Comment of the Week: How to fix east Portland’s scary streets

(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

[Welcome to our Comment of the Week. We do this post not only to highlight a useful or funny or creative insight, but also to help educate you about what makes a good comment. It’s part of our effort to improve the quality of the discussion here on BikePortland. We get hundreds of comments each week, so you can help us find the best ones by replying to one with “Comment of the week.” Thanks.]

Many people are overwhelmed by the scale of changes needed to significantly tame auto traffic on east Portland’s fast and wide arterials. When we talk about how to fix this persistent problem, the discussion swings between everything from lower speed limits and road diets — to land-use and demographic patterns.

The death yesterday morning of yet another person walking on outer Southeast Stark had commenters once again sharing ideas on what can be done to make meaningful progress on safer streets in that part of our city.

As I read through the 400 or so comments left on the site this week, I felt like one from David Hampsten deserved to be singled-out. David is a well-known east Portland transportation activist. Unfortunately (for us), he relocated from Portland to North Carolina a few years ago. We are grateful he continues to share his insights in our comment section.

When the comments on our post about the most recent fatality on Stark turned to ways to make east Portland streets safer, David wrote:

“East Portland very much reflects most of the rest of the USA, very suburban and auto-oriented. You are right, the cost of ‘fixing everything,’ that is, making East Portland just like inner Portland, is cost-prohibitive. The zoning is neither here nor there – most of East Portland that you see now was already built when the city annexed the area 1986-1991. The odd thing is, when it was part of the county, parking was banned on all arterial and most collector streets, so taking away parking is possible. Some at PBOT do in fact desire reducing lanes and traffic throughput on East Portland streets, but there are others at PBOT who don’t.

However, there are other options. Instead of ‘fixing’ East Portland to be like inner Portland, why not explore the possibility of using the existing street grid there to make driving difficult within its superblocks, but biking and walking easier? From there, might you create a network of one-way arterial roads, such as Stark east-bound only and Glisan west-bound only, and use the ‘saved’ lanes for protected bike lanes, pocket parks, and sidewalk cafes? Could Division & Powell also be a set of one-way couplets?”

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This comment hits all the right notes: it shares useful, on-topic knowledge; it offers insights based on real experience; and it proposes inspirational new ideas on how to fix a problem. Thank you David! Hope all is well in North Carolina.

We also have an honorable mention this week.

On Monday, bikeninja made us smile when he shared the comment below on our post about how a permitting oversight led to a major bike lane blockage on NW 14th Avenue:

“We know that we are living in a better (and more sustainable) world when permit Snafus remove an entire freeway, and PBOT has to have a staffer who coordinates the occasional “Summer Motorways” when the dusty old motorcars are unpacked from their garages and driven around in a loop of neighborhood streets where they are normally prohibited.”

Thank you everyone for your comments (both here and on our social media channels). Remember, what you write in the comment section is just as important as what we write in our posts.

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and

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