‘Urban trails,’ a bold plan for the next generation of Portland bikeways

Rendering of Urban Trails Network concept.
The network.

A team of local architects and planners think they’ve found a key that will unlock the door to more bicycling in Portland.

When we finally saw hard numbers about Portland’s cycling decline last spring, it was a reality check for many of us. 2023 counts from Portland’s transportation bureau aren’t ready yet, but other sources show that cycling in our city continues to lag behind not just our past numbers, but peer cities as well (more on that in a separate post).

Contrary to what we often hear from local transportation and elected officials, Portland hasn’t exactly “built it” when it comes to bike infrastructure. Yes, we can point to many projects and lane-miles of bike facilities; but none of that matters if the infrastructure isn’t good enough to entice people to use it.

My opinion piece on the decline last May spurred many conversations about what we should do to turn the ship around. For one group of local planners, it helped crystalize what they feel has been missing from the conversation: A next-generation type of bike infrastructure that could entice more Portlanders to ride.

Water cooler conversations tinged with frustration about the drop in cycling, led to an ambitious side project that mixed professional skills with personal passion and they came up with “An Urban Trails Network for Portland” — a  concept for how we can claim more road space for active transportation, and reclaim our title as a great cycling city.

The team behind this vision is led by 52-year-old Mark Raggett, a 20-year veteran of the City of Portland Bureau of Planning and Sustainability who now works for a private urban design firm. He and three other co-workers — Nick Hodge, 28; Katie Barmore-McCollum, 35; and Ryan Al-Schamma, 27 — have spent months refining their idea and now it’s ready for public scrutiny.

I met with Raggett and Hodge back in June and then again last month and I’m very impressed with what they’ve done.

The Urban Trails Network is built on two pieces of existing policy: the Portland Bureau of Transportation’s neighborhood greenways, and the “city greenways” defined in Portland’s 2035 Comprehensive Plan (adopted in 2020). The network would create a backbone of residential streets with separated cycling facilities on them. Imagine the best elements of a multi-use path, mixed with the convenience and proximity to destinations of neighborhood greenways. 

And the most interesting part? The new paths would be at sidewalk level and use existing right-of-way.

“We propose something new, that could be the ‘next generation’ of infrastructure, that would be more attractive in a low-density city like Portland to the large ‘interested but concerned’ crowd that may be driving more,” Raggett shared. And Hodge added, “Most people in the ‘interested but concerned’ category might not be aware of the greenways, or if they were, they might have a hard time finding and navigating them due to the lack of intuitive wayfinding tools.” 

Raggett says the concept builds on the Comp Plan’s “city greenways” network, which is defined as, ” a system of distinctive pedestrian- and bicycle-friendly streets and trails, enhanced by lush tree canopy and landscaped stormwater facilities that support active living by expanding transportation and recreational opportunities and making it easier and more attractive to reach destinations across the city.”

Raggett, Hodge, Barmore-McCollum, and Al-Schamma have put together a nine-page presentation that lays out all the details.

The presentation shows how three types of existing residential streets could be retrofitted with the new Urban Trails Network design. In each type, they demonstrate how space for active transportation on the streets would grow. (The exact streets that would make up the network haven’t been named as this is still just a conceptual exercise.)

On a 36-foot wide street, for instance, the concept preserves 21-feet for car parking and driving (“the concept proposes a more pragmatic relationship with motor vehicles”), and would add a 15-foot, two-way cycling pathway and buffer strip on one side. On an street without sidewalks that has 60-feet of right-of-way but currently only 20-feet paved, the concept proposes a full rebuild that would include a 16-foot, two-way, shared bike/walk path on side and a sidewalk on the other. It would also add 18 feet for parking cars. On a narrow residential street with a 40-foot roadway, they propose adding a 12-foot, two-way path and buffer strip, while maintaining two lanes of on-street car parking and a 14-foot general travel lane that would be shared by both directions of drivers (a “queuing street” that is common on many narrow residential streets today).

With fewer people commuting to and from downtown, the idea is that better bikeways criss-crossing neighborhoods are more important than ever.

“The Urban Trails network will provide a much-needed and intuitive network of connections that will provide a flexible and resilient series of new pathways for all ages and abilities,” the presentation states. “Whether they be walking, rolling, riding, roller-skating or scooting around the city.”

Raggett and his team understand funding for this type of treatment is nonexistent. But they aren’t asking for money, they just think it’s time for Portland to move onto the next level of bike infrastructure and do something bold that will finally move the needle.

“The linked series of citywide pathways will define the next era of healthy, climate-responsive mobility in Portland.”

Take a look at the plan yourself and let us know what you think!

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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Bjorn
Bjorn
4 months ago

The nice 2 way bike path with a separate sidewalk for walking looks an awful like what we were supposed to get on NE 72nd between killingsworth and sandy before they slashed the project for cost. They say they are going to build next year but honestly it has been cut so much that I wish they would wait and fund it properly so it could look like this.

Allan Rudwick
Allan
4 months ago

This is interesting. It seems like some long trips would be well served and since they would be high quality some people would go out of their way to use this network. The low density of the network would make it less useful for a good % of short trips.

I would certainly use it when convenient, and I think a network like this would get some of the ‘interested but concerned’ crowd onto bikes more often

Nick
Nick
4 months ago

Would love it if they put one of these on Sandy Blvd, it’s always sorta frustrating that drivers get to take a nice prioritized diagonal across town but I have to navigate at right angles on a bike (where the distance saving is more meaningful)

qqq
qqq
4 months ago
Reply to  Nick

That’s a great point about the diagonals. I especially like projects that go beyond giving biking and walking the same good routes as drivers, and give them routes not available to drives. . Tilikum Crossing is an example. The old public stairs in NW and SW are another. The Burke-Gilman Trail in Seattle was another.

One that would have been really dramatic was the proposed Willamette River-crossing pedestrian/bike bridge near Lake Oswego, which would have made biking and even walking faster than driving for traveling between east and west of the river.

I’d be great if the proposals in this article could be used on streets like Sandy, and also connected to create routes for biking and walking that weren’t even available to cars, rather than just being safer paths along the same routes (not to discount the value of that).

eawriste
eawriste
4 months ago
Reply to  qqq

Definitely qqq. All of the above. On the other side of the River, we have a tourist trolley that connects to LO, but not an actual train or MUP. Boggles the mind.

A separated bike lane on Sandy would be amazing, particularly if connected to the Broadway/Weidler PBL couplet. All those businesses would make bank.

Foster also comes to mind as having a lot of potential to make incredible separated lanes on a commercial street. That was a real swing and a miss for the city. It pissed off some businesses, installed standard bike lanes, and it connects to other standard bike lanes so few very people use it.

Eric Liefsdad
Eric Liefsdad
4 months ago
Reply to  Nick

Portland will be stuck in traffic until drivers choose to bike on Barbur and Sandy. I don’t think a two-way bike sidewalk on one side is going to cut it though. Certainly not the 8mph design they used on sw Capitol either, not for $26M/mile.

Evan
Evan
4 months ago

2-way bike paths on streets with lots of driveways are important to get right, so that drivers pulling in and out of their driveway don’t forget to look both ways for bike traffic. I’m from Portland but live in the Bay Area now; one really nice example of a well-done bike path in this style is the Richmond Wellness Trail. Here are some pics: https://twitter.com/WarrenJWells/status/1545661940046802944

Zach Katz
Zach Katz
4 months ago

Some similar examples of separated bike paths on residential streets in Amsterdam:

https://maps.app.goo.gl/FAXPkoXKfTcxRdQS7?g_st=ic

https://maps.app.goo.gl/RcauQWyrkRHGLFgn9?g_st=ic

https://maps.app.goo.gl/fZnatWQJpTVMUJGN8?g_st=ic

It’s not the typical treatment—most residential streets get tons of traffic calming and diversion. That seems a lot cheaper, and more pleasant too (since you can cycle two or three abreast, for instance). But this definitely works on some streets. Should definitely be prioritized on arterials and commercial corridors, though.

pierre delecto
pierre delecto
4 months ago
Reply to  Zach Katz

It’s not the typical treatment—most residential streets get tons of traffic calming and diversion. That seems a lot cheaper, and more pleasant too (since you can cycle two or three abreast, for instance).

