Bringing Bike Lanes to 28th Avenue

People we polled for our Blueprint for World Class Bicycling identified the lack of safe crossings over Sullivan’s Gulch as a top priority.

The 14 streets that cross Sullivan’s Gulch between the river and 82nd Avenue are key routes for Portland’s inner east side. People are drawn to these routes, whether they’re in a car or on a bike, because they’re the only ones that cross the gulch. Of those fourteen streets, only two (12th and 47th) have significant dedicated access for bicycles leading to both sides of the crossing.

Tense, busy shared lanes are a gap in the network leading to dedicated bike lanes over Sullivan's Gulch.

Tense, busy shared-lanes give way to dedicated bike lanes over Sullivan’s Gulch. Image: Google

With the 20s Bikeway project, we have an opportunity to improve one of those key, high-demand routes that currently creates tense, hurried interactions between people in cars and on bikes. We can do that, all while boosting the visibility of, and number of customers traveling through, a local business district.

For 41 years, The City of Portland has planned to make 28th Avenue a better bike route. The most recent of many such plans, the Bicycle Plan for 2030, even upgrades the route to a new highest-priority status: “Major City Bikeway.” Here is how a Major City Bikeway is defined in Appendix G of the plan (emphasis added):

Major City Bikeways form the backbone of the city’s bikeway network and are intended to serve high volumes of bicycle traffic and provide direct, seamless, efficient travel across and between transportation districts.

28th Avenue should have two bike lanes. One going north, one going south.

There are some trade-offs with that plan. Some of the on-street parking, both for cars and for bicycles, would have to be removed or relocated to install the long-planned bike lanes. Fortunately for local businesses, new buffered bike lanes, like could be installed on 28th Avenue, have proven in Portland and elsewhere to boost foot traffic and sales. Portland State University researchers even found that customers who arrive by bike spend 24% more per month than those who arrive by car.

The City of Portland has presented a compromise solution: one bike lane going south and a parallel neighborhood greenway a few blocks away. This would be a step in the right direction, but if Portland is serious about supporting local businesses, making streets safer, and accommodating growth we cannot afford to make compromises on vital Sullivan’s Gulch crossings like 28th Avenue.


Comments (3)

  1. Bicycle Curtis Permalink  | Mar 06, 2014 06:35am

    I ride NE 28 from the Irvington neighborhood to the Hawthorn district regularly, the dangers it presents cyclists from the freeway overpass (Sullivan’s Gulch) to Stark Street are too numerous for this forum. There is one worth mentioning though. Traveling South bound on 28th between Glisan and Burnside, the road is so narrow and rutted, it forces cyclist into the middle of the street to avoid getting “doored” or hit from cars pulling onto the street whose view is blocked by parked cars. Dedicated North-South bike lanes would be welcomed improvement. As far as on street parking is concerned, perhaps the city should consider a parking garage nearby to make up for the lost space.

  2. Matt S. Permalink  | Mar 07, 2014 10:54am

    What about angled car parking in one direction only (probably southbound) and both buffered bike lanes on the other side of the street? Seems like it could eliminate issues with parallel parking for the car folks, and keep bikes well separated over on the other side of the street. Just a thought.

    Keeping fingers crossed for a real solution to 28th “heartland” stretch from freeway to Buckman, because it is a real pain point as many others have observed.


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