’20s Bikeway’ moves forward as ‘commercial greenway’ idea gains support

Buffered Bike Lane with a bike symbol and arrow pointing forward
20s Bikeway SAC meeting-1

20s Bikeway Project advisory committee
meeting last night.
(Photos J. Maus/BikePortland)

The Portland Bureau of Transportation has closed the book (for now) on the public process for their $2.4 million federally funded 20s Bikeway Project. For the past nine months, the city has convened an advisory committee whose goal was to develop a plan for the north-south route. At the group’s final meeting in southeast Portland last night, members agreed to support PBOT’s current proposal which utilizes a mix of bike lanes, buffered bike lanes, and neighborhood greenway treatments on a corridor bound by 26th and 32nd Avenues from the Springwater Corridor to NE Lombard Street.

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Guest article: Envisioning a ‘commercial greenway’ along 28th Avenue

Buffered Bike Lane with a bike symbol and arrow pointing forward

Detail of “commercial greenway” concept
for NE/SE 28th Ave.
(Graphics by Paulsen/Falbo/Davis)

This post is part of our ongoing coverage of the 20s Bikeway Project. It was written by Kirk Paulsen, a member of the project’s stakeholder advisory committee. (He’s also a traffic analyst for Lancaster Engineering by day.)

Hello fellow BikePortland readers, we want your opinion!

But first, a bit of backstory…

I’m a member of the Stakeholder Advisory Committee (SAC) for PBOT’s 20s Bikeway project. As you know, the project so far has spurred a lively discussion, especially surrounding the central section along 28th Avenue.

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Getting it straight on 28th: A call for ‘common ground’ from two bikeway supporters

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Brendon Haggerty, left, and Jeff Mandel, right.

This is a guest post from Brendon Haggerty and Jeff Mandel, who share a seat on the 20s Bikeway stakeholder advisory committee for the Kerns Neighborhood Association and see a possible road to an outcome that’s better for both biking and local business than the city’s current proposal. You can catch up on our recent 20s Bikeway coverage here.

We are pleased that so many people care so much about the central portion of the 20s Bikeway. Reactions during the past week or so have been varied and passionate, and we wanted to share our perspective as neighborhood residents and SAC members. We hope the four points below will advance the conversation and help us to get it straight on 28th.

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After 28th Ave businesses hear from customers, a few backpedal from bike-lane opposition

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NE 28th Avenue and Davis commercial district

Some 28th Avenue businesses and
customers see things differently.
(Photo by M. Andersen/BikePortland)

Different businesses react differently to hearing from upset customers.

A week after we posted a petition, circulated by opponents of a buffered bike lane on 28th Avenue near Burnside and signed by 60 nearby businesses, many readers have contacted those businesses to let them know they disagree with the decision.

Some of those businesses have responded by saying that a planned neighborhood greenway, two blocks away from the commercial strip on 30th, is a good compromise that would preserve about 100 auto parking spaces in the neighborhood while obliging north-south bikers to zigzag only a few blocks out of the way. Others have said they didn’t intend to sign the petition, and others have asked to be removed from it.

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28th Avenue update: A business owner explains why she signed the petition

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Staccato Gelato owner and Stakeholder Advisory
Committee member Sarah Holliday.
(Photo courtesy Sarah Holliday)

The public dialogue around how to best improve cycling conditions on the central segment of the 20s Bikeway Project is heating up. Yesterday we posted a petition signed by 60 business owners on 28th Avenue who united against a City proposal to remove on-street parking on the street and replace it with a buffered bike lane.

Since posting the list, readers have contacted many of the business via email and/or Facebook. We have also heard from business owners directly. This has resulted in the removal of one business, Wolf & Bear’s, because an employee signed it without the owner’s knowledge (the only name on the petition signed by an employee and not an owner). One other business owner, Earl Ninsom of PaaDee, contacted us to request his removal from the list, saying he signed it in haste, without fully understanding the issues. And Captured by Porches, a beer brewer, says they don’t even own the beer dispensing cart on 28th and their name shouldn’t be on the list either. We’ll continue to investigate the list and update our reporting as necessary.

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Parking power prevails (for now): PBOT pulls plug on 28th Ave bike lanes

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A ride with the family-6

The city’s new “interim solution” for the Buckman/Kerns commercial district (that is, keep things pretty much like they are now).
(Photo by J. Maus/BikePortland)

The Portland Bureau of Transportation on Thursday backed off from its proposal to replace about 100 auto parking spaces on 28th Avenue near Burnside with a buffered bike lane.

