Last night Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) held an open house for the “Rodney Bikeway Project” at Immaculate Heart Catholic Church community room. In summary, PBOT wants to make Rodney, from Broadway up to Killingsworth a “Bikeway”. The idea is to give bikers a calm and safe route up and down Rodney. It was a well-attended event.
Looking at the designs, there are three problems to be concerned about.
The ratio of available parking to residents in Eliot has been decreasing steadily for 10 years. Usually it comes from redevelopment of a single family home into a multi-unit dwelling. The same number of parking spaces on the street exists, but often a driveway is lost and there are more residents with cars on the same lot. It is a frustrating part of increasing density close-in. With the Bikeway project PBOT plans to completely remove somewhere between 5 and 15 parking spaces along Fremont. The reason is due to the offset street alignment of Rodney where it crosses Fremont.
The width of Rodney for most blocks south of Stanton is very narrow. Realistically 2 cars cannot pass safely in the current configuration. This is especially true around Russell when the Matt Dishman Community Center, Wonder Ballroom, or Secret Society ballroom are hosting events. Placing more traffic on the street, whether it is in the form of bikes or cars will only make the problem worse. More importantly though, is safety. A significant factor for the bikeway is safety, yet this seems to be a step in the wrong direction.
PBOT plans to turn all the stop signs with a stop on Rodney the other way. This means bikers will be able to travel from Hancock to Fremont with only a stop at Russell. It sounds great at first. However that also means vehicles can do the same thing. The current stop sign configuration makes it so automobile commuters don’t want to use Rodney, so they stay on Williams, Vancouver and MLK. With no stop signs it becomes an easy path for commuters to pass THROUGH our neighborhood bringing more cars into the remaining core of Eliot.
At the open house a neighbor expressed concern regarding changing the stop signs. The response is that PBOT will be implementing traffic control measures such as speed bumps to keep cars off Rodney. They said it has worked well for other Bikeway projects they have done. However how many other bikeways are 1 block away in both directions from a major thoroughfare? How many of those other projects added stoplights to those thoroughfares and at the same time reduced the traffic lanes from 2 to 1? The answer of course, is none.
The Rodney Bikeway project is being funded by the Williams Traffic Safety and Operations Project which will reduce a lane of traffic on Williams to make a wider bike lane with the intent of making it safer for cars, buses and bikes to exist at the same time. The idea of making Williams and Vancouver an ultra bike friendly route is a good one. However creating another designated bikeway just one block east seems a bit much.
Just for fun, guess which North-South street in Eliot Neighborhood is currently not considered a thoroughfare? There is only one in the entire neighborhood! If you guessed Rodney you are correct. The other streets that run North-South are 7th, MLK, Williams, Vancouver and Interstate. Even Flint which only runs halfway through, is the designated route to get to the Broadway Bridge. Do we really need one more?
The Rodney Bikeway proposal will bring more traffic into our neighborhood – both cars and bikes. It will convert our last quiet, sleepy North-South street in to a busy street congested with commuters trying to get through. Maybe it’s best to just leave Rodney alone.
For more information on the project, or to be added to the email list to receive updates contact: Rich Newlands, Project Manager, email@example.com, 503-823-7780.
This post is not necessarily the opinion or an official position of the Eliot Neighborhood Association.