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Portland Business Alliance 12th Ave Letter

Portland Business Alliance 12th Ave Letter

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Published by Sarah Mirk
PBA letter expressing concern over Portland's planned 12th Avenue bike lane.
PBA letter expressing concern over Portland's planned 12th Avenue bike lane.

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Published by: Sarah Mirk on Jun 06, 2012
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06/06/2012

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Memorandum
Date: April 26, 2012To: Kyle Chisek, Portland Bureau of TransportationFrom: Portland Business AllianceRe: Proposed SW 12
th
Avenue Cycle TrackThank you for meeting with the Portland Business Alliance TransportationCommittee and concerned property owners and managers regarding the proposed Cycle Track on SW 12
th
Avenue. The Alliance is interested inensuring that the city’s transportation policies facilitate access to, fromand within the central city and support the land use and developmentactivity in a way that promotes economic vitality in the central city.With that framework in mind, the Alliance offers the following commentson the proposed SW 12
th
Avenue Cycle Track. As a point of beginning, the Alliance is involved with the Central City 2035 process that will determine the land use and transportation plans for the central city for the next 25 years. We recognize and support thecity’s efforts to develop a comprehensive, multi-modal transportationsystem, and we will continue to participate in the process of developingthe strategies that will implement that goal.We are concerned that, while this planning process is underway, thereare one-off programs that are being implemented outside acomprehensive land use and transportation strategy for the central city.The SW 12
th
Avenue Cycle Track proposal is an example of these one-of programs. While the Alliance supports the development of a multi-modaltransportation system and creating innovative ways to promote trips tothe central city, we are concerned that the process to develop the proposed SW 12
th
Avenue Cycle Track is moving too quickly and meritsmore discussion before more project planning moves forward. We requestthat the city engage with stakeholders to develop a comprehensiveanalysis of all the streets within the central city, and as part of theCentral City 2035 Plan. That way, transportation investments such asCycle Tracks will be located and designed with a broader land use,development and central city-wide access framework in mind. We look forward to working with you throughout this process.
 
Based on our meeting with you on April 5, we have some specificconcerns regarding the location of a Cycle Track on SW 12
th
Avenue and its impact on access, safety and individual properties. While weappreciate the expressed willingness of the city to work with individual property owners to address these concerns, given the diversity of uses, functions and new, old and planned development located on this street,the opportunity for conflict occurs on every block face and we’reconcerned that incremental adjustments will not be sufficient to addressthe concerns. Those concerns are:
 
There are inherent and varied conflicts with the placement of theCycle Track on either side of SW 12
th
Avenue, given the buffered design of the Cycle Track. The concentration of elderly and disabled-supportive housing on both sides of the street poses avery unique set of conflicts. The Cycle Track would posesignificant problems for TriMet LIFT and similar elderly and disabled services. There are many specific characteristics of theseresidential buildings that should be considered regarding groupsizes, activities, frequency of events, special needs, etc. of theseconstituencies before selecting this alignment even on a test-only basis.
 
SW 12
th
Avenue and the surrounding area in the West End isundergoing significant growth which will require additional streetcapacity. With the presence of existing underutilized parcels, the potential for even more investment is great and is already beginning. Recent development, such as the Indigo 12W, the CrystalHotel, the 12th and Alder redevelopment, as well as thedevelopment underway on SW 11
th
and Alder has created a haloeffect of investment energy, and other property owners are planning on making even more investments on the street.The redevelopment of the Galleria with the location of City Target,the redevelopment of the 10
th
and Yamhill Garage, and thedevelopment potential of surface parking lots within the West End make this district an area of huge near-term change. One rationalegiven by the city for selecting 12
th
Avenue for this facility is its“underutilized capacity”. Given the level of current and planned development, we are very concerned that this area will need thatcapacity very soon. We are concerned that, until more is knownabout the impact of the planned development on SW 12
th
Avenueand the surrounding area, locating a Cycle Track on this street now may be premature and may negatively impact access and circulation to, from and within the district.
 
There is great potential for safety issues between loading zonesand bicycles in the Cycle Track proposal. Given the fact that
 
loading typically occurs inside new buildings, backing out of aloading bay directly into a bicycle lane will present inherent safety concerns. Additionally, existing on-street loading zones will have tonavigate from the commercial vehicle with their freight across abicycle lane, presenting a safety hazard to both the delivery  person and the bicyclist.
 
 As noted on SW Broadway, the significant presence of retailvacancy on Broadway between Clay and Market is concerning.Based on the evaluation done by the city on the Broadway CycleTrack, it is inconclusive at this point that the presence of a CycleTrack allows retail to succeed on the closest abutting building face. Given that SW 12
th
Avenue has and will have more ground  floor retail than the area in the Broadway Cycle Track, therelationship between ground floor retail vitality and the CycleTrack is even more critical.
 
We are unclear on the need for a Cycle Track to be located on SW 12
th
Avenue from a central city access and circulation perspective. A very significant difference between the southbound Cycle Trackon Broadway and the northbound Cycle Track proposed on SW 12
th
  Avenue is that northbound moves downhill. As we understand, asignificant impetus for doing the Broadway segment was thedifficulty of bikes not impeding traffic flow and the bicyclisthaving to start each block pedaling uphill from a near stand-still position. Since SW 12th Avenue is essentially a downhill ride for its full length, bicyclists are likely to achieve speeds that match autospeeds at which the traffic signals are set. Thus the need or  justification for a cycle-track should be in question.We recognize that the city is interested in enhancing the multimodalnetwork and, in particular, building out more extensive bicycleinfrastructure. We recognize the role that bicycles play in thetransportation system and would like to work with you on that in theoverall context that we discussed. Given the concerns outlined in thisletter, 12th Avenue is not an obvious choice for the Cycle Track test.Whether SW 12th Avenue would be a meaningful addition to the city’sbicycle network is a very legitimate question to still be evaluated. Weurge the city to slow the process down and not move forward with adecision until a broader stakeholder conversation has been had and the proposal has been looked at through a more comprehensive planning process. With regard to the Stark and Oak bicycle buffer lanes and theBroadway Cycle Track, as well as any other demonstration program; wewould like to see a follow-up process that includes an evaluation and asunset-review date. While research and outreach was made on theexisting bicycle buffer lanes and Cycle Track, we are concerned that the

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