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Monday, July 23, 2007

Portland Gets It

posted by on July 23 at 12:19 PM

In Seattle, when a bike lane threatened to take out a few feet of road that could otherwise be used by cars, businesses put pressure on the mayor and got the bike lane killed.

In Portland, when the city replaced prime curbside parking with parking corrals for bikes, businesses and city leaders applauded the move.

According to the Oregonian, each of the so-called “bike corrals” replaces two traditional parking spaces with 22 spots for bikes. Businesses like the corrals because they keep bikes from stacking up on the sidewalk, create better sight lines for pedestrians, and keep big vehicles from blocking storefronts so that no one on the street can see them. In fact, businesses like the corrals so much, they’re helping to pay for them.

Along Belmont, industrial designer and cyclist Bill Stites rounded up support for the corrals and won a $5,000 grant from the Alliance of Portland Neighborhood Business Associations for the project. The Belmont Area Business Association and some local businesses are also ponying up. And businesses near the racks have agreed to clean up the street beneath them, which street sweepers can’t get to now.

Stites, the Sunnyside neighborhood’s representative on the Belmont business association board, said he encountered no resistance to the idea among business owners. “You’d think the attitude would be, ‘We’re not going to lose any car parking, get out of here with the cycling,’ ” Stites said. “But it hasn’t. It’s been amazing.”

Too bad Seattle is different than every other city in the world. That’s why we can’t tear down the viaduct, can’t build rapid transit, can’t replace car parking with spots for bikes, can’t stripe bike lanes if businesses complain…

RSS icon Comments


i have indeed noticed, ecb, that EVERYTHING that seattle does wrong, portland does right. that's why seattle has come to be a honking, polluted, conjested hole that more and more resembles a giant shoebox for the world's biggest pair of brown penny loafers.

Posted by adrian! | July 23, 2007 12:24 PM

And what are you doing about it ECB? What are you doing about it? Besides complaining? You could run for office and you know, do something about it.

Posted by Cato the Younger Younger | July 23, 2007 12:28 PM

Suzie Burke (the Rick Santorum-loving, unofficial Mayor of Fremont) says that if you love The Rose City so much why don't you gay-marry it!

Posted by DOUG. | July 23, 2007 12:32 PM

but cato, you don't understand at all. by reporting it she is doing something about it. obviously.

Posted by adrian! | July 23, 2007 12:33 PM

You're wrong about the bike lanes. Stone Way WAS, in fact, just reduced to one lane each way, with a new center turn lane and bike lanes, all the way up to 50th. I know, because I drive it every day, and I have now been in four almost-collisions caused by the sudden, unsigned, and inadequately painted merge just south of 50th, where two lanes become one.

Of course, Portland will always have ten times the number of bikers as Seattle, because of the hills here.

Posted by Fnarf | July 23, 2007 12:35 PM

"every other city in the world"....c'mon ECB, i don't think so. bold statement...

Posted by ddv | July 23, 2007 12:38 PM

@5: Last I checked that bike lane does not extend south of 40th as promised. Hence the uproar.

Posted by DOUG. | July 23, 2007 12:39 PM

@Adrian! She was reporting? It sounded like bitching. My bad! Sorry about that. I forgot about the Fox News method of reporting ie bitching=reporting=bitching=you decide

Posted by Cato the Younger Younger | July 23, 2007 12:41 PM

Actually, we're a lot more hilly here and it's not easy building things.

But, yeah, we do whine excessively.

Let's study it for another 50 years and then change our minds after 5 votes.

Posted by Will in Seattle | July 23, 2007 12:42 PM

@5 - Fnarf is right about that dangerous merge. Stone Way wants to be two lanes both ways. Consider routing the bike lane in front of the schools one block east instead.

Posted by Will in Seattle | July 23, 2007 12:45 PM

As an Angeleno, I long to live in a city like Seattle, public transit wise. My ten-mile fifteen minute commute to work would take 2 hours on PT (that's if the bus near me even shows up, which it is notorious for not doing.) So, I drive to work. Every day. Even though I hate driving.

Posted by arduous | July 23, 2007 12:45 PM

Cato the Younger Younger :

And what are you doing about it ECB? What are you doing about it? Besides complaining? You could run for office and you know, do something about it.

Erica is not just complaining. She's also opposing this fall's light rail ballot measure because it also happens to be a roads ballot measure. Never mind that many, if not most, of these roads are not sprawl-inducing (see tolled 520 replacement), the mere coupling of transit with roads in a way that might actually make the transit happen is just too dirty.

Seems to me, Erica and her colleague Josh Feit are being no different from these businesses that get bike lanes killed. They are single-mindedly focused on their own narrow interests and can't imagine settling for anything less than everything that they want.

