Carfree Kingston, a rail-trail path and more: New plan puts Washington Park’s future in focus

Defunct Zoo Train tracks as seen from SW Kingston. There’s strong interest in converting this into a paved path.
(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

The updated Washington Park Master Plan that passed unanimously by Portland City Council on March 15th is the plan we need for our central city.

Its transportation elements include a vision to: keep cars on the periphery, reduce access for drivers, aggressively encourage transit use, create plaza and green spaces, and build protected paths for cycling and walking.

Washington Park is the “jewel in the crown” of our parks system (to quote Parks Commissioner Amanda Fritz) and it had been operating under a master plan that was passed in 1981. Because of smart management by Explore Washington Park (a city-funded Transportation Management Association, or TMA), auto use has declined considerably in the park in the past five years. In 2014, 80 percent of park visitors arrived by car. Last year that number was down to just 63 percent.

The updated master plan will hasten that curve.

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Washington Park shuttle drivers concerned about unsafe behaviors from bicycle riders

When you see purple, slow down and chill out.

It’s peak season at Washington Park. That means about 1.2 million people will visit the Oregon Zoo, the Rose Garden, Hoyt Arboretum, the Japanese Garden and many other attractions between now and September.

The good news is that about one-quarter of visitors opt to get around the park via the free shuttle. The bad news is that according to shuttle operators, some people who ride bicycles in the park are not being as safe as they should be.

Washington Park’s free shuttle service is the fastest growing mode of transportation in the park. 120,000 people used it last season, a 40 percent increase from 2015. This year the park is encouraging even more people to take the shuttle due to the reservoir construction project.

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Washington Park reservoir project will close popular biking routes – UPDATED

Buffered Bike Lane with a bike symbol and arrow pointing forward
Ride Along with Stasia Honnold-43

If you ride/commute through Washington Park, you might have to change your route.
(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

Get ready for yet another construction project that will impact biking routes.

Starting two weeks from now, on September 12th, the Portland Water Bureau will begin their Reservoir Improvements Project in Washington Park. The construction of a new 12.4 million gallon reservoir and other upgrades to two existing reservoirs will last for 12 to 18 months.

There will be significant impacts to nearby roads that will include complete closures — including bicycling traffic.

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Washington Park path at Burnside and NW 24th to close for improvements

Buffered Bike Lane with a bike symbol and arrow pointing forward

It will close tomorrow. But by the end of summer it should be much-improved.(Graphic: Portland Parks & Recreation)
It will close tomorrow. But by the end of summer it should be much-improved.
(Graphic: Portland Parks & Recreation)

We’ve got some bad news and some good news.

The bad news is that tomorrow (Wednesday, May 18th) the Portland Parks & Recreation bureau will close a key path in Washington Park: the entrance to the park off W Burnside and NW 24th place. It might seem like a little path that isn’t important in our transportation network, but a fair number of people rely on this path as a connection between the west side and downtown Portland. Thankfully the closure will only last one day.

The original notice from PP&R didn’t include anything about a detour, but in a follow-up email here’s what they suggested: Use NW 23rd to Vista Ave, then to Park Ave into Washington Park.

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