(May 1, 2018) City, community and business leaders gathered at Salmon Street Springs in Gov. Tom McCall Waterfront Park today to celebrate both the fourth annual Better Naito street transformation and the launch of a new season of Adaptive BIKETOWN. Better Naito, which creates a safe space for people to travel to and along Waterfront Park during the busy summer months, will last for five months from May 1 to Sept. 30.
Every year the popular festivals in Waterfront Park draw hundreds of thousands of people. During the peak season between April and November, an additional 15,000 more people per day visit the waterfront. Better Naito gives these visitors a protected space to get to and around Waterfront Park by creating a multiuse path along Naito Parkway from the Hawthorne Bridge to the Steel Bridge.
"These festivals are not just wonderful community traditions, they bring people downtown from all over the state and boost our local economy," said Art Pearce, Group Manager of Policy, Planning and Projects for PBOT. "The waterfront is the heart and soul of Portland. Whether walking to a festival, taking a bike ride on the esplanade, or going on a lunch-hour run, we want to make sure Portlanders and visitors can enjoy the waterfront in safety and comfort."
"We got a good look at it last year and we feel it really works well," said Jeff Curtis, Rose Festival Chief Executive Officer. "It's been a safe and valuable addition to the waterfront in the busy summer months."
Traffic counts conducted during last year's Better Naito show the project was incredibly popular with people traveling to and along the waterfront by bike and by foot. In just one day, more than 12,000 pedestrians used Better Naito to access the Waterfront Blues Fest. What's more, 393,173 one-way trips were taken by people bicycling on Better Naito over the five-month period.
The 2017 season had minimal impact on motor vehicle travel times in the corridor. Observations and analysis found that during peak morning commute hours (7:00 AM), driving times for northbound traffic from SW Clay St to SW Stark St increased by 1 minute 28 seconds. Similarly, the traffic impact for afternoon peak commuters was an additional 1 minute and 33 seconds. These results were consistent with analyses of traffic times in 2015 and 2016.
The first Better Naito in 2015 was a two-week pilot project developed by Better Block PDX, Portland State University, and a host of community partners. Prior to Better Naito, people were often forced to walk in the bike lane, squeeze onto narrow dirt paths, or bike in a travel lane with motor vehicles to reach waterfront events.
After the successful 2015 and 2016 Better Naito projects run by volunteers, City Council unanimously voted in November 2016 to make Better Naito an official City program and directed PBOT to implement it. The Portland City Council also provided funding to sustain the project for five summers.
Feedback is welcomed via email at NaitoParkway@PortlandOregon.gov. You can also leave a voice message at 503-823-4321. The public is encouraged to share their feedback on social media with the hashtag #BetterNaito.
Loading and unloading of passengers and freight will be managed by PBOT and enforced by PBOT's Parking Enforcement division. The bureau has designated a passenger drop off and pick up zone on the north side of SW Taylor, closest to SW Naito. PBOT’s Parking Enforcement officers will be citing vehicles stopped in Better Naito without loading permits.