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Update: City extends new bike lane on SE 34th Avenue

Posted by on February 12th, 2016 at 12:36 pm

Looking north on 34th toward Division.
(Photos: J. Maus/BikePortland (top); Mark Zahner (bottom))

The Portland Bureau of Transportation has made an important update to a recent project on Southeast 34th Avenue.

One month ago, as part of a larger traffic diversion project, PBOT made a significant bicycle access improvement to 34th between Clinton and Division. They changed the narrow residential street from a standard two-way street with an auto parking lane on both sides into one-way only for drivers (northbound) and two-way for bike riders. To do this they put a new bike lane in the southbound direction (and removed all the auto parking on the west side of the street) and added sharrows in the northbound direction.

This is a change residents of the street were begging for.

When it finally happened, PBOT stopped just short (literally) of what those residents and many others hoped for. Instead of continuing the new configuration all the way to Division, they stopped about 50-feet south of Division in order to maintain driveway access for a restaurant. This design confused people who would turn onto 34th from Division only to see “Do Not Enter” signs after it was already too late. Some people would then try to make a u-turn and others would just continue on 34th, breaking the law and putting other road users in danger.

Now — thanks to attentive and flexible City of Portland staff, activists with Bike Loud PDX, and Mark Zahner, the man who lives on 34th and pushed PBOT to make these changes — PBOT has fixed this.

Here’s another before-and-after looking south on 34th from Division:

(Photos: J. Maus/BikePortland (top); Mark Zahnger (bottom))

Zahner told us last month that PBOT had decided to make these changes. The way Zahner tells it, a PBOT project manager met with the owner of Sen Yai Noodles (Andy Ricker of Pok Pok fame) and successfully ironed out some truck delivery issues. (Now instead of using 34th to make deliveries, trucks will use the driveway on Division.)

Not only does the new configuration improve the bikeway and overall safety, it also allows PBOT to add back two auto parking spaces to the southeast corner of the intersection adjacent to Anders Printing (a business that has supported Zahner’s efforts all along.)

The design is much clearer now that the bike lane is striped all the way to Division and PBOT has added more forceful and clear signage.

“Although drivers still speed down the street and go the wrong way,” Zahner shared with us via email this morning. “The street works much better and has become a more livable, pedestrian/bicycle street.”

— Jonathan Maus, (503) 706-8804 – jonathan@bikeportland.org

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  • patrick barber February 12, 2016 at 12:40 pm

    Interesting how before, they had to call it a Dead End, and now they can just say Do Not Enter.

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    • Champs February 12, 2016 at 1:36 pm

      The signage makes sense here, but in general I prefer Dead End because it says “don’t waste your time.” Other signage (No Through Traffic, Do Not Enter) tends to mean “awesome shortcut.”

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  • alankessler February 12, 2016 at 12:48 pm

    I haven’t been by the intersection since, but now they should also be able to have “no left” and “no right” turn signs on Division westbound and eastbound, respectively.

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    • Doug Klotz February 12, 2016 at 7:15 pm

      I think they do have those. You can see one of them in the fourth photo, on the right.


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  • spencer February 12, 2016 at 12:51 pm

    Citizen activism works! I was stoked to sign that petition years ago, and I’m glad the change finally came to fruition.

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  • resopmok February 12, 2016 at 12:57 pm

    Why didn’t they just do this in the first place? It was impossible to have the conversation about where trucks should deliver before they had to stripe it? Or just they didn’t want to?

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  • Andrea Brown February 12, 2016 at 12:58 pm

    Excellent news! Thanks for the followup, PBOT, and huge props to Mark Zahner, who has tirelessly worked on this project for years. I appreciate all of the 34th neighbors who supported this. And I am especially pleased that parking spots were restored near Anders Printing, a legacy Division business. It feels so much safer on this street, both by bicycle and by (northbound!) car.

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  • Adam H. February 12, 2016 at 1:03 pm

    Glad to see that this was fixed and that PBOT was able to stand up to Andy Ricker’s bully tactics.

