Category: Infrastructure

BIKETOWN’s Free Ride Program

Last week, BIKETOWN announced an expansion to their discounted membership program for low-income riders. Called BIKETOWN for All, the program now offers free 60-minute rides and expands to include some college students with a free membership or subsidized rides. These changes should dramatically increase access to the electric assist bike-share for all Portland State University (PSU) students, people living on low incomes, and college students on financial aid.

Portland hosts a variety of colleges and universities, with students housed throughout the city. Most public transportation routes serve those schools. However, some students still need additional mobility options that will not burden their limited budgets. Now, students who receive federal financial aid will qualify for a free BIKETOWN membership. Additionally, PSU students not eligible for BIKETOWN for All will be eligible for a ride credit to cover up to $20 a month of casual user fees.

Previously the BIKETOWN for All program was limited to people using recognizes assistance programs, including the Oregon Trail card (SNAP), Oregon Health Plan, or affordable housing. Starting on September 16th, the program will now recognize Federal Student Aid as a qualifying determination for eligibility. However, only when received by students attending school on a Portland campus.

With the expanded eligibility, every BIKETOWN for All member will receive additional discounts. BIKETOWN now waives the $5 monthly membership fee and offers an unlimited number of 60-minute rides a month. Riders incur a $0.05 per minute charge after the first hour of the bike rental. Before this week’s changes, the per-minute change began instantly. The discounted program continues to offer free bike unlocks and $20 in ride credits every month.

Although these changes will make many trips free, a BIKETOWN for All members ridding less than an hour could still generate charges. Bikes not parked at a BIKETOWN station will generate a $1 fee, except in the East Portland SuperHub Zone east of 72nd Avenue. Additionally, bikes parked outside the 32 square mile service area would receive a $5 out-of-service-area fee.

Portlanders who qualify can sign up at BIKETOWNforAll.com. College students will upload a digital copy of their FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) award letter. PSU students should sign up at the PSU BIKETOWN website. These changes are a significant expansion to the program that recognizes the financial struggle some college students endure and makes the BIKETOWN for All program practical for low-income riders. Expect to see more Portland residents using these bikes as people discover the updated subsidy program that creates an affordable and valuable tool to get around the city.

Metro Councilor Bob Stacey Resigns

Last Thursday, one of Portland’s representatives on the Metro Council announced his resignation. Effective October 15th, Metro Councilor Bob Stacey will step down from the position he has held since 2012. Not long after first being elected to the Council, Stacey was diagnosed with meningioma, which causes tumors to grow in and around the skull. Although his prognosis continues to be favorable, treatments for the tumors have begun to impact his ability to work full-time.

Bob Stacey represents Oregon Metro District 6, mainly covering Southeast and southwest Portland. Metro serves more than 1.5 million people in Clackamas, Multnomah, and Washington counties. The agency’s boundary encompasses Portland and 23 other cities. They provide region-wide planning and coordination to manage growth, infrastructure, and development issues across jurisdictional boundaries.

Bob Stacey’s work with Metro touched many points within Montavilla. However, most residents will associate his local efforts with the TBN redevelopment project at 432 NE 74th Ave. Metro’s Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) program acquired this site for residential development in 2019. The 1.65-acre property will become low-income housing within a few years featuring commercial use on the ground floor. It will be a transformative project for that section of NE Glisan, bringing an active residential density to the street and removing a block-wide parking lot. As seen in other areas of Portland, constructing socially active street-side projects increases safety and prosperity along those roads.

Councilor Stacey won reelection in 2020 for a four-year term. The Metro Council has until January 13th to appoint Stacey’s successor. According to the Metro Charter, that appointed person will serve until an election for the remainder of the term is held at the next primary or general election. This next election cycle, candidates will run for the remaining two years of the Metro District 6 Council seat.

Bob Stacey’s contributions to Oregon predate his work with Metro and will likely continue for many years after he vacates his elected position. Colleagues of Stacey were quick to celebrate his career up to this point and thank him for his decades of service. “Bob is a titan of Oregon’s land conservation movement,” said Metro Council President Lynn Peterson. “His service and vision are obvious in all corners of our state, and his wisdom and nearly 50 years of experience is going to be missed on the council.”


Images in this article are provided by Oregon Metro

Two Vehicle Crash on 78th And Burnside

UPDATE – 3:35 All roads are clear of large debris and open to traffic again.