Posted by cressona | July 23, 2007 12:47 PM

It's incorrect to say we're not building rapid transit (just what do you think the new light rail from downtown to the airport is?). It may not be pretty, but we're doing it, finally. And yes, much more is needed.

Posted by Justy | July 23, 2007 12:54 PM

@ Justy. What kills me about Seattle's venturing into any form of rapid transit is the reality it is a forrest fire that Seattle/King county is trying to put out by pissing on it. By the time we have a real form of Rapid Transit in the Seattle Metro Area everyone on Slog will have been dead for 50 years.

Our approach has always been microscopic in comparison of the issue at stake. And while we piss and moan about rapid transit, our infastructure (you know water mains, residential streets ect) are falling apart with no one wanting to pay for replacements.

We need someone to revitalize the New Deal on a local and national level. And it is not government spending, it is called government capital investment.

Posted by Cato the Younger Younger | July 23, 2007 1:02 PM

Right - because removing 2 vehicle travel lanes for the better part of a mile of busy roadway is EXACTLY the same thing as taking two parking spots out.

Only at the Stranger can one find so many canards piled upon apples to oranges comparisons served up with a side of false analogies and topped with a maraschino cherry of self-righteous elitism.

BTW - Portland has about the same (statistically negligible) percentage of commuters who bike to work, and Seattle actually has a higher percentage of transit users for work trips. Facts, who needs em?

Posted by Mr. X | July 23, 2007 1:04 PM

I'm not going to argue with the statement that Portland is better than Seattle when it comes to land use, transit, and the environment. But to be demonizing Seattle and lionizing Portland when the truth is a serious shade of gray?

That's just another example of Erica's well, I'm not sure whether to call it meanness or immaturity, or just plain lack of perspective. (To be fair, meanness and immaturity are probably two of the necessary components of a colorful blog, and I guarantee you I would not make as fine a blogger as Erica does.)

But to inject a little perspective here, yes, we are building rapid transit. And actually, our rapid transit is going to be a lot more rapid than their rapid transit. Portland designed its light rail system in absolutely the worst way possible. They made it effectively a streetcar through downtown, and as anyone who has ridden Max knows, it absolutely crawls through downtown Portland. At least Seattle was smart enough to go for grade separation through downtown thanks to the existing bus tunnel.

I still have a hard time imagining those light rail trains zipping through that tunnel, but we'll see.

Posted by cressona | July 23, 2007 1:12 PM

DOUG. -- the article by ECB says "allows the city to keep Stone Way four lanes wide between North 50th Street and the Ship Canal." This isn't true. The stretch below 40th is a small portion of the whole, and you know, that IS an industrial area that is struggling to hold off yuppification as it is. And most of the length of Stone is bike-friendly now, or as friendly as a mini-superhighway can be. North of 50th, it's one of the widest streets in the city and doesn't need a bike lane.

Personally I think bike lanes are for suckers and make you more, not less, likely to be creamed by a car. Ride in traffic like you're legally entitled to.

Posted by Fnarf | July 23, 2007 1:13 PM

Let's all chill out, and snort some meth, eh?

Posted by Mr. Poe | July 23, 2007 1:21 PM

I rode to the gym from my place in Wedgewood to 24 Hour downtown and was nearly killed three times. A combination of asshole SUV owners (yeah all the drivers were driving SUV's) and lack of bike lanes makes Seattle just spiffy to bike anywhere.

Posted by Cato the Younger Younger | July 23, 2007 1:22 PM

@17 - Fnarf, do you think the comprehensive bike lanes system on streets in German cities and towns (complete with bike traffic signals and enforced bike traffic laws) are for suckers? Because I don't. I'm not a commuter cyclist in Seattle and I probably will never be, because I don't feel safe riding in traffic. I felt great riding in the regulated bike lanes in Germany and I would much more readily abandon my car if I lived in Munich. I look forward to the day when it doesn't take a ton of courage to ride from A to B in Seattle.

ECB is obnoxious and I don't care about her rage on this particular issue, but bike lanes aren't for suckers. They can be part of the solution if implemented the right way.

Posted by Hans | July 23, 2007 1:26 PM

As a pedestrian and someone who lives on Stone Way between 40th & 45th I am glad they repaved the road (they need to do some of the sidewalks too) but they really need to finish painting the lines. Even as a pedestrian it can seem confusing and a lot of drivers still think that it's two lanes in each direction. It's only an issue for me when I need to cross the street to take a North bound bus.

