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TriMet launches online open house on Division Transit Project station designs

Avatar by on July 3rd, 2018 at 9:06 am

Latest iteration of how TriMet will design eight new stations on outer SE Division.

After months of feedback from partner agencies and advisory committees, and “recalibrating” due to a budget shortfall, TriMet has released its latest designs for how bicycle riders will pass through its new bus stations as part of the Division Transit project. An online open house went live last week and is accepting public comments through July 12th.

We last shared TriMet’s plans a few weeks ago. Since then, the agency has held two open houses and firmed up the design.

TriMet is grappling with how to maintain a protected bike lane while achieving all the other design and budget goals for the project (primary among them is to increase bus speeds and reliability). When we took our first close look just over one year ago, TriMet planned on a design where the bike lane would go behind the bus island (something similar to this scenario in London). Now the design routes the bike lane between passengers and the bus.

Here’s what they presented in June 2017:

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In September 2017:

In October 2017:

And here’s the latest design again:

This view gives you a different sense of how it will all come together (the teal/purple sections are protected bike lanes, the blue is the bus station):

According to their latest maps, TriMet plans to build eight of these “Integrated–Shared Bicycle and Pedestrian” stations — all east of 82nd. The locations include: 84th Place westbound, 87th eastbound, both sides of the street west of the I-205 path, and in Gresham on both sides of the street at 174th and 182nd.

One of the key aspects of the design you can help TriMet finalize is how wide the bike lane and the boarding strip (aka “alighting area”) should be. This is the “to be determined” part of the cross-section in the drawings above. According to discussions I’ve overheard, the concerns is that a wider alighting area will encourage people to stand on it and result in more blockage of the bike lane (TriMet wants people to wait further back on the sidewalk). But a narrower alighting area might not do enough to slow down bicycle users and create a safe space for passengers.

Please share your feedback with TriMet at the online open house before July 12th. Construction on this project is due to start fall 2019 and be ready for service mid-2022.

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and jonathan@bikeportland.org

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PBOT changing Outer Division plans amid parking and freight access concerns

Avatar by on November 7th, 2017 at 1:01 pm

PBOT slide showing five years of crashes on SE Division between 122nd and 126th.

“Outer SE Division is really a mess.”

“Across the board we have overall support. But we’re also hearing, ‘Wow, losing on-street parking will be a big deal for our business,’ and, ‘How’s freight going to work?'”
— Liz Mahon, PBOT

That’s how Portland Bureau of Transportation Project Manager Liz Mahon introduced this project at a joint meeting of the City’s bicycle and pedestrian advisory committees last month. And she’s right. That slide above showing data from five years of crashes between SE 122nd and 126th is just one piece of evidence in the case against Division.

That’s why the City of Portland’s Outer Division Multimodal Safety Project is such a big deal. In addition to this being arguably the most dangerous road in Portland, the project is something of a test for the Bureau of Transportation. Can they match vision zero rhetoric with real, on-the-ground, infrastructure? Can they prove to east Portlanders that their pleas for safety are being heard? Can they do it on a faster-than-usual timeline? And most importantly, can they respond to concerns from businesses without overly compromising the outcomes of the project?

So far things have gone well. Following a high-profile kickoff meeting back in February, PBOT took the unprecedented step of declaring an official city emergency to reduce the speed limit on Division. Now they’re working through a plan that will include dozens of “enhanced crossings,” speed cameras, new and improved sidewalks, protected bike lanes, and a raised center median.

Space for that center median and protected bikeway has to come from somewhere. And that’s where things are getting sticky.

PBOT slide showing median examples.

PBOT design in Jade District. Note the center median (yellow outline) and u-turn radius.

“National surveys show that medians reduce accidents but also may hurt auto-reliant businesses. Division is lined with auto-reliant businesses.”
— Division Midway Alliance

PBOT’s initial plan was to use the space currently used to park cars on the street. While this project has broad support from many in the adjacent community who’ve been clamoring for safety improvements for years, business owners have voiced concerns about the loss of on-street parking and impacts to freight delivery.

“Across the board we have overall support,” Mahon said at the advisory committee meeting last month, “But we’re also hearing, ‘Wow, losing on-street parking will be a big deal for our business,’ and, ‘How’s freight going to work?'”

Now Mahon and PBOT are revising the plans to see where they can, “Create opportunities for on-street parking to come back” while making freight truck access work better.

PBOT has heard directly from the Division Midway Alliance, a nonprofit that represents business owners between 117th to 148th avenues. The DMA feels that the median and parking removal will hurt local businesses. “National surveys show that medians reduce accidents but also may hurt auto-reliant businesses. Division is lined with auto-reliant businesses,” says a notice posted on the DMA website today. Here’s more from that posting:

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At a meeting late last month, business owners, some who said they felt left out, “steamrolled” in the words of one, of the planning process, told PBOT and other officials their concerns and views, including:

– Medians will cut their business because potential customers, diverted by the medians, will not bother to turn in;
– Delivery trucks will have difficulty making turns or finding alternate routes;
– Drivers will seek other routes, too, pushing traffic on to already overtaxed surface and neighborhood streets;
– Wouldn’t more police enforcement – ALONE – of speed limits and jaywalking reduce accidents?
– And why not fix the roadway, add streetlights and fill in the sidewalks first and NOW?

