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Make Big Streets Safe
We want our large, arterial streets to have safe space for all types of traffic, both motorized and non-motorized.
Let’s Fix It
We want our aging infrastructure replaced with the safest options for our children, parents, coworkers, neighbors, and friends.
Create Neighborhood Greenways
We want to see 50% of our urban population living less than a half-mile from a low-traffic, low-stress neighborhood greenway.
Build Inspiring Trails
We want accessible, inspiring trails connecting our town centers.
Our vision for the Portland-Metro region is one where people of any age and any comfort level can use a bicycle to meet their daily transportation needs. Whether it’s riding to work, to the corner store, or simply going out for a recreational ride on the weekend, we need safe and accessible facilities in every community, in every neighborhood, and on every street in the region.
Investing in this network is a smart way to use public resources: bicycle facilities cost less to build and less to maintain, move more people per dollar, and help people save on the costs of owning and maintaining a motor vehicle by providing safe transportation options. When more people ride bicycles, we burn less gasoline and more calories — increasing our community benefits when evaluated alongside automobile infrastructure.
In thousands of conversations with BTA members, community residents, and stakeholders across the entire metropolitan region, we collected hundreds of ideas for new and improved bicycle facilities. We examined every possibility in our search for the best ideas and the most transformational projects. After a robust public outreach effort that included over a thousand survey responses and hundreds of in-person conversations, we selected 16 projects to demonstrate our four key areas for action.
With a broad geographic spread and wide range of forward-thinking goals, the projects included in this document are some of the most important investments we can make to provide non-motorized transportation options that are safe and convenient.
Our vision is bold and it will take countless hours of work to bring the needed safety improvements to all the streets, trails, and destinations in the region. The list of projects is the start of a comprehensive approach to developing initial phases of a bicycle transportation network in areas of the region that need it. We envision raising our existing network to the next level to ensure that riders of all abilities, regardless of destination, have access to a safe place to ride.
Make Big Streets Safe
Most destinations, particularly for work and shopping, tend to be on big busy streets – the same streets on which people walking and bicycling often feel unsafe. As a result, people riding bicycles tend to detour around our most vibrant commercial areas. This is not because people on bikes do not frequent bistros, boutiques, banks, and barber shops. In fact, studies have shown that customers traveling on bikes tend to visit bars, restaurants, and shops more frequently and spend as much or more money overall than those arriving by any other mode.*Wide roads with high volumes of speeding traffic necessitate more space, physical separation, and dedicated signals at intersections for people riding bicycles.
This type of robust, protected facility, frequently called a “cycle track,” is the only way to provide safe bicycle access to destinations on big streets. Cycle tracks also give guidance to people on bicycles, helping them ride more predictably with other traffic.
N/NE Broadway Northeast Broadway (and its eastbound couplet NE Weidler) is full of destinations that benefit from customers who shop there despite poor bicycle access. Because many of these customers tend to ride on quiet nearby NE Tillamook, they do not always notice new businesses open, “SALE” signs in windows, and other business advertisements. The 2.5 mile NE Broadway/Weidler couplet between the Broadway Bridge and the Hollywood District is one of the east side’s most frequented retail corridors. Building physically separated cycle tracks with dedicated signals on both streets will finally make this corridor a safe and popular destination for everyone and will increase visibility of businesses in the neighborhood.
Downtown Portland The east side of Portland generally has a robust network of streets safe for bicycling. Even the bridges across the Willamette are increasingly comfortable for people on bicycles. At the west ends of those bridges, however, bicycle facilities disappear. In downtown Portland, the region’s primary travel destination, the streets are busy and there is little physically protected space for bicycles. With its high density, limited parking, and soon-to-be-launched public bike share program, downtown Portland cannot afford to be intimidating for bicycle riding. To match the safety and comfort levels of the east side’s network, there must be significant changes made to downtown’s traffic signals and streetscape, including bus islands to ensure safe pedestrian and transit access and physically separated bike lanes.
Southeast Foster Road is a desirable route for travel because it is one of the few diagonal streets in Portland and has multiple commercial areas that serve the surrounding neighborhoods. As popular as it is, Foster has also been designated as a High Crash Corridor by the City of Portland.
The width of Foster Road currently encourages speeding in motor vehicles but it also allows room for many creative street designs which would improve the street for people walking and bicycling. Physically separated bicycle facilities, improved lighting, enhanced crossings, and access to transit on this high capacity corridor are critical to improve safety and grow the local economy.
Tualatin-Valley Highway The Tualatin-Valley (TV) Highway, with five to seven lanes of motor vehicle traffic, is one of the few east-west connectors between Beaverton and Forest Grove. TV Highway is also a key commercial corridor without safe space for people to walk and ride bicycles. As a result, many businesses miss out on some of the traffic that helps support the local economy. A bike lane exists along some of the corridors but it is inadequate even for some of the strongest and most fearless of bicycle riders due to unsafe intersections, key gaps in the bike lane, and frequent driveways to large developments. Pedestrian and bicycle traffic on this corridor is currently low because most people choose to go far out of their way to avoid compromising their safety on TV Highway. There are many opportunities to transition this auto-focused road into a multi-modal corridor that safely accommodates all types of traffic. Separated bicycle facilities, better street lighting, more crossings for pedestrians, and improved access to bus stops will reduce congestion while improving safety.
