Portland Chamber calls on PBOT to cancel ‘wasteful’ SW 4th Avenue project

PBOT rendering of changes planned for SW 4th Avenue.

(Note: Commissioner Mapps has issued a response that pushes back on the Chamber’s claims and says the project will move forward as planned.)

The Portland Metro Chamber (formerly the Portland Business Alliance) says a major downtown infrastructure project that has been years in the making and has reportedly already broken ground should be cancelled.

In a letter dated April 29th and sent to Commissioner Mingus Mapps, Mayor Ted Wheeler, and Portland Bureau of Transportation Director Millicent Williams, Chamber President & CEO Andrew Hoan writes, “We call on you today to cancel what can only be described as the unnecessary, wasteful, and disruptive SW 4th Avenue ‘improvement’ project.”

We reported back in December that PBOT planned to break ground on the $16.9 million project in April and it would be finished by the end of 2025. The plans call for the reconstruction and repaving of SW 4th Ave from Lincoln to Burnside. In addition to new pavement, PBOT plans to upgrade ADA curb ramps, make safer crossings, add street lighting, give buses more priority, and build a new protected bikeway.

Project location. (Source: PBOT)

But the Chamber, who represents 2,200 member businesses and organizations, says the money that PBOT is spending on SW 4th would be put to better use on other projects. Specifically, the Chamber’s letter calls on PBOT to shift the $16.9 million already allocated for 4th and spend it on the Broadway Corridor and OMSI District redevelopment projects.

SW 4th Avenue emerged as a priority north-south bikeway as part of the Central City in Motion (CCIM) plan, which city council adopted in 2018. The street currently has no dedicated bike infrastructure and riders mix in traffic with other vehicles.

Hoan and the Chamber have seized on the downturn in commuting to make their case against this project:

“At its peak approximately 130,000 workers were traveling downtown every day. At that time, we needed to give workers and visitors alternatives to single occupancy vehicle trips traveling to and from downtown. That reality no longer exists, yet CCIM has continued to move forward without any consideration for the completely transformed landscape and reality.”

The Chamber’s letter also says they feel the bikeway is no longer needed because of the recent decline in bike ridership:

“The data show a clear correlation between the shift to remote work and the decline in downtown bike commutes. There is no need for more bike lanes on SW 4th Avenue. PBOT has already installed protected bike lanes between the north and south ends of downtown on SW 2nd Avenue, SW Broadway, and SW Naito. The current infrastructure is clearly not being fully utilized or increasing the number of bike trips…”

The letter was shared in an email to member sent Monday, May 6th. In that email Hoan cited how the implementation of other CCIM projects has been, “far from stellar.” “The Broadway bike lane installation being a prime example of alterations that have challenged businesses along the corridor, especially our hospitality partners,” Hoan wrote, a reference to concerns voiced by hotel valet operators that led to an attempt by PBOT to reverse the SW Broadway bike lane design.

Also in yesterday’s email, Hoan made false claims that the SW 4th Avenue project has been advanced “with no outreach” and that PBOT would spend “$20 million dollars to add a bike lane.” The truth is PBOT has completed years of public process on the project and the vast majority of the funding would go toward rebuilding and repaving the road, not the “bike lane.”

According to a PBOT presentation at the June 2022 meeting of the city’s Bicycle Advisory Committee, the bike lane accounts for just 4.8% of the total project cost.

While the Chamber says the bikeway isn’t needed because of a decrease in cycling, they opposed it for different reasons in 2018. In a letter about the CCIM plan prior to its adoption in 2018, the Chamber opposed a bikeway on SW 4th because they believed, “Reducing auto capacity on major arterial roads will have significant economic impact to our downtown businesses,” and that reducing space for car users would, “severely limit the capacity of our few remaining arterial routes through the city.”

While the bikeway is the most visible element of the SW 4th Avenue project, the bulk of the cost comes from the repaving. Funding for the project comes from a mix of sources including Fixing Our Streets, PBOT maintenance funds, system development charges, and help from Prosper Portland and TriMet.

The Chamber believes the money should instead help kickstart construction of transportation elements of the Broadway Corridor and OMSI District plans, both of which have housing and property development as their core focus.

“We do not make this request lightly and with the knowledge that the PBOT bureaucracy will likely push back against it,” Hoan writes in the letter.

But in the email to members, Hoan was more candid, saying, “The ball is now in Commissioner Mapps’ court.  Please let us know if you are able to put a follow-up call into Commissioner Mapps.  We expect some allies and other council offices to weigh in with Mapps in support as well.”

