The city of Portland, Oregon is dedicating one of its streets to bikers and pedestrians, if only for a little while. From Friday (May 22) and through June 5, the city is creating “pop-up” bike and pedestrian lanes by partitioning off a 15-foot wide, one-mile-long stretch of road that is usually reserved for northbound traffic. Portland has the highest rate of commuter cyclists in the U.S. (between six and eight percent).
While the take-over isn’t permanent, the project Called #BetterNaito is a combo of the #BetterBlocks public space project and the name of the street, Naito Parkway. The project is “intended to get a feel for how the Portland Bureau of Transportation can help better accommodate and make non-car traffic safer.”
The experiment is also a way for Portland to learn how to make festivals and other activities on the city’s waterfront safer for pedestrians and cyclists. Often, during a festival, big crowds push cyclists and pedestrians closer and closer to dangerous traffic.
Clif Bar and People for Bikes both partially funded the experiment. During the last three days of the project, June 2-5, the 15-foot bike path will be extended a few blocks farther north to create a “bi-directional” bike lane as a test to fill in a gap in Portland’s network of bike paths. During the test, bluetooth sensors will count cyclists, walkers and cars. “If officials decide to pursue permanent changes to Naito, they’ll have the data to support their decision,” said Jennifer Dill, Transportation Research and Education Center director, in a release regarding #BetterNaito.