improve visibility at crossings into the park, PBOT says they’ll eliminate about 20-25 parking spaces. That would still leave 40 spaces on this one side of Skidmore. The north side of the street would not have any parking removal at all (not to mention that people can park on every other street in the neighborhood).

Despite what to me seems like a reasonable compromise from PBOT (trust me, I’d personally prefer no parking on the south side and a very wide, protected space for bikers and walkers), I was surprised to hear people still complaining about a loss of parking and casting other aspersions on the city’s attempt to make the street safer.

Here’s a sampling of what Cohen heard from members of the neighborhood association:

First, the naysayers…

“So this is supposed to be a neighborhood park yet you’re talking about reducing parking spaces? That doesn’t sound very neighborhood friendly. And my other question is, when the kids are getting out of the car, they’re going to be opening the car door into the bike path. Now you really expect the kids to look behind them when there’s no rear-view mirror on that side of most cars. This seems dangerous to me.”

“We’ve narrowed it so basically one car can fit through… I don’t know why don’t we take advantage of the path that’s in the park? And do a bike-slash-walking path where there’s already a walking path just to make that [driving lane have] a little bit more space for everybody to be able to squeeze by each other because it feels really tight given the car volume.”

“I’m also concerned about the narrowing of lanes room for cars. Scott was saying they’ll have to negotiate to get by each other. And you know that that will slow them down, but it also increases the danger to people parking and opening doors… You know you open a door one way and you might hit a car, then open the door the other way, you might hit a bicycle.”

“If you looked at the comments on BikePortland, Jonathan’s website, there were a lot of people there that had problems with design.”

[In response to someone asking about better ADA access across Skidmore]: “Can we close off the crossings on [35th and 36th]? Right now there I know it’s a legal crossing, but there is no landing on the other side. And so I’m wondering if you could put up those little bars to keep people from crossing and direct them down to the one crossing and maybe put the money into more parking [and] we can have an improved pedestrian crossing, ADA access and have a better entry to the park.”

Thankfully, Cohen firmly rejected this suggestion of closing crosswalks into the park. He said from PBOT’s view parking is the “lowest [priority] use [of space] in this area.”

“On Saturdays and Sundays, they [Little League] have hundreds of people that come from all over for games and so, I know that [parking] may not be a priority for the program, but I think it is something from a neighborhood perspective that is important that we accommodate parking for park users.”

Don’t despair, there was actually solid support for the project from the neighborhood. Here’s what some folks said:

“I’m a little concerned about the priority for parking. And trust me I like parking when I have my car, but I don’t not care about Little League folks coming and needing parking during the summer, but the worst case scenario is they can park on side streets. So I just don’t know that we have to be concerned that everybody gets a parking spot right across the street from the park. And because those people aren’t necessarily in our neighborhood, it seems like as a neighborhood association, our priority is with those of us who live right around the park.”

“This could be a project that increase walkability and increase more sense of community. And from all the study and research that I’ve seen, we don’t do that by prioritizing people driving. And I feel like we’re missing an opportunity to create more space for people to move by creating a wider multi-use path. So instead of, you know, pedestrians having to navigate the same space, as people cycling on Skidmore, why not make a wider? I’d also like to see the diverter option back on the table. But otherwise, this is a nice compromise and I look forward to the improvement.”

“I believe street narrowing is going to help. I’m not really worried about someone having to park a block away to go to the park.”

[From a very young boy, maybe 7 years old!] “I would like to have this because I usually bike to school. When I bike to school I usually bike on like, where the bike lane is. So I am in favor because I like having a clear bike lane. I don’t want to be rushed when I’m biking.”

“I’m in favor of the proposal… When are we going to stop making cars a priority and make bikes the priority?”

Overall I didn’t hear anything at the meeting that would stop or delay the project. Kudos to PBOT’s Cohen for his deft handling of everyone’s comments. PBOT’s goal is to finish up the design and build the new bikeway this summer. Learn more at the project page.

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

Founder of BikePortland (in 2005). Father of three. North Portlander. Basketball lover. Car owner and driver. If you have questions or feedback about this site or my work, feel free to contact me at @jonathan_maus on Twitter, via email at maus.jonathan@gmail.com, or phone/text at 503-706-8804. Also, if you read and appreciate this site, please become a supporter.

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EEE
EEE
1 year ago

The first naysayer is spot on. I won’t be taking that track when its swarming with cars during youth sport times. Only now I’ll probably get ticketed for taking the lane. Similar problem exists on Multnomah EB at 7th and by the Regal theater.

I like how this is cast as somehow a great compromise by PBOT when PBOT probably doesn’t want any diverters or speed bumps anyway. Much easier to hoist the blame on the NA and sweep it under as “They rejected the idea and PBOT shelved that element of the plan before it was ever made public.”

Atreus
Atreus
1 year ago
Reply to  EEE

Well, no one is forcing you to use it during sports times, but the rest of us will appreciate having this. It’s a bit like saying you won’t ride the bike lanes through the Rose Quarter during Blazers games. Yes, it’s annoying to ride through during those times, and you can avoid it if you want, but I for one prefer to have a more direct route even if it’s annoying during sporting events.

EEE
EEE
1 year ago
Reply to  Atreus

If I were to continue to use Skidmore wouldn’t I be forced to use it? That’s the point I was making regarding the ticketing, like that cyclist that got ticketed downtown recently for taking the lane instead of using the leaf-ridden bike track. But I could be wrong about that. Anyone know if cyclists would be legally required to use it?

I also could switch to Shaver but I just feel that once I find decent low-stress bicycle infrastructure, I want to keep it that way. Again, the point isn’t that it’s “annoying” to ride during those times, it’s that I expect it to be more stressful than the current arrangement. I suppose some can equate “annoyance” with “stress” but as a daily bicycle commuter it’s more about aggregate transactions and life expectancy.

I would also like to clarify my statement that the first naysayer is spot on — I don’t think they are spot on about the parking thing because the reduction in parking seems trivial. But parking as an issue just seems like a red herring to distract from the possibility of more meaningful changes to the street like diverters, cul-de-sac(s), one-way, etc.

Atreus
Atreus
1 year ago
Reply to  EEE

Well, I was thinking you can just use Going Street, two blocks to the north. But if you simply must ride on Skidmore Street (again, no one is forcing you!), yes you would legally be required to ride in the two-way bikeway. That said, I can’t imagine you would get a ticket given that the police don’t even do traffic enforcement in Portland anymore.

Watts
Watts
1 year ago
Reply to  Atreus

I can’t imagine you would get a ticket 

Someone got just such a ticket a few weeks ago, riding through downtown.

Creating legal jeopardy because you think the police couldn’t be bothered to enforce the law is a risky gamble.

nic.cota
1 year ago

Glad to have PBOT staff who are able to handle these often tense meetings and reiterate priorities for how they allocate street space and stick to it. I just hope after all of this is installed, those folks in the BWNA who ‘represent the neighborhood’ gain a sense of understanding when they realize how much better, safer, and slower Skidmore will be in a time where traffic crashes are at an all time high.

Also a point that isn’t often made in these meetings: These lanes will encourage park users to leave the car parked at home and maybe bike to the park instead! 25% bike mode share by 2030 is only possible with safe, protected spaces for all ages and abilities to bike to their destinations, especially if that destination is a summer little league game!

maxD
maxD
1 year ago
Reply to  nic.cota

nic.cota,
I am all for a narrower road, but I I strongly dislike the 2-way bike path on one side of the road. This will create a conflict with park users and cyclists. My daughter had soccer games at this park during her elementary school years. Most families drove due to hectic schedules and the need to bring cones, nets, etc and busy schedules. I admire and support working toward a 25% bike mode share, but I don’t this project actually does a good job of supporting that. PBOT could and should narrow the and slow the street, but they also should develop a design that better supports people biking. the 2-way path requires unsafe and inconvenient connections. PBOT should be supporting improved access for pedestrians, too. This should be accessible entries to the park at each cross-street and curb extensions to shorten the crossing distance. Speed bumps and diverters are appropriate tools for slowing cars and reducing their numbers. This is an ill-conceived design that uses bike infrastructure to take up space to reduce driving space. That is not how effective bike infrastructure should be designed. Start with the needs of the pedestrian and the cyclist not on road width reduction.

dwk
dwk
1 year ago
Reply to  maxD

But MaxD, You have to like and accept any stupid bike plan the city puts forward or you are a NIMBY anti bike , pro car person.
That’s how this works.
I put in my usual 15 miles today around NE Portland. rode this street because I had not been there for a couple months.
Nothings changed. There was no car traffic on the street, quiet and mellow.
There are SO many streets that could be improved, this is just lazy cherry picking infrastructure that will do nothing to move the needle in the city.
Pick up the trash and clean up the MUPs would do more to get people on bikes than anything this city does right now.

