The State of Oregon has finalized its first batch of Safe Routes to School projects funded through the $5.3 billion transportation package passed by legislators in 2017.
Region 1 (which covers all of Portland) will receive $3.39 million for four projects that will make it easier and safer for kids to walk and bike to class. ODOT awarded nearly $16 million for 24 projects statewide. Demand for these funds far outstripped supply as the agency received a total of 112 project applications requesting a total of $85 million.[Read more…]
Portland has adopted goals to reduce carbon emissions by 80 percent (Climate Action Plan), make 70 percent of trips by something other than driving alone (Comprehensive Plan), and reach a 25 percent cycling usage rate (Transportation System Plan) by 2035.
To reach these goals we must have ample, accessible, and secure bicycle parking available citywide. And it was with these goals in mind that the City of Portland embarked on their Bicycle Parking Code Update project in 2016. Our existing code hasn’t had a wholesale update since 1996 when about 200,000 fewer people lived here and our official bicycle commute mode split was a measly 1.2 percent (it’s at around 7 percent today).
But the city’s proposals have run up against concerns from real estate developers and our local chamber of commerce. Companies and organizations that construct housing and office buildings worry they’ll lose money if they devote too much space to bicycle parking. Precious square footage in Portland’s hot real estate market can be put to more valuable use, they argue, as retail space or more housing units. The Portland Business Alliance echoes those concerns and says current bicycling rates are so low they don’t even merit the need for more bike parking. [Read more…]
Latest concept drawing for new crossing of North Lombard at Fenwick/Concord. Note that “access control” likely refers to closing or narrowing driveways of adjacent properties.
The Concord Avenue neighborhood greenway has only one gap in its 2.4 mile route between Overlook Park and North Argyle Street in the Kenton neighborhood: the offset crossing of Lombard Street (a.k.a. Highway 30). But with a new agreement between the Oregon Department of Transportation (they own and manage Lombard) and the Portland Bureau of Transportation, that gap will soon be filled.
The two agencies recently hashed out an intergovernmental agreement (IGA) so that PBOT could do the work to build a new crossing that will link Concord on the south side of Lombard with Fenwick to the north. It’s a much-needed upgrade to an intersection isn’t as safe as it should be. Not only is this a designated neighborhood greenway route, but it’s a popular connector between two neighborhoods (Arbor Lodge and Kenton) and there’s a high school directly adjacent to it.
Streetview looking west on Lombard. Concord is on the left, the half-signal and Fenwick are in the background.
The existing crossing infrastructure — known as a pedestrian half-signal — is also not compliant with federal guidelines. A half-signal exists when there’s a standard traffic signal for the major road, but only stop signs for the minor roads. The Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) explicitly prohibits the use of half-signals due to safety concerns. Studies have shown that when someone actuates the traffic signal on the main road, drivers from the side-street think it’s an opportunity to turn and they don’t realize (or they don’t see) the people in the crosswalk. As of 2015, Portland had 47 such signals and because they’re not recommended by the MUTCD, we haven’t installed one since 1986.
PBOT plans to spend $2 million in Transportation System Development Charges to improve this crossing. In addition to the full signal upgrade they plan to add ADA improvements to the curbs and sidewalk, and create a new bike lane on Lombard. As you can see in the latest concept drawing, the plan is to stripe an unprotected, five-feet wide eastbound bike lane and create a westbound bike lane on the sidewalk for the short distance between Concord and the crossing at Fenwick.
As you can see in the cross-sections below, the bike lanes would be separated by a two-foot buffer. The space to add them would come from an existing planted median on the sidewalk and from narrowing one of the existing lanes:
PBOT Communications Director John Brady said today that with the IGA with ODOT now signed, they can move onto final design work. It will be a few months yet until we get an estimated date of completion. Stay tuned.