Commissioner Mapps’ office has confirmed receipt of the letter and says they’re working on a response.

In response to BikePortland’s request for comment, PBOT Communications Director Hannah Schafer stuck to the facts and seemed to make it clear the bureau has no plans to pause or delay the project further:

“City Council approved the Fourth Avenue Improvement Project construction contract for the work with Brown Contracting in February and issued notice to proceed to the contractor in April. Early construction has begun with survey markings, protective fencing, and mobilization. We are planning to issue a traffic advisory in the next day or two. Early construction has begun with survey markings, protective fencing, and mobilization. We are planning to issue a traffic advisory in the next day or two.”

UPDATE, 11:49 am: Statement from cycling advocacy nonprofit BikeLoud PDX:

“… We call on the Portland Metro Chamber to engage more with transportation groups to understand how they can effectively partner to help improve access for bicycling in Portland. More people riding bikes is better for the businesses they represent. Construction has already begun on this project. If Commissioner Mapps were to stop it now we would waste millions of dollars spent on planning, outreach and signed construction deals. Portland Metro Chamber members should look closely at what their leadership is doing and how effective it is. Why is the Chamber advocating for this waste and trying to keep our crumbling downtown streets the same? Introducing last minute obstacles to undo years of community outreach and planning in an attempt to derail bicycling improvements is not how we make the kind of progress we need to advance our climate, transportation, and business goals.” 

UPDATE, 3:15 pm: Vice Chair of the Downtown Neighborhood Association Board and Chair of the association’s lane-use and transportation committee has just sent a letter to Commissioner Mapps:

“The Downtown Neighborhood Association strongly supports the successful completion of the 4th Ave Improvement Project as designed, and has faith that the City will honor its commitment to the downtown community and its contractors to see it through. We thank PBOT for its earnest engagement of community residents and proactive involvement of the DNA. We were proud to endorse this project more than a year ago.

It is true that the circumstances of downtown have changed in the post-pandemic world, and as such we feel that infrastructure improvements are more important than ever to enhancing the livability of downtown, which is in turn key to Portland’s revitalization. The Central City in Motion plan strikes a delicate balance between attracting outside shoppers and tourists, and ensuring that central city residents andcommuters can safely and comfortably move around their neighborhoods.

This project aims to bring many vital upgrades to 4th Avenue, including much-needed bus prioritization, pedestrian and ADA safety developments, and a complete reconstruction of the road surface and subsurface which are in a state of serious disrepair. Throughout this project, residents along this corridor have asked for a smoother road, better crossings, and a street that is safe and accommodates everyone. We look forward to that being delivered.”


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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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Bstedman
Bstedman
2 months ago

I work at PSU. PSU has several buildings on the east side of SW 4th between 405 and Market: The College of Engineering, Transportation Research Center, Social Work and central administration. We are told how important PSU is to revitalize a vibrant downtown, employees are asked to come into the office more often, remote classes have been reduced.
But apparently, we are not important enough to keep us safe. In this section SW 4th has three (three!) car lanes that are never crowded. Car drivers come zooming out of 405 or from Barbur and treat this street as a freeway with high speed. It doesn’t help that it’s downhill. There are few traffic lights, but lots of marked crosswalks. It’s always a suicide mission trying to cross at the (marked!) croswalks. PBOT has already put extra markings on the street to remind car drivers to stop for pedestrians. Often, a car in one lane stops, and are passed by cars at high speed in the other lanes, endangering the pedestrians. How are students and staff supposed to get to the rest of campus under those conditions?
And of course, there is no bikelane either, even though there is ample of space (again, there are three traffic lanes and two parking lanes.

Daishin
Daishin
2 months ago

“Build it and they will come.”
“Follow the money.”
“People not profits.”

blumdrew
2 months ago

between the north and south ends of downtown on SW 2nd Avenue

Nice for the PBA to define downtown as Alder to Ankeny. Wouldn’t have been my choice, but it’s certainly interesting

Vans
Vans
2 months ago

Shortsighted, anti bike BS as usual. They want to lock it out so they can keep future bike improvements from shaping the future of downtown let alone getting us to where we should be.

Vans
Vans
2 months ago

Also funny how any spending that isn’t for them is “wasteful” while they think there should be no limit on the $$$$$$$ they should be able to control.

K. Rose
K. Rose
2 months ago

Nothing makes me want to support something more than hearing the business alliance is against it.