Daniel Fuller
Daniel Fuller
1 year ago
Reply to  dwk

Multi-use pathways that don’t connect to most of the places people want to go are not a great way to encourage bicycling beyond recreation. I assume by “clean up the MUPs” you mean remove homeless people. And put them where? The county doesn’t have enough shelter beds. The city may be trying to build internment camps to get around Martin v. Boise, but for now the courts have said you can’t just incarcerate people for having nowhere to sleep.

Jared Perazzo
Jared Perazzo
1 year ago
Reply to  dwk

I nominate this for comment of the week! Thank you dwk for speaking with commons sense!!

soren
soren
1 year ago
Reply to  nic.cota

These lanes will encourage park users to leave the car parked at home and maybe bike to the park instead!

With all due respect, it’s incredibly naive to believe this. Portland needs protected bike lanes on arterials and collectors, not on a freaking residential street with ample parking irrespective of a new small stretch of bike lane. This facility would be mocked at in the Netherlands or Denmark:

comment image

It’s also unfortunate that PBOT’s trashing of its own neighborhood greenway assessment report and TSP Policy 6.13 Objective G goes without comment by a bikeloudpdx board member and other active bikeloudpdx members on this thread. In a similar vein, it’s incredible disappointing to see cycling advocates repeatedly criticize neighborhood greenways on bikeportland and on social media.

dwk
dwk
1 year ago
Reply to  soren

Thank you for common sense which is sorely lacking here.

Jay Cee
Jay Cee
1 year ago
Reply to  soren

But neighborhood greenways suck as real bike infrastructure. That’s why they are criticized. They are out of the way roads with small faded sharrows painted on them – that’s not platinum level bike infrastructure. The streets they are on are not even that calm and have cross traffic rolling through stops signs at nearly every block.

X
X
1 year ago
Reply to  soren

I always read Soren’s comments with interest because more often then not I learn something from them.

Trashing greenways: guilty over here. Why? Riding on greenways is the most dangerous part of my day because motor vehicle drivers cannot be trusted to yield right-of-way crossing an apparently quiet street.

I don’t really enjoy riding on arterials but it is probably safer. There may be a few people who, having seen me in the right hand lane on NE Sandy, will decide to murder me with their car. There are thousands of people in NE Portland who have not mastered stopping and looking.

I encounter at least three of these people in a given week. Sometimes, three in a 40 block span. All on greenways.

Last week I saw a person cross NE Going St. on NE 37 th Ave. at over 20 mph, probably 25. They actually appeared to be accelerating through the stop sign.

maxD
maxD
1 year ago

This bike path is a cheap, expedient copout to avoid doing a an actual design that works for people on bikes AND people walking and visiting the park. The problem is that there are too many cars that drive to fast in part because the street is too wide. The proposed design solution is cheap, but that is the only thing to recommend it. A 2-way path along the park requires dangerous connections at the east and west ends. The bike path also becomes a conflict point between people biking and people entering the park. There are a lot of events at the park: little league, kids soccer, birthday parties, etc. These will bring a lot of park users to the area who are not familiar with the area. The neighborhood might dismiss their parking needs, but these are important constituents and they should be considered in the design. During certain times of the year, there are going to lots and lots of people unloading stuff and crossing this bike path.

Why not address the road width in a way that adds more value? add head-in/angle-in parking along the park. Add large curb extensions at each cross street to facilitate pedestrian crossings- these could be paint and wands to start. The curb extensions would provide a permanent narrowing of the street, add some speed bumps and it should be safe enough for sharrows for bike traffic- if not, add the diverter back and keep adding diverters until safety is achieved.

cMckone
cMckone
1 year ago
Reply to  maxD

oo really like the angle-in parking idea. Real cheap and narrows the road

Bjorn
Bjorn
1 year ago

I have biked past this park many times and also go jogging there. Even in the summer when baseball games are happening and the dog park is being heavily used I have never ever seen even half of the available parking on Skidmore being used, usage is also very low on 37th which provides ample parking adjacent to the park. I wish that the city would actually have done some counts of parking usage to counter these comments that are so far from reality that it make me wonder if the people making them ever actually go to the park.

Also the diverter should be back on the table, there is no reason to allow through traffic on the street when prescott is only one block over. A diverter would help lower motor vehicle counts and increase safety for children accessing the park.

FDUP
FDUP
1 year ago

Gotta love the NIMBYs.

dwk
dwk
1 year ago
Reply to  FDUP

How dare taxpayers have a voice in what gets spent in their neighborhood?
What gall…….

Frank Perillo
Frank Perillo
1 year ago
Reply to  dwk

I cannot believe the energy spent on this nothing burger of a project. Leave the street as is. In fact quit messing with all our damn streets.

Daniel Fuller
Daniel Fuller
1 year ago
Reply to  dwk

I’m a taxpayer, yet I don’t recall the city asking for my approval when they need to fix a water main. Curious.

Watts
Watts
1 year ago
Reply to  Daniel Fuller

Would fixing the water main change the character of your neighborhood in a way that some significant portion of the neighbors didn’t want? If so, then you might have stumbled onto a a helpful comparison.

Bjorn
Bjorn
1 year ago
Reply to  dwk

exactly how many feet from the park do I have to live in order to have my desire for diverters to reduce car traffic on neighborhood greenways be counted equally? I want to be able to travel safely throughout the city, not just within a few blocks closest to my house.

Jeff S
Jeff S
1 year ago
Reply to  Bjorn

there’s an algorithm for that…

Daniel Fuller
Daniel Fuller
1 year ago
Reply to  Bjorn

Comment of the week! This indicates the entire problem with these neighborhood organizations. Making city agencies consult these groups before doing anything gives outsized influence to those with the most time, money, and/or connections. It’s antidemocratic.

dwk
dwk
1 year ago
Reply to  Daniel Fuller

LOL! So it’s “democratic” that bureaucrats decide issues and make choices on everything for the knaves..
Wow, you are a good little soldier.
Do you actually understand how a civil society works?

John
John
1 year ago
Reply to  dwk

The NA should get little to no influence on this process. Their opinions should not be counted for much. They don’t get to decide the color of their stop signs or the regulations on curbs. PBOT should do what’s best for transportation of people, especially bikes and peds, with the space they have to work with.

It drives me nuts that these meetings seem to have so much weight to the point they can take diverters off the table.

Watts
Watts
1 year ago
Reply to  John

“PBOT should do what’s best for transportation of people”

Should ODOT do likewise?

John
John
1 year ago
Reply to  Watts

Yeah. Are they asking or you? It doesn’t seem like anyone should have to ask that. It’s in the name.

Dwk
Dwk
1 year ago
Reply to  John

So everything PBOT or ODOT does is best?
Are you serious or just trying to get a rise here?

Dwk
Dwk
1 year ago
Reply to  John

So you approve of everything some person who works for the city wants to do?
Does that go for police?
What kind of person thinks unelected workers should make all policy with no citizen input?

John
John
1 year ago
Reply to  Dwk

You didn’t address anything I said. Do you think the NA should be consulted about what type of sewer gets installed, what the road gets paved with, should they be consulted on whether or not they should comply with ADA regulations? No, it’s not up to them. It’s up to the bureau of transportation to decide how to do transportation things.
They’re unelected workers working for an elected government. We don’t need uninformed unqualified residents weighing in on every little thing they do, especially for critical infrastructure.

And the thing about police is just a silly nonsense comparison. Police don’t, and nobody has suggested they should, consult the locals in an obscure zoom meeting about whether they should harass a homeless person having a mental breakdown. If you have a problem with how the police operate (like I do) you should change how the organization works, what their incentives are, or their funding. Not have local residents give suggestions on how the police should handle some specific action they’re trying to take.

dwk
dwk
1 year ago
Reply to  John

A painted green path with wands on a 2 block stretch adjacent to a large park with a path 20 feet away that goes nowhere is “Critical” infrastructure that no one should be able to comment on because “transportation experts” have decided that it is….
I won’t comment further, this is just a joke.

John
John
1 year ago
Reply to  dwk

Yes, transportation infrastructure is critical infrastructure. Just because we’re talking about a /small/ piece of critical infrastructure doesn’t change that. I’ll thank you to not caricature every single thing people say.