Posted by elswinger | July 23, 2007 1:29 PM

Bikes are the easiest and cheapest way to lower congestion in Seattle. The city should be doing everything it can to make biking more atractive to more people.

Posted by Dr. Heywood R. Floyd | July 23, 2007 1:32 PM

A group of folks are working on a protest ride that'll likely happen the week after Critical Mass (next week).

There's a meeting this Wednesday to help get the word out

Posted by Anon | July 23, 2007 1:32 PM

um, erica is a widely read senior reporter, and her byline therefore equals an influence that should not be sniffed at, as shouldn't her longstanding and very public hate campaign against cars, traffic, lack of public transport etc., and her pro-i-bike-everywehre-and-you-should-too proclivities, which she has adressed on countless occasions. "bitching", indeed. you've reversed your roles in your confusion. she is a senior reporter with a cause keeping the story fresh in a widely read public forum. you are the bitch. as it were. no offense.
god, i can't believe i'm even having this arguement. i'm going to go floss now.

Posted by adrian! | July 23, 2007 1:37 PM

be careful worshiping portland...

maybe they should reconsider that new light rail line and maybe focus on improving the dismal public school system a bit....

Posted by Cale | July 23, 2007 1:48 PM

What kills me is the deluded feeling of self-importance that the Stranger staff feel about themselves. It is just so damn cute.

Posted by Just Me | July 23, 2007 1:51 PM

@24,25 - I agree, Adrian is a total slut.

Posted by Will in Seattle | July 23, 2007 1:55 PM

Also, even if ECB were to be elected to public office, I doubt she'd be able to do more for the bike/public transit cause than she's doing now!

Regarding bike lanes or stalls replacing parking spots... the fewer parking spots we have in this city, the more people will be forced to depend on public transit or bikes. When public transit is unquestionably the most reasonable option, those same commuters will vote to fund it accordingly. The only downside? How to replace the valuable income from parking fees/tickets...

Posted by Katelyn | July 23, 2007 2:04 PM

Fnarf@17: Stone Way south of 40th is an "industrial area"? What's industrial about it? The kite shop? The Pacific Inn? B of A?

The paint store, plumbing shop, tool shop, etc are hardly heavy industry. They're nice little mom and pop type shops that do not require large trucks or Aurora Ave type traffic-flow to survive. In fact they might benefit from having drivers SLOW DOWN on their way to Home Depot so they can see what gems some of these stores are.

Posted by DOUG. | July 23, 2007 2:06 PM

I had to relocate to Portland recently for work. It's really not that much more fantabulous than Seattle (which I miss and will return to as soon as I can). I live in SE Portland, about 3 miles from downtown. There's no light rail in this quadrant (although there is a great bus), and many SE roads are crap for biking because they're completely torn up, uneven, or potholed. It takes me a fraction of the time to drive to Northeast as it does to bus...and if you're unlucky enough to need to go to Vancouver? Not a lot of transit options there. Just saying: both cities have pros and cons. Neither is really that much better or worse than the other, in my opinion.

Posted by seattleeco | July 23, 2007 2:07 PM

@29 - I can tell you drive in a car there, or you'd know what we mean.

And technically, he's referring to the zoning, but it is a mixed commercial, marine, industrial zone.

Posted by Will in Seattle | July 23, 2007 2:38 PM

Why put special bike lanes on Stone way at all? Why not put them on the side streets?

On Stone Way cyclists must deal with parking cars, turning cars, peds, buses, opening doors, the road grit that is found on heavily traveled streets, etc.
And red lights. And stopping LOTS of times.

On the side streets you could ride your bike all the way from 56th or 50th say and down to the B-G cruising right around those turtles with just a few stops (50th and 45th) at arterials....making much better progress....much more safely.

In other words, WIN-WIN.

Same thing for 35th SW -- why put bikes on that dangerous road?

Vancouver has these bike routes thru residential neighborhoods with cute little signs. We could too.

Posted by Jill | July 23, 2007 2:49 PM

If you love portland so much, by all means, move there.

Posted by ecce homo | July 23, 2007 3:19 PM

@33 your cleverness is only surpassed by your relentless originality.

Posted by adrian! | July 23, 2007 3:29 PM

Thanks adrian!!!

Posted by ecce homo | July 23, 2007 3:38 PM

@16: Yeah Cressona, the Max may not be the fastest, but the trains are full of people not driving. Downtown the trains are in dedicated lanes. While it might "crawl" through Downtown Portland because the system is there and I can use it to get most places I often take the train down from Seattle and use Max to get around. Isn't that the point?

