Better Block PDX

Better Block’s ‘Project Pathway’ program now formally integrated into PSU curriculum

Guest Contributor by on May 31st, 2019 at 6:54 am

The plaza on SW 3rd (left) and Better Naito are Better Block’s biggest successes. (Photos: J. Maus/BikePortland)

This story was written by Malia Knapp-Rossi, a Master of Urban and Regional Planning candidate at Portland State University and intern with Better Block PDX.

Better Block PDX is excited to announce that Portland State University’s Transportation Research and Education Center (TREC) has adopted the Project Pathway program.
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How activists and students collaborate with PBOT to get real projects on the ground

Avatar by on February 28th, 2019 at 1:42 pm

The crosswalk, bike lanes and plaza that exist today on SW 3rd Avenue at Burnside started as astroturf and tape laid down by Better Block PDX.
(Photos: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

Most close watchers of the Portland transportation world have heard of Better Block PDX. They’re the scrappy group of tactical urbanism activists who burst onto the scene by creating a public plaza in auto parking spaces along a block of SW Harvey Milk Street in 2013. They went on to lead successful projects on SW 3rd Avenue and Naito Parkway that led to permanent changes in our streetscape.

What you might not realize is the reason they’ve been quiet for the past few years isn’t because they’ve gone away. It’s because, instead of classic tactical urbanism that often involves rogue actions like human-protected bike lanes and the unsanctioned deployment of traffic cones to slow drivers down, they’ve been working behind-the-scenes.
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Better Block’s annual request for proposals is your chance to be an urbanism superhero

Avatar by on January 29th, 2019 at 1:05 pm

It’s that time of year when Portland’s tactical urbanist group Better Block PDX considers your requests on how best to re-invent streets and public spaces.

What is Better Block? Inspired by a national nonprofit, it’s a group founded in 2013 by volunteer planners, engineers, students and activists. Among their accomplishments is lighting the fires under the Portland Bureau of Transportation that led the agency to construct the SW 3rd Ave/Ankeny Street plaza and Better Naito just to name a few. Their approach is simple, yet profound: To create temporary “pop-up projects” that re-imagine streets and public spaces to be human-centered, inviting and fun. When done correctly, these exciting pop-ups might even become permanent (as was the case with the two aforementioned examples).

The official opening date for the 2019 BBPDX RFP begins this Friday February 1st and runs through March 1st. According to BBPDX, “The projects selected will go through Portland State University’s Project Pathway program where urban planning, civil engineering, and communication students produce public engagement, traffic analysis, and design plans for the projects.” In other words, they can take your idea and vision and turn it into reality.
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Half-hour ‘human-protected bike lane’ will rally support for permanent street improvements

Michael Andersen (Contributor) by on September 22nd, 2017 at 1:12 pm

A human-protected bike lane in San Francisco in May. A group of Portlanders are organizing a similar event on Naito Parkway next Thursday, before the protected bike lanes there are removed.
(Photo: Brandon Splane via Streetsblog SF)

As the City of Portland prepares to remove the temporary protected bike lane along its downtown waterfront, some Portlanders see a one-time chance to grab the public imagination.

A group of residents and others who support protected bike lanes in the central city and elsewhere are planning to line up along the soon-to-be removed Naito Parkway protected bike lanes at 6 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 28, to touch arms and create a half-hour “human-protected bike lane,” complete with music, then capture the image for a crowdfunded advertising campaign in support of permanent bike lane protections.

“I think it’s gonna be awesome,” said Emily Guise, the co-chair of advocacy group BikeLoudPDX. “We’re taking inspiration from people who have done them around the globe: Dublin, San Francisco, New York. … It’s going to be a really positive event.”

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Bus-only lane advocates have a proposal to improve SW Madison

Avatar by on September 6th, 2017 at 11:12 am

The parking on the left would be removed, giving this bus its own lane.

Physical separation is to bicycling what reliability is to transit. If we don’t have it, the masses will never switch from driving and our transportation system will never reach its potential.

