Crossposted from Sightline Institute. Senior researcher Michael Andersen is a former news editor at BikePortland.
Many North American cities are oddly un-city-like compared to their peers in Asia, Europe, Africa and even South America. Our cities are weirdly spread out and the damage to our environment and economy is colossal.
Why did this happen?
Editor’s note: This piece by former BikePortland news editor Michael Andersen is cross-posted from Sightline Institute. If you’d like to get involved in shifting tens of millions of dollars from parking garages to other ideas like protected bike lanes, affordable housing or bus improvements, there’s an important 15-minute public comment period coming up Monday, 9:10 a.m. at Tigard City Hall.
The people planning the Portland area’s next light-rail line seem to be steering away from a scenario where taxpayers pour $100 million of precious public-transit funding into a series of giant parking garages.
But unless the public speaks up in the next month, it’s possible that a handful of elected officials will push to build the garages along the “Southwest Corridor” through Southwest Portland, Tigard and Tualatin anyway—despite a mountain of evidence that spending the money on bus service, infrastructure for walking and biking, and transit-oriented affordable housing would do far more to improve mobility, reduce auto dependence and cut pollution.
An earlier version of this post was published by the Sightline Institute. It’s by former BikePortland news editor Michael Andersen.
The fight to strike down apartment bans has arrived in Oregon’s legislature.
Would re-legalizing fourplexes everywhere be good for bicycle transportation? It very much would be.
On Friday, Willamette Week broke some news: Oregon House Speaker Tina Kotek has been working on a bill that’d require all but the smallest Oregon cities in urban areas to re-legalize up to four homes per lot—a lower-cost housing option that was quite common in the early 20th century but was gradually banned from most parts of most cities.
This is crossposted from the Sightline Institute. Michael Andersen is a former BikePortland news editor.
Central City in Motion hearing
2:00 pm today at City Hall
The proposal going before Portland City Council at 2 pm today would be the city’s most important biking infrastructure investment in 20 years, and its most important bus infrastructure investment in 40.
Just as importantly, it’d also make our streets work better, permanently.
The Central City in Motion plan avoids the false promise of bigger roads: 39 percent of the central city is already dedicated to street space, it notes. So, as Jonathan reported last month, it’s planning to dedicate an additional 1 percent of those central streets to bike lanes and another 1 percent to bus lanes.
That little shift in urban space, which would take the form of 18 street projects over the next 10 years, would boost the people-moving capacity of the affected streets by an average of 60 percent.
American bike commuting rates seem to have entered a post-recession skid in 2017. Here in Portland, meanwhile, they once again stayed about the same, according to Census estimates released this month.
“What do the neighbors have to be afraid of? It’s buildings, people or cars.”
— Chris Smith, Planning Commissioner
An earlier version of this post was published by the Sightline Institute. It’s by BikePortland’s former news editor, Michael Andersen, who started covering the need for “missing middle” housing — especially in Portland’s most bikeable neighborhoods — for us in 2015. We last covered this issue in May, just before the crucial public hearings described here.
The most provocative housing policy event of this week in the Pacific Northwest started happening four months ago.
There are two ways for more Portlanders to live in bikeable neighborhoods.
One way is to add good bike infrastructure to neighborhoods without it. The other way is to let more people live in neighborhoods that have it already. Portland should be doing both.
When they explain their support for spending hundreds of millions to add two new on/off freeway lanes and freeway shoulders to Interstate 5 at the Rose Quarter, Portland city leaders have a go-to answer: better surface streets.
It’s true, Mayor Ted Wheeler conceded last month, that more freeway throughput at this interchange would do “very little to arrest congestion.” Instead, more driving is likely to fill any new space that might open up on the freeway, ultimately leaving cars and trucks as jammed as before (though possibly elsewhere on the road system).
But from Portland’s perspective, Wheeler said, the $450 million Rose Quarter project is “mostly a bicycle and pedestrian play.”
OK. So we wanted to know what, exactly, are taxpayers getting in this location that would improve biking and walking?
After a year on hiatus, Portland’s only bike-specific craft fair will ride again this December.
The simple idea, as phrased by co-producer Elly Blue of Microcosm Publishing: “Anyone who makes something bike-centric can pay a small tabling fee and come sell their stuff to a crowd of happy cyclists. It’s informal, fun, and all about building community and supporting the kitchen table and small business economy.”
This year’s event happens the weekend of Dec. 15-17 at the Bike Farm, 1810 NE 1st Ave. just north of Broadway. It’s free to attend Saturday and Sunday; this year there’ll also be a paid preview party on Friday night to benefit the Bike Farm’s mission (a cheap place to crank on your bike and/or learn how) and to let people “shop early in a festive but less busy setting,” Blue says.
Portland’s regional transit agency is hoping to raise $175 million for bigger, faster-moving buses on Southeast Division Street, and some major bikeway upgrades would be in store.
From SE 82nd Avenue to the Gresham city limits near 174th Avenue, the agency is planning to pay for a vertical barrier, mostly a series of concrete curbs, to protect the bike lanes that will have been recently widened and buffered by a separate City of Portland project. And when the Division bike lanes pass bus stops — as they would at 87th, I-205, 101st, 112th, 122nd, 130th, 135th, 143rd, 148th, 156th, 162nd, 168th and 174th — they’ll often be wrapping to the sidewalk side in order to reduce bike-bus conflicts.