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Bike-only signal coming to Springwater Corridor in Clackamas County

Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on May 26th, 2011 at 12:19 pm

Clackamas County plan drawings show the new diagonal bicycle crossing with a dedicated bike signal that will be installed for Springwater Corridor bike traffic. (Purple line by BikePortland to show Springwater Corridor location)

"This is a big deal... I think it's going to be a great addition to the flow on the Springwater."
— Matt Menely, Milwaukie resident

A tricky intersection on the popular Springwater Corridor in Milwaukie will soon get a major upgrade for bike traffic. Clackamas County recently shared plans for a bike signal and diagonal crossing treatment at the intersection of the Springwater, SE Johnson Creek Blvd, and SE Bell Ave.

Currently, the Springwater runs diagonally through this intersection, but without a direct connection, people riding bicycles have to make two crossings in crosswalks. The situation is far from ideal, both from a connectivity and safety perspective. Here's how it looks in Google Streetview...

View looking east on SE Johnson Creek Blvd. The Springwater Corridor runs from lower right to upper left.

Heather Andrews has lived close to this intersection for years and has "personally seen and experienced a lot of bad mojo here." Andrews says many motor vehicle operators fail to check crosswalks before turning right [from northbound Bell onto Johnson Creek].

bike only signal
Coming to the Springwater.
(Photo © J. Maus)

"Despite being an extremely cautious cyclist," she wrote on her blog, "I’ve had close calls with motorists at this intersection on a few occasions. I’ve also witnessed many more close calls."

Another problem this project will solve, says Andrews, is that the curbs and sidewalk are often "ofterflowing" with bike traffic.

Milwaukie resident and citizen bike advocate Matt Menely says the project is "a big deal." "I think it's going to be a great addition to the flow on the Springwater."

The project will create a crossing similar to the one in Portland where the Eastbank Esplanade spills out onto the intersection of LLoyd Ave and the Steel Bridge.

Clackamas County traffic engineer Richard Nys says in addition to the signals and pavement markings, they will rebuild all the curb ramps. Construction cost is currently estimated just under $70,000. Nys adds that the County will start construction on the project this fall after the peak summer riding season. (We'll update this story with cost information as soon as we get it.)

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Comments
  • nuovorecord May 26, 2011 at 12:27 pm

    This is great news, indeed. I've nearly been right hooked at the intersection so many times that I've lost count. Thank YOU, Clackamas Co!

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  • RonC May 26, 2011 at 12:44 pm

    Wow! That intersection has always been a pain to navigate. This improvement is long overdue.

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  • q`Tzal May 26, 2011 at 12:52 pm

    2nd on "Thank YOU, Clackamas Co!"

    How about a signalized bike crossing at SE 17th Ave & SW Ochoco st? I could understand if it makes more sense to move that one block north to SE Linn St. for now but at some point the Sellwood gap will get closed.
    When I've commuted through here it has been at odd enough hours that I have had almost no need to even look, let alone stop, for non-existent traffic.
    I suspect that MUP "bike highways" will cause great hazards where they dump cyclists unguided in to an anarchic scramble across a busy arterial.

    It behooves DOTs to plan for the inevitable increase in cyclists by checking the cyclist injury and death stats compared to bicycle traffic volume at major intersections so they can target limited funds where problems are the worst.

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    • Rick Nys June 1, 2011 at 12:45 pm

      17th & Ochoco isn't ours, either that is Milwaukie or Portland. Let me know if you need any contact info for them.

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    • El Biciclero February 8, 2012 at 12:30 pm

      "MUP 'bike highway'" is an oxymoron.

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  • John Lascurettes May 26, 2011 at 12:54 pm

    If part of the problem is drivers not checking for cyclists and coming to complete stops while turning right, I don't see a complete ceasing of the problem. Even with the blinking NO RIGHT TURN on red on the esplanade at the steel bridge, there's plenty of cars that turn across bicycle operators when the bike light is green.

    Still, this is a HUGE improvement and great acknowledgment of doing something for all kinds of traffic.

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    • q`Tzal May 26, 2011 at 2:31 pm

      John Lascurettes
      Even with the blinking NO RIGHT TURN on red on the esplanade at the steel bridge, there's plenty of cars that turn across bicycle operators when the bike light is green.

      Yeah but from there what's required is a traffic officer at every intersection, a red light camera at every intersection, government ability to remotely stop your vehicle or those pop up bollards.

