Tens of millions in unused parks fees could boost bike-path projects

trail dedication ceremony- Swan Island

Swan Island, north of the Fremont Bridge on the east bank of the Willamette, is home to a lonely segment of what could be a future North Portland Greenway.
(Photos: J.Maus/BikePortland)

The Portland Bureau of Parks and Recreation is rarely discussed as part of the answer to Portland’s transportation problems.

Instead of relying mostly on relatively costly off-street paths, which are the main channels for low-stress bike transportation in most of the United States, Portland generally prides itself on improving its actual streets for biking.

But the city’s parks bureau is currently facing a problem that many transportation advocates don’t know about: How to spend the tens of millions of dollars in fees from new development that have been pouring into city coffers for years now.

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City applies for funding of Flanders bikeway bridge, 70s Bikeway, and more

Buffered Bike Lane with a bike symbol and arrow pointing forward
redelectric

The Red Electric Trail, a dream for southwest neighborhood activists, could get over $600,000 in funding if a city grant request comes through.

City Council voted 5-0 yesterday to authorize grant applications for five major bikeway projects. The $9 million in grant requests would help the Bureau of Transportation fund a host of key projects, some of which have languished on lists and in the hearts of advocates for many years.

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The four bikeways it’ll take to make the Lloyd District great

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This is the third in a three-part series about the biking potential of the Lloyd District. Read the first two here.

If 1,597 new homes were about to land in the space where, seven years ago, new homes in the Portland metro area would have been most likely to land, they would be the biggest news story in the area.

In the rural outskirts of east Vancouver (yes, that counts as Portland metro), beloved farms would be shutting down. Work crews would be widening intersections and stripping away street parking to make room for more turn lanes. For miles around, residents and businesses would be bracing themselves for traffic paralysis.

But in the next few years, 1,597 homes are lined up to land somewhere else instead: right in the middle of Portland.

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Comment of the Week: The case against a bike path alongside I-84

Buffered Bike Lane with a bike symbol and arrow pointing forward

A rendering of a possible Sullivan’s Gulch Corridor.
(Rendering: Nick Falbo, Alta Planning + Design)

Biking on a flat off-road path is terrific. But biking on many first-rate streets might be better.

That’s the argument made on Wednesday by reader Terry D-M, at least. In the midst of the heated discussion over whether the Portland Bureau of Transportation needs an equity and inclusion manager, Terry offered a comment that seemed a little off-topic at first but eventually circled directly on point.

The job of an equity manager, Terry argued, would be to help people such as the members of the city’s volunteer Bicycle Advisory Committee escape the involuntary blinders that he thinks caused them to neglect infrastructure outside the central city in favor of (in his view) expensive luxuries like the long-planned Sullivan’s Gulch Corridor between the Rose Quarter and NE 21st.

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Recap from first open house for Sullivan’s Gulch corridor project

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Sullivan's Gulch Corridor Project First Open House-5-4

PBOT Planning Manager Paul Smith
explains the project to
open house attendees.
(Photos © J. Maus)

On Tuesday night at the Hollywood Senior Center, the City of Portland hosted the first official public open house for the Sullivan’s Gulch corridor project. Nearby residents and others simply curious about what could be a major new carfree thoroughfare came to learn more about the project.

As I pulled up I ran into veteran regional trail planner and Metro employee Mel Huie. Mel shared my excitement that the project is finally at this point. “It’s been a long time,” he remarked. When I asked how long, Mel said he first recalled talking about it about 15 years ago.

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$224,000 for Sullivan’s Gulch plan now in City coffers

Buffered Bike Lane with a bike symbol and arrow pointing forward

Imagine.

If you’re a fan of the Sullivan’s Gulch Mobility Corridor (a.k.a. the Sullivan’s Gulch Trail), than any news from the City of Portland is worth getting excited about (the project has been talked about since 1996!). When complete, the project will result in a five mile non-motorized transportation corridor connecting the Eastbank Esplanade to Rocky Butte and the Gateway District in East Portland.

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A “long, slow slog”: A citizen’s view of the Sullivan’s Gulch project

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Looking west into the gulch. The yellow
lines are proposed trail alignments
from a 2004 study.
(Photo: Portland State University)

Last week I directed your attention to the Sullivan’s Gulch project. I wanted more people to be aware of a meeting held last night by the Portland Parks Board which included the project on its agenda.

The Sullivan’s Gulch project (calling it a “trail” is a misnomer), which would connect East Portland to the Willamette River along I-84, is exactly the kind of investment we need to make if we want to live up to our green transportation rhetoric and meet our lofty carbon emission and bike usage goals.

Reader Carl Alviani went to the meeting last night and I asked him to share what he heard. Read Carl’s report on the meeting below (emphasis mine):

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Putting the spotlight on the Sullivan’s Gulch Trail

Buffered Bike Lane with a bike symbol and arrow pointing forward

Looking west into the gulch. The yellow
lines are proposed trail alignments
from a 2004 study.
(Photo: Portland State University)

Next week (4/6), the Portland Parks Board will hold a public meeting in St. Johns. The meeting notice caught my attention because one of the three “important” agenda items is the Sullivan’s Gulch Trail.

Why am I sharing something seemingly so minor as a meeting that will include a discussion of this project? Because for some reason (at least from my perspective), the Sullivan’s Gulch Trail needs all the attention it can get.

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A few things Minneapolis has that we don’t – Updated

Buffered Bike Lane with a bike symbol and arrow pointing forward

“The real strength of Minneapolis is its absolutely gorgeous, truly world-class off-street path system. Each has separate space for pedestrians. I biked on a half dozen wide, gorgeous separated bike-ped bridges.”
— Mia Birk, CEO of Portland-based Alta Planning

In the wake of Portland losing the #1 ranking in Bicycling Magazine that we’ve owned since 1995, I’ve been thinking about what Minneapolis has that we don’t have.

I’ve come up with a few things.

Lots of Off-Street Trails
This is probably the best thing going for Minneapolis’ bikeway system. They’ve got 84 miles of off-street trails (like our Esplanade and Springwater Corridor) that connect through their metro area. Take the Midtown Greenway for instance, a 5.5 mile former rail corridor that can get you all the way across town.

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