I’m not saying there shouldn’t be a forum for people to comment. They should (more available than these ones). There needs to be a record to point to if there are real concerns. But PBOT and others should have the courage to disregard what will be the usual reactionary comments about parking and whatever other nonsense the locals will say. Further, I ride my bike all over the city and neither I nor most other people have the bandwidth in time or energy to go to every single public comment of every single bit of infrastructure that is being built all over the city constantly. It’s not feasible, and that dynamic gives extra weight to the reactionary neighbors who will inevitably poo poo any plan that even looks like it might make it harder to drive and park wherever they want.

I don’t like the plan much, it doesn’t seem great. But it got that way because they consulted and listened to local input on previous plans. This plan isn’t the best but it beats what they have now which is nothing, and I bike this route frequently and would appreciate a place to ride my bike that isn’t the bumpy, root damaged asphalt or wood-chip-based squishy path full of people strolling through the park, or a road wide enough for four lanes with cars going 40 through it. Yeah, a shared two way bike path would beat that.

Daniel Fuller
Daniel Fuller
1 year ago
Reply to  dwk

At least city bureaucrats are accountable to voters at some level, unlike the self-appointed guardians of “neighborhood character” at your local NA.

Dwk
Dwk
1 year ago
Reply to  Daniel Fuller

How dare people who live here and pay taxes here, have any say on what happens in the neighborhood?
Should people have a say on crime in their neighborhood?
On development in their neighborhood?
Or zoning in their neighborhood?
You just sound clueless and contrarian.

John
John
1 year ago
Reply to  Dwk

I don’t care if they pay taxes or not, and I definitely don’t care if they live in the area. Transportation infrastructure is for all of us, not the people who might lose a parking spot at a park two blocks away.

Daniel Fuller
Daniel Fuller
1 year ago
Reply to  Dwk

Are you saying “taxpayers” should get special rights? What about children, the elderly, the disabled? Many of them don’t pay taxes, yet I would hope society would be designed for them too.

dwk
dwk
1 year ago
Reply to  Daniel Fuller

My last comment on what has become a silly thread.
You say you don’t have time to go to meetings or participate in our society apparently but YOU should have the say about all kinds of infrastructure or some person who happens to be employed by the city should have the final word on every project with no input.
The fact you support this silly 2 block stretch shows that cycling is NOT your priority or you simply don’t really ride a bike at all.
This project is such low hanging fruit and so non essential to commuting cyclists, its embarrassing.

Daniel Fuller
Daniel Fuller
1 year ago
Reply to  dwk

I never said any of those things.

Watts
Watts
1 year ago
Reply to  Daniel Fuller

There is no escaping the Arts Tax.

cc_rider
cc_rider
1 year ago
Reply to  dwk

I’m a taxpayer, why isn’t PBOT coming to me to ask what I think about this project?

dwk
dwk
1 year ago
Reply to  cc_rider

They had a meeting, show up.

Watts
Watts
1 year ago
Reply to  cc_rider

No, PBOT is not going to call you up and ask you what you think. But that doesn’t mean you’ve been silenced.

There was a meeting where you could have voiced an opinion. You could write a letter or email. You could call Commissioner Mapps, or someone within PBOT. You could work with BikeLoud. You could invite PBOT to a meeting of your own. There are lots of ways you can make your views known.

You have as much political power as a neighborhood association member. Use it.

Daniel Fuller
Daniel Fuller
1 year ago
Reply to  Watts

Is it good that such power lacks meaningful oversight? NAs aren’t actually required to let members vote, let alone ensure the public engagement process reflects their concerns.

Ask someone working two jobs supporting a family to give up their afternoon to an NA meeting, let alone schedule one with PBOT staff. Lots of people lack the time, connections, and/or political savvy to do these things. Why is there no process to make sure they’re included?

Watts
Watts
1 year ago
Reply to  Daniel Fuller

What power, exactly, do you think neighborhood associations have? They have the power to persuade. That’s it. You have the same power.

A lot of people do lack the connections and savvy to connect with their public officials, and the most effective way to learn how to do that is to join your neighborhood association. Like learning any new skill, it takes time and interest. Unlike most things, you can participate for free, and you will find that most people there will be supportive of your interest.

Of course, you know this already. The reason you don’t like neighborhood associations is they give voice to people who would not otherwise have one, and that dilutes yours.

Daniel Fuller
Daniel Fuller
1 year ago
Reply to  Watts

I have been to NA meetings and I guarantee they do not represent people who would not otherwise have a voice. They are staffed and run by well-connected business and property owners. To suggest that the majority of residents have the same power to “persuade” city agencies as they do is laughably naïve.

Serenity
Serenity
1 year ago
Reply to  Watts

They have the power to persuade. That’s it. You have the same power.

I am laughing hysterically right now. Are you imagining that your average Portlanders has as as much power to influence anything as much as an NA full of well connected, probably relatively wealthy homeowners, who may very well spend all their time trying to persuading their neighbors & public officials of whatever it is they want?

Watts
Watts
1 year ago
Reply to  Serenity

I’ve never met anyone who at all resembles your caricature, but it is true that those who have the knowledge, skill, and interest to be influentially politically will be more influential politically than those who don’t.

I have known many “average Portlanders” who have learned how to be politically influential, and while the majority are probably also in neighborhood associations, many are not.

Dwk
Dwk
1 year ago
Reply to  cc_rider

According to your logic, they don’t need to, they know best.

dwk
dwk
1 year ago

This is a ridiculous waste of money and an embarrassing bike project.
Criticizing the neighborhood just because they don’t like this assinine waste of money project is so 2023 bikeportland.
None of the people who live by 7th wanted that project either which of course you championed as well. It’s the poster child for not needed bike infrastructure as is this one.
Cycling numbers are in free fall and this kind of project is partly the reason why.
It does zero for cycling on a street that does not need it and bike advocates who push these kind of silly projects are just putting nails in the coffin for worthwhile projects in this city.

Daniel Fuller
Daniel Fuller
1 year ago
Reply to  dwk

The main reason the 7th Avenue project happened the way it did was PBOT’s acquiescence to neighborhood “leaders” who opposed restricting car access.

It’s unclear how devoting more road space to bicyclists is responsible for cycling’s “free fall”, but if you really believe that, what’s your solution to the mode share problem?

dwk
dwk
1 year ago
Reply to  Daniel Fuller

They took away road space from cyclists on 7th. They spent a lot of money on little side paths to get cyclists off the street.
They are not used at all, I ride this twice daily.
Your version is not what happened at all and the street has faster traffic now.
The mode shares were a lot greater years ago (don’t know how long you have cycled here, I have for 30 years).
The demographics changed and also the city changed.
Cleaning up the city, getting traffic laws enforced again would help a lot.
The streets are more unsafe and I ride a lot and see it everyday.
Spending significant amounts on tiny little show projects just hurts cycling in the city.
The non cycling public (98%) just resent it because it is Stupid spending.

Daniel Fuller
Daniel Fuller
1 year ago
Reply to  dwk

The 7th Avenue project was originally going to be a neighborhood greenway, but that was vetoed by “community partners” (i.e. local activists): https://bikeportland.org/2019/03/21/pbot-says-9th-avenue-will-be-route-for-future-lloyd-to-woodlawn-greenway-297239

Nothing against traffic enforcement when done right, but separated bike paths are actually quite important to the “interested but concerned” demographic, which makes up the majority of non–regular cyclists: https://bikeportland.org/2012/07/18/psu-research-delves-deeper-into-four-types-of-cyclists-74938

dwk
dwk
1 year ago
Reply to  Daniel Fuller

https://bikeportland.org/2012/07/18/psu-research-delves-deeper-into-four-types-of-cyclists-74938
This is 13 years old, I am still waiting for the “interested but concerned” to show up.
The numbers are Declining.

Watts
Watts
1 year ago
Reply to  dwk

Stated preference (I’m interested, but concerned) vs. revealed preference (It’s cold/wet/dark/hot/smoky/boring out – I’m driving).

Daniel Fuller
Daniel Fuller
1 year ago
Reply to  Watts

How is it that Finnish and Dutch people are able to cycle in the cold and dark, yet Americans can’t? I guess we’ll just never know…

808x428_cmsv2_66692392-6269-59dc-9274-ded3095ec90b-5309760.jpg
Dwk
Dwk
1 year ago
Reply to  Daniel Fuller

Oh, I don’t know, could be they completely different cultures and countries, just a guess….

Daniel Fuller
Daniel Fuller
1 year ago
Reply to  Dwk

What’s different about their “countries” that makes bicycling so easy? Amsterdam in the 1970s was choked with cars. Hardly anyone biked. Did their “culture” radically change in the last 50 years?