It’s worth noting that PBOT has been up front from Day One about how this project would impact the street. The official project website has this list of “tradeoffs” that are required to make Division safe:

– Safety improvements may require removing parking on both sides of the street. Instead of parking cars on Division Street, people may need to park cars on side streets or private property.
– People may need to use a different driveway when driving to or from a location directly on Division Street.
– People driving may need to turn off or onto Division at different locations, because a center median will help people turn at the safest spots.
– PBOT will work through these tradeoffs with the community through 2017.

Reached for comment today, PBOT confirmed that business owners in the Jade District are also worried about parking loss. “We believe we can accommodate some on-street parking with separated bike lanes,” PBOT’s Dylan Rivera said via email today. “And we are working with business owners on design options.”

PBOT slide shown at October meeting of PBOT Bike/Pedestrian Advisory Committee.

Rivera said the larger challenge is the freight access issue. Namely, how truck operators can still service businesses without a center turn lane to stop in, and with a curbside lane that will be reserved for bicycling and separated from other lanes with vertical plastic wands (side streets aren’t big enough for large trucks, and residents don’t want them there even if they did).

To make this work, Rivera says PBOT is, “Exploring tools that will provide a protected bike lane while not precluding freight.” The solution could mean a raised — yet mountable — barrier to protect the bike lane which they say would keep cars out but still allow trucks to use the bike lane. Since they’d be in the path of bicycle riders, PBOT might restrict loading and unloading to “certain low-traffic hours of the day.” That idea was quickly questioned by committee member Doug Klotz. “I think it’d be better if trucks stopped in the right hand auto lane,” he said. “That seems to be what vision zero would call for.”

Another issue that came up at the October Bicycle Advisory Committee meeting is how u-turning drivers might encroach on biking space at corners. PBOT says they’re aware of that issue and will plan on using special markings to warn users of the hazard. Some committee members recommended that PBOT prohibit u-turns by large trucks and instead require them to circle the block. Others questioned why PBOT would design a project with danger spots built in: “I don’t want you to introduce untested facilities with obvious conflict points as part of a safety improvement,” said Elliot Akwai-Scott.

To learn more about this project and see PBOT’s latest plans, attend the open house this Thursday (11/9) from 5:00 to 7:00 pm at Portland Community College Hall Annex (2305 SE 82nd Ave).

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and jonathan@bikeportland.org

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City switches plan for Division detour: Signs will point to Powell, not Clinton

Michael Andersen (Contributor) by on August 21st, 2014 at 4:08 pm

clinton traffic

Traffic on Clinton.
(Photo by Michael Andersen/BikePortland)

Six days after saying that it would detour eastbound traffic from Division Street onto the Clinton Street neighborhood greenway for two weeks, the City of Portland has changed course.

Starting Monday, electronic signs will instruct drivers heading east at 11th Avenue to turn south to Powell Boulevard rather than one block south to Clinton, the Portland bureaus of transportation and environmental services said Thursday.

It’s a measure of victory for people who called the detour an inappropriate use of an all-ages walking and biking facility that is already at or above the maximum national standard for auto traffic volume on a bicycle boulevard.

But the city also said Thursday that it still expects many people to detour onto Clinton anyway, because there are no plans other than signage to prompt them otherwise.

[Read more…]

Is Portland’s newest urban corridor good or bad? City is asking residents

Michael Andersen (Contributor) by on June 4th, 2014 at 2:35 pm

SE Division street scene - photo by Michael Andersen

There’s nothing like a walk to better understand the impact of changes to a street.
(Photo M. Andersen/BikePortland)

Portland’s planning department is trying to figure out if the rapid transformation of Southeast Division Street will become a template or a cautionary tale.

On Wednesday night, it’s invited the public to attend a “community walk” to assess the rapidly redeveloping street and “consider zoning issues through a local lens.”

The walk is 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., and begins at Piccolo Park, SE 28th and Division. According to the official description, city staffers will ask:

  • What’s working well or not so well regarding new development?
  • How can zoning code regulations help support a thriving business environment?
  • What building features, scale, or site designs will enhance the character of the area?
  • What design features will create a quality environment for future residents?
  • What are appropriate ways of creating transitions in development scale and activity between mixed use development and adjacent residential areas?

[Read more…]

Visualizing the cost of local transportation projects

Michael Andersen (Contributor) by on February 5th, 2014 at 2:09 pm

More than just about anything else on BikePortland, we write about street projects — and, if our records are any indication, you like to read about them more than just about anything else, too.

But what do they cost, really? Sometimes it’s hard to visualize.

So we gave it a shot:

visualizing Portland-area transportation investments

Graphic by BikePortland. The area of each circle corresponds to the cost of each project.

[Read more…]

Miracle on 34th? Neighbors ask city to improve bike access by removing auto parking

Michael Andersen (Contributor) by on January 8th, 2014 at 10:03 am

Mark Zahner outside his 34th Avenue home.
(Photos by M.Andersen/BikePortland)

It’s an anomaly in Southeast Portland’s parking wars: a group of homeowners is asking the City of Portland to please remove a row of auto parking spaces from their street.

They’d rather have a bike lane, the group says. But it’s not yet clear whether their request will be granted.

“It’s a street where nobody’s been killed, but many, many near misses,” said Mark Zahner of the street where he lives, 34th Avenue between Clinton and Division streets. “We feel like it’s only a matter of time.”
[Read more…]