That’s why an idea for a “pop-up” bus-only lane is worthy of your attention.

Our friends at the all-volunteer Portland Bus Lane Project have pitched an idea to Better Block PDX that would reconfigure SW Madison Street between 5th and the Hawthorne Bridge. Their idea comes in response a request for proposals that Better Block launched back in July.

PBLP was hatched in May by a group of transit advocates that are frustrated with how auto-congestion during peak hours is killing bus reliability. Their solution is to create dedicated bus-only lanes which they see as an inexpensive way to prioritize mass transit and improve bus reliability while getting more people to their destinations on time.

Their proposal is currently being vetted and considered by Better Block and they’ve given me permission to share it with you.[Read more…]

Want to transform a street? Propose your idea to Better Block PDX

Avatar by on July 24th, 2017 at 1:38 pm

Get the lowdown in this PDF.

Ever since Better Block PDX popped onto the scene in 2013, this all-volunteer group of tactical urbanists has captured our imagination. Their daring and creative street transformation projects have had a real impact on how we experience transportation. And more importantly, their projects have influenced hearts and minds of thousands of Portlanders, including many of whom work at 1221 SW Fourth Avenue.

Long before Better Naito became a City Hall darling, the idea was hatched by Better Block volunteers over beers and pizza. In years past, the group would choose its projects based on an internal and informal process.

Now for the first time they’ve opened up the decision-making to the public. If you have an idea for how to make a section of streetscape better, Better Block wants to hear from you.
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A protected bike lane is born: ‘Better Naito’ is being installed right now

Avatar by on April 20th, 2017 at 5:02 pm

Posts were erected today on Naito. They’ll be in place (barring destruction by careless drivers) through the end of September.
(Photo: Timur Ender)

From now until the end of September, all Portlanders will benefit from a much more humane Naito Parkway. Along a busy section of our marquee riverfront street usually held hostage by speeding motor vehicles spewing toxic fumes into the air we breathe, people will drive more slowly and there will be much more room to walk and bike and roll.

As I type this, transportation bureau crews are installing the plastic wands and other elements that will help re-allocate space on the northbound (east) side of Naito for about 3/4 of a mile between SW Main and NW Couch. The $350,000 project was supported by City Council last October. Former Mayor Charlie Hales was an ardent supporter of improving vehicle access on Naito. Prior to voting on it last fall he said, “Expanding the public realm for bicycles in this city, and is something we’re still committed to.”
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‘Spirit of Portland’ awards include PBOT staffer, CCC CEO, and Better Block

Avatar by on December 7th, 2016 at 1:15 pm

2016 winners include PBOT's Janis McDonald (lef), Community Cycling Center CEO Mychal Tetteh (right) and Better Block PDX.(Photos: J. Maus/BikePortland and Better Block)

2016 winners include PBOT’s Janis McDonald (left), Community Cycling Center CEO Mychal Tetteh (right) and Better Block PDX.
(Photos: J. Maus/BikePortland and Better Block)

The 32nd annual Spirit of Portland Awards have been announced and the 2016 winners include three names you’re probably very familiar with.
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Call to action: Let’s make ‘Seasonal Better Naito’ a reality

Avatar by on October 21st, 2016 at 10:08 am

Naito Parkway traffic observations -14.jpg

We can set this in stone every summer for five years if we let City Council know we want it.
(Photos: J. Maus/BikePortland)

Bicycle access through and to Waterfront Park is in dire need of help. And ‘Seasonal Better Naito’ — a project proposed by the Bureau of Transportation and supported by Mayor Charlie Hales — is our best chance to get it.
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Old idea of a human-centric, carfree downtown will be brought to life Saturday

Avatar by on August 17th, 2016 at 1:55 pm

Flyer for Saturday's big event.

Flyer for Saturday’s big event.

The crew that brought us the 3rd Avenue plaza, Better Broadway and Better Naito are about to embark on yet another ambitious project: this Saturday Better Block PDX will connect the north and south Park Blocks to create a one-mile stretch of carfree streets and plazas.
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