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PBOT nears final decision on "right-sizing" and bike lane for SE Division

Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on April 17th, 2013 at 12:22 pm

A bike lane could be in Division's future

A road diet on one of Portland's most dangerous "high crash corridors" is looking more and more likely as the Bureau of Transportation gets set to hold its final open house on the SE Division Street Safety Project later this month. PBOT has proposed re-striping Division between 60th and 82nd from its current configuration of four standard lanes to a new configuration that would have two standard lanes, a center turn lane, and two bike lanes.

Since PBOT presented their plans last year, neighborhood groups and citizens involved in the process have been very supportive of the idea. The Bicycle Transportation Alliance (BTA) has also thrown their weight behind the project, and they're urging PBOT to extend the proposed lane configuration further west to SE 52nd in order to connect to the forthcoming 50s Bikeway and a nearby park.

Since this project comes from PBOT's High Crash Corridors program, the main emphasis is on improving safety. In a project open house in September of last year, PBOT reported there have been 298 total crashes on this stretch of SE Division in the past 10 years and 44% of people driving cars go over the posted speed limit of 35 mph. PBOT also touted national studies that show a "road diet" — converting a street from four lanes to three — can result in a 29% reduction in crashes.

PBOT has shown this example from a Seattle project at previous open houses.

Michael Kuhn, a nearby resident who's been actively engaged with this project since it kicked off in March 2012, said "right-sizing" Division with bike lanes (and a possible lowering of the speed limit to 30 mph) would be a huge boon for the neighborhood. "This segment of the street is now too wide, too fast, and much too dangerous for all users," he shared with me via email yesterday, "At this time there is no good east/west bike route between downtown and points east of Mt. Tabor anywhere between NE Glisan and SE Clinton, a distance of 1 1/2 miles North to South. This is a large deficit in Portland's bike infrastructure."

"The new bike lanes on Division will create an excellent bike route from all inner southeast Portland to the PCC campus where no good route exists today."
— Michael Kuhn

Kuhn says the location and visibility of bike lanes on Division might also lead to "considerable usage" by new riders who have previously been deterred by the lack of safe routes in the area. Another plus of the proposal, says Kuhn, is that Portland Community College's Southeast Center campus at 82nd and Division is expanding to almost double in size and could serve 18,000 students. "The new bike lanes on Division will create an excellent bike route from all inner southeast Portland to the PCC campus," says Kuhn, "where no good route exists today."

The BTA's advocate on the project, Carl Larson, says PBOT deserves support on this project. "This is not simply a 'bike project,' wrote Larson on the BTA Blog yesterday, "The fact that people on bicycles could have a safe, dedicated space to ride is just one of many exciting features of this project." Larson points to benefits for people walking and driving on Division: the bike lane will mean less bike traffic clogging up the sidewalks and it will create a buffer between walkers and noisy, smelly auto traffic; and the center turn lane will alleviate auto backups.

Larson created a flyer to build public awareness:

The final open house for this project is at Warner Pacific College (Egvelt Hall Room 203, 2219 SE 69th Ave) on Tuesday, April 23rd from 6:30 to 8:30 pm. Join the BTA and other advocates for a ride to the open house that leaves at 6:00 pm from Los Gorditos (SE 50th and Division). Show up at 5:30 to discuss the project.

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  • BURR April 17, 2013 at 12:51 pm

    This is what should have been done to SE Hawthorne between SE 12th and SE 39th a decade ago.

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    • sw resident April 17, 2013 at 1:18 pm

      Yes. Because SE Lincoln is a much slower, more dangerous, and less pleasant road to ride a bike on.
      Do you ever wonder why everyone heading due west after racing on Mt Tabor rides down Lincoln? I don't think that will ever change even if there are bike lanes on Hawthorne.

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      • spare_wheel April 17, 2013 at 1:48 pm

        First of all, its Harrison, not Lincoln. Secondly...its truly awesome to catch a movie and beer at the Baghdad on SE Harrison.

