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New Seasons Market addresses traffic safety concern on Vancouver Ave

Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on October 31st, 2013 at 11:27 am

New Seasons Market at Vancouver and Ivy
After hearing about one collision and one near-miss, New Seasons Market has responded to bike safety concerns at their parking lot exit onto Vancouver Ave.
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

Now that New Seasons Market has opened on a busy block of the N Vancouver/Williams couplet, we weren't surprised when a reader emailed us about a traffic safety concern. The streets on both sides of the new store were already busy thoroughfares for buses, bikes, and cars — so adding in the traffic of a popular grocery store was almost certain to raise some issues.

Surprisingly, we haven't heard any feedback about the Williams Avenue side, where scores of people on bikes merge over two lanes of auto traffic to reach the store during the evening rush hour. We have however, heard about the Vancouver side.

A reader named Aaron G. got in touch with us last week to share his harrowing experience:

"I was riding my bike South on Vancouver and was nearly T-boned hard by a car shooting out of your parking lot, across Vancouver, onto Ivy St. It was dusk and I had a flashing headlamp, a front light, and was wearing light colors. I had to scream and brake as hard as I could and we ended up wheel-to-wheel, thankfully no one hurt.

So it seems that some patrons are trying to leave store by crossing 3 lanes of traffic on Vancouver to shoot into Ivy St. [see lead photo]. This is dangerous when they might be focusing on only waiting for cars to pass, and might not see the bikes obscured by the cars shooting by."

Further down the road that same day he was nearly hit, Aaron spoke to another person who was biking behind him. Turns out that person had "gone over someone's hood" at that very same spot a few weeks prior. This made Aaron even more concerned about the situation and he decided to notify New Seasons to hopefully do something to prevent anyone else from getting hurt.

A few days later, Aaron received a response from New Seasons' Customer Advocate Daniel Menasche. Menasche said they've got both short and long-term solutions in mind to improve traffic safety around the store. He pointed out the existing sandwich-board signs that encourage people to "Share the Road" and said they've partnered with the City and other businesses to install a new traffic signal at N Cook, which is one block south of Ivy. "Though this may not do so much to help with our parking lot exit," Menasche wrote to Aaron, "it should keep cyclists a lot safer about 100 feet down the road, where I myself have had a lot of close calls with the sort of “darters” you described."

However, since that new traffic signal is still at least one year away, and sandwich board signs don't really do much to influence behaviors, New Seasons decided to order new traffic signage immediately to deal with the issue Aaron brought to their attention.

New Seasons Operations Manager Elizabeth Nardi said she has purchased two new signs that will face the store's westbound parking lot exit. The signs are standard, yellow caution signs exactly like the ones below...

Hopefully these new signs will help drivers be more attentive to the presence of bicycle riders.

Thanks for sharing your story Aaron. It's great to see that yet again New Seasons has responded quickly to bike access issues.

Disclaimer: New Seasons Market pays for advertising on BikePortland.

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Comments
  • JDL October 31, 2013 at 11:48 am

    Make that parking lot exit 'Left Turn Only'

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    • Todd Boulanger October 31, 2013 at 12:07 pm

      I concur...make it only "a left out" with the "right turn only" on the other side of the street...that is what first leapt to my mind...other than a road diet. ;-)

      I assume the "roadway" that crosses through the parking lot (aka old Ivy Street right of way) is private as it has been vacated and not a public street.

      It would be interesting to see if this problem was foreseen and discussed during the City's transportation development review but the real solutions removed (or postponed until triggered by collisions/ complaints) by the developer's agreement due to a locally well connected/ development savvy business...a condition not too unusual in most cities.

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      • paikikala October 31, 2013 at 3:23 pm

        A small semi-diverter island to deter westbound auto entry would only cost abot $5k. It could be like the island on Williams north of Killingsworth and maintain bike access. The motorists are probably trying to get west on Fremont without having to go around the box.