Steven Smith
Steven Smith
2 months ago
Reply to  K. Rose

Good rule of thumb: always vote against whoever is endorsed by the PBA/Metro Chamber

donel courtney
donel courtney
2 months ago
Reply to  Steven Smith

I assume they endorsed Nathan Vasquez over Mike Schmidt, though I couldn’t find their endorsements on the DA. I believe they endorsed Ted Wheeler over Sarah Iannaorne, and Rene Gonzalez over JoAnn Hardesty.

Hmmm…lets picture a county with Mike Schmidt and Joann Hardesty and Sarah Iannarone in charge of our response to protesters and violent addicts.

John V
John V
2 months ago
Reply to  donel courtney

Hey, don’t threaten me with a good time!

donel courtney
donel courtney
2 months ago
Reply to  John V

hahahahahaha, all these characters are pretty entertaining.

Art Lewellan
Art Lewellan
2 months ago
Reply to  donel courtney

All City Council members including JoAnn Hardesty supported the SW Corridor MAX extension to Tigard, BIG MISTAKE. I’m glad voters rejected it because it met NONE of the basic metrics that determine support, starting with Public Safety, Public Health, urban & environmental impact, then gains in transit patronage and development potential (both exaggerated) and lastly various costs after more important concerns are met. JoAnn got appointed to the Transportation Bureau after the vote for the political coverup. Same BAD ENGINEERING is obviously apparent on the Rose Quarter I-5 so-called “improvement.” BOTH projects can called DEATH TRAPS.

Mary S
Mary S
2 months ago
Reply to  Steven Smith

Interesting. My rule of thumb has become vote against whoever the Portland Mercury endorses….pretty easy ballot this time….I just voted no on all the tax measures. Felt it was finally time to send a message.

Art Lewellan
Art Lewellan
2 months ago
Reply to  K. Rose

Notice how the PBA chamber cabal suggests the money is better spent on the Broadway Corridor redevelopment of the federal post office. I live near there and Lovejoy traffic is very much reckless endangerment. Not long ago Tri-Met approved a MAX subway route with a station at the abandoned Greyhound depot with no mention why it should be rebuilt as a bus depot. Also left in the dark are assessments that the subway route beneath 6th Ave transit mall is seismically unstable. A twin tube tunnel would amplify earthquake waves and likely damage or even collapse of buildings above. Ka-ching! Profitable rebuilding! Never mind the dead and suffering surviving family members. Tri-Met is lying about this tunnel route being feasible. Immediately after the announcement, Wheeler’s BDS crew raised the allowable building height from 30 to 40 stories. High density sardine can apartment blocks and more insufferable traffic are oh so profitable.

Pinot
Pinot
2 months ago

Two thoughts-

  1. Maybe PBA can focus their energy on how to increase downtown “use” regardless of transportation mode.
  2. This is SDC and Fuel Tax funded. SDCs are generally earmarked to a certain district, I’m not sure how tightly, so could SDCs generated in SW be used in SE in the first place? Gas tax is for specifically these kinds of rehab/retrofit projects. Broadway Corridor and OMSI District, if they are ever realized, are not capital improvement projects that are actionable in this budget year. I don’t want SDC and Gas/HVU Tax dollars spent on the merry-go-round of planning/consultants on master planning.
Wooster
Wooster
2 months ago
Reply to  Pinot

SDCs can actually be spent anywhere in the city (as long as they are on the approved SDC project list), they are not tied to specific areas except for a couple SDC “overlay” districts in South Waterfront and OMSI area, but those are separate additional SDCs. I’m guessing this project is using the normal citywide SDCs.

All that said, I agree with you, those redevelopment projects are a totally different thing and it’s ludicrous for the PBA to be talking about redirecting funds like that, especially given the project is starting construction.

Serenity
Serenity
2 months ago
Reply to  Pinot

Don’t be silly! You know PBA doesn’t count the use of people not driving cars. Everyone walking & rolling don’t matter. Imagine what would happen if PBA considered the use of everyone! bikes & buses everywhere. Not to mention people with walkers. It would be total anarchy! The city would have to make everything wheelchair accessible. Then they’d have to provide a lot more secure bike parking. So much bike parking!

dw
dw
2 months ago

What’re the chances of PBOT actually cancelling the project?

idlebytes
idlebytes
2 months ago

As we’ve seen many times in the past, Chamber will often think they represent popular opinion, only to find out they don’t when their schemes are made public and actual business owners come forward.

If they care enough about pushing it they’ll have KOIN, the Oregonian and WW, “report” on surveys they commissioned that make it look like the public supports them. That gives the mayor and commissioners cover to go along with their BS. I doubt they care enough about this though and wonder if it’s just some tactic to get some other concession since as you point out it’s extremely unlikely to succeed.