Available auto parking is “a very, very big deal” for neighborhood commercial districts like this one, project manager Rich Newlands told the 20s Bikeway Project stakeholder advisory committee at their meeting last night.

The city completed its first multi-street count of the neighborhood’s parking demand in time for Thursday’s meeting, which had been slated as the committee’s last. The results showed that many nearby blocks in the free-parking neighborhood were near capacity.

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At 20s Bikeway open houses, narrow support for bike lanes instead of auto parking

Buffered Bike Lane with a bike symbol and arrow pointing forward
A ride with the family-6

Riding with traffic is currently the only safe option through the 28th Avenue commercial district.
(Photo by J.Maus/BikePortland)

“If parking is so valuable to business owners that our right of way can’t be used for traffic (bike traffic) flow, then that parking should be priced,”
— Open house attendee

Trying to summarize all the opinions of Portlanders who came to last month’s trio of open houses on the 20s Bikeway would be “like summarizing 250 essays on 25 or so different subjects,” project manager Rich Newlands wrote in an email Wednesday.

But on one high-profile issue, it’s actually not too hard to tally attendees’ opinions: should the west side of 28th Avenue between Stark Street and Interstate 84 have a buffered bike lane, or auto parking?

At its public open houses, the city got 90 direct comments on the subject. Of them, 48 supported at least one buffered bike lane, while 42 preferred to reserve the space for auto parking.

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New fire bureau policy could allow speed bumps on more commercial streets

Buffered Bike Lane with a bike symbol and arrow pointing forward
BAC bike ride-8

Speed bumps used to calm traffic on neighborhood greenways could be used on more streets under a new city policy — potentially with slices cut from them to allow emergency trucks to cruise through.
(Photos by J.Maus/BikePortland)

For years, as Portland has looked for ways to calm auto traffic in commercial districts like N Denver Avenue, SE Stark Street or NE 28th Avenue, the biggest tool in its shed — the speed bump — has been off limits.

“PBOT and Fire are in the middle of a conversation about the city’s emergency response network.”
— Diane Dulken, PBOT spokeswoman

The reason: Portland Fire and Rescue says major streets need to be flat and smooth enough for emergency trucks to rush down them, when necessary, without losing critical time when responding to emergencies.

But a new Fire and Rescue policy in the early stages of discussion would soften this rule by designating some major streets as being of secondary importance to emergency response routes. City officials say this might allow speed bumps on some such streets. But it’s not clear whether the decision by the city’s fire chief could be completed in time to affect the design of one street where the option might matter most: 28th Avenue.

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28th Avenue business owners give chilly reception to city bikeway proposal

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Attendees of a meeting Wednesday at Coalition Brewing
to discuss the 28th Avenue commercial district of
the planned 20s Bikeway.
(Photos by M.Andersen/BikePortland)

For the most vocal business owners along 28th Avenue’s commercial strip, the mystery seems to be: why can’t people on bikes just take 30th instead?

At the city’s first meeting with businesses on the subject Wednesday, Portland Bicycle Coordinator Roger Geller made a data-rich argument that business owners don’t want to push bikes two blocks away from their storefronts.

Instead, he argued, the city’s lead proposal for the street would give them a chance to be “the most bike-friendly business district in the most bike-friendly city in America” while increasing the flow of people past their storefronts as more Portlanders shift from cars to bicycles for commercial errands.

“If 28th were any other district, we wouldn’t even be here,” Geller said. “We’re talking about 28th because people want to get to 28th.”

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City’s top idea for 28th Ave: Shared lane in one direction, buffer in the other

Buffered Bike Lane with a bike symbol and arrow pointing forward

One shared lane and one buffered bike lane is probably the most bike-friendly option the city will accept between I-84 and Stark, Project Manager Rich Newlands said Tuesday.

An “optimal” facility with buffered bike lanes in both directions, but no auto parking on 28th Avenue through its busiest commercial district, probably isn’t in the cards for the 20s Bikeway, a city project manager said this week.

The most comfortable biking plan “achievable,” city project manager Rich Newlands said in a presentation Tuesday to Portland’s Bicycle Advisory Committee, is a design that hasn’t been seen before in Portland or almost anywhere else: a shared lane in one direction, marked by green-backed sharrow stencils, with a buffered bike lane in the other direction.

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