Screen_Shot_2016-04-26_at_5.29.46_PM.png
City of Portland

Last May, active transportation advocates convinced the city to shut-down a northbound lane of Naito Parkway to automobile traffic for two weeks. It was great if you were a cyclist or pedestrian looking to navigate—or avoid—the Rose Festival without dodging speeding SUVs. (We wrote about it in last June's Mercury Bike Issue.)

The transformation worked so well, in fact, the city's bringing it back for a full three months this summer. The Portland Bureau of Transportation just announced it's shutting the same Naito lane off to cars—from SW Main to NW Davis— beginning Monday. And it's not reopening it to car traffic until the end of July!

"The festivals in Tom McCall Waterfront Park draw almost 700,000 people between April and November; roughly 15,000 more people per day during peak season," reads a fresh PBOT press release explaining the plans. "But to reach the festivals, people are too often forced to squeeze into narrow dirt paths, walk in a bike lane, or bike in a travel lane with motorized traffic. Better Naito 2015 created a safe space for people to travel to and from these events."

The announcement is the latest success for Better Block PDX, a scrappy volunteer organization that emerged two summers ago aiming to modify public spaces to be more friendly to pretty much anything but cars.

The group began with a 2014 project on NW and SW 3rd—an experiment that subsequently convinced the city to convert one lane over to (mostly) bikes only.

Better Block came back last year with the first iteration of its Better Naito project. Now, thanks to a focus on data collection that's always been part of the group's ethos (and was helped along by PBOT technology last year), the Naito project's coming back for an extended stay.

"Data collected during the 2015 Better Naito found that during non-peak hours, motor vehicle travel times were not significantly affected," PBOT's release says. That data also found "typical increases in motor vehicle travel times during peak hours between 45 seconds and one minute." Chump change for a safer street.

Want to save The Portland Mercury? Contribute here.

Hit the jump for the city's full announcement.

(April 26, 2016) – Better Naito is returning to Portland for a second summer. The pilot project, a partnership between Better Block PDX and the Portland Bureau of Transportation, creates a safe way for people to get to and around Portland’s summer of festivals at Waterfront Park. The project was first piloted in June 2015 during the two weeks of Rose Festival City Fair and returned for the Oregon Brewers Festival the same year.

From May 2 to July 31, 2016, during all hours of the day, one northbound traffic lane from SW Main Street to NW Davis Street will be converted to a multi-use path for two-way walking and bicycling.

From July 1 to July 4 ONLY, the lane conversion will extend from SW Clay Street to NW Davis Street to accommodate people traveling to or around the Waterfront Blues Festival at the southern end of Waterfront Park.

The festivals in Tom McCall Waterfront Park draw almost 700,000 people between April and November; roughly 15,000 more people per day during peak season. But to reach the festivals, people are too often forced to squeeze into narrow dirt paths, walk in a bike lane, or bike in a travel lane with motorized traffic. Better Naito 2015 created a safe space for people to travel to and from these events.

As a result of Better Naito 2015’s success, the Portland Bureau of Transportation is granting Community Event Permits to the festivals and events taking place at and along Waterfront Park. The organizations will implement placemaking features along the Better Naito corridor and create a physically separated space for people walking and biking in order to help everyone safely and comfortably access the waterfront.

Data collected during the 2015 Better Naito found that during non-peak hours, motor vehicle travel times were not significantly affected. The travel time from the half mile stretch of SW Clay to SW Stark increased the most during AM and PM peak travel hours between 7:00-9:00 AM and 4:00-6:00 PM, with typical increases in motor vehicle travel times during peak hours between 45 seconds and one minute. The full report can be found on the Better Naito website: www.portlandoregon.gov/transportation/NaitoParkway

A video produced by Better Block PDX about the 2015 Better Naito features interviews with community organizations, volunteers, City staff, and festival organizers about their successful work to transform one of Portland's most iconic streets. View the video on PBOT’s YouTube channel: https://youtu.be/YmNK6upDzLY

Additional details will be shared at a media event during the first week of May.