Watts
Watts
1 year ago
Reply to  Daniel Fuller

In this regard, the Dutch culture is markedly different than ours. For example, the population essentially rose up and demanded change. Americans have largely resisted it.

Daniel Fuller
Daniel Fuller
1 year ago
Reply to  dwk

During those years, vehicles have gotten bigger and more powerful, driver distractions have multiplied, and a global pandemic disrupted the patterns of everyday life and seemed to free motorists from any inhibitions on their most anti-social impulses. No wonder mode share is declining. All the more reason to separate bikes and cars.

maxD
maxD
1 year ago
Reply to  Daniel Fuller

Daniel, that is the bikewashing part of this project and the 7th project. There is a short stretch of “protected bike lane*” followed by a more dangerous re-introduction to traffic. Safety should be measured by the most dangerous point, and this project adds dangerous points instead of addressing the root of the problem- same with the 7th project. There is a section of bike lane that is separated from driving lanes, but getting to/from that lane has an increased risk. Safety for people biking comes from being seen and being predictable. If a cyclist is going to use this “protected path” they are going to be on shared street, there is not other way to access it. It would be much safer to create a safer street for all users where cyclist can continue along a direct, predictable path instead on popping in/out of a path on the “wrong side” of the road.

*protected from cars, but a new conflict with pedestrians is introduced in both projects. The common denominator between Skidmore and 7th is they improve or maintian flow and parking for cars, intordocue new obstacles/conflict point for people cycling, and make things worse for pedestrians- which is the opposite of how PBOT is supposed to prioritize their decision making. This is a bad street design.

Serenity
Serenity
1 year ago
Reply to  dwk

The-I guess you’d say trends, of the recent years have done little to lessen the concerns of the “interested but concerned.”

blumdrew
1 year ago

“It feels really tight given the car volume”. Sigh. I hope Scott Cohen took the opportunity to reference the closure of the roads in Washington Square Park in the 50s and how the traffic apocalypse predicted never materialized. If people who fight for parking spots, wider roads, etc. understood this dynamic, surely they would be advocating for narrower roads and less parking. I mean it’s pretty uncommon for a neighborhood association to advocate for more traffic!

dwk
dwk
1 year ago
Reply to  blumdrew

There is hardly any traffic on this street. There is a nice path in the park right next to the street to use in the park which is very pleasant.
Bike groups meet up on this street for rides because it is so mellow.

Sam Balto (Contributor)
Sam
1 year ago
Reply to  dwk

I would disagree with the “hardly any traffic” comment. Skidmore is a neighborhood street that sees high levels of cut through traffic. Skidmore at 35th sees 1600+ cars a day, 12 hours with over 50 cars going eastbound in a hour. That alone would justify a diverter on a greenway by PBOTs standards. But then you will say “its a destination park, that’s why the traffic count is so high”. At 41st and Skidmore where the park isn’t present it sees over 900 cars a day. 700 people are driving to Wilshire park everyday? Then you could say “900 cars a day on a neighborhood street is hardly any traffic.” I would then point out that the same people defending the parking on Skdimore were against the diverter at Alameda and Fremont because it would impact other neighborhood streets that see 200 cars a day. It was very clearly communicated that 200 cars on a neighborhood street is prefered. So a street that sees 8 times that amount of traffic I would say is considered a high traffic neighborhood street by their standards.

Also, bike groups drive from Washington and meet up on Skidmore because there is tons of parking available. Why do they drive from Washington to bike around? Couldn’t they bike from Washington to Wilshire park if they loved how mellow it was?

Daniel Fuller
Daniel Fuller
1 year ago
Reply to  dwk

Is the path wide enough for dog walkers, families with toddlers, couples out for a Sunday stroll, and elderly pedestrians to share it with e-bike commuters, cargo bike delivery riders, and bike racers out for a training ride, or would it be better to just take some space away from cars?

dwk
dwk
1 year ago
Reply to  Daniel Fuller

I don’t care about parking for cars!
For about $1000 bucks you could just make the north side of the park “No Parking” and leave it as is instead of spending $100,000.00 for green paint and wands.
Is opposing stupid spending for bicycles make me a “car person”.
Is anything the city tosses out there fine with people?
This is such an Echo chamber….

Daniel Fuller
Daniel Fuller
1 year ago
Reply to  dwk

Just make it “No Parking”! And I suppose that will magically banish cars without spending any further money on enforcement. Now why didn’t I think of that?

Sam Balto (Contributor)
Sam
1 year ago
Reply to  Daniel Fuller

I couldn’t agree more. All those people will use the “multi-use path” why not make it wider? Yes parking will be removed but it will give more space for people to access the park safely.

Watts
Watts
1 year ago
Reply to  Daniel Fuller

A two block bike path is useless for commuters, cargo bike delivery riders, and bike racers out for a training ride, or really anyone trying to do anything practical on a bike.

They should leave it for the other people.

Daniel Fuller
Daniel Fuller
1 year ago
Reply to  Watts

Have you surveyed every commuter/delivery worker/recreational rider? Or are you just projecting your own preferences onto others? I bike for transportation and every bit of separated bike infrastructure is welcomed and useful to me (as long as it’s well-maintained).

Watts
Watts
1 year ago
Reply to  Daniel Fuller

I am using my own fairly extensive bike riding experience to assert that crossing the street to get to a facility that is shared with dog walkers, families with toddlers, couples out for a Sunday stroll, and elderly pedestrians that only extends two blocks before I need to cross the street again is a complete non-starter for commuters, delivery workers, and recreational riders.

You would apparently use such a facility, but I think your riding style is very atypical in this regard.

Daniel Fuller
Daniel Fuller
1 year ago
Reply to  Watts

Dog walkers etc. will not be in the bike lane. They will be using the existing paths and sidewalk. Giving bicyclists their own lane means they don’t have to bother people relaxing in the park. That’s the point of separated infrastructure.

idlebytes
idlebytes
1 year ago

Looking at the various street views from google it looks like the north side parking is underutilized. Obviously it’s not representative of parking all the time but I really wonder how often both sides of the street parking are full. I’m guessing not often.

Also people can park on 37th as well. I’m not sure why the parking is closed off on the park side but there’s plenty of underutilized parking on the non-park side just like on Skidmore.

It’s odd to me that people who live there would prefer to have free parking they likely never use as opposed to a safer street. These complaints are similar to the ones I saw on social media about the changes to San Rafael.

Why they think drivers having to share one lane is so dangerous is beyond me. Do they not drive anywhere else around Portland? There are plenty of streets like that, mostly because of parking on both sides but it’s not like there’s a massive amount of wrecks on those streets.

dwk
dwk
1 year ago
Reply to  idlebytes

So you looked at google maps to get a “feel” for this project….
Obvious the people who actually live there and use the street have no idea what they need…
Google map users should have the final say I guess, not anyone who actually ride bike or walks on the street. I don’t live in the neighborhood but I bike there sometimes for group rides.
This is a solution without a problem which is why it’s being proposed.
This city does hardly anything worthwhile anymore, just cherry picks easy things to spend money on and lets everything else go to crap.

idlebytes
idlebytes
1 year ago
Reply to  dwk

Obviously it’s not representative of parking all the time but I really wonder how often both sides of the street parking are full. I’m guessing not often.

Did you just conveniently ignore that part of my comment so you could leave your snarky comment? What did you add to this conversation?

Here’s what someone else said about it. Seems like you’re way off base.

I have biked past this park many times and also go jogging there. Even in the summer when baseball games are happening and the dog park is being heavily used I have never ever seen even half of the available parking on Skidmore being used, usage is also very low on 37th which provides ample parking adjacent to the park.

There’s an insane amount of parking there and it’s underutilized because the houses have driveways and garages. The people living there don’t appear to park on the street unlike other parts of the city. NIMBYs frequently choose to forget reality when it comes to opposing a project like this. Kind of like you did when responding to my comment.

Narrowing the street would make it safer which I’m guessing is PBOTs primary goal with this project.

Dwk
Dwk
1 year ago
Reply to  idlebytes

What I added to the conversation is the view of about 95% of Portland.
These stupid little show projects are doing NOTHING to get people on bicycles.
I am Sorry that the facts are that the cycling share in this city is half of what it was 5 years ago.
These projects are so far down the list of what should be city priorities it’s ridiculous.
The city has run out of money to pick up garbage until July but they find the money for someone’s silly little pet project that no one asks for.

