Ask BikePortland: What’s up with Zidell and the future of South Waterfront greenway path?

City of Portland graphic showing path location in front of Zidell property.
City of Portland graphic showing future path location in front of Zidell property.

Today’s question (actually it’s more of a statement in need of clarification) comes from reader Douglas K.:

Zidell says they’ll be building just one more barge. That could clear one of the last major obstacles to completing the Willamette Greenway trail sooner than expected.

Could it? Many of you have contacted about this in the past few days. Here’s the lowdown and background on the issue:

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Dominoes keep falling for a continuous river path in South Waterfront

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South Waterfront Greenway path-6

An existing path segment somewhat north of the Prometheus project. White for walking, black for biking.
(Photos: J.Maus/BikePortland)

Last month we were overjoyed to report that automaker Tesla had voluntarily agreed to build a segment of riverfront bike path behind its future showroom on Southwest Macadam.

If a new housing and retail project that entered the city’s development pipeline Monday moves forward, it’d be the final piece of a continuous west-bank greenway from the Sellwood Bridge almost to the Ross Island Bridge — and in the coming years to Tilikum Crossing.

The vacant lot between Southwest Lowell, Lane, Bond and the Willamette River would get four new seven-story buildings with ground-floor retail and 200 to 300 apartments above, under a very early concept plan filed for a pre-application hearing by the local firm GBD Architects, which is representing San Mateo-based Prometheus Real Estate Group. Here’s the site plan for the Prometheus project marking future “recreational trails” with a string of stars:

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Good news: Tesla agrees to build Willamette Greenway path segment

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New design drawing showing where the path will go.
Latest plan drawing shows where the new path will go (in blue, existing path is in red).

They didn’t have to do it, but they did.

I’m happy to report that Tesla Motors has decided to pave a new section of the Willamette Greenway path that runs across a parcel they plan to develop in the South Waterfront neighborhood.

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Willamette Greenway trail link might wait decades if Tesla plan goes through

tesla gap

(Image: Bob Cronk via South Waterfront Facebook group)

Half a mile south of the lonely riverside trail segment derided recently by The Oregonian as a “pathway to nowhere,” the city could miss a chance at a key connection.

Last week, Tesla Motors filed an application to convert an old metal-parts warehouse between Macadam Avenue and the Willamette River into an auto showroom.

But for people who would like to see a continuous riverside trail here, there’s bad news: a special section of city code exempts projects in the South Waterfront from having to connect greenway trail segments on their property unless they’re adding at least 50,000 square feet of new floor space. Because Tesla only plans to remodel the warehouse, not expand it, the unused space behind its shop wouldn’t have to redevelop.

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Take a sneak peek at OHSU’s new ‘Go By Bike Share’

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iwo jima

OHSU Transportation Options Coordinator John Landolfe and Go By Bike owner Kiel Johnson hoist the second bike-share rack into place in the South Waterfront.
(Photos: M.Andersen/BikePortland)

Pushing to grow its workforce without pouring precious cash into garage construction, Portland’s largest employer continues to roll out bike-transportation improvements.

Next week, Oregon Health and Science University plans to became the latest major company (following Nike and Intel) to introduce a private bike-sharing system for moving quickly around its campus.

“Basically we just copied what Nike does and made it blue,” said Kiel Johnson, owner of the Go By Bike shop and valet, of the 13-bike, two-station system. His team will operate it.

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City looks for alternatives to door-zone bike lane on new street in South Waterfront

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Screenshot 2015-08-31 at 1.53.09 PM

Yes, apparently city engineers sometimes use the Unipiper to designate bike lanes. We’ll call it affectionate good humor.
(Images from a city engineer’s design dated April 2015)

Well, this would definitely be odd if it happened.

Despite a continuing gusher of evidence that adding some sort of vertical separation to bike lanes makes them much better at getting people to actually ride bicycles, the City of Portland was, as recently as April, drawing up “preliminary” plans for an entirely new street in the South Waterfront that had a bike lane painted into the door zone of a road bed.

Two days after we emailed him about the plans, city spokesman Dylan Rivera said the sketch (which is dated May 5, 2015 and lists April 2015 as its “date approved”) was “per the 2009 city council approved street plan for the area” and that “we are considering other options.”

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Far under budget, TriMet’s Orange Line may return tens of millions to federal government

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Tilikum Crossing, Bridge of the People

TriMet has at least $34 million, and maybe much more, unspent within the project’s scope of work.
(Photo: TriMet)

Four years after the Portland area’s transit agency furiously chopped costs and recruited other local governments to balance the budget for its new $1.5 billion rail line, the price tag so far is turning out to be more like $1.3 billion.

Though a few remaining bills have yet to be paid, the combination of far more cost-efficient track and systems construction than expected and persistently low interest rates has been so large that TriMet has been searching for new ways to spend some of the unexpected surplus locally.

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The simple way to end bike theft: Externalize the costs

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go by bike overhead

OHSU covers the costs and reaps many benefits from the South Waterfront’s free-to-use bike valet. If we’re willing to listen, its success could be a lesson.
(Photo: Go By Bike)

America's Next Bicycle Capital

Part of our series of guest posts, America’s Next Bicycle Capital, where we share community voices about the future of biking in Portland. This week’s guest writer is Kiel Johnson, owner of the Go By Bike shop and operator of the Go By Bike valet.

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Repeat after me: it is not your fault your bike got stolen. Even if you were a dummy and left your custom bike unlocked only to return several hours later and find it stolen, it is not your fault.

The solution to ending bike theft is easy. It starts with this fact: we are already dealing as individuals with the costs of theft.

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