Why Burnside Bike-lanes instead of improvements on the Davis-Everett Greenway?

by Terry Dublinski.

With all the recent Burnside publicity, the question has been asked by several neighborhood residents why I am pushing for a Burnside modernization including bike lanes instead of focusing on improvements on the Davis-Everett Greenway. This question deserves a well thought out response. To understand why, let us for the moment focus on east of 47th as PBOT engineering currently shows that downsizing Burnside to one lane in each direction drops this traffic light rating to an F. Hence, let us focus on the easiest stretch first: 47th to 68th.

1) Cost

The Davis-Everett Greenway is sub-par in quality through much of the neighborhood then dead ends in Gravel just a few blocks from Vestal Middle School in Montavilla. There are few ADA compliant sidewalk ramps east of 55th. There are also sidewalk gaps at 59th and 65th-68th. Yes, this active transportation Corridor needs improvements. The riding surface east of 60th is rough. The crossing at 60th and Davis is AWFUL for both cyclists and Pedestrians. This crossing on the TOP of my list of intersections that are not Glisan or Burnside related to get improved. There is no official traffic calming on the entire route through our neighborhood and the off-set intersection at 47th that connects Davis with Everett needs modernization. This list does not even mention that block of sub-standard NE Everett between 57th and 58th.

What would this cost, to improve just east of 47th to 68th?

Traffic calming: 1.1 miles @ 50,000/mile $55,000

Stop Signs at 58th and Davis/Everett $500

Crosswalk Striping at 47th: $3,000

Repaving rough surface east of 60th? PBOT is not prioritizing residential road paving due to cost

Pot Hole filling budget: $25,000

Upgrading Everett between 56th and 57th : 0.1 Miles @$4 million/ Mile $400,000

Sidewalk Infill: 0.2 miles @$500,000/ Mile $100,000

ADA curb cuts: 15 @$20,000/ 4 way intersection $300,000

Upgraded Crossing at 60th and Davis: $2,000-$75,000 depending on engineering requirements


Total: $933,500-$1,000,000


Since these are all estimates, let us stick with one Million for a good round number.

What would the cost be to re-stripe Burnside, similarly to Division between 60thand 80th while saving a row of parking between 47th and 55th, from 68th to 47thincluding upgraded critical crossings and a complete, if narrow, sidewalk?

Scrubbing of lines and re-striping of East Burnside: $250,000 (Metro’s Estimate)

Upgraded crossing at 50th : $50,000

Upgraded crossing at 57th for Mount Tabor Middle School Access: $75,000

Upgraded Crossing at 62nd for Bike and Pedestrian access to Mount Tabor Park: $75,000

Upgraded Crossing at 65th for Fred Meyer Access: $50,000

One Block of sidewalk Infill 67th-68th $50,000+ depending on ADA slope requirements

Total: $550,000

Let us say though, that the locally preferred option is to KEEP the parking on Burnside the way it is but improve sidewalks and crossings for pedestrians and leave the bike improvements to Davis-Everett?Crossings at 50th, 57th, 62nd and 65th @$200,000 each: $800,000

Sidewalk expansion to the 9 foot city standard: $2,000,000+ ROW acquisition from Property owners

Total: 3+ million dollars without any Davis-Everett bikeway improvements. This is cost prohibitive and no matter how much we fight for it, we will not get this in the next decade if ever. The Foster Streetscape is coming in at $5.8 million and took 13 years to get funded and built assuming 2016 funding comes in on time from the federal government.


2) Directness

Many of our largest neighborhood problems stem from commuter traffic. Studies has repeated shown that bicycle commuters prefer SAFE, properly constructed and DIRECT routes. The Davis-Everett Greenway is great for riding around the neighborhood or slow commuting. With upgraded crossings it is also an excellent Safe Routes To School Spine of our neighborhood, but it is meandering and slow. It should be traffic calmed to the 20 MPH standard, but it will never make a high quality and fast commuting route. Different routes for different types of riders. This has been extensively studied and modeled by Metro and PBOT through many years of outreach.


Burnside on the other hand is direct, fast and if well designed would encourage significant numbers of new commuters. If you take parking time into account, during commute time traveling by bike in good weather would be faster than by automobile. If you include waiting time, commuting from Montavilla or even out from east Portland would be faster by bike than bus or even MAX.


3) Pedestrian access to Mount Tabor Park, School, and the Number 20,71 buses.


Improving the Davis-Everett Greenway would do nothing to improve walking or crossing conditions on Burnside which has always been a barrier to access points south if you are not in an automobile. If we re-striped Burnside we can gain a robust crossing for school children at 57th for a third the cost of a new traffic light like the one on 41st. There would provide a wide buffer between the narrow sidewalk as and moving traffic. If anyone reading this would like to experience the difference, compare the walking conditions at commute time to the walking conditions on 64th and Division. Division has approximately the same sidewalk, but higher traffic counts.

