Foster Streetscape Officially In Design Engineering

Sure, there were meetings. Lots of them. There was the approval by an advisory committee. And then there was adoption by City Council.

Then silence.Foster Road Banner:Streetscape

It was almost like a big tease. A far-off dream initiated, but not quite realized; woken up too soon and memories fading as the days went on. That’s what the Foster Transportation and Streetscape Plan has been over the last year: a plan with hope, but no actual movement after its inception. And that’s what it was 12 years prior when a previous plan was adopted by the City, only to be brought back to the drawing table more than a decade later before ever getting funded.

But alas, that far off-dream is creeping back into memory. And while we doze off again, we can start dreaming of the day when crossing Foster is not a life-or-death proposition; when biking to the Lents International Farmers Market, the Portland Mercado or Carts on Foster is the norm, not a risky endeavor; when our commercial district does more to keep people around than speeding through it.

That day is…well, we don’t know. But according to PBOT it should be sometime next Fall. Kind of. As of now, the Foster Transportation and Streetscape Plan is officially in the design engineering phase. And based on their timeline, that puts construction in late Fall of 2016. So that safe walking, driving and biking stuff? Let’s call it 2017.

PBOT - Foster Transportation and Streetscape Plan Schedule

PBOT – Foster Transportation and Streetscape Plan Schedule

We’ll take it.

While the plans for Foster won’t please everyone, there are certainly elements of it that should be welcomed by all. Trees, for example. (Who hates trees?) More lighting and visible crosswalks? Yeah, you gotta like that. Public art along the corridor, and wider sidewalks where they narrow to an absurdly small width east of 82nd? Yep, that too.

We won’t touch the whole cars -vs- pedestrians -vs- bikers debate (you all can do that in the comments section), but surely there are some things to get excited about. And we hope you do. We are.

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16 Responses to Foster Streetscape Officially In Design Engineering

  1. Alex says:

    Wahoo. Ok, just two more years now. We can do this.

  2. Spiffy says:

    I’m really excited… it can’t come soon enough…

  3. Adam Herstein says:

    Remove parking and add protected bike lanes and this project could be close to perfect. Current plans call for (admittedly wide) bike lanes sandwiched between the travel lane and parking lane, with no intersection treatments. PBOT didn’t want to remove parking, even though by their own admissions, it was underutilized.

    This is a huge missed opportunity to create safe space for riding a bike. It’s unlikely that the plan will change this much, but it can’t hurt to keep the pressure on PBOT to reconsider.

    • I understand (share) the desire for protected bike lanes, but keeping parking does allow multiple parties to share a win with the current plan. Cars now have a center turn lane and a place to park in the commercial district; bikers will have a travel lane that didn’t exist before; pedestrians get more/safer crossings. In terms of the parking debate, I do believe that individual property/business owners can opt for bike lockers in lieu of car parking, which does go further in making Foster less car-centric. (Ditto for street seats if the speed limit drops from 35 to 30.)

      • Adam Herstein says:

        Right, but what’s frustrating is that the parking is underused. If it’s not being used to full capacity, then the capacity should be reduced. Now is the time to remove parking before more businesses move in and induce more car trips – thus making it harder to remove parking. This should have been a low-hanging fruit for PBOT. Instead PBOT used “retaining existing parking supply” as a metric of success. This is the complete wrong approach. We should be reducing the need to drive by making other modes more convenient and comfortable.

        At the very least, we could have removed parking on one side of the street for a cycle track and on the other side put the bike lane in between the sidewalk and remaining parking lane with bollards or a curb separating them. Hell, we probably could have done that on both sides of the street and even kept all the parking. Why PBOT decided to put bike lanes that people have to drive though to park is beyond me. Bike lanes to the left of parking lanes are unsafe and are not the international standard. They increase the risk of doorings since drivers exit from the left and most car trips are people driving alone. Additionally, they are not compatible with bus stops, as the bus driver is forced to drive though the bike lane to pick up passengers on the sidewalk, creating a conflict point.

        Foster has a frequent service bus route – we should be encouraging people to take transit instead of driving. If safe cycling infrastructure is installed, we’d encourage more people to ride and reduce the need for car parking.

        • Brett H. says:

          This was looked at during the streetscape planning process. The issue with having the bike lane/cycle track on the inside of the parked cars is that, when crossing a side street (of which there are many, at an angle not 90 degrees), the bike facility would need to swing out towards Foster to be visible to traffic (to avoid right hooks). The result would be the loss of some parking (due to the room needed to get the bike facilities out from behind the parked cars), and something resembling a slalom course for the bikers.
          You are correct in that parking was prioritized by PBOT during the process. I wonder if the public outreach/planning process had happened after the city pledged support for Vision Zero if the outcome would have been different. Unfortunately, I’m guessing it is too late in the process to change much at this point.
          What still bothers me about the project is moving bikes off of NW-bound Foster before 52nd (the 50s Bikeway)… for, wait for it… a block and a half of parking.