But this is ‘Murrica, Zach. We need expensive fully separated infrastructure on dinky low-traffic residential bike streets* because planners are afraid of oh-so mildy inconveniencing Nextdoor-neighbor SUV drivers.

* But not on arterials like Sandy or 122nd, of course.

Chris I
Chris I
4 months ago
Reply to  Zach Katz

Note that there are zero driveways in the three examples noted above.

Thus, for this to work in Portland, I propose we eliminate all of the housing on one side of the street and replace them with canals.

Will
Will
4 months ago
Reply to  Chris I

I have long said Portland could use more canals. Reject the Frog Ferry, embrace the Sullivan’s Gulch Canal.

Watts
Watts
4 months ago
Reply to  Will

A system of canals worked in Amsterdam; no reason why they wouldn’t work here.

Atreus
Atreus
4 months ago
Reply to  Watts

I know you’re just making a joke, but the reason Amsterdam has canals is because it was built in an area below sea level, and they needed a system to make sure they didn’t get flooded constantly. The canals take the water, then they pump the water up to a higher level of canal, and so on until the water goes back into the sea. They used to use windmills to pump the water, hence the classic Dutch windmills all over, now they use electric pumps. Anyway, canals would make no sense in Portland, except in places like the Columbia Corridor but the Columbia Slough serves the same purpose as a canal system.

Will
Will
4 months ago
Reply to  Atreus

Sullivan’s Gulch Canal is just the start. We’ll have the St. John’s Cut Canal, the 405 Canal through Downtown, the Grand Sandy Canal. Soon all will be water.

David Hampsten
David Hampsten
4 months ago
Reply to  Will

… my root canal …

Watts
Watts
4 months ago
Reply to  Atreus

I was poking fun at the notion that anything that appears to work in Amsterdam will automatically work here.

But all kidding aside, it would be pretty sweet to be able to take a water taxi to the top of Mt Tabor.

Atreus
Atreus
4 months ago
Reply to  Zach Katz

Yeah, I feel like this concept makes more sense on the busy roads than on local streets as they are in this plan. It seems wasteful to spend massive amounts of money on the streets that need it the least.

Steve S
Steve S
4 months ago

I agree that bike infrastructure needs some innovative thinking like this. And the recently unveiled Capital Highway renovation seems to incorporate a lot of the urban trails concept presented here. That project completely transformed the bike and pedestrian travel narrative for that section of SW Portland. It also upgraded the neighborhood in general, and even driving is more pleasant here. So, done thoughtfully it truly can work.

Funding a network of such projects and doing it in our lifetime, well you know how that will go, but every win we can get shall be welcome.

Fred
Fred
4 months ago
Reply to  Steve S

I’m still taking the lane downhill on SW Capitol Hwy – and my informal survey of cyclists is showing 70-30 in favor of taking the lane, even with scooters, which I’m really glad to see.

So far no crabby guy in a truck has tried to honk me off the road, but I’m sure it’ll happen one of these days.

Lisa Caballero (Assistant Editor)
Editor
Reply to  Steve S

Steve,

I agree with you about the new Cap Hwy rebuild. I regularly drive down Cap Hwy to Barbur World Foods and am floored by how not only the Cap Hwy improvements, but also the more incremental improvements in Hillsdale and along BHH (left-turn calming, speed camera, curbed bike lanes along BHH, new crossings, rose lane) have calmed the area.

I’m seeing the 8-80 crowd on bikes. Middle-aged women on e-bikes using Cap Hwy in Hillsdale, adults with kiddies in cargo bikes on the the newly rebuilt part of Cap Hwy, old couples out walking, kids on bikes. That area used to be dead, now it is activated and you see people. Also, even though the posted speed is 25 mph (I think), driving the road on Friday late afternoon, the line of cars I was in was going about 20 MPH. It wasn’t a traffic jam, just a little traffic.

What surprises me is that the calming seems to extend beyond the roads that actually had work done on them. For example, I’m seeing more cyclists on Dosch, and have noticed that people are driving more slowly. It’s as if reaching a certain threshold of calming establishes the expectation that one shouldn’t drive like an idiot, and it carries beyond the streets which had the work.

Lisa Caballero (Assistant Editor)
Editor

Hi Jonathan, yeah I read about the Rose Lane study and Mapps in your BikePortland Insider newsletter (become a subscriber folks and you will get the newsletter too!), it sent me into a depression for a few hours. I’ll have to look it up again, but I remember that a traffic impact study was built into the Hillsdale Rose Lane project. Mapps may be talking about something that would be happening anyway.

Will
Will
4 months ago

I like this idea a lot, and I think it would pair well with increased diverters along the Greenway routes. The distance runner in me would kill to have a soft-surface running path adjacent to these.

PTB
PTB
4 months ago
Reply to  Will

Nah, just come run trails with me at Powell Butte and Forest Park. Shinrin-yoku.

Will
Will
4 months ago
Reply to  PTB

I do! But sometimes I want to run on something flat and unpaved!

David Hampsten
David Hampsten
4 months ago

The routes through East Portland at least would be relatively non-controversial and far away from any business sections of District One, but would intersect some significant employers such as David Douglas High School (the largest in Oregon), Adventist Health, and numerous parks. And naturally it’s a good thing we are deliberately avoiding business districts because most Americans rightly see bicycling as a recreational hobby rather than a proper transportation mode of choice, and this new infrastructure will further enforce that view.

Fred
Fred
4 months ago
Reply to  David Hampsten

Hear, hear, David. In Portland it seems like we can have infrastructure for eight-year-olds or so-called vehicular cyclists but nothing in between.

David Hampsten
David Hampsten
4 months ago
Reply to  Fred

As several have pointed out, great idea, wrong locations. If you actually want a 25% bike mode split in Portland – something we all want, even us schmucks in Central Carolina, any big city that gets that kind of mode split makes it easier for our communities to get it too – then such facilities need to be run along 162nd, 122nd, 82nd, Chavez, MLK, Division, Barbur, Lombard, etc, along with vastly increased housing densities and mass transit. The idea of running such great facilities on residential routes is a total non-starter and a huge waste of resources, both in terms of funding and of political capital.

Daniel
Daniel
4 months ago

I think this idea is great. That said, before spending money upgrading the infrastructure that largely already has sidewalks and bike lanes it would be great if we could just get some sidewalks in neighborhoods like the Cully.

Jack S
Jack S
4 months ago

Would be cool if it were covered as well to protect from the rain and dump the water into an adjacent swale! Could be made with solar panels or not. An example structure: https://maps.app.goo.gl/b3Qho2JMUFWctTnA7

Berlin has the Radbahn in process that has this covered feature! https://www.architecturaldigest.com/story/berlin-proposes-converting-abandoned-space-into-green-6-mile-bike-path

Citylover
Citylover
4 months ago

I thought I recognized my beloved Montreal bikeways. They are fantastic, though it is a pretty dense city, more so than Portland. Well done, Mark et al!

Cathy Tuttle
4 months ago

HOW EXCITING!

Let’s do this Portland!

G. Ellsworth Thomas
G. Ellsworth Thomas
4 months ago

The great bicycle infrastructure industrial complex hard at work. Totally impressive. NOT.