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    • paikiala February 12, 2016 at 3:17 pm

      Wow, talk about fiction and a great imagination!

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    • mran1984 February 12, 2016 at 6:08 pm

      I appreciate Andy Ricker’s contributions to my neighborhood. You contribute nothing worthwhile. The giant buildings on Division that you adore only increase the car traffic that you fear, btw. Were you bullied a lot as a kid?

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      • Doug Klotz February 12, 2016 at 7:17 pm

        Andy Ricker famously complained in a magazine (newspaper?) article about the lack of parking at the Division St. apartments that meant on-street spaces were used up by apartment tenants, when they could have been serving his tenants at his restaurants. His most famous, Pok-Pok, actually has no on-street parking. So, to an extent, Ricker was at least complaining about parking, if not actually trying to intimidate the city to do something about it.

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      • Anne Hawley
        Anne Hawley February 12, 2016 at 10:00 pm

        Man, it’s getting mean around here. This is too personal. Is it too much to ask to keep it civil?

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      • peejay February 13, 2016 at 4:17 am

        Frame this argument without the rudeness, and people will debate you. Otherwise, I’m flagging it for removal. Thanks.

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  • MaxD February 12, 2016 at 1:14 pm

    To balance out this good news (and maintain some perspective), up in North Portland, PBOT just resurfaced a stretch of Skidmore between Interstate and Mississippi. Then they re-striped it exactly as it was! They could have AT LEAST extend the bike lanes to Mississippi. This is (supposedly) planned to have bike lanes anyway, and currently this route provides signalized crossings at Vancouver, Williams and MLK. This stretch needs buffered bike lanes very badly to create a reasonable connection between bike lanes and greenways along Interstate, Concord, Michigan, Going, Vancouver/Williams and (someday) 7th. THis would also provide a bikeable connection between commercial districts of Mississippi, Williams, NE Alberta, N Killingsworth and Interstate. Apparetnly it takes dedicated citizens, and organized activist group and years of work to get PBOT to make a common sense change that is already in the plans.

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    • Chadwick F February 12, 2016 at 2:00 pm

      Wha!? And remove some perfectly good free on-street parking? How in the world would anyone be able to get to that area if parking spots were removed? All the businesses on Mississippi would shut down, people would move out of the neighborhood in droves, and all of the surrounding streets would have people double parked all day long. A true hell-scape scenario.

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    • rick February 12, 2016 at 2:17 pm

      district-based city council

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      • peejay February 13, 2016 at 4:33 am

        While it seems tempting to change something on the council, I don’t think a ward system will be preferable. Look only to Chicago to see how the aldermen run their wards like personal kingdoms. Generally, it’s recognized that at-large city councils are less corrupt and more progressive than district-based councils. No, I think Portland’s problems come from other structural problems. First, elections in non-national times of the year depress turnout, and lower turnout always skews older and more conservative. Second, it’s too small. There should be more council positions, taking the pressure off each seat. Currently, just two people can obstruct anything. The big change will be when we can fix the Supreme Court and get Citizens United reversed, taking the money out of politics finally.

        I do agree something has to change with city government, though.

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    • paikiala February 12, 2016 at 3:20 pm

      PBOT does not typically make such drastic changes without a public process. You should thank them. Your heavy handed, put it in without asking, process could just as easily be used in the future to eliminate stuff you like, should that become the norm for PBOT.

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    • Beeblebrox February 12, 2016 at 6:19 pm

      Just because it is in a citywide bike plan doesn’t mean adequate public outreach has been done on that particular project. The bike plan tells where the city should try to do projects, but it’s not a substitute for project development and outreach.

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  • Anthony February 12, 2016 at 2:17 pm

    Will PBOT never learn? I feel like if there’s any recurring narrative with bike-related improvements for PBOT, it’s:

    PBOT has option to make BIG improvement for bikes. Instead of going the full 9 yards, they make a concession to some car or freight-related concern, or claim that the better option would be too expensive and it’s not in their budget, so they have to proceed with the less expensive option. Result leads to making things less safe for all road users and/or more confusing/unclear and/or not actually having the effect that was intended. PBOT scraps the option they chose and goes with the better option they decided against in the first place, all the while having spent a lot more time and money than if they’d have just chosen that option to begin with. See plastic bollards on Lovejoy, temp. diverters on Rodney, Rumble bars on Burnside, etcetc.

