Footwear and apparel company Adidas America Inc is poised to spend $1 million for the construction of a cycle-track on the street outside their headquarters in the Overlook neighborhood of north Portland.
City Council is expected to adopt an ordinance (PDF) on Wednesday that will authorize an agreement between Adidas and the City of Portland to give the company a $1 million System Development Charge credit. Adidas in in the midst of a major expansion that will build three new buildings and nearly double the number of employees at the location.
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:
What began as a straightforward repaving project is now one of Portland’s best protected lanes. In the past two weeks, the Bureau of Transportation has finished restriping North Rosa Parks way between Willamette Blvd. and Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. This means it’s now possible to bike (or scoot!) in a wide curbside lane that has some form of separation from drivers on 3.5 linear miles of this important east-west neighborhood street.
They’re the best bike lanes in Portland that no almost no one has heard about.
Portland could build 137 miles of protected bike lanes protected from other traffic with a planted buffer zone — and launch a transportation revolution with far-reaching benefits — for just $73 million. Or we could do it for about $34 million using plastic delineator posts. Those are two of many insights gleaned from the 124-page Portland Protected Bicycle Lane Design Guide just released in draft form by the Bureau of Transportation.
When we shared a sneak peek at the guide last month, PBOT Bicycle Coordinator Roger Geller said, “It provides much-needed clarity about what we can build and how it will fit on Portland streets.”
The guide offers engineers, planners, project managers and advocates a road map to retrofit Portland’s streets. From detailed cross-section drawings that can be applied to 28 different street configurations, to clear recommendations on what type of protective materials to use in specific situations, the guide should help hasten the development of protected bike lanes. If you’re an advocate for streets where fewer people die and where everyone — even those who don’t use cars — can get around more efficiently, you’ll appreciate the vibe in the introduction:
“The intent of the designs in this guide is to quickly and emphatically reconfigure Portland’s streets, not just so they operate in a safe manner, but also to communicate that bicycling is more attractive than driving and that bicycle transportation is accessible to people of all ages and abilities…Numerous studies from around the world, as well as our experience and the experience of cities with which we are allied through the National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO), have confirmed that providing protected bicycle lanes on busy streets is a key element to addressing the demand for better conditions for bicycle transportation. Such facilities are the highest quality bikeways, and are appropriate on roadways that include higher motor vehicle speeds and volumes.”
Portland has been talking about physically protected bike lanes for years. The problem is, we’ve mostly just been talking — and not building. And when we have built them, the designs have been inconsistent.
One of the (many) reasons for the slow implementation of protected bike lanes is that engineers, planners, and project managers at the Portland Bureau of Transportation haven’t been reading from the same book. In fact, they haven’t even had a book. Until now.
Last week PBOT’s bicycle program manager Roger Geller shared a sneak peek at a new manual that will soon be adopted as the official Portland Protected Bicycle Lane Design Guide.
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.”
I looked back at 2017 and decided it’s probably best to start looking ahead.
Not everything about last year was bad. We (and by “we” I mean BikePortland and our community in general) had some triumphs and we learned a great deal about important issues; but it was not our best year.
Looking ahead however, we see plenty of reasons for optimism.
The four things below are infrastructure-related. And yes, I’m fully aware that a city’s transportation culture is defined by much more than roads and bridges. I’m thinking about those other issues as well, but I’ll save those thoughts for a different day.
Here’s my list…
A developer has offered to pitch in $250,000 toward a significant upgrade to the bikeway and sidewalk on NW 14th between Kearney and Lovejoy.