Instead trotting out yet another “next generation”bicycle infrastructure “revolution” for yet another round of futile dog chasing tail public comments, could we simply just design roadways to slow down the traffic on existing roadways to 25 mph, the average speed of all motor vehicles subject to obeying traffic control devices?

For verification, check dash data. So why are traffic engineers designing roadways for 55? Can we realistically expect motorists to obey speed limits if the roadway design is inconsistent with posted speed limits? Next time anyone gets a speeding ticket, blame traffic engineers in traffic court as criminal defense. They are the real culprits.

Humans are wired to react to the built environment. Design affects behavior.

Make bicycle infrastructure SIMPLE. We already have all the bicycle infrastructure we need. The real problem is traffic engineers, under the liability cover of MUTCD, purposely design them to kill anyone not driving massive hunks of rubber and metal. Note to traffic engineers: QUIT designing roadways for 55 when you really want motorists to do 25.

Review “Traffic Control: An Exercise in Self Defeat.”

Cyclekrieg
4 months ago

I do traffic engineering and it’s not as simple an answer as you think to why roads are wider, like highways.

First, are the typical sections that cities have adopted. These often call out wider lane widths. Lane widths are #1 factor in why a road feels like you can go faster. As I harp on a lot here in BikePortland, typical sections are the key to changing how roads are built. (Which, side note here, is why the above plan is so interesting and feasible. It changes the sidewalk portion of the typical section.)

Second, funding often comes with requirements of certain set of standards. If you are getting funding that is from state, that means state DOT standards will have to be met. Same for federal funding. Those standards almost always include wider lanes.

Third, is political pressure from drivers. Nothing is angrier that a group of drivers that might have to go a wee bit slower. This is why enforcement often takes a backseat also.

I get its easier to believe in spineless engineers are just hiding behind some book and not caring about the downstream effects. But we find ourselves shackled by politics, pre-built standards, funding, etc. A lot of this can be changed, but often isn’t because the advocate groups that could push these changes often don’t understand what needs to be changed. Other times they want massive revolutionary changes versus a steady stream of incremental changes, and they can’t convince others (voters, users, etc.) to go big, so nothing gets altered.

eawriste
eawriste
4 months ago
Reply to  Cyclekrieg

Thanks Cyclekrieg. Very interesting stuff. I wish the idea of “typical sections” were more transparent and easy to target for advocates as well as non-profits. How can we adopt different standards?

Cyclekrieg
4 months ago
Reply to  eawriste

Here are my 3 to-dos I tell everyone:

  1. When voting, aim to get people in that will want to learn the boring stuff. Here is the link to PBOT’s standard details and plans. (Typical section at the top of the page, FYI.) If an elected official isn’t willing to sit down with a person to learn what all that means, ixnay on them. (Side note – loud advocates typically make poor “learn the boring stuff” people.)
  2. Don’t walk in with CROW.NL books or videos from Amsterdam – that is just pie-in-the-sky to most elected officials and even if they are interested, the design staff will tell them it doesn’t meet standards. Use real standards. Like Sketchup library has most standard stuff. If your city uses B618 curb, go find the standard detail for that and use it in your discussions, not the curb Amsterdam uses. True story here: was at a council meeting where someone created a model (3D printed) of how to improve the exit from there business and was smart enough to use actual city standards. City engineer looked at that and went, “we can do that” and boom, done.
  3. If you’re tempted to use “vehicular violence” or “social inequalities” in any comment, written or verbal, about how to improve roadways, take the biggest hammer you can find and wack your fingers with it right now. If you still have that urge, aim for your head. Engineers tend to conservative (small “c”) people and look toward numbers and what can functionally work for a given cost. I know the cost to build a standard NHSTA road. You want me to build something I’ve never seen before so that some micro-percentage of the population feels better about themselves, it’s not happening. Come at me talking about safety improvements, long-term cost savings and increased commercial or retail utilization and we are doing surf-n-turf by candlelight and long walks on the beach.
Michael
Michael
4 months ago
Reply to  Cyclekrieg

See, as an engineer myself, your third point is just wild to me. Safety is priority number one in any other discipline. It’s number one in the Fundamental Canons of the Code of Ethics! “1. Hold paramount the safety, health, and welfare of the public.” But for some reason traffic engineers have got it in their heads that they don’t have to worry about the safety implications for anyone not inside of a car when they’re designing their road. I’m not saying you’re wrong, but it’s a stunning show of just how misaligned the incentives are when it comes to building streets compared with, say, a building or a dam. I’m not sure how you change that, but I’m also 100% sure that it’s ethical malpractice to just wave away safety concerns (and real results!) from the public.

G. Ellsworth Thomas
G. Ellsworth Thomas
4 months ago
Reply to  Cyclekrieg

I’m not buying your defense. You are simply passing the buck to some amorphous all powerful unknowable entity.

The guys doing the CAD during preliminary roadway design have alot of discretion to use design to reduce rampant out-of-control over-the-top speeding complete disrespect of law.

The question is do you guys want to be part of the problem of killing non-motorized roadway users and over 35,000 Americans each and every year, year in, year out?

If you’re afraid of motorists screaming about slower speeds, you are NOT doing your JOB designing roadways that save lives, maybe even your own loved ones.

Refuse to put up with lame excuses that continue to kill over 35,000 Americans every year. Bicycle drivers should REFUSE to put up with lame excuses from “expert” traffic engineers hiding behind MUTCD.

The motoring industrial complex put us in this bind in the first. If we want out, DEMAND design to save lives, not encourage complete disrespect of the law.

Watts
Watts
4 months ago

doing your JOB designing roadways that save lives

That’s an important part of the job, but it’s not the only part. Other considerations are cost, physical constraints, how the road is used, access requirements, land use, etc.

It’s all a big balancing act between the different tradeoffs involved.

G. Ellsworth Thomas
G. Ellsworth Thomas
4 months ago
Reply to  Watts

Okaaaaay. Got it. We are now willing to tolerate fully loaded big ole jet airliners crashing every two days, year in, year out, because costs, physical constraints, etc etc etc must now be considered in the math.

That’s exactly what you are suggesting. How many traffic engineers would regularly drive bicycles as transportation on the very roadways they designed? None. Zippo. Nada.

Because they KNOW the roadways are designed to kill anyone not motorized. Traffic engineers ARE part of the problem, if they don’t stand up for the solutions while hiding behind design standards.

Totally not buying your Stockholm hostage syndrome.

Cyclekrieg
4 months ago

G. Ellsworth Thomas – I don’t think you quite understand how built-in this stuff is. Let’s use a fictional residential street called “Orchard Lane” to illustrate what I’m talking about.

  1. Scenario #1 – Complete City Funding – Orchard Lane is defined by the city as medium-density residential road, 60ft wide right-of-way. The city will have a typical section of that road that will define lane widths, curb types, driveways, and sidewalks. That means that to change those standards, there is political process that must happen. The engineer can’t change it, only the road division of the municipality.
  2. Scenario #2 – Complete or Partial State Funding – Orchard Lane gets funding to be redone partial or completely from the state DOT. But in that funding requirement are some controls on what gets built. Often those controls have minimum lane widths, etc. The engineer isn’t going to tell the city that their funding is null and void because it calls for things he doesn’t like or want. Remember that the standard city road is between $1 million and $1.5 million a mile.
  3. Scenario #3 – Partial Federal, State and Local Funding – Orchard Lane now has to meet the requirements of the city, state and federal government. If those requirements require, for instance, an update to the ADA standards, then the federal standards must be followed without alteration. And, spoiler alert here, the federal ADA standards are based around sidewalks next to a road and do not include most bike lane infrastructure.

This is why I keep talking about changing typical sections.

The fact you think that engineers either get to free-jazz a lot of stuff and/or are cackling evil murders says you don’t actually know how roads are built.

