Making Foster Great: Recap of Last Night’s Meeting (with bikes, surveys, and more)

Last night’s community discussion on the future of Foster Road was a great success, and the organizers put together a wonderful lineup of guest speakers and audience engagement.  This was only the first in a series of meetings designed to inform, engage, and encourage the residents of Foster-Powell and Mt. Scott-Arleta to take part in the process of reshaping Foster Road into a safer and more livable thoroughfare.  This community engagement will hopefully be utilized by PBOT and the PDC as they refresh the old Foster Road Transportation and Streetscape Plan and design a new version that reflects the needs of the surrounding neighborhoods.

It will be important moving forward that people do participate in the process and share their ideas.  To help the organizers of this meeting cipher through some of the various wants and needs of the neighborhood, resident and transportation planner, Nick Falbo, put together the following survey (here).  Please take a moment to fill it out, as this input will be used to assess just what it is the neighborhood values in a future Foster Road.

Nick Falbo also presented various bikeway options for Foster Road on behalf of the Bicycle Transportation Alliance.  The options presented are not currently in the the Foster Streetscape Plan, but were introduced as potential options for inclusion in a future design, one in which pedestrians and cars may ultimately share the road with bicyclists.  While the pros and cons were presented with each option, the overall theme was that bikeway improvements not only make bikers feel safe and more comfortable, but also create more buffers between cars and pedestrians, as well as more structured driving conditions for vehicular traffic —which in the end makes for safer driving, too.

Adding to the discussion was Paul Notti, Vice Chair of the Sellwood-Moreland Improvement League, who was involved in the process of reducing the number of lanes on Tacoma Street as it runs through the Sellwood business district.  Notti’s insight into the engagement and design process, as well as creating positive working relationships with city bureaus, was both encouraging and helpful.  And the challenges he presented were also eye-opening, as the political division that comes with restructuring such a widely used thoroughfare can be contentious.  This is all the more reason to get involved and engage with your neighbors, business community, and planners, as a cohesive plan with consensus will be the only way to move a new streetscape plan forward.

In the end, safety and livability should be the predominant themes in refreshing the Foster Streetscape Plan.  Added commute times should not trump one’s sense of safety when crossing the street, nor the inability to attract and retain businesses along the commercial corridor.  As Lidwien Rahman, who spoke on behalf of the Willamette Pedestrian Coalition, said, “good design and safety will be reflected in the number of people walking in a particular neighborhood.”  And with that, Foster Road can thrive.  And so, too, can the surrounding neighborhoods.

Please stay engaged if you are already, and if not, please consider doing so.  You’ll have another opportunity to learn more about the Foster Streetscape Plan, as well as investment strategies for the Foster corridor, next Wednesday, 6/27, at an open house hosted by the Portland Development Commission.  This event runs from 5 p.m. until 8 at the Mt. Scott Learning Center (6418 SE Holgate…behind 7-11) with, I believe, a walking tour of the “heart of Foster” at 7 p.m..

And again, here’s a link to the survey designed by Nick Falbo (take a moment to share your thoughts on safety, the use of public space, and different transportation options): http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/6CTFSZK

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