        I've always wondered what motivates some of those who prefer Greenways to be critical of those who ride on a commercial street? Why on earth would a "person who cycles" not want to see facilities on both Harrison *AND* Hawthorne.

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        • Case April 17, 2013 at 2:14 pm

          Actually, you're both right, it's Harrison and Lincoln.

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          • A.K. April 17, 2013 at 2:35 pm

            Harrcoln. *cough*

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  • 9watts April 17, 2013 at 12:57 pm

    This looks great to me. I ride this stretch of Division quite a bit.

    But I am curious to what we might ascribe the change in thinking that would suggest Clinton is no longer (solely) where bikes belong. Has the pushback from those of us who bike everywhere been heard at PBOT?

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    • Terry D April 17, 2013 at 1:16 pm

      This stretch of the "Clinton bikeway" meanders with Woodward and Tibbits because of gravel roads. It is not a very good route and everyone knows it. Plus, bicycle access to the Community College is a priority. To top it off, there is very little discretionary spending available right now for bike safety improvements. The high crash corridor program is one of the few places quick and cheap improvements can happen because it is mostly striping. The first of a series of meetings on Glisan is starting next week as well in response to the pedestrian death on NE 78th.

      http://northtabor.org/2013/04/06/ne-glisan-safety-project-meeting-monday-april-22/?fb_source=pubv1

      There is also the Burnside High Crash corridor project that is a year behind Division. Hopefully, that project will turn into a road diet (we are working on it) from 71st to 41st on East Burnside. That stretch is a bike-pedestrian nightmare as well and would provide direct conductivity to east Portland without the meandering and VERY basic Davis-Everett-Couch greenway.

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      • NF April 17, 2013 at 2:15 pm

        This is turning into the year of road diets - Division, Glisan, Foster, and Burnside. Finally.

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        • Sigma April 17, 2013 at 4:06 pm

          1 out of 4 ain't bad.

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  • Richmond April 17, 2013 at 1:06 pm

    I live near 50th & Division ... whenever I want to ride to the 205 trail or further East I use Woodward or Lincoln over Mt Tabor. What is wrong with that route? Seems like this will just cause upset drivers to be more upset with bikes taking over.

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    • A.K. April 17, 2013 at 2:42 pm

      Why are cars allowed on Division but not bikes, in your mind?

      Do you inherently value what drivers are doing on the street over what someone on a bike may be doing?

      Perhaps those routes are good enough for you, but you're just you - not everyone else.

      In fact, why don't all the cars going down Division take Powell instead? After all, "whats wrong with that route?". It gets them close enough, and that's acceptable, yeah?

      Recommended Thumb up 22

    • 9watts April 17, 2013 at 2:45 pm

      "Seems like this will just cause upset drivers to be more upset with bikes taking over."

      - maybe this is your answer?
      Wouldn't want to fan the flames; enrage the auto-mobile...

      Recommended Thumb up 7

    • longgone April 17, 2013 at 5:13 pm

      Hey Richard, I use to live out that way, and still ride around and through there. While I understand your concern for giving motorist's further fodder to hate cyclist's with, that will never end. At first glance, IMO this plan seems smart. I know nothing of urban design, but I certainly enjoy watching the process of change, no matter how small. I believe this design would improve flow alot, which would reduce frustration for drivers as well. Check out Lewis C.K.'s new show "Oh my God". In it is a small bit on his personality change while driving. funny stuff.

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    • gutterbunny April 17, 2013 at 6:25 pm

      I can tell you whats wrong with it. Woodward is full of blind stops, pot holes, teen age drivers going way too fast and isn't very well lit at night. Then of course there is the hill 51st to go down to Clinton. Doesn't seem like a big deal until your riding with your kid who can't handle the hill and though I'm of the school of "there ain't no same in walking" it's just stomps their enthusiasm to have to walk a hill. Doesn't help much that the 20 mph signs haven't hit Woodward yet either.

      And make no mistake this is a pretty heavy young family part of town that boosts a High School and 2-3 (one might be empty right now) elementary schools within spitting distance of it. Also two colleges and a retirement center and quite frankly a lot of potential commercial development as well since many the lots on Division are zoned for residential or commercial through this stretch.