MontyP
MontyP
2 months ago

PMC: “It’s only been a couple years, but yeah, things will never go back to the way they were with people commuting downtown, so please let us build more parking for our businesses. Oh, and also please build more housing with parking so that there are people who can drive to our businesses.”

Fred
Fred
2 months ago
Reply to  MontyP

That’s a great summary of the letter. Here’s another version, from an alternate-reality PMC:

“Since fewer people are driving downtown, we need to seize on this opportunity to make walking, biking, and taking transit into and thru downtown a lot more convenient, safe, and efficient. For the last 100 years, our transportation paradigm has been to make driving EVERYWHERE the most convenient, safe, and efficient option. But now we have chance to give parity to other modes – and make a better city and a cooler planet and a better climate for business. Let’s take it.”

Nathan
Nathan
2 months ago

Is not SW 5th and 6th already the bus mall? Is not Naito already the designated main N-S bike route? Well until Broadway and then West of 405. God forbid anyone be inconvenienced detouring a few blocks. In reality with the slow speed limits and traffic lights, I never thought twice about “taking the lane” along car focussed SW 2nd and 3rd as necessary or convenient (although I generally stuck to Broadway in AM and Naito in PM for commuting back to NE).

Therefore except for lighting and pedestrian upgrades, i agree with the PBA.

Fred
Fred
2 months ago
Reply to  Nathan

I expect you, Nathan, to tell drivers they can use I-405 or 10th or Naito. They don’t really need to use 4th. See how they react.

k
k
2 months ago
Reply to  Fred

^ A few block detour on bike can make a feasible bike trip infeasible whereas a few block detour on car is negligible. Why would we give the fastest moving object the most direct path, when they need it the least?

Nathan
Nathan
2 months ago
Reply to  Fred

Will restaurants get their fresh food deliveries, for a whole days worth of business, from hourly bicycle couriers?

Fred
Fred
2 months ago
Reply to  Nathan

I would love that! Let’s make it happen!

Ben Waterhouse
Ben Waterhouse
2 months ago
Reply to  Nathan

There is currently no northbound bike lane west of Naito. Not a single one. Do you really think PSU students should have to detour to Naito to ride to Powell’s?

Greatdane
Greatdane
2 months ago
Reply to  Ben Waterhouse

This is 100% correct! I ride this direction through downtown every day on my way home from work. When I am going straight home, Naito is wonderful (though the means to get there from the hill are less than great). But when I want to stop anywhere else on my way home – groceries, happy hour, picking up the kid from school, etc. – Naito is crazy and adds quite a bit of time and then less than comfortable riding back in the west direction to get back to where you would have been in the first place. There should be a better connection between both ends of PSU and the Pearl/NW realistically. In addition to 4th, northbound 10th or 12th should also get a bike lane up to the area near Powell’s for example. How many 3-lane one-way car streets do we need??? Fortunately, I feel comfortable enough to take a lane, but that is definitely not true for all, and having real infrastructure for all riders to real destinations would be really nice.

Watts
Watts
2 months ago
Reply to  Greatdane

There is currently no northbound bike lane west of Naito.

This is 100% correct!

SW 2nd. Northbound. West of Naito. Has bike lane.

Greatdane
Greatdane
2 months ago
Reply to  Watts

Fair, but that does not start by PSU and has no connection to any bike infrastructure coming from the south, so it’s hard to truly call it a bike lane through downtown. It also provides little benefit over Naito as it is so close. I hate to ding bike infrastructure, because the more the better in the end, but if we were only going to get one, that is certainly a bike lane I never understood the need for!

Watts
Watts
2 months ago
Reply to  Greatdane

I never understood the need for

2nd was built prior to the redo of Naito, so it may have been more compelling at the time.

dw
dw
2 months ago
Reply to  Nathan

Congrats on being comfortable taking the lane but you’re part of a small percentage of people comfortable doing so. Cars can still use 4th in the redesign. Cars can still use all those other streets you listed as well.

Wooster
Wooster
2 months ago
Reply to  Nathan

4th Ave is needed because it is the primary planned “bicycle couplet” through the center of downtown, just as it functions for cars currently. We have 5th and 6th, which prioritized transit and that’s about it, and sure you can ride your bike on it but it will never be a great bike route because you have to ride in the lane. 4th and Broadway were identified as the primary bike couplet in the Central City in Motion plan because they each had three travel lanes and two parking lanes, providing enough space for a protected bike lane on each street by repurposing a travel lane.

