The Case For the Foster Bikeway

The following is an open letter to the Bicycle Transportation Alliance (BTA). The BTA is currently developing their advocacy agenda for the coming years as a part of their Blueprint for Better Biking update. We believe Foster Road can be a part of that plan, and be a symbol of the possibilities available to areas outside of inner Portland. If you agree, please attend their outreach event tonight at 6pm, or take their survey and write in the Foster Bikeway as a priority SE project.

Dec 06, 2012

Rob Sadowsky,
Executive Director
Bicycle Transportation Alliance
618 NW Glisan St #401
Portland, OR 97209

Mr. Sadowsky and other BTA Staff,

We are writing to convince you of the merits of the Foster Bikeway project, and ask for your organization’s support. The future Foster Bikeway is the perfect showcase for your world class bicycling advocacy agenda for the coming years. Implementation of this bikeway will help you reach your citywide performance targets1, and will set the stage for bringing world-class bicycling facilities to the entire Portland area. But making it happen will not be easy, and we need your help.

Here are four reasons you should consider the Foster Bikeway a cornerstone project in your update to the Blueprint for World Class Bicycling.

Don’t make the mistake of thinking Foster is in the far-flung reaches of low density Portland. The intersection of Foster & Holgate is the same distance to PSU as Mount Tabor Park or the Kennedy School, with residential density matching the Interstate Corridor neighborhoods.2 The Foster bikeway would provide a mainline connection from the greater SE area onto the new 50’s Bikeway and Inner SE and offer easy connections to the Central City. The bikeway will encourage more people to bike from Outer SE, and convince neighbors to ride around their own neighborhood for local trips.

Foster is identified as a High Crash Corridor.3 A significant reason for this is the lack of adequate bike/ped facilities and few safe crossing opportunities for pedestrians. As a part of implementation of the Foster Transportation and Streetscape Plan, the new Foster Bikeway will bring safety improvements to all users, moving Portland one big step closer to reducing serious injuries and fatalities. The results achieved here will set an example for the types of changes we can see on other High Crash Corridors in the City.

No vibrant commercial district in their right mind is going to risk their current success for the construction of an unproven ‘cycle track’ concept. Foster’s commercial districts are stable, but are missing the full range of neighborhood supporting services and existing buildings suffer from excessive vacancy. The community development trajectory of Foster has nowhere to go but up, and installing a bikeway to promote and prioritize local and regional bicycle access can be a key part of the revitalization process. Install a bikeway here and you’re guaranteed to see increases in local business access, lower retail vacancy, and new commercial development. You will take the success of the Foster story to Sandy, Broadway and Grand on your path to bringing world-class facilities across the city.

Forget the bike backlash, the Foster Bikeway concept has broad neighborhood support. Three neighborhood associations, Southeast Uplift and the corridor-wide Foster Area Business Association have expressed desire for a protected Foster Bikeway.4 Unlike other commercial districts, the conversation about adding a bikeway is happening now and the neighborhoods are on board in a big way. They want this. This is powerful stuff.

The design for a physically separated bikeway will likely be in the official Foster Streetscape Plans, but we’ll need your help to get it on the ground. You are going to advise on MTIP projects, on RFFA allocations and on ODOT Flex Funds and other STIP spending priorities. If this is going to happen, the Foster bikeway needs to be on those lists, and your name needs to be beside them in support.

Foster United
The Heart of Southeast

The selection and design of a Foster Bikeway is one part of the discussion of the currently ongoing Foster Streetscape Plan Update. While the Stakeholder Advisory Committee is in the middle of exploring travel lane configuration options for Foster, we believe the commitment to a Foster bikeway is independent of the decision regarding the road configuration. A protected bikeway is possible on most of Foster whether it has 2 lanes or 4 lanes, and the goal of accommodating bicyclists on Foster is a key objective of the planning process with unanimous support of all Advisory Committee Members.

  1. As described in the Bicycle Transportation Alliance Strategic Plan: A 20-year vision []
  2. The Foster area bicycle commute mode share today is 5%, which is higher than the year mode share of inner SE neighborhoods like Sunnyside just 10 years ago. []
  3. Foster Road is one of the only High Crash Corridors fully under City of Portland jurisdiction. The street is also considered a “Street of Citywide Significance”. This designation makes Foster Road more competitive for city funding than other streets. []
  4. The concept of a protected bikeway is a key strategy in the “Foster Vision” document endorsed by these groups. The document identifies other streetscape strategies such as lane reconfigurations that are beyond the scope of this letter, and we believe those questions are independent decisions from that of the Foster Bikeway. []


  1. Nick – thank you for this! I have filled out BTA’s survey and asked for the Foster Bikeway to be included on their Blueprint for Better Biking update. I encourage others to do the same. In the survey, there are currently ~35 potential bike projects identified in SE Portland which they ask you to rate… Foster Bikeway is not one of the options. Obviously, this project is not on BTA’s radar as of yet. It needs to be…. and by filling out the survey (you can write in projects not on their list) and/or attending the meeting tonight, we can help get this influential group to help us create a world-class bikeway on Foster Road.

  2. Nick, really nicely done! Thanks for your continued activism in support of the Foster corridor. Will fill out the survey now!

  3. This is such a great location for a separated bike way, and it really would do so much for the community. Sure hope the BTA adds it as a priority for the year!

  4. Thanks for your activism! I just filled out the BTA survey.

  5. I filled it out as well, I hate the feeling of being surrounded by 3 such imposing roads (82nd, Powell and Foster). This is a step in right direction!

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