Saturday, April 17, 2010

diversion street

liz mahon, PBoT project manager for the division "streetscape design" project, distributed this memo at the BAC meeting last week. it does not purport to be bureau policy. what it purports to be is an internal memo, liz to roger, copy to the BAC, suggesting that certain language be added to the project report prior to its presentation to city council, addressing concerns expressed by BAC at an earlier meeting. her stated purpose in appearing before the committee last week was to confirm that this language sufficiently addressed those concerns.

if that does not give the appearance of public input from a bicycling constituency into the policymaking process, then you have to ask yourself what exactly BAC is.

and what the proposed language said was
(a) it acknowledged the existence of the clinton street bike boulevard as "a vibrant and well-established bicycle facility."
(b) it acknowledged BAC's expressed concern that diversion of division traffic onto clinton as a result of the project would be unfortunate.
(c) it proposed to monitor traffic counts between 12th and 39th, and specifically to take counts before the project is commenced and again after the project is completed in about two years.
(d) it committed, in the event PBoT found diversion did occur, to take "measures" to "prevent any further diversion," with input from "the community and residents on clinton," possibly including traffic calming devices "or passive/active diversion measures on clinton" between 12th and 39th.

someone expressed the concern that "any further" did not address the problem of remediation (i.e., bringing the counts back down), and liz said she would try to work on appropriate language. someone else asked what about diversion during construction itself, and liz said the project plan would provide for diversion that did not encourage motorist use of clinton. tom ralley noted that traffic counts on clinton at 26th are already right around 3k. roger suggested that was sort of the upper limit, clinton was an early rollout of the bike boulevard model, etc.

roger said the memo needed "a more comprehensive look."

the rest of the meeting was taken up with a discussion of the project review process. a subcommittee headed by robert pickett gave its report, proposing a more formal process for presentations by staff, and a mechanism by which the committee might pro-actively seek presentations on projects the committee itself identifies from PBoT's inventory.

another way in which the committee might be proactive would be in proposing projects or policy that PBoT has not already come up with. for example, the BAC might suggest to PBoT that the existing situation on clinton already needs to be addressed with calming and/or diversion, without regard to what further burdens might flow from the division streetscape project. i suggested as much to officer pickett. he seemed to take my point.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

so is this a done deal

went to this open house the other night. the guy from PBoT was there, kyle chisek, project manager, with three easels and a bunch of huge storyboards, the first set of which introduced the idea of what exactly a bike boulevard -- excuse me, "neighborhood greenway" -- is, and sort of generally why klickitat was chosen, etc.

and at this point a naysayer puts up a hand and asks, "so is this a done deal," and then, "but it's a done deal, isn't it," when kyle doesn't all that clearly explain that sir, you did have your chance back when we were doing the 2030 plan, and if you showed up then and objected, guess what, the party has moved on. three or four people from the audience heckled "let the man give his talk," and after awhile the guy left.

i heard later that a cyclist waylaid him in the vestibule on his way out and had a civil conversation in which they concluded that they actually agreed on some things. actually, the guy says, i'd rather put more bikes on fremont and slow these speeding cars the hell down.

meanwhile kyle moves forward, talking about traffic counts and calming and the benefits to everyone, on a bike or not, and people seem receptive, actually, with the conversation occasionally nudged by one of several bike activists who have placed themselves about the room. friends of trees gonna put in some street trees.

and pretty soon we are talking about specific treatments at specific intersections and which of two or three proposed alternatives do people like or hate. a consensus actually emerged that west of 11th and maybe even as far as 19th you pretty much should be on siskiyou, and the only real question is how to get across at MLK, and there were some voices in favor of morris, which is what the storyboard indicated was PBoT's favored choice.

interesting conversation about what to do at 23rd, where one block has been closed during school hours at the magdalen school. kyle had a card suggesting some serious narrowing and maybe bollards, and if it turned out there was still a problem with cyclists blowing through a bunch of kids, maybe even a gated chicane. someone pointed out that the intrepid one percent would simply deviate several blocks in advance, and this linked back in an interesting way to the comment one resident made near the outset -- yes, there was more than one cautious to negative voice in the room -- that hey, if this is the bike boulevard, can we then ban bikes on fremont? to a lesser extent, the party had moved on from this as well.