Naito Parkway goes along the river and is great if your destination is right along there, but it does not provide a “spine” through the middle of downtown which is where most of the destinations are. Naito also kind of breaks down around I-405 area, whereas Broadway and 4th are planned to connect to routes like Terwilliger and Barbur for people coming to/from SW.

Nathan
Nathan
2 months ago
Reply to  Wooster

I can certainly see such value. Perhaps my concern stems more on timing a triaging budgetary concerns as expressed by PBOT.

Perhaps the PCEF could be used to fill the budgetary holes for such project!

Mary S
Mary S
2 months ago
Reply to  Nathan

Wow. the PCEF has truly become an overfilled slush fund. Everyone wants the cash……

Not a PBA fan
Not a PBA fan
2 months ago

The last time I checked, no one from the PBA was elected to be mayor or commissioner. And oh yeah, THEY ARE ON THE CITY PAYROLL. Clean & Safe contract subsidizes up to 50% of PBA executives’ salaries, including 45% of PBA President and CEO Andrew Hoan’s $317,360 annual salary, according to public records. PBA was paid $5,640,137 by Clean & Safe in 2021 and PAID Portland Police $512,736
https://projects.propublica.org/nonprofits/organizations/320016048/202311329349306471/full

PTB
PTB
2 months ago

“The data show a clear correlation between the shift to remote work and the decline in downtown bike commutes. There is no need for more bike lanes on SW 4th Avenue…
The current infrastructure is clearly not being fully utilized or increasing the number of bike trips…”

I am a daily cyclist. I have been my entire adult life, starting in the mid 90s. I like and value bike infrastucture….but damn, there is some truth in these statements here. I ride Foster everyday, and have since before Covid. I’m very regularly the only cyclist in the mornings and evenings. I know I’m not the Sole Cyclist, but it feels like it. When I’m downtown, there’s just not a lot of cyclists any longer. It’s a bummer, I hate it and I desperately miss pre-Covid/WFH Portland, but that’s the reality we have right now. The PBA/PMC sucks, but them saying, “WHO THE HELL IS THIS EVEN FOR THESE DAYS?” kiiiinda makes sense.

Looking at the rendering of the changes, and seeing all the people waiting for the bus, that’s a joke. I can’t remember the last time I waited with that many people for transit here (excluding leaving Blazers games). They did accurately include the correct number of cyclists. One.

Ok, drag me to Hell, have at it.

PTB
PTB
2 months ago

Fair enough, Jonathan. Thanks for the reply!

fudbuster
fudbuster
2 months ago

The point here is that Metro Chamber is lying to their members and doing a fear-monger campaign because they don’t like “bike lanes” and they equate them with the progressive left and they believe their job as the Metro Chamber is to represent the reasonable people who tend to drive downtown.

How did you come to that conclusion? Do you have any data to back that up?

Fred
Fred
2 months ago
Reply to  PTB

I won’t drag you to Hell, ptb, but I’ll just say be careful not to project based on your small sample size.

I ride Trimet regularly and the buses on my routes are mostly full. I don’t see a ton of other cyclists, but I do see some. Have you ridden the Springwater at commuting time? It’s packed solid with cyclists.

Remember that the “We don’t need it right now” argument has never stopped a road being built for cars. The mantra there is “If we build it, they will come” – and profits will follow.

PTB
PTB
2 months ago
Reply to  Fred

Yeah, I realize my view of Portland cycling is limited. I see my commute routes, which I switch up a lot to kill the monotony, from outer SE to inner SE. Regardless of route, there’s just so few of us out there. It’s weird. I don’t hit the Springwater daily but on the way home I’ll take it since I’m in less of a rush and I am not willing to call it “packed”, but sure, there are a few cyclists, no doubt. I work on a formerly *bustling* bike route here in inner SE and there just aren’t anywhere the number of cyclists passing us like in 2019.

I also take the bus and sometimes, monthly for sure, not weekly, it’s busy but not all the time. I can’t make any sense of that. Just like auto traffic during commute times. Today it’ll feel like a ghost town, tomorrow EVERYONE will be driving. I don’t get it!

Fred, see you out there, buddy.

Watts
Watts
2 months ago
Reply to  Fred

 careful not to project based on your small sample size.

Cycling is way down. Transit riding is way down. Those aren’t projections based on a small sample size; that’s what all the data says.

I ride Trimet regularly and the buses on my routes are mostly full. 

That sounds like a projection based on a small sample size. Look at TriMet’s ridership data to see the real story.

