Friends of Barbur: A Way ForwardPosted by Kiel in News on March 10th, 2011 – 5 Comments
Everyone knows that Southwest Portland contains a lot of hills. We also know that Southwest Portland has some of the lowest bicycle rates of anywhere in Portland. But it doesn’t have to be this way, at least the bike rate part (unless those hills contain coal).
Southwest Portland is a region which has been choked off. The only level passage way connecting it to downtown Portland is monopolized by one form of transportation, cars. Combined, I-5 and Barbur contain 10 lanes of fast vehicles traffic and it still isn’t enough. Buses are overflowing with people and gridlock eats into people’s time. There need to be safe options. We are past the debate about building to fight congestion. To move forward there need to be several improvements to tame Barbur Blvd itself. These involve lights, slower speeds, lane removal, and enforcement. Secondly, there needs to be a completely separated bikeway. Both of these ideas are closer than we think.
On Wednesday (the 16th) ODOT will be presenting their proposals for improving the crosswalk at 4900 SW Barbur, Rasmussen Village Apartments at the Multnomah Arts Center. This is the first time ODOT has proposed doing anything that restricts the flow of car traffic on Barbur. If enough voices show up to this meeting it hopefully will not be the last. This is a picture from a crash from a few weeks ago at this deadly intersection. It is the same crossing that claimed the life of 22 year old Angela Burke before Christmas.
The second piece, a separated bike and pedestrian trail is already being built by ODOT. Only about 300 yards is left to be done to complete a trail that goes in between Barbur and I-5 all the way from Hamilton to Terwilliger. As part of the I-5 bank improvement ODOT has been forced to create this trail, all that is left is for someone to claim it.
The “Ron Kroop Multi-Use Path” needs a lot of work. It is too hilly to be of much use and there are still no bridge connections. But this represents our best hope of a future in Southwest where everyone feels comfortable enough to choose to use the bicycle as a means of commuting. It would connect to the future Red Electric Trail, the Gibb Street Bridge, to the many wonderful neighborhoods in SW.
SW is full of internal arguing and complaining but it lacks a clear visions for people to get behind. If we want to someday live in a SW that meets our dreams we will need to stop complaining and start fighting with each other for the type of place SW should be.