Diverter Divides Cyclists and Community

By Midge Pierce

Even though the Portland Bureau of Transportation has temporarily delayed a final decision on a semi-diverter proposed on the Lincoln Street Greenway at 50th, the rift between cyclists and residents widens.

Cyclists say the diverter is needed as a safety measure because cars between 50th and 60th exceed acceptable volumes and speeds. Residents east of the diverter say it would limit access to their homes because no easy alternative routes exist.

The rift came to a head last month at a contentious Atkinson Elementary School meeting that drew wall-to-wall crowds described by a witness as a mob scene.

Cyclists arriving en masse declared that the diverter is part of long-standing Greenway promises to make capital improvements between SE Clay and 60th.

Neighbors toting children on their shoulders and in strollers explained that the diverter would cause dangerous conditions near schools, cut-through traffic on sidestreets and add extra mileage to travel.

A PBOT survey showing strong support for diverters has residents east of 50th crying foul because the majority of  respondents were cyclists. Most respondents live and work outside the Greenway, they say, and are not directly impacted by the project. See surveymonkey.com/results/SM-5QZ3BPJR8

What makes the 50th Ave. diverter different from others along the Greenway is the lack of alternative east-west routes.  Between Division and Belmont, only two streets – Lincoln and Hawthorne go straight from 50th to 60th.

Citing a recent bike-car accident at 52nd and Hawthorne, diverter critic Molly Cliff Hilts says “Hawthorne is already dysfunctional with narrow sidewalks in places that cause pedestrians, many of whom are schoolchildren, to step into the street.

“The present traffic counts on Hawthorne are already 37% higher (than Lincoln) and this is before closing off the only other east/west direct route between 50th and 60th.”

Positions are largely split between those who live above 50th and those below. During the RNA (Richmond Neighborhood Association) meeting, pro-diverter members expressed puzzlement at objections.

“The issue must be bigger than a diverter. It’s about who gets to control the future.”


For information on the next steps, see portlandoregon.gov/transportation/75123

Diverter Divides Cyclists and Community

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