Let’s Fix It
It is time to fix the bike lane that goes nowhere, or suddenly sends people into unsafe conditions. The route between two locations is only as safe as its weakest link, or its most dangerous intersection. No one would accept an uncontrolled intersection on a freeway, a dead-end travel lane for motor vehicles, or a major street that was too narrow for opposing directions of car traffic. All types of transportation deserve the same “basic” considerations that motor vehicle traffic already enjoys. Throughout the Portland-Metro region we have narrow bicycle lanes that used to be considered adequate but with more and more people using a bicycle for daily transportation, some areas carry a volume of bicycle traffic that warrants larger, safer infrastructure.
We need to redefine our basic expectations for our streets. Everyone deserves a safe and direct route to where they’re traveling. We want to improve on the work that’s already been started by making our existing street network safer for everyone.
Barbur Boulevard Barbur Boulevard, home to fast-moving motor vehicle traffic, has many characteristics of a great route for bicycle traffic: a direct route to important destinations, a gentle grade, and a wide right-of-way. Barbur has also been the focus of energy and frustration by residents, institutions, and businesses who have been clamoring for a safe route to and through the SW Portland metropolitan region for years. Repurposing underused motor vehicle lanes at the northern end of Barbur will allow for safe, protected bike lanes. The commerce and freeway-oriented southern end, stretching 5 miles into Tigard, will require a combination of buffered and physically separated bicycle lanes and bicycle-specific signals.
Highway 26 Crossings
Highway 26 is a significant barrier for people bicycling in Washington County. Even where there are rudimentary bicycle lanes on roads to the side of Highway 26, crossing over the limited-access freeway is harrowing. The dangerous and intimidating crossings over Highway 26 are critical gaps that keep people from accessing the beautiful rural roads of Washington County and, more importantly, their jobs, homes, and other key destinations.
Key crossings over Highway 26 that need to be immediately addressed include 185th, Cornelius Pass Road, Bethany Boulevard and Glencoe Road.
Sullivan’s Gulch Crossings
With I-84, heavy rail, and MAX light rail running through it, Sullivan’s Gulch is impossible to cross without a bridge. Some bridges across the gulch accommodate bicycle traffic but the ones that do vary in quality. Improvements to these crossings fall into two categories: improvements to the bridges themselves and improvements to streets connecting to the bridges. Providing dedicated space for people on bicycles or adding signals to freeway on and off ramps, such as at NE 33rd, will help create safe access for people walking and riding bicycles. Other crossings, like NE 28th, provide comfortable bicycle lanes over Sullivan’s Gulch but connect to narrow neighborhood collectors on either end.
I-205 Path Gap
The I-205 Path runs 15 miles from the Marine Drive Path along the Columbia River south to Gladstone, near Oregon City. It is continuous except for a one-mile gap south of the Clackamas Regional Center.The “I-205 Gap” cuts most Clackamas County residents off from this valuable transportation and recreation facility. Residents and visitors are also denied non-motorized transportation options for reaching Clackamas Regional Center. The area, including a large shopping mall, is not just a major retail hub, it is also a key transportation hub served by ten bus lines, plus trains leaving for Gateway, downtown Portland, and Portland State University. The Bicycle Transportation Alliance is excited to support filling in this gap.
Create Neighborhood Greenways
Imagine streets where people have first priority. Walking and playing, talking and strolling with bicycles passing by and motor vehicles traveling safely. Now imagine a network of these safe neighborhood streets that provide low-stress, efficient connectivity between neighborhoods and destinations. We want to build on the success of Portland’s neighborhood greenway network that creates streets with a mix of traffic control such as speed bumps, bulb-outs, and traffic diverters.
It is time to take a region-wide approach that covers our neighborhoods with efficient, safe networks of neighborhood greenways that connect to destination rich commercial corridors from Gresham to Forest Grove, from Kenton to Milwaukie.
The City of Milwaukie will soon have a multi-use path and a light-rail line running through its downtown providing connections to the north and south. The bulk of Milwaukie residents live east of downtown and there are no quiet routes for those wishing to bicycle from their homes to downtown businesses or these new transportation and recreation amenities.
Monroe Street is parallel to busy SE King Street in Milwaukie and connects with 82nd Ave, MAX, and the I-205 path. With neighborhood greenway treatments, Monroe could become the much needed east-west route for families and less-experienced riders. Connecting residential Milwaukie to the businesses, schools, trails and trains of downtown Milwaukie is common sense. The BTA is excited to help catalyze neighborhood greenways through this project to carry over to areas throughout Clackamas County.
NE 7th to SE 9th Corridor
A bicycle and pedestrian bridge across I-84 could provide the continuous north-south route that inner Portland needs. NE 7th Avenue would provide a safe route north from the highway and NE/SE 9th Avenue would provide a safe, low-traffic route to the south.
We predict that this corridor — connecting the Lloyd District, burgeoning inner eastside industrial district, neighborhoods like Powell and Brooklyn, and newly built streetcar and light-rail stations — would quickly become one of Portland’s most heavily used and important neighborhood greenways.