4) Improved safety and access for residential driveways

Residential landowners and tenants have a difficult and dangerous time pulling out of their driveways. Adding the bike lane would give much better visibility to pull into the lane of traffic if making a right turn, or if making a left the center turn lane increases safety and limits the lane crossing to only one.

5) Multi-Modal Improvements as a Development tool

The general commercial stretch of East Burnside between 53rd and 61st is going to be rezoned to neighborhood commercial as part of the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability generational update. A modernized Burnside can leverage this zoning change so new developments fit into the scale of the neighborhood, provide both residential housing and neighbor commercial storefronts that cater to the pedestrian and bike friendly environment.

With the construction of the 50’s bikeway this spring, we have the opportunity to leverage this and become an active transportation hot-spot on the east side. Would you rather have more cars zooming through the neighborhood on their way home, or would you prefer less cars and more bike and transit users? Burnside could become a pleasant environment over time as redevelopment occurs.

6) Opportunities for Funding

There are 20 lanes of traffic currently between Rocky Butte and Mount Tabor of sufficient directness to be a high quality commuter route.

Halsey: 4 devoted to auto’s with 2 being pro-tem parking

The Banfield: 6 for motor vehicles only

Glisan: 2 for travel, 2 for parking

Burnside: 4 for travel with 2 for pro-tem parking

Stark-Thornburn: 2 for travel

Belmont-Yamhill: 2 for travel, 2 for parking/greenway

Currently there is only one meandering residential greenway that end abruptly at 71st and Burnside.

Metro’s long term modeling shows improvements to East Burnside would have the highest up-tick in east metro area commuting patterns than any other road except Sandy. If we can agree on a locally preferred option, then we could grasp at this and get funding where improvements to the Davis-Everett greenway would not. The modeling did not show the same up-tick when it came to Halsey (Metro extensively compared the two routes) and Glisan has many difficult intersections that would make it expensive to add bike facilities: Especially because of the Freeway Access. Glisan also has higher traffic volumes. Stark-Thornburn does not have room of course and Belmont-Yamhill is too steep to make for a good commuter route. The gap we are looking to fill is only 1.5 miles long creating a seamless corridor from the Bridge to the eastern suburbs for the least cost. Metro knows this, PBOT knows this…so if only we can agree on a plan and fight for funding.

7) Opportunities to fix some long standing residential cut-through problems

Any Burnside Modernization Plan would have room in the center lane to prevent left turns onto residential streets near 47th and 60th that are currently used as cut-through for drivers unwilling to wait at the traffic lights. Accident prone off-set intersections like 61st could also be made right-turn only if that is the locally preferred option. We could ad some center island planting or trees to create an “Entry into the neighborhood” is we so choose over time. None of these are possible right now with the current striping, but if we narrow Burnside to one lane all of this becomes possible.

8) Safety. The only other way I can see to increase safety on Burnside consistently is to drop the speed limit, add traffic lights at every few blocks and time them all so there is a stead stream of traffic. This would do nothing to fix the dangerous nature of not having a dedicated left turn lane, but at least the traffic would be slowed. This would require, to time them correctly to achieve this speed reduction goal would require at least five new light at $350,000 each AND would increase auto capacity on Burnside so it would become even busier. This is the most expensive option as if you include sidewalk upgrades it would cost close to $4 million. A re-striping costing a quarter million could drop with accident rate by close to 50%.

I am sure there would be other both tangible, and intangible benefits. I also would say that if as a society we had been investing in our transportation network consistently for the past generation or two we would be in a different scenario. The truth of the mater is that our system is stressed and underfunded so we have to make trade offs. If we want a healthy and sustainable city we need to encourage commuting by any means OTHER than single occupancy vehicles. Active transportation improvements have shown to be the most cost effective way to do this.

I agree with Metro when they say it is time to give Burnside an active transportation modernization. If you are still not convinced, then download their 250+ page report and study the maps.

Terry Dublinski

North Tabor Transportation and Land-Use Co-Chair




2 thoughts on “Why Burnside Bike-lanes instead of improvements on the Davis-Everett Greenway?

  1. Terry,

    I was impressed with your meticulous command of facts relating to your research — both at the N. Tabor Neighborhood Association Meeting I attend in March, and in the communication you have posted.
    Your somewhat obsessive-compulsive personality (and obvious intelligence) is clearly an asset to the community — and I just want to express my appreciation for your efforts.

    — Michael Sonnleitner (Montavilla neighborhood resident & PCC Political Science Instructor).

  2. As much as I’d like to see the Davis-Everett bikeway improved, I have to say that the argument in favor of the Burnside work is very convincing. I worked for a number of years promoting the Sullivan’s Gulch Bike Trail, which if it is ever built would provide an east-west bike commuter route completely separated from automobiles – but the obstacles in the way of that project ever being done are gigantic. Bike lanes on an arterial street like Burnside aren’t ideal, but the project is doable and it’s something we might actually live to see. Davis-Everett improvements might come along piecemeal anyway, and that is better than nothing, but to make it a decent commuter route they’d have to be all done at one time – not going to happen. The neighborhood should wholeheartedly support the Burnside improvements.

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