As I said, I want better roads and infrastructure, I’m a Strong Towns guy. But to make things better, there needs to be an understanding by advocates and politicians of how this stuff gets designed.

eawriste
eawriste
4 months ago
Reply to  Cyclekrieg

Thanks again. This is helpful.

1) Most streets in Portland are city jurisdiction. Would scenario #1 be the most frequent by a large margin? That is, would typical sections used by the city be the most impactful if changed?

2) Would the Street Trust be a reasonable advocate for changing statewide typical section design standards? If not, who would?

David Hampsten
David Hampsten
4 months ago
Reply to  eawriste

Each scenario assumes a street will be rebuilt like outer Powell, rather than just repaved like inner Hawthorne, so it depends on where the funding will come from. The original street was probably put in by a developer using the city or county standards of that time (over half of the city was developed within the county or other past cities then later annexed by the City of Portland). Given the current lack of street-rebuilding resources, if the funding came from an LID (local improvement district) – the neighbors decide to pay for the improvements – the street would be rebuilt under the specs of Scenario #1. But in general, Scenario #2 is now far more likely, and under “liberal” US administrations Scenario #3 also becomes more likely.

The biggest cost will involve moving all the sewer lines, water lines, curbs, gutters, and other utilities. On the other hand, the biggest federal funding source will likely be for replacing the sewer and water lines, much of which is past its useful 80-year lifespan.

G. Ellsworth Thomas
G. Ellsworth Thomas
4 months ago
Reply to  Cyclekrieg

Yes, Thank you for the most excellent compelling explanation of exactly how traffic engineers peruse city, state, and federal standards, beginning with the MUTCD to design roadways to crush anyone not motorized. Those design standard marching orders are government’s expressed explicit policy statements of who gets crushed just for traveling from any given point A to B in America.

If traffic engineers aren’t the big bad evil cackling bad guy murderers, maybe you genius rocket scientists need NEW design standards? Nooooooooo waaaaaay. Never mind. Let’s just kick that can down that proverbial political road, shall we?

We need to hold SOMEONE accountable for over 35,000 dead Americans each and every year. Roadway design standards were designed for FAILURE and complete disrespect of law.

eawriste
eawriste
4 months ago

“If traffic engineers aren’t the big bad evil cackling bad guy murderers, maybe you genius rocket scientists need NEW design standards? Nooooooooo waaaaaay. Never mind. Let’s just kick that can down that proverbial political road, shall we?”

That seems to be in part what the engineer above is saying: We need to adopt new design standards. You’re correct that roads are designed for speed and capacity in the US. But blaming this solely on engineers isn’t going to solve that problem. Are they entirely innocent? Certainly not.

Forcing teachers to implement curriculum that is geared mainly for passing state tests (as opposed to critical thinking etc) doesn’t necessarily mean teachers are complicit in creating those standards.

Remember, it was an engineer(s) that outed Mapps’ presumed attempt to remove the separated bike lane on SW Broadway. If we hold anyone accountable, our city council members and mayor can certainly be in that group.

Also note road deaths are now at ~43k as of 2021. The NHTSA predicts around the same this year. The CDC certainly holds this to be a historic public health emergency.

G. Ellsworth Thomas
G. Ellsworth Thomas
4 months ago
Reply to  eawriste

Traffic engineers ARE complicit in not only creating design standards, but also are complicit in executing the same standards.

Then, they hide their legal liability behind those standards. Traffic engineers must be held accountable for the yearly carnage, because they design the roadways to fail for non-motorized travelers.

If traffic engineers don’t design roadways to allow safe non-motorized travel, why should non-motorized travelers obey rules designed for motorized travel?

Serenity
Serenity
4 months ago
Reply to  Cyclekrieg

Almost nothing is ever as simple as you think it is.

Fred
Fred
4 months ago
Reply to  Cyclekrieg

Good points, krieg. Check out what’s happening in England and Wales as many places are lowering speed limits to 20mph. There’s a growing backlash and even the PM is decrying “the war on motorists.”

Cyclekrieg
4 months ago

This is very similar to the designs that have been used in Woodbury and Richfield, MN for a decade now. It works and works well. Woodbury is like a Strong Town’s nightmare, completely suburbia, but actually was easier and safer to get around than many places. Richfield is Minneapolis lite (mostly), but it’s been doing the shared paths thing for a while now, the connectivity is better than Minneapolis’ bike lanes. Street view W 66th by Tazzah for a good idea of what this looks like in real-life.

In fact, the town I work in has adopted an even simpler design, 5ft wide sidewalks on one side of the street 10ft wide bituminous paths on the other, with none of the special markings shown above. Just a sign at every road crossing that says, “shared pathway”.

Chris I
Chris I
4 months ago

An unleashed large dog. They really nailed the Portland vibe with that concept photo.

Although, I don’t see any garbage cans left in the bike path for the entire week. They need to make some adjustments.

Fred
Fred
4 months ago
Reply to  Chris I

When I have to ride around garbage cans in the bike lane, I often wonder: Who is responsible for keeping those out of the bike lane?

Then I realize: No one.

John V
John V
4 months ago
Reply to  Chris I

Lol, I’m wondering if I’m becoming a Nextdoor freak because I’m starting to get pretty mad at people with unleashed dogs. Probably because I have a 3 year old. Almost every time I’m at Wilshire park with my kid, I see people throwing balls and letting their unleashed big dogs run wild all over the park and there is literally a fence-separated huge off leash area right there in the park and they choose to run around the little kids play area. I don’t get it.

Watts
Watts
4 months ago
Reply to  John V

Sometimes a little taste of shared experience helps you understand the perspective of “those people”. I’ve found that as I continue to broaden my life experience, it’s easier to empathize with a wider range of viewpoints.

I’m much less judgmental than I used to be.

B
B
4 months ago

The first and third won’t pass the scrutiny of Fire during design review at those roadway widths and the middle one will feel like a parking lot.

Berlin has a number of similar streets to the middle. They are traffic calming but they aren’t comfortable. If you put a VW beetle next to a van when the beetle is pulling out it can’t see thru the van to the road. Go look at the cars on your block, if they were all parked next to each other how would they feel? Our overly large vehicles present a problem that we’ll bear for many years to come. “Back in only” might help.

Our Greenways need diversion more than anything. Vancouver’s network feels much more comfortable than ours because they actually force the cats to go around. We do that so infrequently in this town. Why did Rick Guftason get a diverter at 16th and Tillamook in the 80s and then we didn’t put another diverter in for another thirty years?

And speaking of street cars and streetcars, If we could convince the realtors and home owners that Greenways increase the value of their homes we’d get so many LID financing requests that the permit office would get all gummed up. But without the MV parking feeling comfortable I don’t suspect that my neighbors would go for it.

https://www.portland.gov/transportation/pbot-projects/lid-projects/what-local-improvement-district-lid

But we can always plan and dream.

axoplasm
axoplasm
4 months ago
Reply to  B

Our Greenways need diversion more than anything.

That might be the only thing they need

JeffS
JeffS
4 months ago

The next expenditure will definitely be the one.
And advocates absolutely won’t tell you they want something new as soon as you build it.

axoplasm
axoplasm
4 months ago

IDK feels like looking for your keys under the streetlight. This kind of great infrastructure belongs on Sandy, Powell, Chavez, 82nd, Lombard, 122nd etc, not quiet(ish) residential streets that don’t go directly to important destinations.

Great idea applied in the wrong places

Michael
Michael
4 months ago

Neighborhood bikeways are nice and all, but if you want to get the masses to bike as their default transportation option, you need to have bikeways along the places that people actually want to go to. We can’t be relegated to the back roads, but need to be actively accommodated in the business and industrial districts. The solution is very simple: get rid of the car parking (free or otherwise) and take away all but the bare minimum of automobile travel space in what are currently dangerous car sewers.