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    • Carl October 31, 2013 at 12:09 pm

      Agreed. Looking at a map of the area, it's clear that the only reason to exit onto Ivy -- unless you live in one of the 17 houses *on* Ivy -- is to get slightly quicker access onto Fremont westbound.

      Make it left turn only, using a traffic diverter or reflective bollards, and indicate clearly that the way to get onto Fremont is to exit onto Williams and make a left at the light. Drivers lose 20 seconds, peds and bikes lose a trip to the emergency room.

      Recommended Thumb up 19

    • A.K. October 31, 2013 at 1:10 pm

      The parking lot exit should never have been lined up with Ivy... if it was offset to the South further people wouldn't be able to zip across the lanes.

      Recommended Thumb up 16

      • John Lascurettes October 31, 2013 at 1:33 pm

        Ding ding! Winner right there and still doable really.

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  • Scott October 31, 2013 at 11:53 am

    They put in bike parking though. So obviously they are super bike friendly.

    Recommended Thumb up 10

  • eli bishop October 31, 2013 at 12:01 pm

    when i saw the "share the road" sign, it totally looked as if they were asking -bicycles- to share the lane.

    Recommended Thumb up 7

    • Oliver October 31, 2013 at 3:09 pm

      It has seemed to me for some time that more and more of these share the road signs are being (incorrectly IMHO) targeted towards cyclists, and is incorrectly reinforcing the notion of how many people in cars like to imagine them. They don't conform to standard, (yellow diamond with words), but look "freestyled" by whatever local jurisdiction.

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  • Dave October 31, 2013 at 12:08 pm

    Aren't premade speed bumps available from an industrial supplier such as Grainger? New Seasons could speed bump that street in front of their store to keep cars down to a crawl. It's time to stop waiting for the city; "proper channels" will just cause more collisions. ***this sentence deleted by moderator - Dave, you should know better than to make personal insults. Thanks. -Jonathan ***

    Recommended Thumb up 1

    • paikikala October 31, 2013 at 3:25 pm

      Vancouver/Williams are major N-S access streets for the Fire Bureau and likely future Major Response Routes with a hospital nearby.

      Recommended Thumb up 4

  • mikeybikey October 31, 2013 at 12:16 pm

    Honestly, I cannot believe this design was OK'd. Wow. Talk about negligence. PBOT needs to step up and fix it immediately. It is nice that New Seasons is being proactive about the signs but signs don't prevent death and injury like a good old-fashioned barriers and diverters.

    Recommended Thumb up 12

  • MaxD October 31, 2013 at 12:49 pm

    Having both driven and biked to this store a few times, I think that a small part of the problem is the lack of on-street parking on Fremont between Williams and Vancouver and the block west. Also, no parallel parking on Vancouver. This brings more cars into the parking lot, and leaves the street wide open for motorists to speed along! I think adding parallel parking would greatly enhance these streets for peds, bikes, and cars by creating a place that functions more like a main street.

    Also, add a concrete diverter so cars exiting on ot Williams could only turn left.

    Recommended Thumb up 5

    • paikikala October 31, 2013 at 3:27 pm

      Fremont needs the space to move autos to the freeway ramp. If parking was added to Vancouver's east side the southbound left curb lane north of Fremont would need to become a left turn only lane - like at Alberta.

      Recommended Thumb up 1

  • q`Tzal October 31, 2013 at 1:02 pm

    Could Ivy be made exit only such that you can only exit from the neighborhood but not enter from the main road or opposite parking lot?

    Recommended Thumb up 1

    • q`Tzal October 31, 2013 at 1:30 pm

      Or maybe put a diverter 1 block in to make cut throughs slower and pointless.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

    • John Lascurettes October 31, 2013 at 1:35 pm

      As someone else suggested above, the driveways to New Seasons should not align with N Ivy int he first place. The should move them south.

      Recommended Thumb up 3

  • GlowBoy October 31, 2013 at 1:17 pm

    Like others above, I don't think a "Left Turn Only" sign will be sufficient; a diverter will be needed too.

