The eastside is getting a major new bike route, thanks to $1.5 million in federal funds and a unanimous sign-off from city council yesterday afternoon. The "50s Bikeway" will revamp SE 52nd Avenue all the way from NE Thompson to SE Woodstock, with a few detours along the way, connecting solid bike routes that already exist within the '50s north and south of that chunk.

Check out this map of the route and improvements (pdf), but the main change we'll see north of Burnside are green bike box painted at certain intersections and sharrows painted on the pavement along the route. South of Burnside, there's far more traffic (1,800-13,000 cars a day depending on the stretch) and therefore more serious changes to the road. Concrete diverters would block cars from turning onto 53rd Street from Burnside, for example, and the plan calls for the removal of 200 parking spots from 52nd Avenue between Division and Woodstock (there's currently 447 parking spots there and the city counts them as only 20 percent utilized) to make room for a bike lane.

Divisive Division Diverter
  • Divisive Division Diverter
Council listened to over an hour of citizen testimony on the project yesterday and, surprisingly, almost no one was upset about the parking removal. The plan actually got a lot of love from neighbors along the route—with the exception of a diverter planned at SE 52nd and Division. This is a pinch point, where about 1,500 cars a day are cutting through the local street, leaving not enough space for a bike lane. Numerous neighbors criticized the idea to install cement curbs on 52nd at Division that would block northbound car (but not bike) traffic, forcing drivers to turn down Division and either continue on 50th northward or get back onto 52nd after two blocks. They're afraid the drivers will instead just cut over on 51st or 53rd, driving more traffic onto those quiet blocks. The city agreed to make the diverters just a test—if after eight months, data shows that an extra 150 cars are being pushed onto those neighborhood streets, the city promises to rip the diverter out.

The construction, which is optimistically slated for to begin by the end of 2012, is funded by a federal grant awarded through Metro's Regional Flexible Funds program.