Michael
Michael
4 months ago

I agree that we can (and should!) do two things at once, and if PBOT had $100 billion for capital funding to remake Portland’s road network into a bicycling paradise, I’d be all for it. But they don’t, so we have to prioritize what it is that we’re building. In my mind, the existing greenway network is fine. It’s nothing fancy, but it’s a good network of low traffic or otherwise calmed bike arterials throughout the city that do a relatively good job of getting a cyclist from Neighborhood A to Neighborhood B. I personally use the Tillamook and Hancock greenways for most of my work commute from Gateway to the Lloyd District, and it’s almost always a safe and pleasant ride. The problem is the first/last block problem. To get from Point A to the greenway, then to Point B can often be a harrowing experience. I may feel relatively confident because I grew up riding the roads of downtown Salem in the late aughts and know how to take a lane, stay out of blind spots, and avoid a right hook, but I’m not really the audience for the city’s mode share targets. The real audience are the people who don’t already regularly bike and aren’t going to be experienced enough to know how to deal with the dangers motorists pose, and we’re not going to get most of them on a bike for most of their trips if they feel like they can’t actually get to the office, grocery store, or bar. Some business districts are welcoming to cyclists, true, but it’s certainly not everywhere in the city, especially the further you get from downtown. So, as long as we have a pretty functional greenway network, I think our focus as a city should be on calming those destinations rather than gold-plating what we already have.

I also did not mean to imply that “simple” was “uncontroversial.” Perhaps I should have been more precise with my language and used a phrase like “technically simple,” because you’re right in your implication that finding the political willpower to take away parking (that’s often free!) and otherwise inconveniencing motorists would be a difficult task for a city leader to navigate. I get that this proposal appeals to you because it seems to make some marginal gains for cyclists without upsetting too many apple carts. But I had a similarly gut reaction in the exact opposite direction when I saw how much space is devoted to automobiles and how much extra built infrastructure is being proposed for an already cash-strapped city bureau to pay for to make improvements that, I think, should be lower on the list.

That’s my $0.02, anyway. I’m just an average Joe Citizen, though, and I don’t take PMC money, so I don’t get to actually make any decisions.

Granpa
Granpa
4 months ago

Wonderful idea. I have seen similar treatments in Germany that were well used. In Germany however the paths were under shade trees. Considering that trees are a direct mitigation for the urban heat island effect of sunlight on pavement it is unconscionable to pave new surfaces, especially for active transportation users, without including shade trees. For shade, for air quality and increasing quality of life and property values trees are an answer. Perhaps trees were left out for graphic clarity and not because the designers discounted their value our were too lazy to photoshop them in.

Watts
Watts
4 months ago
Reply to  Granpa

Perhaps trees were left out for graphic clarity

Or maybe it’s because Portland is in the midst of a years-long campaign to downsize and eliminate its tree canopy at the behest of YIMBYs and local architects (like the ones who developed this idea).

Granpa
Granpa
4 months ago
Reply to  Watts

Sigh
Architects are not landscape architects and they love their hard surfaces. Valuation of trees is (largely) not monetized but their value is indisputable but, alas, not included in asset valuation. GOOD design can put or preserve trees in multi family developments or with transportation facilities but agencies don’t have trees in their value system and don’t require thorough, comprehensive designs

Dave Fronk
Dave Fronk
4 months ago
Reply to  Watts

That’s a good point. I wonder how many tree removals have happened because a greedy person wants a tiny home or ADU in their backyard.

Daniel Reimer
4 months ago
Reply to  Watts

This is why we need good city policy and action to get more trees in the public right of way. Expecting private land owners to provide a public necessity is silly and as you point out is flawed. Meeting housing goals and having good tree canopy do not have to be conflicting ideas.

Watts
Watts
4 months ago
Reply to  Daniel Reimer

 get more trees in the public right of way

One problem with relying on street trees is that they are usually small things, not the large graceful trees that provide real shade and water mitigation.

You don’t get a healthy tree canopy if it’s made up primarily of street trees.

But I do agree that we don’t need to clearcut mature trees to build more housing.

Will
Will
4 months ago
Reply to  Watts

What are you talking about? Street trees can be plenty large and provide excellent shade. Look at the street trees in Ladd’s addition, or NW Irving, or SW Main in Goose Hollow.

Watts
Watts
4 months ago
Reply to  Will

What are you talking about?

I think you’ve made my point. Those trees were planted 100 years ago. The varieties we’re planting today will never grow that large and won’t provide a similarly broad, rich canopy.

Will
Will
4 months ago
Reply to  Watts

Yeah, I’m not sure I agree with you 100% on your police work, there, Lou.

Serenity
Serenity
4 months ago
Reply to  Watts

That’ why we need to plant a variety of different trees.

Watts
Watts
4 months ago
Reply to  Serenity

“plant a variety of different trees”

City policies don’t allow it. I replaced a dead 60 ft tree with the biggest one the city would allow, which will max out at about 35 ft.

ShadowsFolly
ShadowsFolly
4 months ago
Reply to  Watts

The City really messed up when they changed their policies a number of years ago.
Just yesterday some volunteers with Park and Recs came to my neighborhood wanting to give away “free” trees. I laughed and said “been there done that, no thanks and have a good day.”

Serenity
Serenity
4 months ago
Reply to  Watts

What point are you trying to prove, here? City policies can be changed.

Watts
Watts
4 months ago
Reply to  Serenity

“City policies can be changed.”

Indeed they can, and they have been changed to make removing mature trees easier, which is why we are losing our tree canopy.

Serenity
Serenity
4 months ago
Reply to  Watts

You’re forgetting that street trees also grow.

Watts
Watts
4 months ago
Reply to  Serenity

“street trees also grow”

Not all varieties will become big and graceful. The trees allowed by the city will never get as big as the ones we are removing, and most will not have a graceful spreading canopy.

Will
Will
4 months ago
Reply to  Watts

Again, what are you talking about? The city allows Bald Cypresses, Doug Firs, Beech trees, White Oaks (and seemingly every other species of Western Oak), American Elms, Hemlock, Incense Cedar, Plane Trees, all three species of Redwood, Western Redcedar, Chestnuts, Coffeetrees, Ginkos, Lindens, Pagoda trees. These are all species that grow to 50’+ tall and have lovely canopies.

qqq
qqq
4 months ago
Reply to  Will

Go to the City’s street tree info page:
https://www.portland.gov/trees/tree-planting/street-tree-planting-lists

Under “Right Tree, Right Place–Find Your Tree!” you can click on your situation–size of planting space and whether there are high voltage power lines.

Large trees are allowed in the wide planting space locations, but not in the smaller ones. Not many people have 8.5′ (or even 6′) wide planting spaces. In the smaller spaces (under 4′ wide) the max. is 35′ h. (with a 20′ spread) and max. spread is 25′ (with a 30′ h.) even without high-voltage lines.

The Doug Firs you mention are only allowed in the widest space category (over 8.5′) and without high-voltage lines. No wonder I can’t remember ever seeing one used as a street tree.

My recollection is that the City also may not allow people to choose from all the trees listed in the relevant category on that chart, depending on your site, although I’m not sure that’s still true.

socially engineered
socially engineered
4 months ago
Reply to  qqq

Reducing the space taken up by cars would free up more space for trees. Just saying.

Watts
Watts
4 months ago
Reply to  Will

None of those are allowed in my neighborhood; if we want trees taller than about 35 ft, they have to be yard trees.

I know the rules are different in neighborhoods like Ladd’s Addition and Irvington that have very wide planting strips.

My point is not that the street tree regulations are necessarily unreasonable, it is that they are not an adequate replacement for yard trees, except perhaps in the wealthiest neighborhoods.

socially engineered
socially engineered
4 months ago
Reply to  Watts

And here I thought you didn’t believe in conspiracies lol

qqq
qqq
4 months ago

Watt’s “Portland is in the midst of a years-long campaign to downsize and eliminate its tree canopy at the behest of YIMBYs and local architects” does sound extreme, but there’s some truth to it.