    Recommended Thumb up 4

  • indy October 31, 2013 at 1:25 pm

    Perhaps the flashing light made the writer above less visible. I'm trying to picture a car driver quickly looking to their right and catching the biker just as their light was in the "off" position. Or they just weren't focused on it at the moment?

    Have we concluded yet whether or not flashing lights are better or worse?

    Recommended Thumb up 1

    • John Lascurettes October 31, 2013 at 1:37 pm

      He said he had a flashing headlamp and a front light (unclear as to whether it was steady or not). Chances are, he was perfectly visible. This is a classic case of selective recognition.

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      • Aaron G. October 31, 2013 at 3:54 pm

        I had a flashing headlamp on my helmet (an L&M Vis 360) and a very bright steady light (B&M Ixon IQ) on my handlebars.

        My theory is that it's less about flashing or brightness than it is about the size of the emitter. Drivers look for dinner plate sized lights at about knee height, not ping-pong ball sized lights at waist to head height.

        Recommended Thumb up 3

        • Grandma November 1, 2013 at 7:28 am

          Or.. those lights are so bright they blind people stupid making it more difficult to judge distance. ;)

          Recommended Thumb up 3

  • Travis October 31, 2013 at 1:31 pm

    I have seen several close calls on Vancouver since the New Seasons opened. Bike traffic still flows faster than stop-&-go rush hour, but now the traffic is considerably more chaotic. Maybe the greater concern is the polite drivers stopping to allow New Season shoppers to pull out. The bike lane keeps flowing while drivers cut across all lanes to turn on to Fremont (I am not sure if legally cyclist should stop too). Add the crosswalks, on street parking, and TriMet and that stretch of Vancouver is beginning to look like West Burnside at 5pm --minus the danger of having a bike lane. I've notice the light at Fremont is now running longer than the crosswalk. A light at Cook would be helpful as, again, drivers are stopping for pedestrians, while cyclist continue through. I for one, really don't want to stop every time a driver does.

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  • sean October 31, 2013 at 1:41 pm

    Amazing how responsive New Seasons has become to bike-related issues. After looking for a spot to park several weeks in a row, I have asked Whole Foods in NW to install more bike parking several times with no response. Time to switch stores.

    Recommended Thumb up 11

  • dwainedibbly October 31, 2013 at 5:39 pm

    The responsiveness to situations like this shows how far Portland is above other cities. Modal share is only one measure.

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  • Doug Klotz October 31, 2013 at 7:35 pm

    Moving the driveway to the south is not going to work, as there's a 5-story building going in just south of the New Seasons private street/accessway. A diverter, if built, would need to be between the Vancouver bike lane and the Vancouver motor vehicle lane. As some have suggested, making Ivy one-way eastbound at this point could also help. Ivy, BTW, continues for 3 blocks to the west, it's just Really Narrow.

    Lining up the driveway with the intersection of Ivy does make sense for pedestrian travel (and indeed bicycle travel), if all the other details are properly taken care of. Details like wheelchair ramps have not been, for instance (there are none on the New Seasons side of Williams or of Vancouver at Ivy). If Ivy between Williams and Vancouver were actually a city street, then perhaps the standards would be higher, or other remedies would be available. I don't know if PBOT prefers not to own new streets, or the developers don't want to give up control of them and PBOT does not require dedication because of that.

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    • paikikala November 1, 2013 at 9:17 am

      Doug, why would the diverter need to be between the bike lane and travel lane? The curb lane there is a defacto turn lane to go west on Cook and access the freeway. A diverter in the street would be continously hit by autos. A standard diverter island on Ivy west of Vancouver should work well and the local residents have access via Gantenbein. Also, the bus needs to pull away from the curb at the intersection.

