Archive for April, 2011

Volunteers Needed for Bike Counts at Upcoming Portland Timbers Game

Posted in News on April 28th, 2011 by Steve – 1 Comment

Dear AROW members,

Friday night (7:30 kick-off) is Timbers Home game #3.  Once again, we are looking for 2-3 bike count volunteers to collect some pretty critical information for bike parking planning at the JELD-WEN field.

Here are the stats thus far:

4/14 Timbers Opener, home game #1:  Thursday evening game, 46° F, raining.  Yet still we counted 185 bikes counted near the stadium.  82 of those were locked to the temporary bike parking, another 34 were attached to permanent bike racks, and 69 attached to anything remotely stable that a u-lock could fit around.

4/17 Home game #2: Sunday afternoon game, 53° F, overcast but dry.  385 bikes counted. 228 on the temporary bike racks (35% on the 228 bikes used SW 18th Ave racks and 65% used the SW Morrison St racks), 105 on permanent staples, and 52 on non rack objects.

The forecast for Saturday looks sunny and dry.  This is the last game that the City will be donating extra temporary bicycle parking racks for the game so we are particularly interested to see the trend in bike parking demand.

The details are the same as below (we try to count about 30 minutes after kickoff and it takes two volunteers about an at the most to count).

Email me if you’re interested in helping!

Thank you so much,

– Sarah Figliozzi

Contact Sarah at sarah.figliozzi@portlandoregon.gov if you can help PBOT count bikes and demonstrate need for more bike parking at Jeld-Wen Field.

Proposal: donate “Advocacy Services” to charity auctions

Posted in News on April 27th, 2011 by Ted – 2 Comments

Here’s an idea — AROW donates “”Transport Your Activism” advocacy services to be auctioned off at fundraisers.

The BTA had their “Alice Awards” on Saturday, with about 200 donated items. The “Zoobomb with Bud Clark” item sold for $6200. The “Adovacy ride with Rob and Gerik” slots were selling for $75. I got to thinking “what would we donate that would be cool, empower people, and be hard-hitting advocacy?”

I came up with a “Pimp My Commute” service, where the winning bidder would ride their commute with 2 AROW volunteers, and point out all the places where he/she is uncomfortable or feels unsafe. You’d ride it on a Sunday so you could see stuff without engaging with traffic at the same time.

We’d take photos, make measurements, discuss possible solutions, and then write up a report for them. Most of the report would be a series of citizen maintenance requests and citizen facility improvement requests that they would sign and send in under their own name. We’d make sure that the requests contained the technical information for repairs, or included the best practice information for improvements.

Then, the winning bidder would get many of the street problem fixed, and they’d learn a bit about grassroots advocacy, AROW would gain notoriety as a service organization, and outfits like the BTA or Kaiser Foundation would get donations. We could post “before/after” photos here on the blog. And folks would tell their friends, and get the idea that they can actually make a positive change in their own commute route.

Thoughts on this? I’d be happy volunteering to be the lead “tech” person, we just need to find out when the various public health or planning organizations have gala dinners and write up a nice description of the service. Like, Sierra Club, Kaiser Foundation, Standard Insurance, Portland City Club, others? (It’s a bit of a time commitment, so we’d want to start with just 2 or 3 of them, then get more volunteers trained in if it was a success.)

We could also offer other “advocacy services” — a couple other ideas were shared by Steve B and other folks at Alice, but I didn’t write them down. Ideas?

Ted Buehler

Photos —
1) This is a utility cover on N Williams Ave at Fargo

St. It was sunk about 1-1/2″ below grade level. I took this photo and sent it in to PBOT on Feb 3 as a maintenance request after I almost got knocked off my bike when I hit it.
2) 2 months later, NW Natural has begun to cut out the pavement and raise the cover. This will make riding N Williams more comfortable, and less dangerous. One less thing to possibly knock you off your bike, one less pavement defect to dodge. But it sure wasn’t going to happen unless someone called it in to PBOT.
I expect that by this time next week we’ll have an almost-smooth ride over that utility cover (Thanks, NW Natural!)