The zoning code was recently changed to allow increased density in low-density residential zones. One of the key components, which I protested, was making several code changes to encourage additional units through creation of separate ADUs in back yards, but placing limits on heights of primary structures.

In other words, people who want to add density by going up, to preserve yard and tree area, are thwarted, while those who want to add it by filling their back yard with a structure are encouraged.

Those changes had strong support from local architects and people who could be described as YIMBYs.

Watts
Watts
4 months ago

It’s not so much a conspiracy as allowing one policy goal to dominate all others.

Ralph Chang
Ralph Chang
4 months ago

“…sources show that cycling in our city continues to lag behind not just our past numbers, but peer cities as well (more on that in a separate post).”

The fact that Portland lags behind peer cities is going to be hard to swallow for the “it’s everywhere” apologist crowd who seem to defend the new Portland current dystopia at every turn. Glad to see at least Jonathan is putting this information out there. These trails do look cool.

https://usa.streetsblog.org/2023/09/28/report-americas-historic-bike-boom-is-flatlining

Kyle
Kyle
4 months ago

This is obviously a lovely idea but I think there are probably a couple pain points:

-right now homeowners are ostensibly on the hook for maintaining the sidewalks in front of their house, so these would either be as poorly maintained as sidewalks are currently or they would add an enormous new. maintenance expense

-you would need to take a lot of street trees out to implement this

-the real weakness in the greenway system, in my opinion, is the fact that it typically crosses collector streets and major road at intersections that aren’t signalizes. An infrastructure network is only as good as its most dangerous-seeming spots, so for the greenways that is always like, the one 4 lane road you have to cross

Allan Rudwick
Allan
4 months ago
Reply to  Kyle

>the real weakness in the greenway system, in my opinion, is the fact that it typically crosses collector streets and major road at intersections that aren’t signalizes. An infrastructure network is only as good as its most dangerous-seeming spots, so for the greenways that is always like, the one 4 lane road you have to cross

I agree with this, my hope would be that having higher quality sections in between the crossings might let people get that warm fuzzy feeling back. At least that is what is compelling to me

bjorn
bjorn
4 months ago
Reply to  Kyle

If you see a sidewalk that is poorly maintained it is not hard to report it to the city who will require that it be fixed. It’s a complaint based system, but it is a system… To report a sidewalk that is a hazard that needs to be repaired, call the Bureau of Transportation at 503-823-1711.

Aaron
4 months ago

I’ve lived car-free in Portland for six months and I’ve made similar comments on other posts but I’ll share again here because it’s directly relevant.

I hate riding on the neighborhood greenways.

They are stressful, not clearly marked, full of cars, have poor visibility and constant points of conflict due to both sides being lined with yet more parked cars, and drivers often use them to cut through between busy streets and act aggressively when doing so. Every time I share my experience I get replies about how it’s not that bad and actually separated paths are worse for whatever reason. The reality is that I deliberately chose to sell my car and live somewhere where I can bike/transit for all my needs and I actively hate getting around on the backbone of our city’s bike infrastructure because it’s barely bike infrastructure at all. How can we expect people who don’t give a crap about living car-free to make this change when an enthusiastic supporter of this lifestyle can’t even feel comfortable and low stress doing it?

For me, greenways are something I ride on for as little time as possible to get to somewhere with a dedicated bike facility. I just want to be able to get where I’m going and feel like I have a path to get there where I actually belong on my bike, but Portland’s neighborhood greenways make it feel like you’re a guest in that space if your not in a car. I don’t get why anyone who doesn’t care about this stuff would sign up for that when they could just keep driving everywhere and know they’ll always be a first-class user of the road.

Steve C
Steve C
4 months ago
Reply to  Aaron

Building more separated paths is going to make you feel like even more of a guest when you inevitably have to use the road. Totally separate network is not geometrically feasible.

“Dedicated bike facilities” on greenways? If not on the greenway routes then where? Cyclists would need to cross thousands of driveways and hundreds of intersections. These are the dangerous points for cyclists. And creating paths doesn’t obviate any of them. In fact, temporarily removing cyclists from view on every road, only to reintroduce them at every intersection is less safe and certainly less efficient for cyclist trying to get anywhere. (spare me the protected intersection spiel, we will never be able to redesign all our thousands of intersections. And they always force cyclists to take slow circuitous routes).

I’m already shunted to the side of the road everywhere, told to ride there, not here, or whatever both by the car head crowd and the bike infra acolytes.

For larger, faster roads? Yes protected/buffered/delineated bike infrastructure is great. On smaller greenways though, cyclist should take primacy over cars, both with deliberate mixing and signage as well as active discouraging of driving for long distances via speed bumps and especially diverters.

Aaron
4 months ago
Reply to  Steve C

Building more separated paths is going to make you feel like even more of a guest when you inevitably have to use the road.

Hard disagree. I ride daily on a mix of separated paths, painted lanes, and shared streets and the separated paths are not what’s making me feel like a guest on the shared streets. I used to live in a city where 100% vehicular cycling was the only option and I hated it enough to move across the country. Every time I get to ride in a protected lane in Portland I feel comfortable and relaxed, and I think about how happy I am to pay my higher taxes, rent, etc. in order to live here and use these facilities to be car-free.

“Dedicated bike facilities” on greenways? If not on the greenway routes then where? 

Personally, I would put really good protected lanes and intersections on every arterial until we don’t need neighborhood greenways because you can just ride straight to your destination like a car. Portland seems to think that bikes should be pushed off to neighborhood streets instead, but also doesn’t want to severely limit the car traffic on those streets. I want to be safe and comfortable while I’m traveling on the streets designated for cycling, so whether they’re neighborhood streets or arterials if they’re going to be full of cars then I say just let them have the road and give bikes a separate designated place to belong.

In fact, temporarily removing cyclists from view on every road, only to reintroduce them at every intersection is less safe and certainly less efficient for cyclist trying to get anywhere. (spare me the protected intersection spiel, we will never be able to redesign all our thousands of intersections. And they always force cyclists to take slow circuitous routes)

Why be so instantly defeatist? Yes, protected intersections are the solution and they are the perfect complement to protected lanes. We can absolutely have them, and they can be great if we use a good design like the Dutch have been doing. Naito has all of this and it’s by far my favorite urban place to ride my bike in the entire city. It could be like Naito on every single arterial, we’re spending more than that for car facilities on the same arterials already. We just have to be serious about active transportation and build real facilities for it.

If neighborhood greenways are what’s going to be the backbone of Portland’s bike infrastructure then they need to be built like true bike arterials. Cars should get minimal facilities only useful for people living on that block and bike/ped facilities should make up the majority of the right-of-way and have full signals and protected intersections when needed. The current solution just gives both cyclists and drivers the worst of both worlds.

Steve C
Steve C
4 months ago
Reply to  Aaron

“Personally, I would put really good protected lanes and intersections on every arterial until we don’t need neighborhood greenways because you can just ride straight to your destination like a car. ”

I wrote, “For larger, faster roads? Yes protected/buffered/delineated bike infrastructure is great”

I don’t see a disagreement here. I think bikes should be allowed and encouraged to use arterial roads and be aided by appropriate infrastructure.

I am responding to the proposal to give drivers back car-only lanes on greenways/neighborhood streets with unsafe subpar paths as a concession. It feels safer to some, but is not.

While currently greenways do feel subpar for getting to some places, I do appreciate the intent to elevate cyclists as at least nominally the intended user. Instead of acquiescing to cut-through cars and aggressive drivers, keep going and use more aggressive calming techniques like diverters to make greenways true bike roads.