E Burnside Street is closed at 78th Ave after a two-vehicle crash. At 2:45 PM, a car and pickup collided in the intersection, flipping the truck and its two passengers completely over. The truck landed upright on SE 78th Ave, where it caught fire. Portland Fire & Rescue responded by 2:53 PM, extinguishing the fire and providing medical aid to the injured.

All people involved in the crash were able to walk away from the accident. Expect traffic delays on E Burnside Street and 78th Ave while crews clear the crash debris and tow the disabled vehicles.

New Bike-Share Stations Arrive

Yesterday, crews from BIKETOWN installed new bike-share stations on SE 81st Ave just south of E Burnside Street. Its construction follows another recently built unit on NE Glisan Street west of 80th Ave. When completed, the 81st Ave location will house docks for up to six e-bikes available to rent through the BIKETOWN mobile app.

Last June, a survey conducted by BIKETOWN gathered community input on where to place new electric bicycle (e-bike) docks as part of the program’s East Portland expansion. A few months later, that survey data and other factors are guiding the placement of these stations. The BIKETOWN bike finder map currently shows the new station on SE 81st Ave as available for use. However, no bikes are listed there, and the stand is missing the vertical sign that displays user instructions. This bike-share location is near Walgreens Pharmacy on the road behind Hong Phat. The station’s proximity to the number 20 and 72 TriMet bus lines should reduce excessive walking for riders not directly on the bus route.

Station on NE Glisan Street showing user instructions.

Several blocks north from the uncompleted station, BIKETOWN staff finished an identical installation on NE Glisan Street. Crews completed this location last week, and it is fully operational. Workers placed the docks on the sidewalk in front of Glisan Dental, away from traffic. The SE 81st Ave docks sit in the road’s parking lane, relying on white traffic delineator posts to protect the parked bikes.

Station on NE Glisan Street.

BIKETOWN docking stations are simple installations that securely hold locked bikes. They do not provide any charging for e-bikes. Instead, BIKETOWN offers these locations as a reliable place for customers to find and return bikes. Throughout the week, staff redistributes bikes to these locations after collecting units left in remote areas. Each e-bike has a removable battery pack that employees can replace before putting them back out for use.

BIKETOWN van used for redistribution.

Since the expansion of the BIKETOWN network in late 2020, sightings of the iconic orange bikes throughout Montavilla and greater East Portland have increased. Often they are found secured to signposts and fences. The installation of more bike docking stations will transform the scattering of transportation options into a reliable network of mobility devices. Their new consistent location gives residents the confidence to bridge the transportation gap for short trips without a personal vehicle. Businesses near the docks should also see a boost in visitors, as patrons can expect to find a bike ready for them when they head home. Look for these docks next time you plan a short trip around Montavilla and see if an e-bike can enhance your mobility.

Station on SE 81st Ave partially completed.

Correction – fixed typo of store name Hong Phat

SE 92nd Blue Postal Box Removal

This summer, the number of United States Postal Service (USPS) blue collection boxes in Montavilla dropped to four. In July of this year, postal employees removed the iconic blue collection box at 1231 SE 92nd Ave, leaving a sizable gap in the neighborhood for outbound mail-drop locations.

This recent removal was not the first disappearance of this collection box in 2021. In January, thieves broke into this box to steal mail and rendered it unusable. USPS crews replaced the damaged unit within a week. Unlike last time, criminals were not responsible for its permanent removal. Instead, budget cuts and declining use sealed its fate.

A year before the collection box’s removal, national controversy surrounded the reduction of postal services ahead of the presidential election. USPS staff reportedly focused blue box elimination on “redundant” units and not single boxes. None of Montavilla’s five boxes fit that profile and were deemed safe. Ultimately, Postmaster General Louis DeJoy postponed changes to the postal system until after the November 2020 elections, further reducing public concerns. However, the cost-saving efforts resumed in 2021 and progressed without much attention, leading to the box removal from SE 92nd Ave.

SE Montavilla Collection Boxes. Map courtesy USPS

Montavilla’s distribution of blue collection boxes has historically skewed towards SE Stark Street and NE Glisan Street. However, two locations south of SE Washington Street provided acceptable coverage for residents. This latest removal has created a much wider gap between places where people can deposit outbound mail. Although these reductions are driven by declining use, citizens expect a reasonable distribution of mail services. Securely sending mail from a home address has increasingly become difficult due to theft and other logistical challenges.

The same area targeted by this USPS collection box reduction will become the location for greater housing density within a few years. Several apartment projects are underway or proposed close to SE Division Street, and new residents would have used the 92nd Ave location. 

