The city's Better Naito Project—which devotes one lane of traffic on Naito from the Hawthorne bridge to the Steel for the busiest bike and pedestrian season—is objectively GREAT. And yet? The Portland Business Alliance remains obstinately opposed to the project, even though city analysis has proven that the bike/pedestrian lane causes only a nominal effect on traffic in the area. From the Oregonian:
"We continue to be concerned about the impacts of Better Naito," said Marion Haynes, the Portland Business Alliance's vice president of external affairs. "And as we've evaluated some of the data that's been presented, we find that it lacks the type of thorough analysis that we would hope would occur on this project and others throughout the city."
The Oregonian also analyzed traffic in the area while the Better Naito project was in action, and came to roughly the same conclusion as the city's analysis. And yet the PBA still wants more studies, even though the costs would exceed that of the Better Naito project. Again, from the O:
"All of this analysis has consistently shown less than two minutes of delay for northbound drivers when Better Naito is in season," Dylan Rivera, transportation spokesman, said in an email.
You may remember our reporting last year which documented the PBA's hissy-fit about Better Naito, in which they wrote dramatic, whining letters to city commissioners, and attempted a heavily slanted public letter writing campaign to drum up commuter anger against the project—WHICH BACKFIRED HILARIOUSLY.
If you've been following the Mercury's reporting for the last 15 years, you'll know the PBA has a detailed history of trying to influence our government to the detriment of its citizens—you may remember their most recent attempt to ostracize the homeless in concert with Tim Boyle of Columbia Sportswear and Mayor Ted Wheeler, which thanks to some very shady backroom deals, was largely successful.
And while disparaging the less fortunate in our community may further their own greedy interests, the constant harping on the Better Naito project is an example of the PBA shooting themselves in the foot. One of the reasons Better Naito exists is to encourage more biking and walking—but it also encourages tourism and keeps our city's visitors safe while they attend the extremely popular summer Waterfront festivals. Apparently the Portland Business Alliance has forgotten that tourists (particularly those who remain alive for the entirety of their stay) spend a LOT of money at downtown businesses.
If history is any indication, the PBA will continue to attempt to shut the Better Naito project down. You can help shut them down by emailing the PBA to voice your concerns, or show your support for Better Naito by emailing Transportation Bureau Commissioner Dan Saltzman.
We'll be keeping our eye on this situation as it develops.