Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on August 24th, 2010 at 11:30 am
The Bureau of Transportation has completed their re-design of a North Portland intersection where two bike boulevards and a high-volume street intersect. The N. Wabash/Willamette/Bryant triangle has been significantly re-striped, two median islands have been added, there's a new crosswalk, and other new signage. Taken all together, this intersection -- which used to be relatively uncontrolled (see photo below) -- is now a key hub in Portland's burgeoning bike boulevard network. PBOT project manager Kyle Chisek says the signage, markings, and other work at this intersection cost about $9,000.
To get an idea of how major this change is, check out the before and after. Below is a satellite view of the intersection before the changes:
And here's the PBOT graphic showing the new features:
I rode out to the intersection today to see for myself how the new treatments looked and felt.
The first thing I noticed was where people in cars used to whip off of Willamette to go north on Wabash, there's now a median island with a bicycle only cut-through (see photo at top of story). The bike cut-through leads to a buffered bike lane and bike traffic can continue north on Wabash without any stop signs. In another traffic change, motor vehicle traffic cannot continue westbound on Willamette from N. Bryant. Cars must turn right (north on Wabash) or left (south onto Willamette).
Another thing that jumped out at me was how PBOT maintained four motor-vehicle parking spaces. On the short segments of Bryant and Wabash adjacent to the large, planted median island, the road configuration now consists of a bike lane with a three-foot buffer; a parking lane; and a standard travel lane. These are essentially short little cycle-tracks.
The other big feature is the new crosswalk on N. Willamette. For people too timid to take a lane and turn left off of Willamette onto N. Bryant, there's now a buffered bike lane that leads to a curb ramp and a zebra-striped crosswalk across Willamette (as well as a median island for "refuge" if you need it). Of course this latter movement is more of a pedestrian-style way to go left, but with the speed and volume of cars on Willamette, there's no shame in playing it safe.
Speaking of speed and cars on Willamette... that street is notorious for both. The speed limit leading up to this newly revamped intersection is 35 mph. While I observed traffic this morning, I cringed a few times as joggers tried to cross and people came to abrupt stops. I also noticed some pretty long wait times for people on bikes trying to get across Willamette from Wabash.
I think initially, PBOT's work here will confuse some people (I watched a man drive up and over the median with a bike cut-through to go north on Wabash from Willamette), but once people get used to it, this will do wonders to help calm motor vehicle traffic while making travel for bicycles much more efficient and safe.
Have you experienced this intersection since the changes were made? I'd love to hear some other opinions. For more on this and all of PBOT's bike boulevard projects, check out their "Next Generation Bicycle Boulevards" page.
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