Jeff Rockshoxworthy
Jeff Rockshoxworthy
2 months ago
Reply to  PTB

“WHO THE HELL IS THIS EVEN FOR THESE DAYS?”

I could point to most PBOT projects and say the same.

I was a year round bike commuter from 1999 to 2020. I miss it too… or at least most of it. We’ve got to stop living in the past and address current needs rather than making good on projections from 10 years ago that didn’t pan out.

I find it laughable that activism echo chambers like BikeLoud demand adherence to these outdated plans, yet are comprised of the very same people who’d cry bloody murder if their employer demanded that everyone return to the office and work downtown.

How long do we pretend that we can have it both ways?

PTB
PTB
2 months ago

I personally don’t find working from home the Big Win that some people think it is. I absolutely have some friends that for reasons that will never be clear to me say they’d quit before riding back to work. Ok! But they will fully shit on cycling infrastructure and PBOT and on and on. The infrastructure they no longer use on a daily basis!

Will the last bike commuter turn off their lights
Will the last bike commuter turn off their lights
2 months ago
Reply to  PTB

Everyone seems to blame the decline in bike commuting on WFH but as increasing numbers of people return to work away from home they disproportionately choose other transportation modes. There is clearly something else that is causing former bike commuters to switch to other transportation modes.

PTB
PTB
2 months ago

You probably are a little correct here for sure. Division,Powell, Holgate, Foster, Woodstock, streets I see/use/cross on my way to and from, no shortage of cars back on the roads. It can’t be that all the drivers are back at work but the cycling commuters are all WFH. What gives?

Serenity
Serenity
2 months ago

Drivers seem to have lost their minds.

Edward
Edward
2 months ago
Reply to  PTB

I would imagine that developing cycle infrastructure takes into account the future.

Fuel prices go up, more people start using bikes, and therefore bike lanes.

Long term planning.

nic.cota
Nic Cota
2 months ago

This letter is unusually unprofessional, and lacking substantial support from anyone outside the Portland Metro Chamber itself. Which, admittedly, seems pretty rare for the PMC. This letter seems like a last second grab by their leadership on to a narrative that now explicitly combats public opinion and the direction the city is going (and needs to go).

I hope Andrew Hoan and whatever leadership that sent this:

1) revoke this letter and work to make connections with transportation advocates before making claims on behalf of portlanders
2) do their homework and arrive to the understanding that investing millions into making downtown safer is exactly the kind of project they should be supporting.

As I’ve said before and will say again to entrenched downtown business owners:

PROTECTED BIKE LANES ARE PUBLIC SAFETY.

SD
SD
2 months ago

The chamber may claim to represent 2,200 businesses, but in reality they likely represent less than 50 businesses/ wealthy individuals who make up a very narrow sector of business interests.

Lois Leveen
Lois Leveen
2 months ago

Good to know the business alliance thinks upgrading ADA ramps is “unnecessary, wasteful” spending. Just a reminder of why we should or shouldn’t care what they think.

dw
dw
2 months ago
Reply to  Lois Leveen

Can people with disabilities not simply detour and use the ADA-compliant ramps on Naito?

(I am being sarcastic)

maxD
maxD
2 months ago

For decades Portland had a slow arc of calming traffic, adding bike infrastructure, investing in transit and pedestrian infrastructure, building and maintaining pubic spaces, supporting the arts, and supporting low-cost innovation like food carts, green streets and farmers markets. Basically Portland had a philosophy of designing for people before that was common/trendy, and it paid off. Investment in the City, particularly downtown was booming. Food carts became a thing, “Portland” became a thing and that led to big boom in hotels getting built. Covid/WFH disrupted all this, and now a bunch of real estate types and hotel owners have the hubris and lack of understanding to swagger around and proclaim that what Portland needs is easy access by car and easy/free parking- as if the City was a mall in 1985! Those guys are dead wrong. Portland needs to totally commit to supporting people first- make really nice public spaces for people to be in public, and take care of them. EVERYONE has right to visit and enjoy our public spaces, and no one has the right to take it over or trash it. Public transit should be operated as a viable alternative to driving- reliable, clean, safe, and inexpensive. Plant trees, maintain parks, keep our riverfront clean. Support the arts including fairs and performers. The PBA (whatever the new name is) is so small-minded- focused on accommodating tourists- the City needs to focus on delivering quality of life for citizens because that is what the tourists started coming to see in the first place. Bikes are definitely part of that- bike should be safe and easy- bike routes should be safe, direct and interconnected. Portland should be focused on removing all the obstacles and pinch points. This is a useful project and the PBA should be completely ignored- they do not have any idea what they are talking about.

cct
cct
2 months ago
Reply to  maxD

Keep in mind people ‘talk their book’- if you have heavy investments financially in keeping downtowns like they were in the 1960s, you are gonna promote the suburban commuter lifestyle that keeps your vacancy rates down. Portland commercial landowners are afraid; look how many buildings are going back to lenders.

