As redevelopment proposals for Northwest Portland’s big post office have moved forward, some insiders have been talking about an exciting concept for the site: a flyover ramp that could directly connect the bridge’s 30-foot-high Y-shaped west landing with a new north-south bikeway through the Park Blocks.
Envisioned as a key link in a proposed Green Loop biking path around the central city, a well-designed route through what’s supposed to become a major mixed-use employment and residential development would certainly be costly if it took the form of a floating path — but would also seem likely to become one of Portland’s most iconic pieces of bike infrastructure, reminiscent of Copenhagen’s new Bicycle Snake.
If Portland’s main post office signs a deal to relocate, a huge payoff for biking could be hiding between the lines.
As the Portland Development Commission meets this afternoon to consider putting up $500,000 to reboot negotiations over moving the operation from the Pearl District to a new hub near Portland International Airport, advocates and planners are watching with great interest.
Redevelopment of the eight-city-block post office site could create the space and funding for a new built-from-scratch bikeway from the Broadway Bridge straight down into the Park Blocks, across Burnside past Director Park, and into the city’s biggest cultural district and Portland State University.
When the Encore condominiums in the Pearl District opened in 2008, bike-friendliness was a main selling point. “Ride. Relax. Repeat” was the marketing slogan. The building also caught my eye and ended up on the Front Page for offering a free bicycle to new owners. The building’s developer, Hoyt Street Properties, purchased a long-term advertising campaign here on BikePortland.
But that was then.
Now, several Encore residents claim that the board of the Encore Condominium Owners Association (they took ownership of the building from Hoyt last summer) is vehemently anti-bike and has established new bike parking rules and policies that one long-time owner calls “draconian.”
At issue is how to deal with the growing number of bicycles at the 177 unit building. Residents I’ve spoken with say there aren’t nearly enough spaces (even though only about 150 units are currently sold). However, instead of increasing the number of racks, the board has come up with new rules and a convoluted, fee-based lottery and permit system that comes nowhere near meeting demand.
The Bureau of Transportation is scheduled to make long-awaited changes to NW Marshall Street between 10th and 11th (map). Their aim is to make bicycling conditions more pleasant by decreasing the amount of people who drive on the street and by adding dedicated space for bicycle traffic.
Auto traffic on Marshall has increased considerably after the bike lane on NW Lovejoy was removed and it was turned into a one-way street as part of the eastside streetcar project. This is problematic because Marshall is supposed to function as a bike boulevard. PBOT had hoped auto traffic would use Northrup (one block north), but that hasn’t happened. (For more on this issue, read our story from September 2011, PBOT eyes changes in the Pearl to reduce auto traffic on NW Marshall)
NW Lovejoy to avoid the new streetcar tracks.
(Photos © J. Maus/BikePortland)
The Pearl District Neighborhood Association wants to expand the area in downtown Portland where bicycling on sidewalks is prohibited. Currently, bicycles are not allowed on sidewalks in the area defined by 13th, SW Jefferson, Naito Parkway, and NW Hoyt (map). The PDNA’s Planning, Design & Transportation Committee passed a motion at their meeting on August 21st to modify Portland City Code 16.70.320 to extend that boundary to the Willamette River and I-405.
plans for the Pearl District last night.
(Photos © J. Maus)
After NW Lovejoy was decommissioned as a bikeway by the city, NW Marshall Street was supposed to take its place. The Bureau of Transportation added sharrows, smoothed out cobblestones, and installed signage and pavement markings to direct bicycle traffic from the main thoroughfare (Lovejoy) onto Marshall.
Unfortunately, it’s not working out as planned.
“I got caught in there [rail tracks]. And it put the fear of death in me. And that was the last time.”
— Portlandia star Fred Armisen on why he doesn’t plan to ride a bike when he moves to the Pearl District
Often when I’ve brought up issues related to sub-par bicycling conditions that I believe pose a safety hazard, I’ve been met with criticism.
Whether it was bone-jarring bumps on the Esplanade, the lack of shoulders on rural roads, or the dangers posed by streetcar tracks, some people react by saying, “Toughen up! Stop whining! Learn how to ride your bike and get over it!”
However, I remain convinced that high quality, smooth streets and paths are imperative if we expect more people to give bicycling a try (and an OHSU study agrees).
The Festa Italiana, a week-long event that has brought together the local Italian community for 20 years, now includes a bike race.
The Giro di Portland will feature the area’s best racing talent on a high-speed, multi-lap criterium through the Pearl District — and the Festa Italiana is the presenting sponsor.
Festa President Joe Castellano says having a bike race as part of their event has always been a goal. “Italians love their bike races,” he shared via telephone this morning.
(Drawing by David Boekelheide and Evan Holt/PNCA)