Last Chance to Push for a Rethink of Proposed MLK Gateway Wall

Posted in News on April 21st, 2011 by Steve – Comments Off on Last Chance to Push for a Rethink of Proposed MLK Gateway Wall
It seems despite public pressure, PDC is not seriously considering a chance to rethink their anti-walking approach to their proposed MLK gateway project.  We have an opportunity to suggest a modification to their current design so that this rusty wall/gateway marker doesn’t encroach on a future sidewalk here.  For background, see here and here

Join us at today last Stakeholder’s Advisory Committee before construction begins :

MLK Gateway Stakeholder Advisory Group
Thursday, April 21
5:30 p.m. – 7:30 pm.
Irvington Village (420 NE Mason Street) located on the NE corner of Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd & NE Mason Streets
Vanport Room
Agenda

If you cannot make it, please take 2 minutes to send a quick note to Project Manager Irene Bowers, asking her to make sure the wall doesn’t encroach on this future walkway.

There are other issues around the project’s design that should be of concern to right of way users, we’ll see what comes out of this stakeholders meeting.  Hope to see you there!

Portland Bicycle Plan for 2030: One year later

Posted in News on April 19th, 2011 by Steve – Comments Off on Portland Bicycle Plan for 2030: One year later

Read PBOT’s progress report (and appendix) on year one of building out the Portland Bicycle Plan for 2030.  The appendix is especially insightful for the super wonks out there.

The BTA released its own progress report last March:

In 2010 the city made progress where it came naturally, strengthening its programs and doing its best with limited financial resources. However, we lost ground to our peers. We fell short in key areas that indicate progress toward the 2030 benchmarks.

In Year Two, we need to stand out in front of the vision in the Bike Plan and call for more.

What do you think?  Is the city on the right trajectory to accomplish the goals set forward in the Portland Bike Plan for 2030?

A Better Williams for Everyone, if we ask for it

Posted in News on April 15th, 2011 by Steve – 14 Comments

It is critical that everyone email their preference for the best biking and walking conditions on Williams to PBOT Project Manager Ellen Vanderslice: Ellen.Vanderslice@portlandoregon.gov

PBOT is currently conducting a public design process for improving conditions on N Williams Avenue between Weidler and Killingsworth.  There are welcome improvements proposed for the corridor, but there are some problems with the approach that all active transportation advocates should pay close attention to.  Here’s a run down of the situation.

EXISTING CONDITIONS ON WILLIAMS AVENUE

  • About 35% of all trips on Williams are made by bicycle, making it the second busiest bikeway in the city.
  • Williams serves about 100 less daily trips than its one-lane southbound counterpart, Vancouver Avenue (see graph)
  • Williams is designated a neighborhood collector, meaning traffic destined for points outside of the neighborhood is not the type of trips the street should accommodate (i.e. bypassing I-5 or MLK traffic)
  • Despite the existing mode-share split, cyclists are only given 15% of the available roadway space.  The other 4 lanes including vehicle parking, make up the other 85% of the roadway.
  • Williams is home to the city’s first bicycle-oriented development, featuring dozens of bike-based and bike-friendly businesses.
  • Because of a thriving retail corridor, parking demand on Williams is high, especially on weekend evenings. As a result, parking removal seems to be a non-starter.
The Barrier to a Better Williams - 2 hours of evening commute SOV traffic.  This also is the most congested time for cyclists too, but note that is not as strong of a consideration in the revisioning process.

The Barrier to a Better Williams - 2 hours of evening commute SOV traffic. This also is the most congested time for cyclists too, but this is not as strong of a consideration in the re-visioning process.

WHAT THE PROJECT AIMS TO FIX

Based on PBOT’s survey of local residents and businesses, some priorities were developed and here is what can be culled from the first 3 Stakeholder Advisory Meetings:

  1. Eliminating the Bus/Bike “leap frogging” interaction
  2. Increasing Crosswalk compliance
  3. Reducing traffic speeds
  4. Handling bike congestion
  5. Getting bikes out of the “door zone’

BIKE & PEDESTRIAN FACILITIES

The City and its consultants are still working with the SAC and neighborhood to decide on

1.) number of car lanes,
2.) presence/absence of on-street parking,
3.) type of bike facility (i.e., cycle track, regular bike lane, etc.), and
4.) placement of bike facility relative to car and on-street parking lanes.