The side of the road bike path seems like a step backwards for neighborhood streets. For arterials where cars will be encouraged to go, by all means add protected or buffered bike lanes and protected crossings (though with minimal zigzags for cyclists if possible).

maxD
maxD
4 months ago
Reply to  Aaron

COTW!
I strongly second this comment- our greenways are so far below substandards they should not be considered bike infrastructure. Daylight the corners, add diverters, provide a reasonable light level, create safe adn direct connections and THEN they would be worthy.

dw
dw
4 months ago
Reply to  maxD

Keep painting the sharrows for wayfinding too. That’s really helpful

eawriste
eawriste
4 months ago

Originally, the Neighborhood Boulevard concept was designed as an auxiliary to the now dead 2030 bike plan. As they were rebranded as Neighborhood Greenways and given standards (e.g., “1,000 Average Daily Traffic (ADT), with 1,500 ADT acceptable and 2,000 ADT maximum”), the separated network at some point was quietly deemed politically untenable.

The Neighborhood Greenway Assessment Report (2015) showed,

“Short, but significant, sections of older neighborhood greenways that should serve as the foundation of the bikeway system are not meeting PBOT’s operating speed and volume goals for automobiles and should be improved.”

Ridership, of the interested but concerned never really increased on greenways, and “neighborhoods where overall bicycle use is high, bicycle ridership on neighborhood greenways is also high.” So existing cyclists tended to use them, but they generally weren’t attracting new riders (the bike bus gives me hope though).

“The success of the Urban Trails network is not reliant on the elimination of motor vehicle access – the concept proposes a more pragmatic relationship with motor vehicles. The concept will relieve stress experienced by some active transportation users on busy corridors by creating attractive options on quieter routes already featured during the popular and city-wide annual (but temporary) Sunday Parkways events.”

The reason why Portland did not build the separated network set out in its 2030 bike plan, and instead began to rely solely on greenways was essentially to limit “elimination of motor vehicle access.” But that elimination of MV access is absolutely essential to building separated space for people to access the primary places they are going (e.g., school, work, stores).

The example of SW Broadway is perfect to illustrate this. It is an essential route that removed some space for cars, and provided a direct route through downtown from the Broadway Bridge to PSU. It took decades to plan and build. And could have easily been removed overnight. Streets like N Williams and N Vancouver are also essential routes that require separation for the interested but concerned. Those routes must take priority because they have the highest ridership and possibility to expand a separated network.

I appreciate the work of the designers, and the UT concept certainly has potential (e.g., in places in NE where no sidewalk exists). The assumption that separated bike lanes along arterials are inherently stressful is incorrect. They don’t have to be. The UT can work in part, but it cannot replace a direct, practical and separated connection that Portland needs to make cycling a place for kids and gramas. It cannot pretend that removal of MV access is impossible or unnecessary. That has been a hard pill for Portland to swallow for a long time.

Watts
Watts
4 months ago
Reply to  eawriste

But that elimination of MV access is absolutely essential to building separated space for people to access the primary places they are going (e.g., school, work, stores).

And this is why it will never happen. Any large scale project will have to be implemented over time, and there is not a good step-wise progression that gets us from here to there. That is, you’d have to eliminate MV access to lots of places long before the network was completed. That would be a hard sell even in an environment where a critical mass of residents supported the idea.

Broadway preserved vehicle access, and it was still difficult politically.

It cannot pretend that removal of MV access is impossible or unnecessary. 

Are the political challenges of removing MV access to many schools, offices, and stores really “pretend”? Is there any evidence that this is what Portlanders even want?

Daniel Reimer
4 months ago

I ride mostly in SW and NW and occasionally inner eastside. Greenway experience has been pretty negative. There are just way too many conflicts with cars trying to park, crossing intersections, poor sightlines, etc. The treatments that work on low density quiet streets on the east side like SE Clinton, absolutely do not work on busier, denser neighborhoods such as NW Pettygrove. The environments are completely different and therefore need different solutions.

I really like this proposal and hope to see it in more parts of the city where typical greenway treatments don’t work.

Trike Guy
Trike Guy
4 months ago

Those sorts of trails crossing multiple driveways are simply not fun to ride.

There’s a reason I won’t ride the 17th ave trail between Millport and SE Lava.

Give me decent traffic calmed/diverted streets so I can ride several feet away from the stop line of intersections instead of *through* the space a car stops.

Nelson
Nelson
4 months ago

Like this alot, but suggest:

  1. More urban tree canopy. It’s getting hot out there!
  2. Ensure the lighting covers the sidewalks.
  3. Continuous sidewalks and traffic calming since you can’t get rid of the cars.

I like the idea of the canals, but water keeps running downhill. Amsterdam is FLAT.

Steven Smith
Steven Smith
4 months ago

Sorry, but that’s not a bold plan. A bold plan would be sidewalk level bicycle lanes on main commercial streets. These seem to be glorified greenways. Don’t seem like they’ve offer much benefit above existing greenways, and would be just as hard to find, as alluded to by its proponents.

Based on other comments I may be an outlier–especially on this site–but I ride greenways all the time. I overwhelmingly find them pleasant places to ride. They’re where I see the broadest representation of Portland’s population in terms of gender and age.

Watts
Watts
4 months ago
Reply to  Steven Smith

I like greenways also, and in a world of constrained funding, I would prefer to prioritize difficult crossings and other conflict points, as well as streets like SW Broadway or NE Sandy that are desirable routes that can be quite dangerous.

Dusty Reske
Dusty Reske
4 months ago

To make residential streets safer for people and bikes, it seems like “Local Access Only” signage and blockades would be super-cheap, effectual and popular, even with effected residents.

Why wouldn’t a large, interconnected network of “Local Access Only” neighborhood streets provide the kind of safety bicyclists and “bike-curious” people need? I’m not an engineer.

dw
dw
4 months ago
Reply to  Dusty Reske

That’s the concept behind the greenways. In my opinion the focus should be on putting more diversion and traffic calming in on neighborhood greenways.

Ross
Ross
4 months ago

This is exciting. Build it and they will come. I know I would!

Jed
Jed
4 months ago

Car freeways don’t allow bikes but this plan is supposedly for bikes and is 75% car… (cars take up more virtual space because of how fast they move and how cumbersome) and yeah I want to hear about visibility and intersections. No matter how it looks on paper, every three blocks on a greenway someone slams on their brakes half a car length into the intersection so putting a path off to one side hardly seems safe if there is cross traffic, driveways and such. Driving, parking and turning all need to be severely limited for cars in order for cyclists to ride safely I think on any seriously useful and safe path… not to mention the obvious, cyclists don’t want to be around cars at all.

Serenity
Serenity
4 months ago

Great, let’s get it done! Portland has a lot of great pieces of infrastructure and trails that even beginner cyclists; and the interested, but concerned cyclists would ride on… but there is really no way for anyone, but the most advanced, and bold cyclists to get between them safely. We have confusing, not visible, and/or nonexistant signage. Looking at a map doesn’t always help, either. Map directions don’t usually tell you wehether a route is safe, or has a freeway onramp going throuh it, or whether you have to ride along a 4 lane street, with cars and trucks passing you at 45 mph. For example, if you were giving bike dirwctions to a kid on a bike at the waterfront, who wanted to meet their friends at the highway-26-path how would you tell them to go? Imagine that they were newish to cycling,, and a little bit wobbly.

dw
dw
4 months ago
Reply to  Serenity

I’d tell them to ride up to Morrison and put their bike on MAX

Serenity
Serenity
4 months ago
Reply to  dw

Exactly! Because there is no safe way to get there by bike.

Mike Houck
Mike Houck
4 months ago

Jonathan, Re PDX “lagging” I house/cat sat for a friend in Seattle a few months ago. Took my Trek Super Commuter Ebike (thankfully!) and toad a ton. I was really impressed with their bicycling infrastructure, particularly the pervasive signage.