According to the 2009 National Household Travel Survey 41% of Washington County trips are under 3 miles. With a neighborhood greenway network, many of these trips could easily be made by bicycle rather than in a motor vehicle.
Many of the neighborhoods in Washington County can be connected through neighborhood greenway-style improvements, connections through cul-de-sacs, and wayfinding signage in neighborhoods. Such facilities are an inexpensive way to compensate for the gaps in the non-motorized transportation network on major streets in Washington County.
We want to see Washington County build at least fifteen miles of neighborhood greenways by 2018.
The Portland Bureau of Transportation is planning nearly thirty miles of neighborhood greenways in East Portland, but this will not achieve the goal of the Portland Bicycle Plan for 2030 which calls for 80% of Portland’s population to live within ½ mile of a low-stress street.
East Portland is home to over a quarter of the population of Portland but the rates of walking, bicycling, and transit use in East Portland are far lower than the city average. Many places in Portland east of 82nd Avenue lack features that make walking and bicycling an option. We must prioritize building neighborhood greenways in East Portland to provide transportation options that are desirable and affordable.
Build Inspiring Trails
Most of us are familiar with the Springwater Trail. It is both a recreational destination and daily transportation corridor. The trail helps people get from their homes and through the southern part of Portland to jobs downtown and destinations across the city.The Springwater Trail, and trails like it, are very popular with residents and tourists. We need to learn from this type of trail. We need to recognize their popularity and potential and plan accordingly by offering dedicated space for people walking or rolling more slowly.
An inspiring network of trails will connect town centers, residential neighborhoods, and outdoor destinations with smooth, paved space for everyone including daily commuters, families headed to the park, and senior citizens on a stroll.
North Portland GreenwayA safe, flat, scenic, direct route between St Johns and downtown Portland would serve thousands of commuters and connect residents throughout the area with jobs in downtown and on Swan Island. The Swan Island Industrial District alone is home to over 11,000 jobs, yet bicycle access to the area is currently restricted to one narrow sidewalk and a steep climb up N Going St.
Construction of the North Portland Greenway Trail, including an alignment with the Ash Grove Cement Road, will continue the popular eastside waterfront trail from Kelly Point Park and St. Johns down to the Steel Bridge and the Eastbank Esplanade, creating a regional trail over 12 miles long.
The completed route will also be a popular with families to wanting to reach Pier Park skatepark and the beaches of Kelly Point Park and will provide an important connection between downtown and Forest Park via the St Johns Bridge.
Portland to Lake Oswego
Less than four miles south of the Sellwood bridge, Lake Oswego is Portland’s most difficult suburb to reach by bike. The most direct route, Hwy 43, is so unpleasant that many people opt to ride further and climb twice as high on SW Terwilliger Blvd. There is a 3.5-mile route that would allow easy, flat access from Lake Oswego to the Sellwood Bridge.By converting the old Lake Oswego Trolley line and tunnel into to a multi-use path, the trip between the Sellwood Bridge and Lake Oswego would turn from a grueling climb to a safe, pleasant, family-friendly trip by bicycle or a mere hour-long walk.
North of the Sellwood Bridge, there is also work to be done on the existing Willamette Greenway trail. Sharp turns, narrow paths, and rough pavement will not safely accommodate the high volumes of bicycle and foot traffic expected after the new Sellwood Bridge is complete.
As a key north-south connector in east Multnomah County, the 5 mile trail will ultimately connect the Springwater Trail and the Marine Drive Trail, two existing trails with regional significance. Three miles of the Gresham-Fairview Trail have already been built and only an additional 2 miles, north of the existing trail, need to be constructed.Once this missing gap is completed, people will be able to ride a 40-mile loop around east Multnomah County, providing access the natural areas along Johnson Creek, Fairview Creek, the Columbia Slough, and the Columbia River.
Washington County residents are hungry for off-street opportunities to ride bikes for transportation and recreation. There is a plan for a much-needed off-street, north-south connector in Washington County known as the Westside Trail.Nine non-consecutive miles of the 24-mile trail have been constructed but the plan is to extend the existing trail segments to connect the Tualatin River to the Willamette River at the St. John’s Bridge. The completed trail will connect nearly 120,000 residents to jobs, services, schools, natural areas, and public transit hubs.
We need to build all 24 planned miles of the trail and anticipate its wild popularity by building separate bicycle and pedestrian paths and safe mid-block crossings.
An inspiring long term trail vision: Hood to Coast Trail Network
While not specifically one of our Blueprint projects because of its broader scope and timeline, we offer the following bold vision for trails.In 2011, the Portland metro area welcomed close to 8 million visitors who generated nearly $4 billion in direct spending. Portland’s bicycle-friendliness is a well-known part of its identity and many tourists visiting Portland ride bicycles during their visit.
We envision a trail network where people can ride bikes the 130 miles from Government Camp to the Oregon Coast. By linking existing trails and building out the missing pieces, people will travel to Oregon for this destination trail as they do for Missouri’s Katy Trail or Quebec’s Route Verte.