Better Block PDX
Nine months ago, one of the city’s top experts on the Lloyd District predicted to us that any changes to inner Northeast Portland’s main east-west arterial were 10 years away.
“I think people need to realize that Broadway doesn’t know what they want to do yet,” said Rick Williams, the founding director of the Go Lloyd business association, in an interview. “Broadway is kind of where we were 10 years ago: in the planning phase.”
But if an on-street trial next week of improved crosswalks and a protected bike lane do well, the planning phase could move pretty quickly.
Having a reduced speed limit and 15 feet of space dedicated to biking and walking on Naito Parkway for three full months is a welcome improvement. But it comes with a trade-off: In order to get full support for the project from Waterfront Park event organizers, the City of Portland is allowing trucks to use the lane as a loading zone.
The Better Broadway project is one of the most ambitious temporary space activation projects ever attempted in a US city. If it is successful the door will be opened to an entirely new narrative in Portland around auto space on our busiest roads. The scope of the project is ambitious. From NE 24th to 7th the entire north side-parking lane will be moved to the other side of the bike lane. This will create a parking protected bike lane with 5 temporary pedestrian crossings and islands alongside transit islands. It involves over 50 businesses and unlike the SW 3rd project, which ran for a weekend, Better Broadway will last for an entire week.
Is there a more Portland story than a group of “tactical urbanists” who go from putting up chairs and tables in parking spaces to partnering with the City of Portland on several major projects in less than three years? That’s the story of Better Block PDX, the all-volunteer group of aspiring engineers, transportation activists and urban planners who today kicked off the what they’re calling “the largest temporary street transformation in America.”
And that’s just one-third of their summer workload.
Just when you thought May couldn’t get any better for biking in Portland, the City just announced that their Better Naito project will be returning this summer. The Bureau of Transportation says one northbound lane of Naito Parkway will be converted to a two-way biking and walking facility from May 2nd to July 31st.
(Photo: Greg Raisman)
Dozens of volunteers are now meeting weekly to plan temporary human-friendly makeovers of Northeast Broadway and the Burnside Bridge this spring and summer.
Better Block PDX’s next “work party” is tonight at Pizza Schmizza at NE 7th and Broadway, from 6-7:30 p.m. Next Wednesday it’s the same time at Black Water Bar, NE 9th and Broadway.
The Broadway demo will create a protected bike lane for one week, from May 9-15.
The streets-for-people group Better Block PDX unveiled four main projects for its “2016 season” Thursday night to a crowd gathered in a bike warehouse.
The volunteer street transformers at Better Block PDX are kicking off what they call “a transformation moment for our organization” at a “volunteer appreciation party” Thursday night.
It’ll be a starting gun for the first full year of what the group hopes will be an ongoing conveyor belt of new ideas for Portland streets, with help from Portland State University’s pipeline of aspiring planners and engineers.
The event is 6 p.m. at 1805 NE 2nd Ave.
If you had to pick a single person to thank for the wave of live on-street demos that’s been spreading rapidly around the country — most recently, today’s pop-up protected bike lane on Southwest Broadway — it’d probably be Jason Roberts.
In 2010, the Dallas-based planner co-created what’s now The Better Block Foundation by raising $1,000 for a semi-legal weekend demo of bike lanes, street flowerpots, cafe seating and pedestrian space in the city’s Oak Cliff neighborhood. From there, Roberts has spun the concept into a group that has lent its name to disciples around the country and last month received a $775,000 grant from the Knight Foundation to enshrine live community-led demos as a legitimate part of American urban planning.
As we wrote on Tuesday, Roberts is visiting Portland this week for a talk at City Hall on Friday. We caught up with him for an interview about how to run a great street demo, how these projects can improve cities and why they were developed in Dallas, of all places.