The SAC already voted to have the bike lane on the right side rather than the left.  I believe the Open House this weekend is intended to get the general public’s input on which floorplan to use, with the specifics of crosswalks, transit stops, and turning lanes to be resolved after they make that decision.  If you want that connected cycletrack, it’s not too late to fight for it.

The City folks and the designer/planners are going to be giving a presentation to the Pedestrian Advisory Committee next month (May 17), when presumably they’ll have their floorplan established.  It will be an opportunity to comment on the pedestrian aspects of the design, including transit stop placement which may affect the “leapfrogging” issue along this corridor.

SEGMENTATION & TRADE-OFF’s

The current approach to the corridor is to divide Williams into distinct segments, which provides an opportunity to change the lane configuration in different areas.

Segments 3 & 4 would not receive the benefit of a road diet if current proposals are implemented.  Segment 4 would remain largely the same.  This is a missed opportunity if we let it slip away.

I am looking at the vehicle counts and it seems we lose 100 vph between Fremont and Cook.  Since this is the first opportunity for a connection to a neighborhood collector (albeit not designated until east of MLK), would it be reasonable to break this section into two distinct segments?  That is Cook to Fremont as 4A and and Fremont to Skidmore as 4B.  Perhaps this would give the opportunity to have 2 lanes where they are most needed (closest to 405 offramp) while allowing the retail corridor to thrive as the bike-oriented development and pedestrian paradise it is already trying to be.

We have been told it’s all about “trade offs” and the current trajectory for the project says we cannot afford the trade off of potential congestion during rush hour.  In turn, improvements would be nominal in sections 3 and 4, and 4 would remain mostly the same as it is today.  That would be an unfortunate missed opportunity.

WHY THE CURRENT APPROACH IS PROBLEMATIC

Cars Still RuleDespite unprecedented, growing levels of bicycle mode share on this street, somehow we cannot afford to provide adequate, equitable space for people riding bikes.  Utilization has already outstripped capacity on this bikeway, yet we cannot dedicate an equivalent amount of right of way space for these users.  The reasoning is because of a 2 hour rush period, the other 94% has to bare that burden. That is an injustice.

We’re not implementing the Bike Plan for 2030 —  It is mind-boggling  that they are considering two cycletrack sections separated by a section where a regular bike lane is maintained. PBOT keeps backing down from connected facilities that serve cyclists’ needs when cars might be inconvenienced by the change. If car convenience (not creating car congestion) is a more important consideration, then of course putting in connected infrastructure will not happen, because capacity issues will always come up at critical intersections. Having two cycletrack sections that aren’t connected will not create the kind of continuity and safety that will protect existing users and encourage prospective new users of the route. They have to move past that if they want to continue to see growth in ridership and increases in safety that the Bike Plan envisions.

What about pedestrians? — Anyone who walks in Portland knows crossing one travel lane is leaps and bounds more pleasant than crossing two lanes.  We have no pedestrian counts for the district, but anecdotally there are hundreds, if not thousands, of pedestrian crossings daily.  We should consider pedestrian levels of service and create the most walkable commercial corridor in the city.  The best way to do this is to put Williams on a road diet and bring it back to people-scale.

We see traffic as a problem, not an asset. — If the corridor functions as designated, any traffic that builds up on it will be a sign of high patronage of the retail corridor and access to the neighborhood’s churches and other services.  

Read more on the missed opportunities being presented for Williams Avenue at Bike Portland.

UPDATE: Way to go, folks! Big thanks to everyone who mobilized for the Williams Ave open house.  If we don’t end up with the best Williams for walking and biking, it won’t be for lack of public support. This is what Segment 4 looked like in the public comment section:

And if you’re a bean counter, the cycle-track option is well supported:

If you weren’t able to make it, it’s still critical that everyone email their preference for the best biking and walking conditions on Williams to PBOT Project Manager Ellen Vanderslice: Ellen.Vanderslice@portlandoregon.gov

Thanks to Alexis, Rebecca & Russ for contributing to this write up.

PBOT is currently conducting a public design process for improving conditions on N Williams Avenue between Weidler and Killingsworth.