Saturday, October 16, 2010

back to the fifties

sat in on this community advisory committee stuff on the fifties bikeway project a couple of weeks ago. a number of neighborhood associations and business associations at the table, but a very bicycle friendly crowd, and if anything the voices from the table were pushing rich newlands farther than he seemed ready to go. he backed away early from moving the entire route south of lincoln off 52nd into some convoluted side routes through the neighborhoods. by the end of the meeting, he seemed willing to just do some crossing work and signage there and focus the identified route as 52nd, but he was still hesitant about the extent to which the city can expect to remove onstreet parking without substantial pushback from the residents.

and that is where we still are today, when i joined the crew for a ride of the route, to discuss specifics at a number of selected intersections. maybe cut back the curb extension at 57th and hancock, maybe some signage at the unsigned crossing of hancock with 53rd, maybe an advance stop line at halsey, maybe some lane striping and possibly a box at glisan, that kind of thing. whether to divert traffic south of glisan or do a partial diversion at everett. whether to put a HAWK beacon at the intersection with burnside. i could go on.

we ran into something really quite remarkable at 52nd and madison, coming down the steep hill from salmon. the moms and kids, and actually even dads, were out in force, with signs and chalk on the street, lying in wait for this group to arrive, to again ask the city (in the persons of mr. newlands and sarah figliozzi) to put in speed bumps and a four-way stop.

there was a moment of confusion that might have become awkward, but [someone in our group] said loudly and in an exaggerated tone, "yes, we have come from the sky to bring you speed bumps," and then we all stopped and had quite a conversation, lasting several minutes. how they are lying at the bottom of two descents, how often there are crashes or near crashes, how intersections a block in either direction have been given stop signs, and so on.

biking away, ms. figliozzi told me they are ineligible for a four-way stop for some reason i did not quite get, but that the likely outcome will be speed bumps with a two-way stop giving the bikeway on 52nd dominance. her concern seemed to be how to sell this to the residents who would see it as a half-measure.

the low point of the expedition was the intersection of 52nd and foster. six lanes on the diagonal, two and a center turn lane on 52nd. parking lots and vacant buildings and pavement everywhere. i don't know what the traffic volumes are, let's just say high. what is needed there is comprehensive redevelopment, bringing store fronts to the sidewalk and putting the parking lots behind. unfortunately, that is not where the city is headed with this, yet. the little ceasar's pizza just went in a couple of years ago.

and then the whole what to do about 52nd on south thing. will five-foot lanes be enough? if six, then we have to get rid of parking on one side, but which side? get rid of parking on both sides you have enough room for buffered bike lanes, but you might be removing enough clutter that motorist speeds will increase. they are already a bit high.

in the end, whatever comes out of this process will be more friendly to cyclists than may float with stakeholders who have not yet been part of the process. moving the route away from 52nd south of lincoln seems to be off the table, so we are looking at some kind of intrusion into the space that motorists have come to understand 52nd to be, and probably removing quite a bit of onstreet parking.

mr. newsome and ms. figliozzi seemed anxious about the rollout, wondering whether to so a mail-in survey first or just go ahead and stage a bunch of public forums. in which manner it would be more productive to deal with whatever pushback will surely come.

postscript 10/18

i was talking with someone about this entry, who said these two, rich newlands and sarah figliozzi, seemed to know what they were doing, having learned from past experiences dealing with upset neighbors. this person felt that his own experience of the route would be improved by the proposed treatments.

i agreed to both points, but with slight reservation. part of the reason i wanted to get involved in the 50s bikeway planning process though i myself seldom use the route, was to be able to talk with whoever from PBoT as they go through that process. these two were thinking, what if we take a survey and people say "no"?, should we frame the question so that bikes are not the centerpiece somehow?, etc.

i said put on a lot of public forum stuff early and then if people don't come, to hell with them. that's why i was so impressed with these people standing at the corner of 52nd and madison. they live there and they care what the hell is going on. people want to protect their onstreet parking, let them show up and identify themselves, none of this return a survey nonsense.

then maybe when they actually engage with their neighbors, they will come to see that accommodations should be made for other human beings. if you take the other approach, hide the ball, how do we educate them?, you get the perception, and ultimately the reality, of demagoguery and totalitarianism.


  1. Hi there! I am the mom who organized the group at 52nd and Madison. I appreciate what you wrote. Thanks!

    --Anne Sherwood---

  2. you are beyond welcome. i appreciate what you guys were/are doing. government always has a paternalistic inclination, but PBoT seems at least somewhat willing to listen to people who care enough to get engaged.

  3. We are residential families with 1-2 cars minimum - plus guests/walkers up to Mt. Tabor. Many of us have no option for off sreet parking. Putting a bike lane on 52nd would negatively impact the quality of the small useable space we have. Safety/security will be an issue for families of small children/elderly/disabled. Common sense should rule.
    We need speed bumps to slow down the cars and
    bicyclists - not a priviledged bike lane.
    Bicyclists do not use the bike lane one block North of Hawthorne - they bike down Hawthorne instead.they do as they like - We cannot afford to give up what crowded space we now have to accomodate bikes only.
    Resident since 1979

  4. the plan in its present form
    does not call for bike lanes on 52nd until south of division. not sure if this fully addresses your concern.

  5. Drivers do what they like, always. Everyone else, bicyclists, pedestrians, people in wheelchairs are habitually treated as second class citizens. Drivers who don't bike: imagine what it's like to be out there without two tons of steel around you. How about visible signage, lower posted speed limits, enforcement, and carefully placed speed bumps, not steep enough to cause bike crashes but just enough traffic calming so everyone can be equally free to use the best routes to get where they are going a little slower and safer?

  6. I live on this little block you wrote about and really appreciate the attention you've paid to us! HOWEVER, I'd like to stress the importance of at least putting a stop sign on 52nd Ave since cars and bicyclists speed down that hill and ignore the intersection. If we were to get a stop sign on the Madison portion of the intersection, I'm afraid our efforts will be in vain since that is not the direction of speeders.


  7. I agree with Tallie. I live on the corner of 52nd & Madison & have witnessed too many near miss accidents & some accidents. Stop signs might help especially if on the north /south route of 52nd.