      Videos of pop up bollard crashes are a shameful thrill to watch and prove that drivers are selfish and stupid in other countries besides the USA.

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  • daisy May 26, 2011 at 1:06 pm

    What? Clackamas county drives cars not bicycles. Sheesh Clackamas keep it straight.

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  • Allan May 26, 2011 at 1:19 pm

    A common sense solution to an amazingly annoying problem. Finally!

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  • G. Tyler May 26, 2011 at 1:50 pm

    This will be a huge help! I have witnessed a rear-end crash as a lady making a turn stopped and waited for me to make it through the crosswalk but the person behind did not. I have also had a few close calls with cars turning to make a right while I have the WALK signal. Hopefully too, it will cause more cyclists STOP and wait for a walk light to travel diagonally in the intersection instead of going against the DON"T WALK signal even though the cars have a red light.

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  • Spiffy May 26, 2011 at 2:04 pm

    good to see! that's a really annoying intersection... and yes, with the amount of traffic that it gets the corners fill up with people on bikes pretty quick... I've had many close calls with motor vehicles there when trying to get across the crosswalks...

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  • Suburban May 26, 2011 at 2:06 pm

    You know this is to appease the freight road-users
    , right?

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    • Nita May 27, 2011 at 6:09 pm

      I'm assuming you mean that complaints from freight users who are inconvenienced by the large numbers of cyclists spilling out into the street while waiting to cross are responsible for getting this done. That may well be the case, but it feels somewhat irrelevant. Every time I go through that intersection I think how much safer and better it would be for ALL road users if there were a diagonal bike crossing. Maybe we should think of ourselves as being on the same team as other road users; anything that improves efficiency and safety for everyone is a victory for everyone regardless of which player technically scored the winning point.

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  • Robert May 26, 2011 at 2:06 pm

    Alright! Thank you!

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  • Rick Nys May 26, 2011 at 2:08 pm

    Thanks for all of the great comments everyone! Yes, there are some bicyclists in Clackamas County. Hopefully, we can take some from Portland :)

    As for cost, not "much", construction cost is currently estimated just under $70K.

    If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me. I'd love to chat about this or any other County ideas you may have.

    Rick Nys, PE, PTOE
    Traffic Engineer
    Clackamas County
    503-742-4702
    richardnys@co.clackamas.or.us

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  • Steve B May 26, 2011 at 2:16 pm

    Great news! This is a great solution when we don't have money to go underneath the roadway, as they endeavor to do on trailways in Missoula, Boulder and Davis. Those sort of retrofits are in the millions per intersection, so a signalization change is a great thrifty option to solve tricky intersections like this one.

    This intersection is also an easy place to "lose" the trail if you don't see anyone else riding around. When I first started riding this trail, I it ended here and would turn around. It wasn't until I was riding with others around that I could see the connection diagonally across the street. The signal and hopefully a refresh of wayfinding/striping will make the connection much clearer.

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    • davemess May 26, 2011 at 4:27 pm

      Some of those retrofits aren't quite as expensive as you would think. Most of those places run their trails next to waterways (creeks, rivers, etc.) so the roadways are already built up over the water. Just a matter of digging in a bit and reinforcing.

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  • K'Tesh May 26, 2011 at 2:25 pm

    Sweet! I've always hated that intersection.

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  • captainkarma May 26, 2011 at 2:43 pm

    Agree with G Tyler above, very many go-fast bikers go against the don't-walk lights or otherwise game the system as it is there now; maybe this will change their behavior. However, the regular crosswalks will still be there, so I foresee some cyclists will still do that rather than wait for the bike-only diagonal.

    I always wait out the lights for consistency in the eyes of the motorists, while watching other cyclists' taillights fade like meteors down the corridor, leaving me feeling somewhat like a chump. But oh well.

    Now if we could get a few more food carts in Cartlandia and a Sunday Parkways in Clackamas? It could happen.

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  • dwainedibbly May 26, 2011 at 3:33 pm

    This is really nice. Thanks. (I'm not ready to forgive Clack Co for the Sellwood thing, but this certainly helps.)

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  • Art Fuldodger May 26, 2011 at 3:47 pm

    wow, that's fabulous! I've often thought this type of signal change was badly needed -- thanks, Clackamas County!

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    • Rick Nys June 1, 2011 at 12:47 pm

      Thanks Art!

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  • Scott Mizée May 26, 2011 at 4:20 pm

    Yay! Excellent news!

