The Expanded Walkway Program in Montavilla has come to an end with less than successful results. Introduced this summer, it is part of the Busy Streets program. A Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) representative confirmed the early end of the area’s walkway program.
Expanded Walkways was just one of three programs designed to aid in social distancing during COVID-19. Unlike Expanded Bus Platforms and Expanded corners, Expanded Walkways’ used nonstandard traffic control devices in some areas. In Montavilla, PBOT used narrow white arches instead of the standard vertical poles. Called wave delineators, they are developed by cycling specialty company Saris Infrastructure. Although designed for temporary use, the method chosen by PBOT to hold the delineators in place seemed to be ineffective. Many wave delineators broke or became displaced during their short time in use.
In Montavilla, the Expanded Walkway was attempted on the north side of SE Stark Street from 84th Ave to 94th Ave. Some accounts from local business owners on the street describe general confusion for drivers. Bicyclists also felt that these measures impended safe travel, particularly when delineators were knocked down or placed in the bike lane.
PBOT employee Michelle Marx wrote to a Stark Street business owner affected by the program, announcing the pilot’s completion. “PBOT used this pilot opportunity to test out an expanded walkway concept using temporary, movable delineators. Following staff observation and based on feedback we’ve heard from users, we’ve determined that the pilot has not been successful, and we will be removing the delineators and restoring the street to its former condition.”
Although Expanded Walkways did not succeed in Montavilla, that program is testing with different delineators in other areas. Results from those Expanded Walkways and other COVID-19 street adjustments will become part of a PBOT report. “PBOT is currently evaluating all three pillars of our Safe Streets Initiative and will be releasing an evaluation report later this year.” Said Hannah Schafer, Capital Projects, Assets, and Maintenance Communications Coordinator with PBOT.
“The evaluation of the Busy Streets work will include evaluation metrics for both the expanded walkways pilots as well as the expanded street corners,” explained Schafer. The evaluation report will include recommendations on whether the temporary infrastructure should be removed or become permanent.
Experimentation is a necessary mechanism in developing effective solutions. Although Expanded Walkways did not accomplish its goals in Montavilla, it was a relatively small test and informed PBOT on challenges faced with this type of alteration. It is unknown if other the Busy Streets initiatives will meet expectations and remain in place. However, temporary Expanded Walkways in Montavilla did not work and no longer line Stark Street.
UPDATE – This story was updated with additional information from PBOT.