Admittedly, few people consider proximity to a collection box when deciding where to live. However, USPS blue box placement is one aspect contributing to the walkability of an area. Portland leaders are building the city to encourage car-free activities, and reducing postal boxes is just one small change that will push back against that initiative. With luck, a new box location will arrive at some future date and fill in the gap felt in southeast Montavilla.

Blue USPS Collection Box before it was removed from SE 92nd Ave and Hawthorne Blvd

SE Division Turn-Lane Reconfigured

This month, construction crews began lane reconfiguration work on SE Division Street near SE 92nd Ave. The Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) will replace a continuous painted center turn-lane with physical separation and left turn controls. Portions of the center divider will transform into a raised median with street trees and pedestrian islands. This work is part of the Outer Division Safety Project and the Division Transit Project.

Out past 82nd Ave, SE Division Street features five lanes dedicated to automobiles traffic. Two lanes accommodate vehicles traveling westbound, and two are for eastbound traffic. The fifth lane is a multi-directional turn-lane used for short distances while executing a turn. PBOT determined that a significant number of crashes occurred to vehicles using the turn-lane. By adding a raised center median to SE Division, PBOT expects to reduce collisions between cars and produce safer pedestrian crosswalks.

Example of marked left turn space. Image courtesy of PBOT

Creating a raised median will change how drivers access businesses and side streets. The continuous divider will restrict left turns along the road except for designated areas. Drivers needing to access a location on the left side of the road may need to drive past their destination and execute a U-Turn at a marked left turn space. This configuration confines cross-traffic to specific locations and eliminates head-on collisions by cars using the turn-lane simultaneously.

Image courtesy of TriMet

Non-motorists will also benefit from the raised median. A lane-width divider will provide a mid-crossing island for pedestrians to safely wait for cars to stop. This protective space allows two shorter crossings and reduces the length of time both directions of traffic need to stop when yielding to foot traffic. Additionally, bicycle commuters will be less vulnerable to unexpected cross-traffic with the new configuration. The raised median does not resolve all bicycle collision issues. However, it will reduce those interactions to marked intersections where there should be better visibility.

Work on SE Division will continue until the Summer of 2022. Look for disruptions to normal traffic flow over the coming months as crews install the permeant median. Drivers and pedestrians should use extra caution in this area as people adjust to the new configuration.

New Recycling Law Introduces Statewide Changes

In this legislative session, Oregon lawmakers passed the Recycling Modernization Act (SB582), creating a significant overhaul of state policy that will modernize Oregon’s recycling system. Governor Brown signed the bill into law on August 6th. In a shift from the traditional recycling doctrine, partial funding for these enhancements will come from packaging, food service ware, and paper product manufacturers.

Across the country, consumers bear most of the recycling burden. Individuals must find an appropriate recycling collector for their items, pay recycling fees to trash services, and fund programs with tax dollars. When this law goes into effect at the beginning of 2022, Oregon will create a new “shared responsibility” recycling system. Consumers are still responsible for much of the recycling process and costs. However, this marks a shift in the government’s thinking on waste reduction. If recycling costs impact producers of single-use items, then there is an incentive to reduce packaging and improve the recyclability of products. Within the law, producers of non-recyclable products will pay higher fees to the program, incentivizing a shift to use recyclable materials.

Beyond adjusting the financial model for recycling, this law focuses on program expansion and logistical enhancements. The bill includes funding to improve recycling sorting facilities and consumer education programs throughout the state. In rural Oregon, the bill provides subsidies to get material to sorting facilities. Additionally, it increases access to recycling for people living in apartments and other underserved housing.

Expanding recycling collection will not necessarily reduce waste if items have nowhere to go after being sorted. Provisions in the law ensure collected plastics are actually recycled, not just transported and disposed of in a landfill. Not only will these changes increase the effective operation of Oregon’s recycling program, but they may also restore consumers’ faith that their recycling efforts are worthwhile.

Staff from the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) will spend the next few years developing the specific rules needed to implement this law. The DEQ created a form for stakeholders to register their desire to participate in the rules advisory committees or other advisory groups. Expect to see many small developments around Oregon’s recycling program as planners engage with the public and manufacturers. These changes affect a greater number of businesses than any other Oregon recycling law, and its thoughtful implementation will detriment if Oregonians see the desired effects on the environment.