Peter
Peter
1 year ago
Reply to  Dwk

the view of about 95% of Portland

doing NOTHING to get people on bicycles

citation needed!

dwk
dwk
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter

You need a citation for that? Ride share is way down Peter, it would help if the bicycle crowd accepted facts and then we could move on and figure out what it takes because failing is the current option.
Not facing facts is Trump world stuff, we can do better.

Peter
Peter
1 year ago
Reply to  dwk

You say you speak for 95% of Portland, but the fact is that 69% of Portlanders do want these changes. My made up numbers prove that your made up numbers are made up.
It does look like cycling numbers are down according to the stats that I could find (unfortunately, it looks like full-city numbers haven’t been collected since 2018; only Tilikum and Hawthorne bridges have data for the last few years), but why do you think this wouldn’t encourage more people to get on a bike? Induced demand is well known at this point; if building more roads gets more people behind the wheel, why wouldn’t the same be true for bikes and bike infrastructure?

maxD
maxD
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter

I don’t think this will help because this a disconnected and isolated piece of infrastructure that introduces conflict points with cars and pedestrians. Bike routes need to safe, direct and interconnected to be useful to all people. this is safe for 3 blocks along the park, but is not safe beyond that , nor is part of well-connected or direct route.

Dwk
Dwk
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter

Facts are hard aren’t they?
We have been building bike infrastructure for 20 years and bike use is falling…
it might be time to try some other ideas since the present plans are not working.

Jay Cee
Jay Cee
1 year ago
Reply to  Dwk

What would you suggest is the solution for getting the bike count up? I am getting some vehicular cyclist vibes I.e. John Forester school of thought, but maybe I’m misreading things

Watts
Watts
1 year ago
Reply to  Jay Cee

I don’t think there’s a lot the city can do — I think cycling follows fashion trends like a lot of other things, and governments aren’t good at influencing those.

That said, getting control of the mayhem on our streets would be a good thing to do regardless of its impact on cycling. And who knows… it could help.

dwk
dwk
1 year ago
Reply to  Jay Cee

15mph enforced speed limit on ALL neighborhood streets and I don’t care how its enforced. My neighborhood is all white people running stop signs and speeding so I don’t worry about racial profiling.
Stop sign enforcement, no exceptions.
Large fines for any of that.
Make the public see that cars are under control and the streets can be marginally safer and more people may venture out.
MUP’s cleaned up and made completely safe and usable.
Try those.
Not exactly Forester thoughts..
10 years ago those things were done or at least we had clean MUP’s and traffic was much calmer and we had 7% bike share.

Daniel Fuller
Daniel Fuller
1 year ago
Reply to  Dwk

I have been raking leaves for 20 years yet every year there are more leaves to rake. Conclusion: stop raking leaves?

John
John
1 year ago
Reply to  Dwk

Our infrastructure is still pretty hostile and confusing and hard to use for people not determined enough to accept they might be riding with traffic from time to time. You know, normies. You think we’re done building good infrastructure? I don’t think that’s a view shared by many biking advocates around here.

idlebytes
idlebytes
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter

I wouldn’t bother engaging with that person they don’t seem to be trying to have a conversation so much as win one. I’ll point out though that the most cited example for our flat or possibly falling (margin of error) cycling numbers is the census. Not sure if you’ve ever seen the questions on that but it doesn’t necessarily get a good sense of how people who use mixed methods of commuting, actually commute.
 
It only asks about work commutes lots of people who drive or take the mass transit to work still bike for other trips. The time of year the surveys go out could have a huge effect on it although I suspect they control for that (hopefully). Finally, it asks about the commute method you used the most last week. So if the weather was bad or you hurt yourself and chose to drive in their view you’re a driver for the whole year. Also, if you just like to ride into work a couple days a week, you’re also a driver all year. That’s a lot of missing data there.
 
Bridge counts are similarly flawed. Not everyone bikes downtown in fact I would say most bridge counts are for work commuters so while it’s getting a gauge of that it’s missing the people who use their bike for their other trips.

Watts
Watts
1 year ago
Reply to  idlebytes

I’m getting confused. Residents want to preserve parking not for themselves (they apparently have plenty of off street parking), but for other Portlanders who don’t live near the park but use it for events and sports.

What makes them NIMBYs? It would be far more selfish if neighbors asked PBOT to remove parking in order to keep the park for locals only. Or is NIMBY just a meaningless slur for people who you disagree with?

It sounds to me like residents are fighting for equitable access for those who aren’t so lucky as to live near such a nice park, even if they don’t present it in those terms.

Peter
Peter
1 year ago
Reply to  Watts

Nimbyism isn’t about being rational or irrational, selfless or selfish (though it often is); it’s usually a reactionary response to change. Which is understandable, but ultimately unproductive.
I almost never comment on here, but I’ve seen your writing, and you strike me as someone who knows better than this; this comment reads to me as being contrarian just for the lulz.

Watts
Watts
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter

If “NIMBY” means not wanting change, are those fighting the Rose Quarter expansion (as I am) also NIMBYs? Those who fought to block the Zenith oil terminal (as I did) also NIMBYs?

There is relativism and value judgement in that slur — you’re either with us or you’re a NIMBY. Rather than insult, we should discuss ideas.

Peter
Peter
1 year ago
Reply to  Watts

You’re right, there is a value judgement. I maintain that nimbyism is at its core a snap reaction, a discomfort with change – regardless of whether the change is good or bad. On the other hand, I have the feeling you have well thought through reasons for opposing Rose Quarter and Zenith Oil.
That’s why we read complaints about the “character of the neighborhood” so often from planning meetings like this – people are used to the way things are, and change (good or bad) is scary.
And saying that NIMBY is a slur? Please. That’s the same line of thinking as when TERFs complain about that designation. If someone doesn’t like people accurately describing the shitty thing they are doing, they could simply stop doing the shitty thing.

Watts
Watts
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter

Why do you assume the folks in this case made a snap judgment and had not thought about their position? Labeling people’s articulation of their opinion about a fairly mundane civic issue “shitty” because you don’t agree with it is pretty offensive.

I think you’ve pretty clearly demonstrated why NIMBY is a slur. It’s a way of shutting people down rather than engaging with their ideas.

jakeco
jakeco
1 year ago
Reply to  Watts

Well said Watts and I totally agree. NIMBY, TERF, MAGAT and LIBTARD are all examples of labeling as a way to control the accused opinion and allow it it be countered by a rote response rather than listening and responding to what the INDIVIDUAL HUMAN is saying.

idlebytes
idlebytes
1 year ago
Reply to  Watts

What makes some of their comments NIMBY as opposed to the well thought out and articulated reasons for not widening the Rose Quarter or allowing Zenith Oil to operate here are the reasons they give. One example is the claim that it will be more dangerous when the exact opposite is true. There are plenty of streets in this town where drivers have to share a single lane. They are generally safer it’s the wide streets like Skidmore that are more dangerous.

Dwk
Dwk
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter

Are you opposed to I-5 expansion?
Pretty NIMBY of you if you are…

soren
soren
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter

And saying that NIMBY is a slur?

It’s definitely a slur and one used extensively by the hyper-online YIMBY-numtot demographic. It’s also a slur when I use it as a socialist PHIMBY who is equally opposed to both YIMBYism and NIMBYism (two sides of the anti-poor capitalist coin).

blumdrew
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter

Dismissing someone’s opinion on development, or traffic, or whatever as “nimbyism” is short sighted. Complaints about neighborhood character matter, actually. People want to live in nice places, and they will use whatever means they feel justified to reach that goal. I want to live in a pleasant, dense, urban area – if someone came along and suggested downzoning my neighborhood I would react unfavorably to that. Maybe they would characterize my dissent as just not wanting those single family homes in my area.

Anti-urban thinking and the hegemonic position of the car in transportation culture is the issue at hand here. And the issues that need to be addressed in this particular instance are more about how reducing roadway space for cars is good (not bad) for traffic, and for the vibrancy of the surrounding areas. If someone has spent much time in an actual city, where cars are not the default mode, they will know (or should know) that spaces that exclude cars either by law, custom, or inconvenience are some of the most excellent places to be in cities.

Reflexively calling people “NIMBY” is demeaning and counterproductive – you have to show them that a better world is possible on different terms.

qqq
qqq
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter

Calling someone a NIMBY is right up there (or worse) in dismissiveness with using the credentials card. “Listen to me, not them, because I’m an expert (or engineer, or professional…) and they’re not” and “Listen to me, not them, because I’m not a NIMBY and they are” both attempt to bolster or dismiss statements or positions based on who’s saying them, instead of judging them on their merit.

