The Portland Bureau of Transportation has been working on the North Portland in Motion (NPIM) project for almost two years now, following the same ‘in motion’ framework they’ve used to explore active transportation needs in other areas of the city.
Last summer, they ramped up public engagement efforts, hosting three Pedalpalooza rides across the north Portland peninsula (BikePortland tagged along for one of them) as well as pop-up events at the Kenton and St. John’s farmer’s markets to share project ideas, and more.
In September, PBOT released a list of potential NPIM projects in an online open house and received over 700 written comments, demonstrating how substantial public outreach can pay off.
So, what did north Portlanders have to say about greenways and the state of streets in their neighborhoods?
The NPIM project idea list includes several potential new neighborhood greenways across north Portland. A chart included in PBOT’s engagement summary breaks down which possible new greenways received the most support from respondents. According to open house commenters, the top three greenway projects are the Upper St. Johns Greenway Network, Lower St. Johns/Cathedral Park Greenway Network and the Willamette Blvd Greenway project.
NPIM planners have also sketched out ideas for corridor improvement projects, which would involve near-term implementation of infrastructure like traffic calming treatments, new marked crosswalks and even buffered bike lanes. According to the survey respondents, the top three corridors in need of such improvements are Willamette Blvd, Lombard St and several streets around Cathedral Park.
However, PBOT provided potential designs for corridor improvements on Willamette and around Cathedral Park, but not for Lombard. Parts of Lombard are owned by the Oregon Department of Transportation, which installed bike lanes on a stretch of the street last year. PBOT has also been working on a Lombard repaving project in downtown St. Johns, but the NPIM draft documents don’t currently include any plans for the corridor.
Other comments and concerns
In addition to their summary report, PBOT provided a list of the open-ended comments from the open house, which point to some other trends in concerns from north Portlanders.
Numerous comments pointed to concerns about street racing across the peninsula, asking PBOT to intervene with infrastructure to deter this behavior:
“I chose the N Ainsworth project because speeding/ street racing has been popular, and it is a serious safety hazard for the many pedestrians/cyclists. I believe a roundabout placed at N Denver and N Ainsworth could do a lot to reduce the speeding and racing behaviors.”
“Projects to slow traffic and build better bike infrastructure on Fessenden and Portsmouth are my priority because the drag racing on these streets is out of hand. I live at this intersection and I have had two cars totaled in two years while parked in front of my house due to excessive and erratic driving. Both were hit and runs. The unsafe driving is absolutely out of control.”
Others commented on speeding issues more generally:
“I’ve lived on N Charleston & N Smith for 9 yrs. In that time I’ve noticed an increase in cut through traffic and excessive speeds over 50mph. This is also marked as a safe route to school which feels like a joke on most days…Many drivers speed down our road between Central and Smith because there are no calming measures. Even if stop signs was added at N Hudson or a crosswalk at Central/Charleston I think the issue would be greatly improved.”
“I believe that improved bike and pedestrian infrastructure along N Willamette and N Ainsworth are the most urgent projects. I appreciate that the speed limit along Willamette was recently reduced to 25 mph, however, many cars still exceed that limit by 10 or more mph…I believe that increased pedestrian crossings, buffered bike lines, and speed cameras are needed to slow traffic down. Diverters and speed bumps are desperately needed on N Ainsworth as more and more drivers speed down this street as a cut through between N Interstate and N Greeley.”
Then there were some people who expressed skepticism about the project as a whole. One commenter wrote:
“You are forgetting those of us who need to go to work in a timely manner. I will NEVER ride a bike, nor can I ride a bike. Yet they are creating unsafe driving conditions. People on bikes need to not wear dark clothing at night. Their bikes need to have lights on their tires and a light in the front and a good light on the back of their bikes. Rather than wasting the money mucking up the traffic flow, spend it on better street lighting and SAFETY ‐‐ as in criminals running these neighborhoods.”
But in general, most people seem to be excited about the potential for new active transportation projects in north Portland. It’s only a matter of which ones will be prioritized given limited funding.
The future of NPIM
The NPIM team says they will have a draft plan available for public review in June, after which PBOT will develop the final plan and bring it to Portland City Council. If all goes well, this could happen by the end of next summer, and infrastructure installments could begin shortly thereafter.
The NPIM team also plans to continue their robust public engagement efforts and host more community walks and bike rides this spring and summer. Stay tuned for more information on the plan as it is available. For now, you can take a look at all the potential projects on the NPIM website.
Taylor has been BikePortland’s staff writer since November 2021. She has also written for Street Roots and Eugene Weekly. Contact her at email@example.com