Image courtesy of Portland’s Bureau of Planning and Sustainability

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Five Minute Fast Stop on Stark

The Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) posted a new sign on SE Stark Street near 81st Ave this week. The purple and white parking indicator is part of a new pilot project by the city to offer permanent five-minute free parking zones for quick drop-offs and pickups. Similar to the new Slow Streets planters, this is a pandemic-inspired program adopted into continual use.

These short-term parking spaces began as part of PBOT’s successful Healthy Businesses program to support businesses amid the Covid-19 pandemic. Starting this month, PBOT is piloting these five-minute zones in five locations throughout the city with the intention to deploy them citywide. A motorist can park in these spaces to accomplish any task that takes five minutes or less. City staff envisions these spaces supporting local businesses by allowing customers to pick up take-out food or provide delivery drivers a reliable place to park during their rounds. Taxi, Uber, or Lyft vehicles could also use these spaces to cut down on double parking and pickup confusion.

Image courtesy of PBOT

The four other 5 Minute Fast Stop pilot locations are on Mississippi Street, NW 23rd Avenue, SE Division Street, and SW Harvey Milk Street. PBOT offers a map featuring the five locations on the program’s website. That page will update if the program expands to more places. With the new signs now posted, PBOT intends to study the performance of these pilot locations to make sure they are working as intended. As part of the evaluation process, PBOT will survey community members, businesses, private for-hire drivers, and other gig economy workers about their experience with these short-term parking spaces.

Montavilla is part of a small group of locations in this pilot project. Residents now have a unique opportunity to participate in a test that could reshape parking throughout Portland. On your next visit to Montavilla Town for a short visit, consider parking in the new space and then provide feedback to PBOT about your experience when the survey becomes available.

 

Glisan EV Chargers Near Completion

Electrify America recently installed four Electric Vehicle (EV) recharge spaces in Fred Meyer’s parking lot as part of their nationwide network. Electricians have nearly completed the work required to electrify the new charging stations at 6615 NE Glisan Street. At the current pace of construction, chargers should become available for use this month or soon after.

This project includes landscaper shrubbery to conceal the equipment area that feeds power to the customer accessible equipment. A barrier around the utility zone will use 8 foot high Trex fencing, shielding the large equipment bank from view and protecting people from the high-voltage equipment.

Future EV customers will pay between $0.31 per kWh and $0.43 per kWh when this location opens. The four spaces are reserved for people charging their vehicles, and turnover on the space will be encouraged. Ten minutes after a charging session completes, an idle fee of $0.40 per minute is added to the customer’s bill. 

Completing this project should encourage more visitors to the area, building on the already increased foot traffic seen on NE Glisan. EV customers have hours of free time during the charge session and look to local businesses to fill that gap in their schedule. Expect to see vehicles charging at one of these spaces soon.

July 1st – Crews installed electrical conduit
July 25th – Crews completed underground work and resurfaced the parking lot
July 25th – Electrical pad surrounded by new landscaping and posts are placed for fencing
August 2nd – Electricians wire chargers

Permanent Slow Streets

Over the coming months, the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) will install permanent traffic calming measures at select intersections. These concrete planters will replace some temporary road construction barrels installed throughout Portland as part of the Slow Streets Program back in May of 2020. The program converted low-traffic streets and neighborhood greenways into “local access only” Slow Streets during the pandemic. Since that time, PBOT received over 2,000 public comments, with a large majority supporting the impacts on affected streets.

Seven intersections within Montavilla will have their temporary Slow Streets installations made permanent. On SE Stephens Street, crews will place cement planters at the east entry of 76th Ave. Two more near Harrison Park will sit on the north and south side of Stephens Street at SE 87th Ave. Two on SE Mill street at 92nd Ave and 82nd Ave will mark the entrance to that Slow Street. Permeant planters will also mark the north entrance to NE 71st Ave off E Burnside and the south entrance of NE 87th Ave from NE Glisan. PBOT made a complete map of current and future Slow Streets available to the public online.

The installation of concrete planters is not meant to stop automotive access to streets but instead transform traffic on those roads. Slow Streets limit access to people with an intended destination in the area, cutting down on pass-through vehicle traffic. Additionally, signs placed in the planters will display a new lower speed for the road. PBOT believes reducing the number of cars on these streets, and the rate at which they travel will make the street safer for bicyclists, pedestrians, and other recreational activities.

PBOT crews have already installed some of these permanent concrete planters. Over the following months, expect to see more temporary Slow Streets transform into their final configuration and plan for some brief traffic disruptions as crews work on the project. Depending on the further success of this program, BPOT will consider expanding to other similar streets in the neighborhood.