If someone you label a NIMBY has a “shitty” position or idea, it should be easy to explain why yours is better, by discussing the position or idea.

Babygorilla
Babygorilla
1 year ago
Reply to  idlebytes

I lived in the area and walked the pup at Wilshire until a few years ago. From fall to spring, I can’t recall any time where parking would be a concern at all. Summer months were a different story and on little league game days, parking on both sides of Skidmore to about the pavilion would absolutely fill up with slightly less use of the north side of the street east of the pavilion.

I used Skidmore / Mason about equally with Going to get to and from downtown commuting. The Skidmore / Mason connection is not good for all ages, so a dedicated path from the light at Mason to link up to Skidmore would be the main improvement for this area. I’d regularly see this modified Toyata that looked like a Dakar truck, but never go the impression that that section of Skidmore had much commuting traffic given the lack of a cut through (once you get past the park, Skidmore goes back to a narrow neighborhood street), though the numbers seem to hit the targets for reworking.

It such a short stretch of road, I personally don’t see the need for much work on Skidmore itself as a top funding priority beyond improving the Skidmore / Mason connection.

Watts
Watts
1 year ago

You omitted the headline quote! I wanted to see the professed love for parking. Instead all I got was “a lot of people drive to the park, and they need to park somewhere.” Less love and more necessary evil.

(I have no opinion about the project itself; I don’t live there or use the park, so it’s not my issue.)

Champs
Champs
1 year ago

Once again, Beaumont-Wilshire doesn’t seem to want a PBOT project while other neighborhoods beg for them. I know that Scott Cohen has been very explicit about not helping mine.

Maybe it’s time for the bureau to listen?

Jay Cee
Jay Cee
1 year ago

There is so much parking on that street, these people are being ridiculous. Slowing down traffic will make the street safer for kids and all road users.

let’s see what PBOT does here because they didn’t give a rats @ss when everyone in the neighborhood begged to make 7th streets safer a few months ago

Lenny Anderson
Lenny Anderson
1 year ago

The problem on that stretch of Skidmore is speeding autos on an excessively wide street.! Put in angled parking with curb extensions and its a win-win…narrower street and more parking. Shift PBOT project staff and resources to more pressing bike/walk gaps and call it good. Cohen is one of the best at PBOT!

maxD
maxD
1 year ago
Reply to  Lenny Anderson

this the crude sketch I sent to the n’hood association in an effort to encourage to push PBOT to ward a more complete street approach

Screenshot 2023-01-25 185533.jpg
John
John
1 year ago
Reply to  maxD

I like that. How do you get to here though, those sharrows to out to 33rd which isn’t very bike friendly.
I ask because I bike this area and my usual solution is crossing 33rd at mason and kind of riding over some non-path to get to the path around the park, and use that path parallel to Skidmore (none of which is really meant for bikes and feels hacky). I’d ride on the sharrows but it still looks like the connection would be wonky.

maxD
maxD
1 year ago
Reply to  Lenny Anderson

here is an example of using head-in parking with generous curb extensions and planting to narrow and slow a street and provide safe crossing opportunities

Screenshot 2023-02-16 -head-in parking.jpg
El OSO
El OSO
1 year ago

As a BW resident who lives on NE 37th this neighborhood assoc. doesn’t speak for me. I’ve been expressing concern for years about speeding cut through traffic on this bike blvd. Not only do they not care because its not their street they take part in it as well. One of my “poor unfortunate” neighbors even lamented how she could no longer get to New Seasons if we put diverters up on Fremont and Alameda

Daniel Fuller
Daniel Fuller
1 year ago

“PBOT already reached out to neighborhood association leaders to ask what they felt about a traffic diverter at NE 36th or 37th to help make the street safer and reduce driving volumes. They rejected the idea and PBOT shelved that element of the plan…”

Love it when a small group of self-appointed “leaders” gets to veto safety improvements to the public right-of-way which is supposed to be used by everyone.

Watts
Watts
1 year ago
Reply to  Daniel Fuller

The great thing about self-appointment is that anyone can do it. Go forth and present an alternative viewpoint!

And for the record, neighborhood associations get a veto on approximately nothing. They can state their case, nothing more (with possibly one or two exceptions, none relevant to PBOT). And they are open to everyone.

qqq
qqq
1 year ago
Reply to  Watts

It’s not always easy. Depending on the association, if you wanted to be sure not to miss discussion or City staff presentations on topics that may be important to you, you could end up needing to go the the monthly board meeting and the monthly Transportation Committee meeting, only to miss out on something important to you that was discussed in the monthly Land Use Committee or Parks Committee meeting.

If you can go to 36 meetings per year (1 board plus 2 committees per month times 12 months) you’re probably set. In less active associations, one meeting per month might be enough.

But then again, a project a few blocks from you, with great potential impact to you, may be in a different association’s boundaries, with people living 5x further away from it than you being viewed as “the affected neighbors/stakeholders” by City staff.

Lisa Caballero (Assistant Editor)
Editor
Reply to  qqq

They usually post an agenda, and zoom has made it easy to attend meetings from the privacy of your cave. (Speaking of myself, not you. My computer is in the basement.)

Daniel Fuller
Daniel Fuller
1 year ago

What about people who are (A) busy during the meeting time slot, (B) unfamiliar with the technology, or (C) averse to interpersonal conflict and/or public speaking?

soren
soren
1 year ago

The lack of outreach by neighborhood associations and coalitions has been a chronic problem that underpins their structural classism and racism. Similarly, their membership rules (giving property/business owners a vote even if they do not live in the neighborhood) and voting systems (disenfranchising voting requirements) are almost often structured in a way that makes it impossible for marginalized people/groups to have an equal voice.

Daniel Reimer
1 year ago

In my experience they don’t post it anywhere. You have to know the right people to contact to get onto the right mailing lists. It took me a couple months of showing up to SWNI transportation meetings to even know that there was a mailing list for the agenda!

NAs are a flawed method of public outreach and engagement.

Watts
Watts
1 year ago
Reply to  qqq

I am on the mailing list of all the neighborhod associations around me, and I am able to scan for issues of interest without attending any of their meetings. It’s pretty easy.

There are also a number of ways of making your opinion known without attending a single meeting, such as sending a message to your elected officials, talking to PBOT staff, etc.

I agree that 36 meetings a year is a pretty heavy lift. Luckily, it’s completely unnecessary.

Daniel Fuller
Daniel Fuller
1 year ago
Reply to  Watts

It sure seems like the NA got to veto those diverters. A few noisy and dedicated complainers can be enough for a city agency to decide it’s just not worth the hassle. That counts as a veto in my book.

As qqq explains above, there are barriers to participating in NA meetings if you’re busy, tired, and/or unfamiliar with the process. I shouldn’t have to go up against the angriest NIMBYs on my block just to make my voice count.

Watts
Watts
1 year ago
Reply to  Daniel Fuller

They did not veto, they persuaded PBOT to change course. That is a very different thing, and the fact that you conflate those suggests that you are actually interested in silencing people you disagree with.

You probably have a lot more power than angriest NIMBY because you are calm and articulate. But fundamentally, if you don’t want to participate in making your voice heard, your voice will not be heard.

There are an awful lot of things that are hard if you are busy, tired, or unfamiliar with the process. It’s the way life works.

Daniel Fuller
Daniel Fuller
1 year ago
Reply to  Watts

So the frazzled single parent or uneducated immigrant should be satisfied with their lack of access to the levers of power because “it’s the way life works”. Great philosophy, very enlightened.

Watts
Watts
1 year ago
Reply to  Daniel Fuller

How would you meaningfully empower your stereotypical “frazzled single parent” or “uneducated immigrant”? Is your best answer to level the field by taking away everyone’s ability to influence their government?

Lisa Caballero (Assistant Editor)
Editor
Reply to  Watts

I can tell you how I empowered them, as Chair of my NA’s transportation committee.

If we wanted to know what parents of school children were thinking, say about SRTS projects, there were a few things I did. 1) I walked to school with the parents and kiddies and asked what they thought. 2) I hung out in front of the school and chatted with people, 3) I contacted the PTA, 4) I contacted the school secretary, the vice-principal and the principal, 5) I talked to my neighbors with children.

And finally, one of the key members of our transpo committee had 3 children under four-years-old. He had no time for meetings. But he had time to regularly phone me as he walked to work, make suggestions and tell me what he thought.