      Also Division is horrid to ride on. People drive fast and many accidents are occurring when people hurry around people stopped in the middle lanes to make left hand turns. The turn lane will cure this problem.

      That of course does not include all the accidents that happen while people in middle lanes stop to let people turn left off Division. Of course often they don't see the cars approaching in the outside lanes. Which often makes for a bad T bone accident. I see this one at 75th/76th (which is also a sharrow route too - seen many near misses this way with cyclists as well) a lot. Again

      As a kid I grew up riding in the Detroit metro area in the 80's and quite frankly all the main streets of SE from Tabor south to Springwater rival those that I grew up riding in Detroit - though with less trucks. This part of SE is long overdue for some city bike love.

      We are in many ways much better suited for this than the N/NE neighborhoods that currently get all the attention. We have much greater natural access to many of the citys commercial centers than most parts of town. Hawthorn, Hollywood, Woodstock, Clinton, Division, Mall 205/Gateway, Eastport, Lents, Montavillia. All within 5-15 minutes on my 45lbs. 3 speed. Sellwood, Eastmoreland, Inner SE, Downtown, Loyd all an extra 10 minutes out from that. We just lack any significant bike structure here to make it more accessible.

      You got to remember also these improvements are necessarily for those of us that already ride in the area, but to encourage those that don't ride to take it up.

      Quite frankly, after living in this neighborhood for 15 years, I'm still to this day amazed that Division street isn't littered with white bikes. And I mostly attribute this to the fact that people just don't bike down Division much (which they don't).

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    • Joseph E April 17, 2013 at 8:41 pm

      I just rode on Lincoln over Mt Tabor, to get from Portland to Gresham (after a work meeting) this morning, and that hill isn't easy! Lincoln also is quite curvy over Mt Tabor. I would definitely prefer to take Division, if it had bike lanes, between 60th and 82nd. I tried riding that section once, with my kids behind me in a trailer, and I wouldn't do it again as currently designed.

      I did switch to Division after 77th or 78th, where the bike lanes start, and rode the whole way to Gresham. It was fine, except for that one section over the hill in Gresham where the bike lane disappears. It would be even better with a road diet further west.

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      • longgone April 18, 2013 at 11:19 am

        Is it my imagination, but it seems the lanes actually get wider west of the 70s and 80's blocks?

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  • Josh April 17, 2013 at 1:18 pm

    Closer in on Division, the auto lanes closest to the curb double as parking outside of peak hours. Does the stretch between 60th and 82nd (or 52nd and 60th) have any of those conditional parking spaces? That is, will there be objections to this change based on a loss of parking spaces?

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    • Carl (BTA) April 17, 2013 at 3:39 pm

      Nope. There's no on-street parking on this stretch of Division at any time.

      The eight blocks between this project and the 50s bikeway, however, DO have on-street parking. That (and one curb extension) is the main reason why PBOT is not proposing bike lanes from 52nd-60th. Removing parking is a heavy lift.

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  • Chris I April 17, 2013 at 2:24 pm

    Please PBOT, look at doing this on NE Halsey east of 47th, and NE Glisan east of 60th. Please!

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  • Harla April 17, 2013 at 2:29 pm

    I'll gladly take one of these along SW Capitol Hwy down the hill from PCC Sylvania, unless our goal is to move people from LO to I-5 as quickly as possible.

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  • CaptainKarma April 17, 2013 at 2:33 pm

    So many times I wanted to bike up to Tabor from the East 80's, but chose to drive out of self-preservation instinct. This will also be awesome, esp for PCC students coming from points "inner". I doubt there's gonna be a whole lotta parking there to service the PCC expansion so every bike ridden will be mucho bueno.
    It's time.

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  • BURR April 17, 2013 at 2:51 pm

    Portland will never really be a 'platinum' city until all local public streets, arterials and neighborhood streets alike, are made safer for, and accessible to, people on bicycles.

