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

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

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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Call to action: Let’s make ‘Seasonal Better Naito’ a reality

Buffered Bike Lane with a bike symbol and arrow pointing forward
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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At just $20,000, Ankeny Plaza is Portland’s cheapest “bridge” project ever

Buffered Bike Lane with a bike symbol and arrow pointing forward
Ankeny Plaza ribbon cutting-13.jpg

Cheap. Fast. Popular. Now let’s do another one.
(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

It’s the cheapest bridge project ever completed in the Portland region. For just $20,000, the city’s Bureau of Transportation has changed the face of an iconic and historic part of town. And they’re sort of bragging about it, which is awesome.

At the ribbon-cutting event for Ankeny Plaza today, City Commissioner Steve Novick delighted in how his Bureau of Transportation has radically transformed the streets between 2nd and 3rd Avenues in Old Town/Chinatown. “This is incredibly awesome,” he bubbled, before making a reference to Martha & The Vandellas’ classic tune, “Dancing in the Streets.”

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Who’s mad and who’s glad about ‘Better Naito’?

Buffered Bike Lane with a bike symbol and arrow pointing forward
Naito Parkway traffic observations -13.jpg

Naito Parkway on Thursday afternoon as seen looking north from the Morrison Bridge.
(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

This weekend, the City of Portland plans to remove the temporary multi-use path from the eastern side of Naito Parkway so the space can be used by cars instead.

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First look: The new public plaza on SW 3rd

Buffered Bike Lane with a bike symbol and arrow pointing forward
New public plaza on SW 3rd and Ankeny-7.jpg

Looking south north at Burnside from SW 3rd near Ankeny.
(Photos: J. Maus/BikePortland)

You know Portland is getting its groove back when the Bureau of Transportation creates a large new public plaza and it takes us nearly a week to get it up on the front page.

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Portland Underground Grad School class will cover tactical urbanism

Buffered Bike Lane with a bike symbol and arrow pointing forward
NE 85th & Milton & Beech

An “intersection repair” at NE 85th Avenue, Milton and Beech.
(Photo: Greg Raisman)

A local organization that arranges for Portlanders to teach one another niche skills and information is offering a four-week introduction to do-it-yourself street transformation.

From Better Block’s temporary bike lanes to City Repair’s beloved intersection murals to Depave’s manually removed asphalt, Portland is rich with the spirit of “tactical urbanism,” an umbrella term for fast, flexible changes that make city streets better for people.

Now, Portlander Claire Vlach is offering a four-session crash course through the year-old Portland Underground Grad School. Cost: $99 for the eight-hour class.

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Discount ends tomorrow for the International Open Streets Summit in Portland

Sunday Parkways northeast 2014-28

Northeast Portland Sunday Parkways, 2014.
(Photo: J.Maus/BikePortland)

The biggest conference about open-streets events (like Sunday Parkways) and tactical urbanism (like Better Block) is coming to Portland next month.

The International Open Streets Summit will bring many people who work to humanize street space to Portland State University from Thursday, Aug. 18 to Saturday, Aug. 20. The draft program includes speakers from Philadelphia; Dallas; Los Angeles; Missoula; Toronto; Cape Town, South Africa; and Santiago, Chile, among others.

The “tactical urbanism” thread is newly added to this conference, reflecting the fact that fast, flexible changes and demos on city streets are a growing trend among community groups and city governments alike. Mike Lydon, a planning consultant helping produce this conference, literally wrote the book on that subject.

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Coming soon: A new protected bike lane on 2nd Ave and a plaza near Voodoo Doughnuts

Buffered Bike Lane with a bike symbol and arrow pointing forward
Mock-up of what 2nd Avenue will look like by the end of July.(Images: City of Portland)
Mock-up of what 2nd Avenue will look like by the end of July.
(Images: City of Portland)

The City of Portland Bureau of Transportation will make significant changes to 2nd and 3rd Avenues in downtown Portland this summer.

2nd, which is one-way northbound, will be re-striped with a parking-protected bike lane from SW Stark to NW Everett and there’s a new public plaza coming to the intersection of SW Ankeny and 3rd.

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Lovers of great streets: Better Broadway needs our help

Buffered Bike Lane with a bike symbol and arrow pointing forward
This is worth fighting for. Please take the survey and email the mayor and Commissioner Novick about it. (Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)
This is worth fighting for. Please take the survey and email the mayor and Commissioner Novick about it.
(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

I’ve been out on NE Broadway several times this week. And I love what Better Block has done with the place. The transformation of the street from auto-centric thoroughfare to a pleasant street that welcomes a mix of uses has been nothing short of amazing.

But I’m here to let you in on a secret: Not everyone is pleased. I’ve heard from several sources that the project is coming under fire by people whose hate equals my love.

Much of the anger is apparently coming from people think Broadway should remain a fast, crowded arterial mostly for driving on. While people out on the street are supportive and Better Block PDX has many fantastic neighborhood partners, there are some (who just so happen to have very powerful voices) who see this temporary street transformation as evil incarnate.

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