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  • devograd February 12, 2016 at 2:52 pm

    I love riding this block of 34th–it makes me smile every time. Thanks for making it even better, PBOT!


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  • Peejay February 12, 2016 at 3:18 pm

    I’m glad that PBOT is able to look at a project, see where it comes up short, and fix it. Keep improving, PBOT! Maybe one day we can do it right from the beginning!

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    • Art Fuldodger February 12, 2016 at 3:55 pm

      & then what would BP commenters post about?

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      • shirtsoff February 14, 2016 at 10:49 am

        The weather and what lovely bike rides can be had in its various conditions?

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  • Coach Dan February 12, 2016 at 10:33 pm

    The upgraded treatment is great. 34th is so much better.
    The two traffic lights on 34th are unnecessary and should be removed.
    And did Sen Yai give up access to those two parking spots accessed by the previous treatment ?

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    • peejay February 13, 2016 at 4:39 am

      Interesting idea about the lights, Dan. I’d want to keep the one on Division, but the flasher on Clinton might not be necessary.

      As for those parking spaces, Mr Ricker quickly added those three spots in the dead of night just before the first restriping was done. The outdoor seating used to be on the east side of the structure. Not sure what his thinking was, but it compromised the first iteration of the project. Glad to see he’s come around.

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      • paikiala February 16, 2016 at 9:30 am

        To the best of my knowledge, PBOT, has not been in contact with Mr. Ricker regarding SE 34th.

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  • Adam February 13, 2016 at 10:30 am

    Is this new bike lane along the whole of SE 34th, or just a two block section? If it is for just a two block section, I’m curious why?

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  • Adam February 13, 2016 at 10:30 am

    I mean, why this two block section in particular?

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    • paikiala February 16, 2016 at 9:35 am

      The 30s greenway is anticipated to use 34th. 34th crosses Division, Hawthorne and Belmont with signals. The signals provide safer crossings for cyclists of busier cross streets. If one way streets with contraflow bike lanes were installed entering each of these three intersections, access management onto the future greenways would be obtained without eliminating safe egress from the neighborhood for other road users.

      Think of this as a pre-phase test for the 30’s greenway.

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  • Mark Zahner February 13, 2016 at 12:40 pm

    Adam, this one block section of 34th was squeezed down 6 feet to the skinny width of 24 feet as you crossed Division. This created many conflicts daily as a two way street. Add to the fact that the light at Division funneled cars and trucks into the neighborhood and onto the Clinton Greenway.

    If you want to spearhead turning the rest of 34th into the bike facility it is deemed to be, more power to you. I’ll stand behind you one hundred per cent.’

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  • Brahman February 14, 2016 at 3:12 pm

    While I appreciate the effort from PBOT, I use this route almost daily and did not have any issue prior to this latest change. Once the street was changed to one way car traffic only, I very rarely saw any car proceed south to park at Sen Yai.

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    • paikiala February 16, 2016 at 9:42 am

      IMO, one of the advantages of the one way shared lane with contra-flow bike lane is that it is a full block long. the other diverters on Clinton illustrate the idea rather well. When a driver has to commit to going around a diverter, they need only see that no-one is coming sufficiently far away, and in about 20-30 feet they have gotten past the impediment.
      With the one-way + contraflow diverter a driver has to commit for 200+ feet. Psychologically, it is a much more difficult risk.

      On wider streets the form would be 7-8′ parking, 14′ shared lane, 7-8′ parking, 2′ buffer +6′ contraflow bike lane.

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  • David Lewis February 18, 2016 at 1:58 am

    How optimistic to call it an important update!

    A better description is a complete failure by paid professionals to do their job, followed by citizens taking them to task, followed by paint. Where’s my party hat?

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