        • Yes, not connecting to the 50’s bikeway was super shortsighted.

        • Alex says:

          Yeah I really wanted protected bike lanes too. It is one of the widest streets in the city, so much opportunity for infrastructure. With all that, after attending some of the meetings, it makes sense how we ended up with what we’re going to get. Protected bike lanes would have needed a ton more money. It’s worth noting that these are extra wide bike lanes WITH a 2 foot buffer zone – it’s no physical barrier, but it’s better than nothing. I think these will be a really nice addition to this side of town.

          About that gap from 54th to 52nd…WTF. Seriously. I was at the meetings, voted on this multiple times. To not connect this brand new artery to another brand new artery (52nd ave) in an obvious way? seriously a shame. Bikes in commercial districts are a proven win. Currently, I believe bike lanes in section is slated as a “future addition”. Already eyeing where a guerrilla east-bound bike lane can fit on the south sidewalk…plenty of room.

          Another thing about that gap from 54th to 52nd. Frustrated that this block will be unchanged besides a few new trees. They identified the section from Powell to 52nd as the commercial zone, and will be adding nice street lighting there. But what about from 52nd to 54th, where the actual commercial zone is? It’ll still be 4 lanes wide and nearly impossible to cross at 54th.

  4. If I had a gripe with the Streetscape Plan, it would be that it’s not bold or creative enough. It’s more about appeasing the various invested parties. And I, like you, wish that we got better bike facilities out of the deal.

    With that being said, the budget for the project is limited and there’s a lot of politics at play. There’s got to be some finesse to keep all people happy, and I think there are a lot of bikers that are stoked to get dedicated lanes. Just as there are a lot of drivers that might not be happy to merge into one lane, but get to keep some parking.

    In regards to your comment about more businesses moving in, perhaps I’m misinterpreting, but it seems like you think that might be a bad thing? I think if more businesses are on Foster, more locals will be walking and biking there instead of driving to Hawthorne or Division. Especially with added bike lanes.

    As for underused parking, you’re definitely right. Some of that goes back to lack of businesses drawing people to them, though. That might change with a healthier commercial corridor. But what we don’t know yet is how many people will be using the bike lanes once they’re there. My hope is that it becomes a popular bike route, but if it doesn’t, empty cycle tracks would look kinda funny. Maybe it’s something that can be forced down the road if, in fact, biking on Foster becomes more popular.

    • Adam Herstein says:

      I am definitely in favor of more businesses moving in. My concern is that with too much parking, people will choose to drive to the new businesses instead of taking the frequent service bus route or riding their bikes. There is not a single commercial corridor in Portland that has decent bike facilities (arguably where they are needed the most) and I was hoping Foster would change that. Instead PBOT proposes unsafe, outdated bicycle facilities that are proven to cause conflicts.

      However, I do thing that the streetscape project will do a lot towards making Foster a place people want to visit and linger, and maybe PBOT can use the increase in people and businesses to justify better bicycle facilities in the future.

      • Ah, I’m with you. I thought I might have misinterpreted that.

        I agree we should encourage a less car-centric Foster. Thoughts on approaching businesses and getting some bike lockers installed?

        • Adam Herstein says:

          Maybe some sort of tax credit?

          I really think the best thing to do would be to flip the parking and bike lanes so people are riding along the sidewalk and bus drivers don’t have to cross the bike lane. Then, put some bike corrals in the parking space along with flexible bollards to separate the bike lane from the parking lane. PBOT could always add a curb later, and currently-proposed parking capacity could even be retained. It doesn’t even need too much more extra space, since PBOT was already thinking of adding buffers to the bike lane.

  5. Pingback: Happy Weekend, Foster People! | Foster-Powell. A neighborhood blog.

  6. Greg says:

    I’m totally for a more bike-centric Foster, but I actually think the on-street parking is a good thing.

    Businesses need to be accessible to customers to be viable, and for better or worse, many people will drive. If there isn’t enough on-street parking, businesses will be forced to build their own, and with most of Foster zoned as General Commercial, this means more Plaid-Pantry style construction.

    I’d love to see more of a Main Street feel to Foster — storefronts built right up to the sidewalk, like Pieper Cafe or Red Castle Games. On-street parking allows more attractive construction without completely alienating a large percentage of their customers.

  7. Design and construction is scheduled for 2016-2017. The Foster Road Transportation and Streetscape Plan prioritizes safety and streetscape elements to transform the Foster Road corridor and its surrounding neighborhoods into centers of vibrant and unique neighborhoods, resulting in an array of benefits for residents and businesses.

  8. Pingback: Foster Rewind: Best of 2015 | Foster-Powell. A neighborhood blog.

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