I’ve knocked on doors with a clipboard soliciting opinions. We had an online SurveyMonkey survey with hundreds of responders. We’ve delivered paper questionaires to every resident of Broadway Drive, including the apartment buildings … I’m gonna stop, but I’m not even half way through (seriously) with our outreach.

This is not rocket science, it’s really just basic grassroots organizing. I would have loved to teach it to other NAs, say at a best-practices symposium, but Civic Life never organized anything like that (that I’m aware of) nor have I seen anything on their web page with support or advice for the 96 Portland NAs, some of whom perhaps could use a little guidance about how to be effective.

Daniel Fuller
Daniel Fuller
1 year ago
Reply to  Watts

Earlier you said I had just as much power to influence policy as any NA member, by joining an advocacy group, writing letters, and calling City Commissioner(s), now you’re saying NAs are the only voice people have? It can’t be both, so which is it?

For starters, any NA formally recognized by the city should have to publicize their meetings and elections to the whole neighborhood and be subject to regular outside audits of their vote-gathering process. No one should be able to vote in more than one locality at the same time. You know, like in a functional democracy.

Watts
Watts
1 year ago
Reply to  Daniel Fuller

For starters, any NA formally recognized by the city should have to publicize their meetings and elections to the whole neighborhood and be subject to regular outside audits of their vote-gathering process.

This is largely how it works. NAs try to advertise their meetings and elections to the extent resources allow (and I think all would welcome more additional technical or financial assistance on that front), often scheduling interesting guests to draw new folks in.

And if you or anyone else doesn’t think an election was conducted fairly, they can file a grievance with the city, and they will investigate. Furthermore, most NA elections are monitored by staff from the neighborhood coalition offices to ensure they’re above board.

In most cases, however, this is completely unnecessary as many NAs have more seats than members, so elections aren’t exactly nail-biters.

Also, the city has a number of other rules in place that an ordinary organization would not need to follow, such as publishing agendas, conducting business according to open meetings laws, following an established procedure for decision making, etc.

Finally, I’ve never seen a NA meeting with “comment slots” — the ones I’ve seen have been conducted as lightly moderated participatory conversations where anyone, board member or not, can weigh in as they see fit.

Daniel Fuller
Daniel Fuller
1 year ago
Reply to  Watts

Soren brings up a good point: NAs include not only residents, but anyone who owns a business or property in the area. So someone who lives in this neighborhood, owns rental property in another, and runs a business in another, can potentially vote in three different NA elections. Tell me again how the unemployed student or disabled renter has the same power as they do.

Watts
Watts
1 year ago
Reply to  Daniel Fuller

I would contend that the number of people who gain undue influence by actively participating in multiple NAs is comparable to the number of illegal immigrants trying to throw elections to Democrats. It’s probably not exactly zero, but it isn’t enough to worry about. In any event, such a silver-tongued super-persuader could attend public meetings all over the city and influence outcomes without being a part of any NA.

For those willing to expend a lot of energy for a marginal gain in influence, there are more effective ways to do it. But if your unemployed student really wanted to, they could participate where they live and also where they go to school (at least in some NAs). A disabled renter could likewise join where they live and where they work or attend school or whatever they do when they’re not doing NA work (or do you assume that disabled folks have no life outside their home?). That said, I am sure there are many people that only have access to a single NA, and for nearly everyone that is enough.

But your scenario is hardly the worst case: it would be possible for someone to own property or a business in every neighborhood in the city and just take control of the whole system. There’s no telling how many otherwise excellent 2-block bike lanes such a person could veto city-wide. Do we need to take away everyone’s voice to prevent that?

Daniel Fuller
Daniel Fuller
1 year ago
Reply to  Watts

“It would be possible for someone to own property or a business in every neighborhood in the city and just take control of the whole system…”

Now you’re catching on.

X
X
1 year ago
Reply to  Watts

In this case, somebody (bureaucrat, NA, NIMBY conspiracy, who knows?) took diverters off the table before the meeting. Diverters are somehow toxic or not worth discussion? I don’t like how PBOT uses diverters but they are an important design element.

If a diverter turned away the cut through traffic from this block all the other suggested changes would be moot.

I would agree with whoever said, in essence, the recent so-called bike infrastructure on NE 7th near Tillamook is a cruel joke and a serious waste of money. Stuff like that makes Portland look stupid. Just thinking about it has moved up my onset of dementia by 17 days.

Watts
Watts
1 year ago
Reply to  X

PBOT took them off the table.

cc_rider
cc_rider
1 year ago

Meetings like this are such a massive waste of taxpayer money. PBOT shouldn’t need or want feedback from some random bored NIMBYs. Don’t we pay lots of money for experts to hypothetically design safe roads? What does their desire for parking have to do with my need to stay alive when traveling down a street we all own?

Not their street. Not their park. Not their city. Why are we asking them what they think specifically?

Watts
Watts
1 year ago
Reply to  cc_rider

Not their street. Not their park. Not their city.

Sure it is. Do you think those belong to the bureaucrats?

For all their professional training in hypothetically safe roads*, sometimes folks who don’t know an area don’t really know the local conditions, how it functions, or what people there need. Consulting with affected residents is part of effective and responsive government.

*”Safe roads” do not exist in the real world — safety is a gradient, not an absolute. There are always tradeoffs, and no one, not even you, wants a road that prioritizes safety above everything else. Because it it involves tradeoffs, road design is an inherently political question, not a technical one, and so it is absolutely appropriate to ask for input from the impacted parties. When one has a minority political view, as you (and I) do, it is tempting to attack and dismiss the process rather than work with it to get the outcome you want, just as our former president did. Don’t be like him.

Daniel Fuller
Daniel Fuller
1 year ago
Reply to  Watts

It’s not just theirs. It belongs to all residents of the city, yet not all residents of the city were consulted. Asking local residents for advice is great. Letting them veto proven safety improvements is not.

Watts
Watts
1 year ago
Reply to  Daniel Fuller

“veto”

You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

Watts
Watts
1 year ago
Reply to  Daniel Fuller

I’ll add that I strongly believe that those most impacted by a decision should have the loudest voice. You apparently disagree with that principle, which is fine, but it doesn’t seem to make much sense to to me to give folks in Montana a voice in a decision about a road in Portland, even if some of their tax dollars helped pay for it.

Daniel Fuller
Daniel Fuller
1 year ago
Reply to  Watts

You keep misrepresenting me, so I’ll repeat: the street belongs to all the residents of the city, not the residents of a specific neighborhood. everyone who can be reasonably expected to use the street should get a say. that’s why the city has publicly available design standards. The people who happen to live next to a given project are not necessarily the most affected by it.

Watts
Watts
1 year ago
Reply to  Daniel Fuller

Fundamentally it sounds like we may agree — stakeholders should have a louder voice than non-stakeholders. Local residents on a local street are often (but not always) the primary stakeholders. But anyone with an interest (as defined by them) should have an opportunity to make their opinion known.

I believe that with the exception of some cases where decisions are legally binding, this is the way things currently work.

dwk
dwk
1 year ago
Reply to  cc_rider

Who exactly gives them feedback if it is not the public? You complained down the thread that they did not ask you. They had a meeting and asked for public opinion, the public gave it and you don’t like it… and who are you to say they are bored nimbys since you weren’t there?
People complaining about democracy who don’t participate……..

blumdrew
1 year ago
Reply to  dwk

It’s hardly accurate to call the NA process “democratic”. It’s esoteric, often gated, and unwelcoming to many. I say this as a participant in my NA, but what part is democratic? It can be intimidating for a person with little to no experience in a place like a NA meeting to show up, and if the people at the meetings are hostile to your ideas… well you can guess those people won’t show up again. Some NA’s are presumably more welcoming than others, I’m lucky to have a pretty good one (Brooklyn).

When it comes down to it, NA’s (even good ones) often are more like social clubs that people attend on their free time than democratic assemblies. Which selects for an older, more conservative crowd (in general). In my neighborhood, there is a 40% homeownership rate but the NA board is (I think) entirely homeowners. Granted, homeowners are often more invested in the comings and goings of the neighborhood so there’s some explanation there, but this is a classic example of how NA’s aren’t always representative of the issues that regular people in the neighborhood face.

Dwk
Dwk
1 year ago
Reply to  blumdrew

So who is representative?
Do you think every idea that some person comes up with at PBOT is
a good one?
What process is there to tell them they might have a bad idea?
What is better public process?

blumdrew
1 year ago
Reply to  Dwk

I’m not saying there is a better public process, just that it’s not really accurate to call NA’s democratic.

