The SE 17th Avenue Multi-Use Path project is open. Kind of. ODOT still needs to sign off on it but it’s cleaned up and people are already using it. Like me.
The funding for the project was largely from Metro, while ODOT did the project management on behalf of the city of Milwaukie. After a stall in the project, thankfully the city, led by Mayor Mark Gamba, kept pushing and the path work was accelerated over the summer.
I took a spin on the new path this morning. It was a low traffic day (which really won’t matter since the path has a four-foot separation (with some plants) between the street and the path. I felt safe but would feel safer if there was a curb or lip. Small quibble.
One thing that resonated with me is that I saw people I knew and didn’t know, had conversations, and was even invited inside a friend’s house for pie when I rode by (off the path – but it led me there). It’s an experience you won’t get in a car. (I’m not anti-car by any means but when was the last time you chatted with someone on the street while driving?)
Here are some observations on why I think the path is going to be a game-changer.
- It connects Milwaukie (we’re talking Oregon here in case you didn’t figure that out) and North Clackamas county to Portland. Users, like myself, can hop on the Trolley Trail, then hop onto the new trail, travel through the pleasant low-car Sellwood neighborhood, then hop onto the Springwater Trail – a popular path that takes users to downtown Portland and beyond.
- It gets people on their bikes. It’s off-street, it’s safe and it’s going to be attractive for families.
- It’s going to make Milwaukie seem closer to Portland – which, really, it’s already close. Many Portlanders have this notion that Milwaukie is some hinterland suburb. Nope. It’s closer to downtown Portland than many Portland neighborhoods. I’m also stoked because on the flip side I can be in Sellwood (and its brewpubs, coffeeshops, and friends) in under 30 minutes on my bike.
- It’ll help people in Milwaukie get to their jobs in Portland by bike. Coupled with the new light rail nearby, that’s key.
- It has easy access to the Milwaukie Pioneer Cemetery. OK, not a game-changer but the little cemetery is where we keep some of the founding members of Milwaukie and Portland. It’s a neat place to explore. As a history nerd, I had to get that in there.
Here are some photos of the new path.
Here’s a quick video I shot that illustrates the barrier between the path and street. Note: fallen rocks sign. Duly noted.