Posted by Dave Coffman | July 23, 2007 3:48 PM

@32: Yes, we could have a bike boulevard up north from the BGT. As part of the Bicycle Master Plan, these were supposedly considered, and some were proposed. A parallel route to Stone Way was not one of them. Possibly because the first parallel through street is Meridian (check a map). Or possibly because the city didn't like bike boulevards.

The point is the Bike Master Plan says they should put the bike lanes in, they said they were going to do that, then they backed down, apparently based on bogus data.

Posted by Greg Barnes | July 23, 2007 3:54 PM

The only big trucks I ever see on Stone Way are connected to the condos that are going up near 42nd and the unfinished QFC at 40th. Besides that I have never seen anything larger than a garbage truck on Stone Way.

Posted by elswinger | July 23, 2007 3:57 PM

@32 - great comment!

And it's not Meridian. We mean the one block EAST of Stone Way N.

@38 - you obviously don't get out much. I see tons of large trucks here.

My guess is you only go during commute times, which is a time that most trucks aren't using that street.

Posted by Will in Seattle | July 23, 2007 4:33 PM

Uh, Erica, they just painted up a big ass bike lane along Stone Way north of 40th. Are we just going to pretend that doesn't exist?

Posted by Gomez | July 23, 2007 4:37 PM

Mr.X what in the hell do you mean by saying that two parking spots are not the same as two miles of streets removed from cars usage?

And for those that think Stone is used by light indusrial truckers, I rarely see the semi trucks on Stone that show up in my neighborhood to do plumbing, roofing, electrical, and painting work. Stone is used only by bicycles, hybrids, and the occasional Volvo. The marine businesses on N. Boat St. get their supplies by barge and the trucks going to the dump, I mean tranfer station, all come from the East and West none from the North because unless we get that Global warming thing really going nothing grows north of 35th.

Stone below 45th has a bunch of light industrial businesses plumbing (2), electrical (2), paint (2), roofing (1), hardware (1) and along N.Boat there are a bunch of marine repair shops and Dunn Lumber.

Pro or con bike paths in is true that there are a bunch of businesses that might well be affected by the bike path.

Posted by whatever | July 23, 2007 4:39 PM

Dunn lumber should start deliveries via bicycles.

Posted by ecce homo | July 23, 2007 5:08 PM

Jill @32: you can't put bike lanes on the non-arterial streets, because there isn't room. There's often not room for two cars to squeeze past each other as it is.

I'm not anti-bike lane, I'm just pro-facts. There IS a bike lane on Stone. Big trucks DO use the street a lot. The area at the south end of Stone IS an industrial-marine zone.

Posted by Fnarf | July 23, 2007 5:56 PM

BTW - Portland has about the same (statistically negligible) percentage of commuters who bike to work, and Seattle actually has a higher percentage of transit users for work trips. Facts, who needs em?"

I'm curious where that data came from. both your numbers about portland (which one need only take a look around in while in that city to know aren't true), and the fact that numbers are "statistically negligible". Portland is at about 2.6% in-city. not much, but not "negligible"

and to all the people talking about the new bike lane on stone way already existing, read the article carefully. the dispute is the gap from 34th to 40th, which was originally planned and then nixed.

Posted by chunts | July 23, 2007 6:06 PM

Deliveries by bicycle - ridiculous - everyone knows the way to avoid using trucks is to order on the internet.

Posted by whatever | July 23, 2007 6:28 PM

Seattle 19.3% - transit and biking Portland - 16.8%
Seattle wins, Seattle wins, Seattle wins

And Seattle is 6th in walking to work - Portland doesn't even make list.

Tops in Biking to Work
1. Portland 3.5%
2. Minneapolis 2.4%
3. Seattle 2.3%

Tops in use of Public Transit

8. Seattle 17.0%
9. Oakland 16.5%
10. Portland 13.3%

Tops in Walking to Work
1. Boston 12.5%
2. Washington, D.C. 10.0%
3. San Francisco 9.6%
4. New York 9.4%
5. Philadelphia 8.1%
6. Honolulu 6.9%
6. Seattle 6.9%
7. Minneapolis 5.8%
8. Chicago 5.5%
9. Baltimore 5.4%

Posted by whatever | July 23, 2007 6:39 PM

So it goes back to the recent discussion over moderation policy... how is it ECB and Feit get to make repeated ad hominem attacks in a public forum, while it's a cause for dismissal and deletion among commenters? At what point do Stranger writers become exempt from being objective and fair?

Posted by Gomez | July 23, 2007 8:05 PM

Gomez: Find one ad hominem attack I've ever made on anyone. And please look up the definition of "ad hominem" first -- I don't think it means what you think it means.