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      • Doug Klotz November 2, 2013 at 4:54 pm

        Would an in-street diverter be hit, lIke the diverter or whatever it is, in the street a few blocks south at Emanuel? I'm not sure what a "diverter island" in the middle of Ivy would be. A triangle, to ensure right-in, right out to and from Ivy? Or, a semi-diverter like at Clinton and 39th? (Out only) Anyway, I'm sure whatever business goes into that green building on the corner would want access from Vancouver to their rear parking lot. Maybe put the diverter at Ivy and Gantenbein.

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        • paikikala November 5, 2013 at 9:42 am

          Putting a diverter away from the intersection only leads to drivers going around it or making 3-point turns at the blockage, further annoying residents. If it doesn't prevent or deter westbound movement to Fremont, it is a waste of money. I provided an example of what it would look like - Williams north of Killingsworth. Another would be the islands around Sabin Elementary (Shaver/Failing/ 17th/18th). If a future business wanted access to Vancouver, the driveway could be on Vancouver. Access with a diverter island at Ivy is not eliminated, just redirected west.

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  • William October 31, 2013 at 11:09 pm

    I visited the store for the first time today around 3:00pm. I was on bike, and it was an absolute disaster. I was coming from the south, and I had no chance of crossing the two lanes of car traffic to make the left turn into the parking lot, even though I tried well in advance and slowed down long before the parking lot. I eventually just exited the road on the right and crossed the street as a pedestrian. Leaving the store, I had the same difficulty. I'm glad to see this story and learn of the store's responsiveness. I hope that all involved will study the issue and implement appropriate changes soon. It seems like a tragedy waiting to happen.

    Recommended Thumb up 1

  • jim October 31, 2013 at 11:56 pm

    Why not just put a barrier so cars can't go straight across there? Bollards or concrete curb...

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Jan November 1, 2013 at 12:31 pm

    I tried ONCE to ride there via northbound Williams. Crossing over to the strore and upon leaving was trecherous and scary. Never again.

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    • Ted Buehler November 1, 2013 at 2:32 pm

      The quickest way to get to the store by bike from northbound Williams is to stay in the bike lane all the way to Fremont, go up on the sidewalk at the Fremont intersection, and walk across the street to the store.

      The bike parking is right there, the entrance to the store is right there.

      There's no need, as a bicyclist to ever go near the parking lot.

      Bike access to the store overall is pretty good, better than I expected.

      Ted Buehler

      Recommended Thumb up 1

  • Ted Buehler November 1, 2013 at 2:35 pm

    Soutbound Vancouver Ave has had a road diet for most of its length. The exception is Beech to Ivy, just 2 blocks.

    I don't think the additional left lane in this section helps traffic flow at all, maybe its time to remove it. It can be a dedicated left-turn lane to go east on Fremont, then New Seasons, then Cook.

    Ted Buehler

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    • John Beaston November 1, 2013 at 6:28 pm

      Right you are Ted. That little section between Beech and Ivy being two lanes creates quite a conflict area. Cars in the left lane need to merge right at the same time many, but not all, cars in the right lane are moving into the right turn lane to hit I405. And the bike lane is right in the middle of it all. I've done a few events in the Red Cross parking lot at that area and witnessed many close-calls. That extra left lane seems lame. Perhaps it could be dedicated left turns into New Seasons.

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  • steeplechase3kpdx November 4, 2013 at 3:20 pm

    I was there on over the weekend and there is a left turn arrow on the pavement (under the car in the picture at the top of this post).

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  • Fred Lifton November 4, 2013 at 6:21 pm

    I came across the aftermath of the first multi-bike pile-up I've ever seen (outside of racing), right across from the parking lot entrance on Williams. Four or five bikes were down, including a cargo bike with a very unhappy kid in it. I didn't see the accident, but it appeared to be a chain reaction caused by someone (driver or rider) veering left across the bike lane. No one appeared to be seriously hurt, fortunately.

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    • paikikala November 5, 2013 at 9:45 am

      Do you mean right accross the bike lane? Traffic going to Cook has to cross the bike lane to get to the right turn only lane.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

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