Also, I HAVE to note the arc of karma here:

Hoan made false claims that the SW 4th Avenue project … would spend “$20 million dollars to add a bike lane.” … the vast majority of the funding would go toward rebuilding and repaving the road, not the “bike lane.”

This is the same crap PBOT pulls in SW, pointing to a multi-layered ,multi-bureau project on SW Capitol Highway which had massive water and sewer work and claiming “22 million per mile; that’s what it costs to build sidewalks in SW!!!”

What goes around comes around huh?

Fred
Fred
2 months ago
Reply to  cct

Great point about the Cap Hwy project, cct. It was a water-mgt project first, sidewalks & bike-sidewalks project second.

Jay Cee
Jay Cee
2 months ago

PBC cites a drop in bike trips as a reason to cancel the project but then calls for more parking and auto access even though car traffic downtown has dropped at an even higher rate.

Home
Home
2 months ago

As a downtown office worker who spends money daily at downtown businesses and who bikes on Fourth Ave to get to the Hawthorne bridge on my way home or takes transit, I take major issue with the business association’s letter and disagree with all points.

gillum
gillum
2 months ago

Thank you, Jonathan, for your ongoing coverage here. Your earlier article, which included PBOT’s fly-through video, was especially informative.

One thing I wonder about, though.

Most of the time that I am heading north on 4th in the south of downtown, I am heading to the Hawthorne Bridge by way of Madison. I come down the right lane of 4th and easily turn into the bike lane on Madison right onto the bridge. With a future bike lane on the left side of 4th, a cyclist would have to cross all the lanes of traffic to turn right. (I suppose this may be true for the Morrison Bridge at Alder as well.)

What is the plan here? Will there be a special right-turn signal for cyclists at Madison and at Alder? The video show special striping for right turns at Burnside, but I didn’t see something like that at a Madison (and the video skips over Alder).

Fred
Fred
2 months ago
Reply to  gillum

This is a great question. Since PBOT seems to design all bike facilities for moms and dads with eight-year-old kids, I won’t be surprised when they announce they are installing a $1.2-million signalized crosswalk that makes bikes wait several minutes and then stops everyone in all directions to allow bikes to cross 4th.

I mean, safety first.

Wooster
Wooster
2 months ago
Reply to  gillum

Easy. You will just ride along the left side of 4th Ave, then at Madison pivot and get into the bike box on Madison near-side of 4th Ave. Then you wait for the Madison green and you go. Very safe and protected, no merging through traffic. It’s like a “Copenhagen” or “two-stage” left turn, but in this case it’s a right turn. This is how great bike routes do it.

gillum
gillum
2 months ago
Reply to  Wooster

The video doesn’t illustrate a bike box, but I suppose they could make one. It wouldn’t be as quick as now, but it could work.

Trike Guy
Trike Guy
2 months ago
Reply to  gillum

The flip side is that turning off 4th and onto Madison almost always stops you at light at 3rd, so the “copenhagen” right doesn’t really cost more time since you end up on the lights.

The only time it didn’t do that to me (Barbur to 4th to Madison was a daily thing for a couple years) is if you hit Madison on a yellow and brake slow enough to let 3rd change.

Will the last bike commuter turn off their lights
Will the last bike commuter turn off their lights
2 months ago
Reply to  Wooster

It’s like a “Copenhagen” or “two-stage” left turn…This is how great bike routes do it.

Nonsense. No Danish traffic engineer would design a left-side cycle-track when the vast majority of movement on a major bike route is exiting to the right.

If Neighborhood Greenways are “car infrastructure”, then these left-side bikeways are capitulation-to-drivers infrastructure.

bpurkapi
bpurkapi
2 months ago

4th ave is filled with institutions, we got some of PSU, city hall, parks, pioneer place, the china town gate, dante’s, keller fountain, some city bureaus, and the duniway track. They are mad about giving the public safe access to these via bikes and scooters? The parking removal is minimal as there are numerous parking garages. I think it will provide a nice uplift vs the bus mall on 5th and 6th.