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  • Paul Johnson May 26, 2011 at 6:08 pm

    This is long overdue. Hopefully, this means that there will also be sensors in the lanes leading up to the intersection for cyclists that will pre-trigger the light before arrival (assuming you're in the right lane and not the opposite lane on approach)

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    • Rick Nys June 1, 2011 at 12:48 pm

      Paul, no, there will be sensors at the intersection rather than leading up to it. Thanks!

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      • Paul Johnson June 1, 2011 at 1:08 pm

        It should have both. So should the other signals along the Springwater. Most bicycle lanes have early detection sensors at signalized intersections, seems silly not to have that on the Springwater, which gets much more bicycle traffic than most streets.

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        • Rick Nys June 1, 2011 at 1:14 pm

          Hi Paul,

          Yes, many intersections include bike lane detection well prior to the intersection. Of course, in those bike lanes, we have only one direction of bicycle traffic. Ensuring that you don't detect traffic going the other direction is a challenge in a trail setting. But, we'll discuss it internally and see if there are any options.

          Thanks for the suggestion.

          Rick

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          • Paul Johnson June 1, 2011 at 2:25 pm

            Well, there are lanes on the Springwater Corridor (though the centerline is in severe need of a repaint)

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          • Paul Johnson June 1, 2011 at 2:26 pm

            Just put a no-passing stripe for the centerline from just beyond the early warning sensors to the intersection.

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  • 3-speeder May 26, 2011 at 7:49 pm

    Awesome! Approacing on the Springwater from the east, I always used to exit at the driveway before the intersection (there was a parking lot that made easy access to that driveway) and ride the bike lane on Johnson Creek through the intersection (as the first of the two required crossings to continue on the Springwater).

    Using the crosswalk for that first crossing (across Bell on the north side of the intersection) never felt safe to me - I figured there was too high a risk of westbound drivers (who would have the same green light as I had) making a right turn and not seeing me - I was far more visible in the bike lane.

    With this new design, those drivers will have a red light while bikes will have a green to cross diagonally. Visibility, both for cars seeing crossing bikes as well as for bikes seeing approacing cars, should be very good. This means that the new signalization will likely provide a safe, comfortable, and convenient way for bikes to continue westbound on the Springwater.

    It will, of course, also be more convenient for bikes going eastbound, but I didn't feel the crossing in that direction had the same safety issues. Visibility is far better with regard to the crosswalk across Bell on the south side of the intersection.

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    • Rick Nys June 1, 2011 at 12:50 pm

      Another issue on the southeast corner is the very, very narrow sidewalk, which will allow eastbound cyclists to avoid that corner altogether. Thanks!

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  • Matt Menely May 27, 2011 at 12:26 pm

    Thank you Clackamas County and thank you Jonathan for this article!

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  • Todd Boulanger May 27, 2011 at 6:15 pm

    ODOT - when will similar happen for the Hayden Island crossing of the I-5 trail by Taco Bell?

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  • matt picio May 28, 2011 at 1:12 pm

    Drastically needed, and very welcome news. Despite those Clackamas County residents who don't understand or respect people on bikes, the county's transportation department both gets it, and works when they can to improve travel for all modes, not just cars. I'm sure the Clackamas County Bike/Ped Advisory Committee had some input on this as well - great job, everyone!

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    • Rick Nys June 1, 2011 at 12:37 pm

      Hi Matt,

      Thanks for the support.

      Rick

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  • The Entitled Cyclist May 30, 2011 at 7:42 am

    Sigh. Why are we still crossing a dangerous 4-lane road like Division with nothing but a flashing yellow light?

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    • eli bishop February 8, 2012 at 12:45 pm

      this times 1000.

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  • huh May 30, 2011 at 3:45 pm

    The Entitled Cyclist
    Sigh. Why are we still crossing a dangerous 4-lane road like Division with nothing but a flashing yellow light?

    it aint in clackamas county.

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  • Rick Nys February 8, 2012 at 12:39 pm

    Hi everyone,

    Just to update you, this project is now under construction. Some of the trail approaching the intersection will be compacted gravel. We'll keep a close eye on that to ensure it's safe. Construction is anticipated to be complete at the end of March. Thanks for your continued support.

    Rick Nys
    Clackamas County

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  • Scott February 8, 2012 at 12:40 pm

    Thank for letting us know. I was just wondering the other day what the timeline for this was.

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