I think PBOT is just as capable of any other public agency in producing pretty bad ideas to be honest. And NA’s can be a good way to leverage the public will – but they have shortfalls that are related to trends that are somewhat outside their (or my) control.

Watts
Watts
1 year ago
Reply to  blumdrew

NAs are democratic in the sense that they make their decisions by voting and the conversation is open. They are not democratic assemblies, and you should not expect that from them.

There are 95 NAs in Portland, and they are all a bit different, but I have visited perhaps 10% of those, and 100% that I saw were at least reasonably well run and welcoming. I’m sure there are some that are not, but overall this doesn’t strike me as much of a problem in the real world as some people make it out to be.

There are good reasons why people who think they are living in a neighborhood temporarily don’t spend a lot of time and effort to improve it. I am very civically minded, but when I’ve been a renter (about a third of my adult life), I did not engage with neighborhood politics at all. There was nothing nefarious about that.

I think it would be great if critics of the neighborhood system would be more giving of their ideas for making it better. Mostly what I hear are people who disagree with their neighbors, and want to silence them by tearing down the system that gives those neighbors a voice. That strikes me as pretty undemocratic.

The system we have is much better than no system at all.

blumdrew
1 year ago
Reply to  Watts

I think transparent is a better word than democratic for that. But maybe splitting hairs a bit.

The renter/owner divide at NAs is definitely present for a multitude of reasons but I still think it’s problematic. Especially considering that the densest neighborhoods have the lowest ownership rates (15% in downtown, 22% in Northwest, 32% in the Pearl, 12% in Buckman) this divide has pretty bad consequences when government agencies consult a largely homeowning body that affect the entire neighborhood. If PBOT asks the fine folks in Alameda what they think of a traffic calming or bike related project at least I can be reasonably sure that the NA is broadly representative of the neighborhood at large. If they do the same in Buckman, I would be far less certain. I think this is an inherent flaw in the community outreach approach, with no real work around.

There is nothing nefarious about individual renters not being apart of neighborhood politics. I’ve rented my entire adult life, and have only just now been involved in one (and that only really happened because I was bored and unemployed). I’m similarily civic minded, but figured the NA would be boring and filled with old people who just wanted to preserve the neighborhood as they saw fit (I was certainly not correct in that assessment!).

Realistically, this is something that should be solved by increasing ownership rates in general. Despite being a renter, I think home ownership is a good thing – if only because it makes people more invested in their dwellings and in their community by extension. Providing more generous credit to lower income people and building way more housing would be places to start.

As it stands now though, when PBOT et. al use NAs as a proxy for community support, they end up missing a large proportion of the actual community they are looking to consult. Which ultimately makes their community outreach efforts less effective at understanding the neighborhood at large. Just my 2 cents though, I don’t really disagree that the system we have now is just about as good as we can hope for (all other socioeconomic factors not withstanding)

jakeco
jakeco
1 year ago
Reply to  blumdrew

You make a lot of very fair points. I just wanted to throw out that a relatively smooth path to home ownership is military service (which includes the Coast Guard and NOAA) as that qualifies an individual for 0 down mortgages. If it wasn’t for that I would have been gentrified as my rent had gone from $850 to $1600 in the space of 8 years. Is it morally sound to have people potentially risk their lives to qualify for a mortgage? I don’t know, but I know that is how the world is now and will be for the foreseeable future.

blumdrew
1 year ago
Reply to  jakeco

No, it’s not morally sound at all to expect people to have to serve in the military to afford a place to live. DItto with college, those are incredibly predatory programs. Compelling people into military service out of economic desperation is not a good way to run a society (in my opinion).

Wait NOAA counts though? So like if I became a meteorologist I would get a discount on a morgagte?

Watts
Watts
1 year ago
Reply to  blumdrew

I think we can all agree it would be ideal if anyone could afford their choice of housing in their preferred location.

jakeco
jakeco
1 year ago
Reply to  blumdrew

Short answer is yes. After completing a term of service as a commissioned NOAA meteorologist you would qualify for veterans benefits including 0 down mortgage.
https://www.omao.noaa.gov/learn/noaa-corps/about-NOAA-Corps

Watts
Watts
1 year ago
Reply to  blumdrew

At some point people have agency to participate or not, and if folks aren’t interested in what an organization does, they aren’t going to join. As a fallback, you can be talking to as many of your neighbors as possible so you can share their views while discussing an issue.

One way to look at it is that many people who are not interested in engaging now may become interested later, so by ensuring the door stays open, more people will, over their lifetimes, cycle through the system. Not everyone has to do the same thing at the time. I still retain most of the same ideals I had when I was younger, even if I’m now less naive about how good intentions can lead to bad results.

Daniel Fuller
Daniel Fuller
1 year ago
Reply to  Watts

By that logic, corporations are “democratic” because a small group of wealthy shareholders gets to vote for the board of directors. Blumdrew ably explained the problem with NAs, which is that they don’t actually represent their neighborhoods.

Like you said earlier, people can write letters, call their commissioner(s) or the relevant city agency, or volunteer with an advocacy group. They don’t actually need the NA to give them a voice.

Watts
Watts
1 year ago
Reply to  Daniel Fuller

NAs aren’t supposed to represent their neighborhoods. They represent themselves. It’s a participatory system, not a representative one.

You are right that folks don’t need NAs to participate. But there will always be formal or informal organizations where neighbors talk to one another and act collectively. If these are established enough, they might ask a city official to make a presentation about an issue of local interest, and they might weigh in during or after the presentation. And the city will always (or should always) check in with project stakeholders, which are often (but not always) geographically based, so a civic organization focused on that area would be an obvious group to talk to.

So one way or another you’re going to have groups that look and act like NAs. The advantage of formalizing them is that you can require things like openness and inclusivity and lack of dues to help ensure more people can participate, and you can have folks to help those with fewer resources organize and create their own associations.

Tearing down the NA system will create a less equal situation that favors those with knowledge and connections even more than it already does. It would not get rid of NAs.

CandideYammer
CandideYammer
1 year ago

I ride on 37th past Wilshire park all the time.

Maybe I’m getting lucky in the countless times I’ve been riding here, but my experience has been super low-stress – and I’ve ridden through just about all hours of all days. Traffic typically is fairly light and the street is so wide, all modes seem to get along pretty well.

That may be changing as I am starting to see an uptick in cars cutting through more residential streets like Bryce and Shaver as a result of the diverter at Alameda & Fremont but for now, it remains a low-stress section for me.

I should add I *never* take Skidmore between 33rd & 37th so can’t really speak to the experience riding on that stretch. That’s because if I’m looking to head east or west, I’m taking 37th to Going.

I guess these changes only make a certain amount of sense if PBOT really does establish an east-west Mason-Skidmore greenway. Shrug. Not sure what’s wrong with the Going greenway 3 or 4 blocks south but presumably there’s some need for it that I’m not aware of.

I’m wondering if a few investments might make NE Going<->37th more accessible for more folks of different riding levels:

  • a real safe & practical crossing at 37th & Prescott, which is sketchy and needs more than the token infrastructure put up there (gotta believe this intersection is a showstopper for less experienced riders who would otherwise use 37th to connect with Going and vice-versa)
  • something to get car drivers to actually stop on Skidmore & 37th and look for approaching bikes traveling 37th – I don’t know it there are sightline / visibility issues for cars on Skidmore or the stop sign is not easily seen or drivers expect it’s a 4-way stop or what, but I do see a fair number of cars rolling into that intersection without really stopping or looking
  • further improvements to the Going crossing on 33rd – while it works good enough for me, I could see where this might be intimidating for less experienced riders.
Brian
Brian
1 year ago

I totally understand why neighborhoods wouldn’t want a safe biking path in their neighborhood… I’m suspecting it’s a desire to avoid indigent individuals from camping on or near it.
I’m hugely in favor of bike infrastructure, however, until we get the camping and drug use under control, i think perhaps it will be a hard hill to climb.

billbowlrider
billbowlrider
1 year ago

I’ve been a bicycle commuter and recreational rider for my entire 19 years living in Portland. Bike riding in our city is down vs. 2019 and not likely to ever come back to 2019 levels, ever. At the same time, bike infrastructure projects have seemed to become more and more about paint, ugly plastic batons and suggestion signs instead of permanent changes that create real separation from cars. Somewhat ironic to say as a daily bicycle commuter, but we should pause all new bike infrastructure projects for a couple years. Instead let’s devote every single city resource on basic livability issues like speed/impaired driving traffic enforcement, garbage pick-up, graffiti eradication, crime prevention, street sweeping/repairs, enforcement against knucklehead riders on the Max, etc.