Posted by ECB | July 23, 2007 8:37 PM

@39: The street 1 block east of Stone does not go through to the Burke-Gilman. As I said, check a map. The transfer station is in the way. Also, I suspect, based on the block of 40th just east of Stone, that Stone is flatter.

Which isn't to say that the city couldn't make a bike boulevard that jogs. I suspect they didn't like bike boulevards much. Still, even in Vancouver, they put them a few blocks off parallel arterials, to avoid having to install a signal 1 block from an existing signal.

Posted by Greg Barnes | July 23, 2007 9:13 PM

Dave @ 36

"Isn't that the point?"

No Dave, the point of building public transit is to build something that people will use. If you look at the facts, a hard thing to do for most Stranger reporters and readers, you'll find that despite sinking a boatload of money into MAX Portland's share of commuters using public transit is lower than Seattle's. News flash fuckheads! Just because something runs on rails doesn't mean that it's good and wonderful and without flaws.

Posted by wile_e_quixote | July 24, 2007 8:24 AM

Fnarf: The problem is that some of your "facts" lead to unfounded opinions. South Stone is industrial-marine... so what? Are you implying that bikes and industry cannot coexist?

Didn't you do a post a few weeks back on the Duwamish River neighborhoods? Now THERE'S some heavy industry. And a great bike path.

Posted by DOUG. | July 24, 2007 8:44 AM

Your second link is broken.

Posted by Meredith | July 24, 2007 10:38 AM

Chunts @ 44

If you don't think 2.6-3% of work trips by bicycle is statistically negligible in the overall scheme of mode choices, there really isn't much hope for you.

You can wish in one hand and shit in the other, but 56% of Seattle residents still commute by SOV by the City's last count, and carpool use actually fell to 11% from 12% on top of that. I'd say 67% of people using cars to get to work is a clear supermajority in anybody's book - and 2.6%-3% would be a textbook definition of a vocal (sub)minority dictating policy.

(BTW - Whatever @ 46, the last Comprehensive Plan figures I saw had bicycle mode split in Seattle at 3%, but I have no doubt the City took the liberty of rounding up from 2.6% to try and hide their dismal performance in achieving any significant mode shift toward bicycles and away from cars)

Posted by Mr. X | July 24, 2007 10:50 AM

Whatever -

Oops - strike the bit about going from 2.6% to 3% - you wrote 2.3% (which is even more statistically insignificant - I would add!)

PS - I own two bikes, and used to be a bike commuter myself (and would still be if my commute were less than a mile or two - with or without bike lanes).

Most people make their decision to ride a bike based on weather, distance, and topography, and the presence of dedicated bike lanes hardly plays into it for the vast majority of potential riders.

Posted by Mr X | July 24, 2007 10:56 AM

@48: translation: i never use ad hominem attacks. but make sure you look that word up, because i think you're retarded.

Posted by trolly mctrollerson | July 24, 2007 2:31 PM

48. Um... half of the articles you've ever written? As much as I'd want to begin a systematic research compilation of every instance where you have done so in a Stranger article or Slog entry, that'll have to wait. Not too long in the 'blow it off' sense, but it'll need to wait for a few days.

Meanwhile, I've been thinking about this Stone Way issue, and yes, while they have drawn up the bike lanes north of 40th, they decided against drawing them down to the trail, which is your issue. The thing is that both sides have a legitimate beef. That is an arterial corridor between Fremont and Wallingford, on to Green Lake, and cutting it down to two lanes could cause trouble should traffic get heavy, which it can and sometimes does.

At the same time, Stone Way does serve as an informal corridor between Wallyworld and the Burke-Gilman, and I've noticed cars there can be rushed and relatively reckless. Two bike lanes would give bikers some sort of a respected path to and from the trail.

The problem lies with the neighborhood perception. The street, lined with businesses, is always lined with parked cars and there aren't a lot of places to park in the general neighborhood. A recent informal survey of businesses from the local chamber cites traffic and parking as central issues to the locals.

What Bothers You Most

The survey started with an open question, answered by 39 respondents, "what are the top two issues or problems facing the business community in the Fremont area." Without word prompts or multiple choice, the answers came back varied and phrased in different ways.

Even so, 16 respondents mentioned "parking," nine said "traffic," and four used other words that amounted to the same thing. Eleven responses mentioned crime, security, safety or related issues, but not always as the problem itself. These included mentions about an "unsafe reputation" or feeling safe, more like an issue of perception.

This sort of mindset is probably a huge contributor to opposition for the tail end of the bike corridor. It's still fuzzy to me what the underlying motive is, but I highly doubt it's as simple as 'hunga bunga we hate bikes and love cars'.

Posted by Gomez | July 24, 2007 3:32 PM

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