The Portland Bureau of Transportation and Portland Development Commission—whose offices are in downtown Portland—have decided to continue with their original plans to add protected bicycle lanes along N.E. Halsey and Weidler streets between 102nd and 112th avenues. Protected bicycle lanes hug pedestrian sidewalks on the outside and are buffer-zoned against parked and parking cars on the inside. This design protects bicyclists from fast-moving vehicular traffic, encourages driver safety by slightly narrowing vehicle lanes to accommodate the added buffer width and avoids conflict between bicycle riders and passengers who might be entering or exiting a parked vehicle, according to Dylan Rivera, PBOT’s public information officer. Coupled with a reduced speed limit along the Halsey/Weidler couplet to 25 miles per hour—which PBOT has formally requested from Oregon Department of Transportation—this safer design is supposed to balance the needs of pedestrians, bicyclists and drivers while providing adequate street parking for individuals and businesses along the couplet.
Some business owners along the couplet are skeptical that either PDC or PBOT know what’s best for Gateway.
Brad Fouts, owner of Bradford’s Sports Bar at 10346 Northeast Halsey St., was a vocal critic of the idea of protected bicycle lanes in the Halsey/Weidler couplet at last month’s meeting with PBOT and PDC at Riverview Community Bank. Fouts challenged the very idea of bicycle lanes, saying he counted an average of between three and five “legitimate” bicycles per day along the Halsey Street side of the couplet. According to Fouts, PDC’s “Field of Dreams” response was, “If you build it, they will come.” They have, but not in the way PDC envisioned. Bicycling drug dealers are known to frequent Northeast Halsey Street between 102nd and 112th avenues, according to Fouts and police. They’re easy to spot: they never wear a helmet, always carry a backpack—for their stash—and look like they’ve been dumped out of a vacuum cleaner. Avoiding arrest, a confederate on foot deals with customers and cash, never holding the goods. “Their parking surveys must have been done during the day,” said Fouts, “because they should see Northeast Halsey Street at night when my bar is hopping. Both sides of the street and the bank parking lot are stuffed.”
Gateway Hardware Store owner Elvin Mann told the Memo he sees 75-100 customers in a typical summer day. If he ends up with a, as in singular street parking space—as apparently is again the plan—he would draw no customers and might lose his 64-year-old business. Mann said when he left last month’s meeting with PDC and PBOT, it was with the understanding that they “would most probably not take away” the three street parking spaces he currently has in front of his hardware store at 10414 N.E. Halsey St. He’s already losing his only off-street parking to the PDC-funded mixed-use development at the corner of Northeast Halsey Street and 106th Avenue.
Rivera said any adverse parking impacts will be minimal and any problems will be discussed one-on-one with the affected business or individual.
Dean Sterner, an officer at Riverview Community Bank, is willing to “wait and see,” although he thought the plan favored by Gateway-area project manager Susan Kuhn of PDC was for bicycle lane placement inside rather than outside of the street, a decision he said he heard Feb. 25, 2016. That would have represented a compromise between what PDC originally wanted and what attendees wanted. However, that’s neither what happened nor what is happening.
Rivera confirmed the protected bicycle lanes were in the final proposal.
PBOT and PDC will hold another meeting in six weeks to present its plan to the Gateway citizenry, Rivera added.
For more information, contact Rivera at firstname.lastname@example.org or 503-823-3723, or contact Kuhn at email@example.com or 503-823-3406.