A recent blog posting at the Bike Portland website highlights a decision by the city’s Development Commission to spend $88 million to purchase the main downtown post office building (the post notes that the main postal sorting facility is expected to relocate from downtown “to a site near the airport”). That might not seem like it would have an immediate effect on the cycling community, but its impact could be far-reaching.
As the advocacy group outlines, when the post office’s local headquarters moves out of the city center “hundreds of daily truck trips will vanish from the Pearl District area… and the street grid between the north Pearl and the Willamette River will connect for the first time in more than 50 years.” That development alone could have a huge impact on the number of bike accidents in central Portland.
Looking more broadly, the group believes the project will mean better biking connections to the Broadway Bridge. The group also states that “in addition, the bike lanes on Broadway and Lovejoy are due to be upgraded to protected bike lanes.” The proposal is part of a larger plan to create a “Green Loop” consisting of “low-stress bikeways circling the central city” and a large public plaza in front of Union Station. In short, it is a plan that ought to make our famously bike-friendly city an even better place to walk or cycle.
Of course none of this is set in stone and the planning and funding processes can always take unexpected turns, but viewed more widely the fact that something like this is even being seriously discussed and planned puts Portland in the vanguard of American cities. As an Oregon and Washington lawyer whose practice focuses on bike accidents and assisting the cycling community I will be eagerly following both the broader Green Loop plan and the more immediate plans to move the post office out of the city center.