Watts
Watts
2 months ago

I seem to be the only one lamenting the loss of the last north-south street with a ridable center lane… The safest and fastest way through downtown.

I’m sure the new design will bring the bike riders back.

Belynda
Belynda
2 months ago
Reply to  Watts

I’m totally with you. I have used 4th for over 20 years since I lived on it and commuted to Barbur.Now it’s a low-stress route to home via the Broadway bridge. It’s easy to time the lights on a bike and even easier on an ebike. I don’t even remember ever having a close call on it.But all the transportation experts are adamant that the way to get more people off cars is to design for that mom with kids, and I guess they’re probably right.

Rod B.
Rod B.
2 months ago
Reply to  Watts

I ride 4th north from PSU on a daily basis. During rush hour all lanes are sometimes clogged with cars and their is insufficient shoulder north of Clay to slip by. Taking the lane means you are stuck in the car traffic going stop-and-go. Having a dedicated bicycle lane would make all the difference, allowing me to slide on through without having to be stuck in the car traffic.

Watts
Watts
2 months ago
Reply to  Rod B.

Is this true once you get past Madison? I think the traffic patterns change pretty dramatically there; a bike lane south of Madison makes a lot of sense. Less so to the north.

I
I
2 months ago

The business alliance once again shows it is the enemy of the working class.

Watts
Watts
2 months ago
Reply to  I

This is not a project for “the working class”. If you took a poll about whether PBOT should build a big bike project on SW 4th or “focus on basics”, what do you think actual working class people would say?

This is the Portland Chamber showing it is the enemy of the sliver of the middle and upper-middle class who’s primary concern is active transportation, at least on this one issue.

Old Potato
Old Potato
2 months ago

Depending on which way I come in to work I sometimes take the lane on 4th and roll on downhill into downtown. I’d be stoked to have a protected bike lane going northbound necause car drivers don’t always do a good job sharing the road with me. On a philosophical level I wind up agreeing with the business alliance about many issues. They’re sure dead nuts wrong here though. Don’t let them sweat you. Mingus!

Steve
Steve
2 months ago

The business association in our neighborhood is supportive of our active transportation safety improvements we have proposed to PBOT. Our selling point was that for every family that walks to your shops means one more available parking space for another customer. I’m not sure if there is any easier way to expand car parking in our small commercial core.

Steven Smith
Steven Smith
2 months ago

The Metro Chamber letter highlights their irrelevance to the issues of the day and their ineptitude in making cogent arguments. Andrew Hoan sounds like he’s representing a bunch of cranky, old hangers-on of the landed gentry; they, who have never looked beyond their bubble of downtown Portland to consider the other models of economic progress successfully employed by so many other commercial cores around the world. Talk about not moving with the times!

His argument didn’t even make sense. The money can’t be shifted. The money won’t be shifted this late in the process. Either he’s not accurately reading the conditions or he’s playing another game. Either way, it is a fittingly embarrassing communication from an organization failing at broad relevance.

Good on Mapps to not fold–not that folding was a true option. The Metro play needed to occur much earlier. Had it, then they may have had a sympathetic ear with the likes of Mapps, Ryan and possibly Gonzalez. I’m glad to see another black mark on the Chamber, though it would be lovely to have a business organization that can imagine a car-light future that would contribute to a Portland that once again led its peers to a better future rather than look longingly back to a non-recoverable past.

Watts
Watts
2 months ago
Reply to  Steven Smith

The Metro Chamber letter highlights their irrelevance to the issues of the day

If you think bike lanes are “the issue of the day”, you’re not paying attention.

N Smit
N Smit
2 months ago

It appears the Chamber doesn’t want any improvements that they don’t use and that they don’t benefit from. Helping the general public (whose taxes help fund improvements) is a waste of money?

quicklywilliam
quicklywilliam
2 months ago

PBA gonna PBA

Gabriel Aron
Gabriel Aron
2 months ago

In this time of rising planet temperatures, the business community can only think of their own pockets. If we build more bike lanes, more people will feel safer riding to work, and drive less. The solution to low ridership is to increase the number of bike lanes in the city and encourage more riding. The city needs to keep focusing on making the city more livable, not on car centric capacity.

Watts
Watts
2 months ago
Reply to  Gabriel Aron

The solution to low ridership is to increase the number of bike lanes in the city 

This hasn’t worked in Portland since at least 2010 (if it ever did). Bike riding rates have been inversely correlated to new infrastructure since the 20-teens. I doubt it’s causal, but it doesn’t suggest that doubling down on building without figuring out and addressing the real problem(s) will be effective.