Southeast Foster Road fans are rejoicing today as their beloved retail strip now has dedicated bike lanes. But that’s not the only east Portland commercial area to get new bike access this month. The Portland Bureau of Transportation says they’re about 99% finished with the much-anticipated Halsey-Weidler Streetscape project.
If all goes according to plan one part of Portland will leapfrog to an exciting new level of bike-friendliness in the next three years. Or should we say, it’ll jump?
Portland has just been named one of 10 cities nationwide (out of 80 that applied) to be part of “The Big Jump,” a program managed by the nonprofit advocacy group People for Bikes that aims to double or triple the amount of riding in one geographic area by 2019. In Portland’s case the focus will be on the Gateway district.
Dubbed the “Gateway to Opportunity” project (more on that name later), the bureau of transportation will zero-in on the area bordered by I-84, East Burnside, I-205 and NE 132nd Avenue with the goal of making it much more bikeable than it is today. With this nudge from People for Bikes, PBOT will look to advance and complete 13 different projects by 2019. The projects include protected bike lanes on the NE Halsey-Weidler couplet in the heart of Gateway, three major neighborhood greenway projects, a bikeway overpass of I-205 to connect to the Sullivan’s Gulch trail, and much more. In total, the Gateway to Opportunity project will encompass an estimated $21.35 million in infrastructure spending and create about 39 miles of new bikeways.
As one of the selected cities, Portland will receive the equivalent of $200,000 in technical support from People For Bikes each year for three years, as well as an additional $50,000 in matching funds or financial commitments from local organizations.
The Cully neighborhood would get a new biking and walking “parkway” and big roads that run through two major commercial districts in east Portland near I-205 could be updated and vastly improved for people on bikes and foot if the City of Portland is able to convince Metro to give them the cash to do it.
Portland’s vast east side has huge potential for biking, and many millions of dollars in biking improvements are poised to drop on its streets.
It’s also gearing up for what could be a regional-destination bike recreation park in the form of Gateway Green.
But the little cadre of folks who’ve scored those victories are looking for new blood to set the area’s next goals. The East Portland Action Plan bike committee invited me to join them on a tour Tuesday night of some of the most promising biking projects about to happen on the east side.
It looks as if the commercial district just east of Gateway Transit Center will have parking-protected bike lanes and bus stops by this time next year.
No other business district in the city has fully protected bike lanes; the closest is on Northeast Multnomah Street in the Lloyd District, but buses, bikes and cars there must still merge into “mixing zones” at intersections.
If Gateway is ever going to get going, it’ll take tricks like this.
City planners have high hopes for this area on the inner edge of East Portland — literally. It’s zoned for downtown-style skyscrapers but (despite being fed by three MAX lines) currently devotes its real estate to gas stations, fast food joints and parking lots.