there was more, but right about here i split. it was after eight. a little over fifty people in the room when i arrived, maybe twenty when i left.

there will be a follow up on may 6, similar format, in which however what kyle will be presenting will in fact be the done deal.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

meeting notes

this is is a page from a presentation PBoT has put together to promote bike boulevards:

the page shows the intersection of NE going with 33rd, crossing offset more than a hundred feet. no signal, stop signs on both going approaches, 33rd treated as the through street, posted limit 30 mph. right of way 36 feet, parking on both sides, with occasional bulbouts, effective travel lane about 11 feet each way.

the plan is to carve out a two-way cycle track along the west edge of 33rd, with some kind of box at the north end for cyclists heading north and east to sit in, waiting for cross traffic to clear. not entirely clear from this diagram how wide the bike lanes would be, but let's say six feet with maybe a three-foot buffer. something like that.

onstreet parking would be eliminated in this half block, and motor traffic would be forbidden to enter going from 33rd altogether.

a modest accommodation for the going bike boulevard, if a bit clumsy at the box. existing signals at alberta and again at prescott perhaps explain a decision not to simply signalize the intersection.

my point is this:
(a) obviously it would be absurd to require me to veer across 33rd to pick up the cycletrack if i am heading north on 33rd from farther south;
(b) even if i am turning left onto 33rd from going heading north, if i am not planning to continue east on going there is no point in my getting onto the cycletrack and getting hung up in the box when I could simply take the lane;
(c) there will be all kinds of confusion in and around the box;
(d) motor vehicles parked along the west edge of the road north of the crossing will block my view of southbound traffic;
(e) etc., etc.

frankly, I do not care for the proposed treatment at all, and if it were within the scope of any of the upcoming open houses i would state my objections there.

also [footnote] since this is not an AASHTO/MUTCD approved treatment, it may not technically be subject to 814.420(2), but i begin to tire of PBoT's intentionally obfuscating that question.

bottom line, i should not be required to use this facility, and there should not be a statute on the books that gives the police a weapon to require me to show up in traffic court to defend my decision not to use it.

if the concern is what do "we" say to a legislator who says, hey, you asked for all this paint and we have a statute that requires motorists to keep out of the designated lane, how can you also ask that you yourselves not be required to use it?, my answer would be, the paint is there to provide comfort to the less intrepid, to encourage them to leave the truck in the driveway every once in awhile and bike to the grocery or the library or whatever.

but the more intrepid -- the vehicular cyclists who have been out there for years, just going about their business and mixing it up with the motor traffic -- do not need or want the sidepaths and should not be corralled into them. an analogy might be training wheels, or one of those pedestrian-activated crossing signals: if you do not need it, you should not be required to use it.

i know BTA has been supportive of all this infrastructure, but i think the constituency is larger than that, and "we" need to not ignore the needs of the vehicular cyclist. if not BTA then someone needs to maintain a voice that is identifiably separate from PBoT.

the city takes the position that the public process preceding adoption of the 1998 bike master plan is sufficient for the public hearing requirement. but in the 2030 plan PBoT is considerably more ambiguous with respect to whether the mandatory sidepath statute applies to the "experimental" treatments, and possibly the two-way track on 33rd would fall into that category. but again, it would be better to have clarity across the board that cyclists are not required to use even the striped bike lanes, period.

and frankly my longer range agenda would include getting rid of the far to right law. ORS 811.315 already requires a slower moving vehicle to stay to the right. there is no reason to treat cyclists as secondary road users in the statute, at all.

though i do appreciate the exception at 814.430(2)(c) for asserting the lane where it is too narrow to share.

at section 4.2D of the 2030 plan, PBoT says they want to engage with "community groups," among others, on the question of possible legislative changes to the mandatory sidepath law. who will step forward?