So much impressed, I suggested to my Policy Makers Ride partner Jonathan Nicholas and Robert Spurlock that we should revive the rides with a ride in Seattle.

I also rode the entire Burke Gilman. Not one tent, not one gum wrapper the whole length. Not one tent or trash in Green Lake Park which I walked and biked to daily, nor in any other park.

Houck

X
X
4 months ago

The renderings show the path for wheeled vehicles surfaced with paving blocks and some kind of smooth pavement on the footpath. Is this intentional?

Charley
Charley
4 months ago
Reply to  X

“kaThunk kaThunk kaThunk kaThunk kaThunk kaThunk”

I’ve ridden so many bike paths with noisy, bumpy, blocky concrete, so I would unfortunately hesitate to doubt the renderings. Why do designers keep doing this???

Edward
Edward
4 months ago

How do you get car drivers and their children to use bikes for transportation and not just fun?

I’ve lived in Portland long enough to watch my friends kids grow up in the city, and I always notice the same progression: the kids are driven everywhere they go, then they become car drivers themselves.

And even though their parents buy them bicycles, they see them as “sports equipment” – they might pull them out for a bike specific event on the weekend, but never use them for transportation.

Then they turn 16 and start driving themselves, more cars on the road, less bikes.

I like all the bike fun events in Portland, but I’m always aware that most of these people probably aren’t actual bicycle users….

I hope a greenways project encourages bicycle commuting, and encourages the children of car drivers to consider bikes as a way to get around.

ShadowsFolly
ShadowsFolly
4 months ago
Reply to  Edward

I’m sure there are dozens of reasons why people don’t bike, but one that comes to mind for me why I don’t ride a bike to do my errands is I have no way of knowing if I was to come out of the store I was shopping at that my bike would still be there even if it was locked up securely.

Dusty Reske
Dusty Reske
4 months ago
Reply to  ShadowsFolly

I’m sorry if you’ve had bikes stolen, but I don’t think that crime is super-common. Anecdotally, in my 20 years here I’ve never had my bike or any of my kids bikes stolen even when not locked up securely. We leave our bike lights on the bikes all of the time, too, and they’re always there, as well. Not that there aren’t thieves, but…Maybe give it another try?

Watts
Watts
4 months ago
Reply to  Dusty Reske

“We leave our bike lights on the bikes all of the time, too, and they’re always there”

Who wants to steal a light with a dead battery?

Serenity
Serenity
4 months ago
Reply to  Edward

Make it look fun, and seem glamorous. If cycling looked fun and glamorous, maybe more people would want to cycle more often. Turn it into a real, viable option, not just something that “those people”’ do. Make it safer, and more convenient Portland k. Give people direct routes to the places they want to go to. Easy access to available snacks, and bathrooms always makes things more attractive.

Karstan
4 months ago

Looks great! Where do I sign? ✍️

Eric Liefsdad
Eric Liefsdad
4 months ago

Two-way bike sidewalks work okay along a park or river, but riding on the wrong side of the street through intersections is dangerous and inconvenient. This looks nice but if we had the bold visionary leaders to build it, we could do a real protected and separated bikeway network almost overnight, by simply removing cut-through car traffic from 90% of the street grid and the associated burden on PBOT budgets.

Mark
Mark
4 months ago

My suggestion is that we provide more space for trees. At least six feet to allow planting large large form trees. Trees as well as bikes are part of the solution.

Lonnieatk
Lonnieatk
4 months ago

Me: used to bike/commute back and forth to work about 4 miles each way 30 years ago roughly between barbur foods and Washington square down and up Taylors ferry. One would find alternate routes off the busy roads, where possible when biking other places too, like Farminton road when I lived out that way. The concept of putting in much needed sidewalks and adding bike lanes is great. The designs seem to be “If I could dream” designs and not following the actual width of the roads, taking away several feet of property from home owners.

All of the current and other photos of actual streets all had the same thing. Vehicles either in motion or parked. What they all did not have are pedestrians or cyclists in every photo.

Do cyclists and pedestrians really need more than 6′ of shared space to travel either way on both sides of the street? My favorite image was the two direction lanes of cycling with two riders, both going the same direction in both lanes. Form and expense over function?

I’d like to see a design of 6′ shared pathway on both sides of the road. 7′ parking on both sides of the road and 22′ of two way traffic. If the road is wider, add more of the ever diminishing green-space that’s lost on all road “improvements”

It’s comical to see trees in the designs. Anyone travel up and down Powell these days? The previous improvement took down trees and put up these tiny unmaintained bent over and a lot less than what was there before the “improvement” The new “improvement” is flat out removing a large chunk of canopy. It will be interesting to see what they don’t plant back in.

Add sidewalks and bike paths? Absolutely, they are needed. They don’t need 28′ of space to co-exist. That’s wider than two lanes of traffic that can handle freight trucks.

Lenny Anderson
Lenny Anderson
4 months ago

Couple of quick comments: The problem is not the “Greenways” themselves, so much as their crossing of major arterials. Also noted that the group’s map failed to include the N. Portland Willamette Greenway Trail, which is a designated section of the 40 Mile Loop. Last, the route across NE/N Portland which looks like Going Street, fails to extend to Swan Island where 10,000 folks work. Talk about a destination! On that subject, I do like the new Hancock section of the Tillamook Greenway that dumps you right into the heart of Hollywood. Need more of that.

Justin Cruz
Justin Cruz
4 months ago

No helmets?

bjorn
bjorn
4 months ago
Reply to  Justin Cruz

We will know we are making real progress when comments like this stop happening.

JAM
JAM
4 months ago

I think this could work in select places, but overall this seems like an overly complex and grossly expensive solution to a problem that could be much more easily solved with a few high-quality diverters (aesthetics & effectiveness).

This also feel emblematic of the entire field of transportation right now: we dump money into engineering, planning, and public engagement hoping they can find us some silver bullet solution that will work “for all users.” What we really need is leadership with clear vision, political will, and savvy negotiating skills.

Watts
Watts
4 months ago
Reply to  JAM

When we get a leader willing to take the reins and show some leadership, folks get upset, as they did when Mapps decided to revert the bike lanes on Broadway.

The problem with “leadership and political will” is that it can be used against us as well as for us. “Planning and public engagement” are often slower, but also yield more consistently good results.

I simply don’t trust autocracy.

JAM
JAM
4 months ago
Reply to  Watts

Mapps showed incredibly poor political savvy and ultimately did not accomplish his goal. I’m glad he didn’t, but I do think I skilled leader could have at least gotten closer to removing the bike lane if they had a better strategy.

I’m certainly not saying don’t do any engagement or planning. I just think that any bold decision will have advocates and opposition. Good leadership means negotiating with the parties to find out how to get that decision implemented. Instead, I see our civic leaders use “more analysis and more engagement” rather than having the hard conversations. The end result is decision paralysis at best, and at worst, water-down projects that proport to work “for all users” but instead satisfy no one.

Watts
Watts
4 months ago
Reply to  JAM

ultimately did not accomplish his goal

Maybe Mapps did accomplish his goal; if the cynics are right, maybe he successfully showed he is a reliable ally of the business community even if the design didn’t get rolled back, and now PBOT seems to be on the hook to improve the design. In some ways, this could be a win for everyone (except for people whose favored projects slipped in priority in a very constrained funding environment).

Outreach and public input is an important safeguard for making good outcomes more likely, but clearly understanding what’s really important to folks is important as well. Analysis paralysis is not the hallmark of a good leader. So I think we mostly agree on that front.

Carol
Carol
4 months ago

I love this concept! Actual planned routes for cross town travel! I-84 crossing in EPDX!