People we polled for our Blueprint for World Class Bicycling identified the lack of safe crossings over Sullivan’s Gulch as a top priority.
The 14 streets that cross Sullivan’s Gulch between the river and 82nd Avenue are key routes for Portland’s inner east side. People are drawn to these routes, whether they’re in a car or on a bike, because they’re the only ones that cross the gulch. Of those fourteen streets, only two (12th and 47th) have significant dedicated access for bicycles leading to both sides of the crossing.
With the 20s Bikeway project, we have an opportunity to improve one of those key, high-demand routes that currently creates tense, hurried interactions between people in cars and on bikes. We can do that, all while boosting the visibility of, and number of customers traveling through, a local business district.
For 41 years, The City of Portland has planned to make 28th Avenue a better bike route. The most recent of many such plans, the Bicycle Plan for 2030, even upgrades the route to a new highest-priority status: “Major City Bikeway.” Here is how a Major City Bikeway is defined in Appendix G of the plan (emphasis added):
Major City Bikeways form the backbone of the city’s bikeway network and are intended to serve high volumes of bicycle traffic and provide direct, seamless, efficient travel across and between transportation districts.
28th Avenue should have two bike lanes. One going north, one going south.
There are some trade-offs with that plan. Some of the on-street parking, both for cars and for bicycles, would have to be removed or relocated to install the long-planned bike lanes. Fortunately for local businesses, new buffered bike lanes, like could be installed on 28th Avenue, have proven in Portland and elsewhere to boost foot traffic and sales. Portland State University researchers even found that customers who arrive by bike spend 24% more per month than those who arrive by car.
The City of Portland has presented a compromise solution: one bike lane going south and a parallel neighborhood greenway a few blocks away. This would be a step in the right direction, but if Portland is serious about supporting local businesses, making streets safer, and accommodating growth we cannot afford to make compromises on vital Sullivan’s Gulch crossings like 28th Avenue.