City council today unanimously voted to approve a $214,940 contract with local transportation consulting agency Alta Design to start the ball rolling on five big bike projects around town.
The money for the contract is coming from a state and city budget set aside for "affordable transportation" projects, which includes a pot funded by utility franchise fees. See the full contract here. Thanks to the 5-0 vote, Alta will start ASAP on the year-long public process to build or improve bike infrastructure at five Portland roads. What exactly is going to happen to these spots hasn't been decided, that's what the public process is for.
The places chosen for the revamping are major commuter hot spots—heavily-used, but unsafe connections all in inner Portland. It's worth noting that the city could use its resources to branch the bike network into places that lack any sort of good bike, but is focusing on improving these existing routes. The key word at the transportation bureau these days is "equity" but these improvements exclusively focus on inner-Portland places that already have lots of riders. I'm a bit conflicted about whether it's right to focus resources on improving what we already have versus setting up a solid bike network base out in the hinterlands past 82nd Ave, but one thing is for sure: As inner Portland routes get busier and busier with bike traffic, there are going to be a lot more crashes if glaringly unsafe connections aren't fixed. And personally, I've felt unsafe while riding on all of the five spots that made the top of the list, so in my opinion, the need for improvement is clear.
Okay! So here's snapshots of the five places the city is eyeing for bike lane rehab.
1. N Vancouver to Rose Quarter. Vancouver is the south-bound bike highway, but as it approaches the transit connections in the Rose Quarter, the bike lane devolves into this clusterfuck:
2. 12th Avenue crossing I-84. I ride through this intersection basically every day and I still have no idea what they hell I'm supposed to do. The bike lane disappears leading into the intersection, giving you three options: stay in the right hand lane and risk right-hooks, take the left lane and get honked at, be safe and ride on the sidewalk. In these pictures, you can see cyclists opting for all three:
3. North Williams. This is the backbone of south-north bike traffic, boasting not only thousands of daily bike commuters but a string of bike-themed businesses that cater to the hoards (including barf-worthy "bike centric eco-flats"). But for all the traffic, Williams has no more than a meager striped bike lane, leaving riders vulnerable to doorings, cars getting too close, and having to cut out of the lane into traffic to pass other riders. I'd expect to see some serious expansion of the bike lane here, making it maybe a buffered lane or cycletrack.
4. N Willamette between Woolsey and Rosa Parks. Cars go pretty quickly along this stretch and it's got some heavy bike traffic, as the safest way for bike riders to get to far North Portland neighborhoods and University of Portland.
5.Holladay Ave from the Rose Quarter to Lloyd. The mantra for bikes has always been: "Avoid the Lloyd." Bike connections around the mall's area aren't great and the current route, heading east up Multnomah Ave or Lloyd Ave from the Rose Quarter are both pretty hairy roads with lots of cars. Planners are thinking of turning Holladay (where the MAX runs) into a bike-only road. This photo is of where Holladay crosses 9th: