It’s time to share feedback on a project that aims to make North Lombard safer through the Kenton neighborhood.
Now it’s time for you to take a closer look at what’s proposed, and tell ODOT what you think about it.
Last week I got one of those emails I dread: Proposed bike lanes could be in jeopardy because a business group is making a fuss about parking removal. Making matters worse was that the project in question was Oregon Department of Transportation’s Lombard Safety Project, which we know is giving major heartburn to the City of Portland Freight Committee.
To learn more I tracked down a letter (PDF) dated November 7th to ODOT from the Kenton Business Association. The letter confirmed my fears. “On behalf of the Kenton Business Association (KBA) and the more than 200 businesses we represent,” it read, “we urge you to reconsider elements of the Lombard Multimodal Safety Project… We believe the current design of this project presents a serious safety risk to cyclists, puts an undue burden on our vital small businesses, and will have a profoundly negative impact on our neighbors on this stretch of N Lombard.”
Oh no. Here we go again, I thought.
The Concord Avenue neighborhood greenway has only one gap in its 2.4 mile route between Overlook Park and North Argyle Street in the Kenton neighborhood: the offset crossing of Lombard Street (a.k.a. Highway 30). But with a new agreement between the Oregon Department of Transportation (they own and manage Lombard) and the Portland Bureau of Transportation, that gap will soon be filled.
The two agencies recently hashed out an intergovernmental agreement (IGA) so that PBOT could do the work to build a new crossing that will link Concord on the south side of Lombard with Fenwick to the north. It’s a much-needed upgrade to an intersection isn’t as safe as it should be. Not only is this a designated neighborhood greenway route, but it’s a popular connector between two neighborhoods (Arbor Lodge and Kenton) and there’s a high school directly adjacent to it.
The existing crossing infrastructure — known as a pedestrian half-signal — is also not compliant with federal guidelines. A half-signal exists when there’s a standard traffic signal for the major road, but only stop signs for the minor roads. The Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) explicitly prohibits the use of half-signals due to safety concerns. Studies have shown that when someone actuates the traffic signal on the main road, drivers from the side-street think it’s an opportunity to turn and they don’t realize (or they don’t see) the people in the crosswalk. As of 2015, Portland had 47 such signals and because they’re not recommended by the MUTCD, we haven’t installed one since 1986.
PBOT plans to spend $2 million in Transportation System Development Charges to improve this crossing. In addition to the full signal upgrade they plan to add ADA improvements to the curbs and sidewalk, and create a new bike lane on Lombard. As you can see in the latest concept drawing, the plan is to stripe an unprotected, five-feet wide eastbound bike lane and create a westbound bike lane on the sidewalk for the short distance between Concord and the crossing at Fenwick.
As you can see in the cross-sections below, the bike lanes would be separated by a two-foot buffer. The space to add them would come from an existing planted median on the sidewalk and from narrowing one of the existing lanes:
Longtime readers will recall that we first mentioned an improvement at this crossing in 2010.
PBOT Communications Director John Brady said today that with the IGA with ODOT now signed, they can move onto final design work. It will be a few months yet until we get an estimated date of completion. Stay tuned.
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BikePortland needs your support.
Can we just stop beating around the bush for a second and talk about what the City of Portland Bureau of Transportation is doing to our streets?
From Southeast Foster to St. Johns, they are slowly but surely redesigning roads citywide so there’s less space for driving cars and trucks. In addition, they’re also intentionally making it harder and less efficient to drive. This is nothing to be ashamed of. In fact, it’s worth a huge celebration. If we want to make good on our potential as a great city we must move aggressively beyond the driving-alone status quo.
While it’s fun to observe PBOT’s progress from an advocacy, political, and bureaucratic perspective, I often find neighborhood meetings are the most fascinating window into the sausage-making process.
A protected lane on the Kenton neighborhood’s main street was supposed to be built by now.
As of last March, with funds from the Fixing our Streets program, the Bureau of Transportation was set to (once again) leverage a scheduled repaving project to reconfigure lanes on N Denver Avenue. The plans called for switching the existing, door-zone bike lane to the curb and adding a buffer on Denver between North Lombard and Watts that would protect vulnerable road users from other traffic. Auto parking would be provided in the street, creating the same type of “parking-protected bike lane” that PBOT has recently installed on nearby Rosa Parks Way.
But PBOT now says the project has been delayed a year until summer 2019. Here’s more from an email they just sent:
North Denver Avenue could be the latest street in Portland to get a parking-protected bike lane.
The Kenton Neighborhood Association says the Portland Bureau of Transportation is shopping around that idea as part of a repaving project this summer. “Last Friday, PBOT went door-to-door between N Lombard and N Watts on N Denver,” stated a KNA blog post published March 13th, “and spoke with roughly 35 people at 20 addresses, finding most neighbors enthusiastic about the project.”
We’ve since confirmed that PBOT has set aside $938,000 from their local gas tax-funded Fixing Our Streets program to pave and make ADA upgrades on Denver Avenue from Lombard to Watts. As of late February the project was at 60 percent design. According to a document available on PBOT’s website, a “final decision related to parking removal remains and relates to public involvement.”
Lots of news to get to so let’s jump right in shall we?
There’s been a lot of shuffling of bike shops in Portland in the past few years. There are several reasons we see bike shops move or go out of business. There’s always a pendulum swing and shake-out in a city whose enthusiasm for cycling sometimes outpaces its actual support of it. Rent increases are another major culprit. Bike shops aren’t exactly cash cows and most owners operate on very thin margins. Finding the right space with the right size at the right price is not easy — especially in a city where landlords and developers would rather own multi-story residential buildings.
With that, here are the updates we’ve got for you (scroll down to get all the details):
- Upcycles moves out of Woodlawn
- Kenton Cycle Repair moves into much larger space
- Metropolis Cycles changes plans
- Announcing the Breadwinner Cafe!
- East Portland shops step up to help
Kenton Cycle Repair has had a very rough start to the week. Around 6:00 am Monday morning two men broke into the shop and stole nine bikes and a large amount of new inventory off the shelves.
The shop is located at 2020 N McClellan Street, just off Denver Avenue in downtown Kenton. According to @pdxalerts (not official) the suspects were driving a blue Chevrolet pickup.
The shop’s owner Rich Walker confirmed the details of eight of the stolen bikes with us yesterday. The total retail value of the bikes is around $4,750. Walker said the thieves also made out with “all our lights and locks and a large amount of repair parts.”
Walker said the thieves busted out the front door. When he arrived around 8:15 there was glass all over the floor. A witness from the Kenton Hotel Apartments across the street saw two men in a truck loaded with bikes and called 911; but they drove away before police arrived. The witness was able to share a description of the men and a partial license plate number.
adjacent to Denver Ave.
The Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) is entering the design phase of a project that will bring major changes to bicycling conditions between the Kenton neighborhood, N Denver Ave, and connections to Schmeer Road and Portland International Raceway (PIR).
On the project website, ODOT says the changes come from issues with traveling in the area that were first identified through a study completed during their I-5 Delta Park Project in 2006. That study, says ODOT, “pointed out multiple safety and operational concerns along the Denver Avenue corridor, including poor sight lines for drivers, deficient turning movements, gaps in bicycle/pedestrian paths, and the poor conditions of the Denver Avenue bridge decks and railings.” ODOT won $2.5 million for the estimated $4 million project through the 2012-2015 Metropolitan Transportation Improvement Program.