Coining a Term

There’s an extensive piece in the Oregonian’s In Portland section about the Burnside Plan. It analyzes the power politics behind support and opposition to the couplet plan.

Watching the process of deconstructing the results of many years of planning, accompanied by lots of public outreach and input, after the fact, makes me wonder if we should have a name for this process. How about “Burnsiding”?

For example, we could say that the Transit Mall is in the process of being Burnsided.

Update: Ryan Frank, the writer of the O story, posted additional info and links on his City Hall blog.

14 responses to “Coining a Term”

  1. Anybody know anything more about the Flanders Bike Couplet mentioned in the article? I thought the idea was to put bike lanes *on* the Burnside/Couch couplet? Is the Flanders idea to have the bike lanes transition from there to Flanders for the path through NW Portland, where Burnside goes back to 2-way/4 lanes?

  2. The plan shows a bike lane on _east_ Burnside and Couch all the way out to East 13th. This will be a great improvement for bikes over what is now a completely inhospitable bicycle environment.

    For lower _west_ Burnside, the bike lane would start at 4th Ave and continue east across the bridge.

    For westbound, the bike lane would come off the bridge and turn north up 2nd all the way to Flanders. There would be no bike lane on Couch, however with full signalization of all intersections to smoothly regulate traffic flow, a bicyclist who wanted to ride in the main lanes would be able to keep up with traffic.

    Here is a link to the “Bicycle Improvements” chapter of the plan:
    (It can take awhile to load even over a fast connection.)

    The think I like about the Flanders bike plan, if it is fully implemented, is that it creates a pleasant bicycle and pedestrian connection all the way from the waterfront (at the Steel bridge), west across I-405 (over a new bridge), to NW 24th.

    The Steel Bridge is already the main bicycle connection between Waterfront Park and the Eastbank Esplanade, and Flanders goes right up the middle of a several dense residential areas. I think this would be an excellent project for bicycle connectivity in its own right.

    The key here is that this project needs to identify funding sources and get built. It should not be jettisoned while other parts of the Burnside-Couch project move forward.

    It is disappointing in some ways that there could not be a bike lane directly on Burnside/Couch. I understand the reasons behind this, and agree with most of them… there is only so much right-of-way to go around. However, if the Flanders project gets built, the trade-off is worth it… Instead of cycling down Burnside in traffic, I would gladly cycle 4 blocks north first to have a calm, bicycle-friendly experience.

    – Bob R.

  3. There is an advocacy organization being formed to work on the Flanders bikeway. One concept calls for recycling the main span of the Sauvie Island bridge that is about to be decommissioned to use to cross I-405.

    I think this will proceed regardless of the couplet outcome.

  4. Geez, they found a few grumpy rich people and pitted them against a page and a half of supporters. Sounds like the opposition to this plan is getting trumped up a little more than it deserves?

  5. Geez, they found a few grumpy rich people and pitted them against a page and a half of supporters. Sounds like the opposition to this plan is getting trumped up a little more than it deserves?

    Well, it’s simply vital that the planned improvement of 70+ blocks of Burnside, Couch and Sandy be cancelled so that their one intersection can remain exactly as it is. Isn’t that obvious? :-)

    Seriously, though, no one should have a public project impact their neighborhood without adequate public involvement… but in this case the neighborhood associations were involved in the original planning process and signed off on the proposal.

    – Bob R.

  6. Any project should be planned for durability–would you like to see the Champs d’Elysee constantly renovated? I asked how they could be sure the couplet wouldn’t require major changes in ten years. They said they knew it wouldn’t> Ha!

    With all the transit plans floating around this town, somebody needs to come up with a master strategy–one that won’t break the bank. Nearly any community in this Metro area is going to have significant growth in the next decade. Portland normally goes on a twenty year cycle of peak boom to peak boom. There are major population demographics that shape these periodic expansions. It would be better to figure out all the pieces of this puzzle now than to try to fit some oversize ones in later. Stressful, I know…but did you ever go on a trip and forget some important item?

    Or, is this some kind of government project?

  7. other names to consider for Portland planning:
    “the odd couplet”
    “MLKing it”

    but seriously, I think the fine citizens against the couplet are not thinking about the whole picture. They see the current quagmire of burnside traffic flowing down Couch, when in fact, the traffic will be much smoother, slower and MORE pedestrian friendly.

  8. If you want to see what couplets do for a retail environment, wander up and down Broadway/Weidler in NE. Its a racetrack, yes with bikelanes, but managed for maximum through-put of auto trips, not for local businesses or residents. The same will happen on Burnside/Couch.
    We should be eliminating couplets, not creating them. Anyway, what’s wrong with a little grit in a city; Burnside is all we got, and E. Burnside is already swinging.

  9. Lenny –

    The example of Broadway/Weidler is not an appropriate comparison to Burnside/Couch. This has been pointed out in earlier discussions.

    Most (not all) of Burnside/Couch will be two lanes each way, and signalized at every intersection. Broadway/Weidler is 3 and 4 lanes most of the way, and is not signalized at every intersection.

    Timed signalization of every blocked is what prevents a racetrack environment, as there is little advantage to speeding up as the driver will eventually “catch” the next light. Fewer overall lanes to cross makes for a better pedestrian environment. Put the two together and you’ve got a much calmer situation than Broadway/Weidler.

    A far better comparison in terms of scale (although with lower traffic counts) would be Washington/Alder.

    – Bob R.

  10. What’s wrong with a little grit in the city?

    How about this? Just last week I saw a woman hit by a car in front of Powell’s on Burnside. She had a walk light, stepped forward, and a car sideswiped her. Hit and run.

    Oh yea, grit is awesome. Especially when people get killed. I’ve got an even better idea: we can give away AK assault rifles to drug dealers so they can shoot each other! Just think of what Portland would be like then – just like in the mobster movies!! -and you know how everyone loves The Godfather, so what’s the problem?

  11. There’s grit and then there’s assault… I don’t confuse the two. Signals might be the pedestrian’s worse enemy. If we want to protect peds, we would outlaw right turns on red and eliminate the right turn lanes that now make lower Burnside so dangerous.
    re couplets, granted Bway and Weidler are three lanes, but for a good ten blocks they have plenty of signals. The question is what speed signals are set for…Downtown couplets like Alder/Washington are set at 12 mph. Do you think Burnside/Couch will be that low? No way. Look for 20-25 mph signals comparable to Bway/Weidler. PDOT wants to move traffic through.
    There is lots that could be done to make Burnside safer, but it would reduce through traffic, hence the couplet scheme.

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