    IMO, I've been watching for over two decades, and it's taken way too long for many of these changes to come about.

    Recommended Thumb up 9

  • Zaphod April 17, 2013 at 2:53 pm

    I wonder if there will be opposition. And if there is any, I'd love to know their rationale. I'm assuming there will be even though this seems positive for all parties with zero downside. If I were driving and wanting to make a left turn, I'd feel much more at peace being in a designated lane versus hoping that cars behind me are paying attention.

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    • Nick Falbo April 17, 2013 at 3:09 pm

      I'm in the middle of a similar discussion going on along SE Foster Road. Here's the gist of the arguments as to the downside:

      - Drivers can no longer pass slower cars
      - It will cause major congestion
      - It will slow cars down a little

      The first is true, (and is also accountable for much of the safety improvement). The second is more emotional than rational, Since "common sense" says 3 lanes moves %25 fewer cars than 4 lanes. The third is true, and comes from people with a zero-tolerance attitude toward slowing cars down on streets, particularly if it is tied with a benefit for their neighbors on bikes.

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    • BURR April 17, 2013 at 3:42 pm

      Another downside of not having a dedicated left turn lane is that, for example on Hawthorne, left turns are prohibited at the main signalized intersections, forcing left-turning motorists to turn at another non-signalized neighborhood street, so the four lane arterial configuration essentially forces left-turning traffic to divert into the neighborhoods.

      Plus, not having bike facilities on the main streets, where cyclists actually have signalized intersections at crossings, forces cyclists on neighborhood streets to play frogger with the traffic to get across the arterial. I think this accounts for the high number of cyclist-motorist crashes at unsignalized intersections up and down SE Hawthorne.

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      • Michael April 17, 2013 at 6:05 pm

        This design would be so freaking awesome on Hawthorne!!!! There are locales in the SF Bay Area with similar urban village look and feel. They carry a lot of traffic in 2 lanes, and they have back-in angle parking that makes it far safer for motorists to re-enter traffic. There is also ample room to bike between the parking and motor lane with no fear of dooring as there is on Hawthorne.

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    • Michael April 18, 2013 at 7:25 am

      Yes. From the far east siders who want and expect the mile of highway there.

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  • stan April 17, 2013 at 5:11 pm

    Anybody know what the traffic count is on Hawthorne?

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    • Art Fuldodger April 18, 2013 at 10:41 am

      from Portlandmaps.com, it's about 18,000 adt (2011, at 33rd). Drops to about half that east of 39th.

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    • ScottB April 18, 2013 at 1:25 pm

      Find traffic counts here:
      https://www.portlandoregon.gov/transportation/article/180473

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      • ScottB April 18, 2013 at 1:42 pm

        BTW, for road diets, it's not the daily traffic that matters as much as the peak hour traffic. Road diets are considered feasible when the peak hour traffic matches what a single lane can handle. A single lane can usually handle up to about 800 motor vehicles per hour without issue.
        SE Holgate, east of I-205 has about 350-400 vph in each direction,
        and N Rosa Parks east of I-5 has about 450-500 vph.
        both were streets placed on diets.
        Hawthorne has 400-500 vph. Division east of 60th has 550-750 vph. 102nd north of Skidmore = 350 vph. NE Sandy at 77th, 350-970 vph.
        SW Capitol near Alfred = 301-780 vph.
        For road diets the concept is to keep lanes near busy intersections due to the friction at those locations, but between the signals the space is usually not needed.

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  • Joseph E April 17, 2013 at 8:44 pm

    This will be great! What can we do to make it happen here, and on other similar 4-lane streets w/o parking (like parts of Glisan, Halsey, 39th)?

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    • ScottB April 18, 2013 at 1:44 pm

      Lobby. Push for a safety focus from PBOT. Accessibility over mobility. Benefit-cost analysis that considers more than just crashes.

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  • jim April 23, 2013 at 12:20 am

    Maybe they would be better to build a wider sidewalk and paint stripes on that?

    Recommended Thumb up 0

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