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Northeast Portlanders call enthusiastically for traffic diverters, greenway on 7th Avenue

Posted by on March 16th, 2016 at 9:11 am

close quarters on 7th
NE 7th Avenue is technically a local street, but it’s become
heavily used by cars as an alternative to MLK.
(Photo: M.Andersen/BikePortland)

A roomful of inner Northeast Portland residents gave an “overwhelming” thumbs-up Monday night to a plan to eventually turn Northeast 7th Avenue into a low-traffic neighborhood greenway between Alberta and Broadway.

That’d vastly improve the bike network just west of Alameda Ridge, but require traffic diverters that would send thousands of vehicles a day to other nearby streets, probably Martin Luther King Boulevard and 15th Avenue.

“Pretty much every organization that’s weighed in has stated that 7th is the preferred greenway.”
— Steve Cole, president of Irvington Community Association

That was the summary of Zef Wagner, the city transportation planner who’d called Monday’s meeting at the St Philip the Deacon church.

Wagner asked for the meeting after the Irvington, Eliot and King neighborhood associations all sent letters to the city urging it not to de-designate 7th Avenue as a future bikeway.

If city voters pass a ten-cent gas tax in May, a “7th/9th bikeway” would be planned in the next four years, but the exact route is uncertain. Wagner said that based on early public input, he’d proposed keeping 7th Avenue as a possible bike route south of Skidmore (in addition to 9th) and to use 9th Avenue north of Skidmore. Other PBOT staff agreed and the change was also backed by Commissioner Steve Novick, he said.

But after hearing one resident after another testify Monday that 7th Avenue was far overcrowded with cars and was in any case a much better bike route, Wagner said he might suggest that Novick retain 7th as a possible route north of Skidmore, too.

Screenshot 2016-03-15 at 4.56.48 PM

Thanks in part to a huge spike in northbound traffic during the evening rush hour, 7th Avenue currently carries about 5,500 cars a day, almost twice the city’s target for the “local street” that it technically is. During other hours, residents said, northbound traffic using it as an alternative to Martin Luther King Boulevard (which is three blocks east) often speeds up the street.

“We’ve had people miss the turnabout and drive down our sidewalk like they were still on the street, at 25 mph,” said Brooke Cabatic.

In the last few years, Jereme Grzybowski said, traffic “has grown tremendously, to a crisis level.”

“You get on 7th and you can fly,” he said. “You can go uninterrupted.”

“It’s a throughway,” said Jay Hoover, saying he was uncomfortable just going down his driveway on a bicycle.

“At every single interesection there’s been accidents and there’s children crossing the street,” said Montserrat Shepherd.

“My son is three,” said Nick Fox. “I’ve had people yell the F word at him. I’ve had people slam on their brakes as he crosses 7th. So he ended up stopping riding his bike for a while.”

Fox was one of several attendees who said he would eagerly support one or more traffic diverters on the street.

“I’m really happy to hear you talking about diversion on 7th,” Fox said. “I’d be happy when I drive, which I do most days a week, to go out of my way if it made it safer.”

That prompted a round of applause from many of the three dozen or so people present.


Steve Cole, president of the Irvington Community Association, said he didn’t understand why the city is considering 9th Avenue at all.

“Pretty much every organization that’s weighed in has stated that 7th is the preferred greenway,” Cole said. “If you were to turn 9th into a greenway, you’d still have a problem with traffic and pedestrians on 7th.”

Cole noted that a 7th Avenue greenway project also has the virtue of being much cheaper: about $1 million, compared to $2 million for 9th. That’s mostly because 7th Avenue already has stoplights at major streets.

Many residents were uneasy about which other streets traffic might divert to. But because of the many interruptions and jogs on the nearby street grid, Wagner pointed out, adding traffic diverters to 7th would probably push non-local car traffic west to Martin Luther King Boulevard or east to 15th.

Allan Rudwick pointed out that the city already has a plan in the works to upgrade the signals on MLK Boulevard. Wagner confirmed that this might increase the auto capacity of MLK, offsetting some of the delay caused by diverting several hundred cars from 7th during the evening rush hour.

“Adding several hundred cars to MLK during the pm peak hour would definitely cause problems,” Wagner said. “Are we willing to accept the backlash from people having to take MLK that don’t now?”

Another relevant issue: access to businesses. Wagner said he’d be interested to hear from the businesses around 7th and Knott.

Emily Guise, one of the co-chairs of BikeLoudPDX, also attended the meeting.

“I am really excited about this project,” she said. “Our group fully supports this. We think it would help with congestion, livability and affordability in general.”

Another resident, Andrew Neerman, said he too is enthusiastic about the potential for a 7th Avenue bikeway.

“This is a chance to do something that is really truly platinum and world-class,” he said.

Joseph Albert agreed.

“It’s not 7th vs 8th vs 9th vs MLK — we just have too many cars,” Albert said. “Making the corridor be an effective bicycle commuting corridor is going to reduce the number of cars.”

That comment led to applause, too.

— Michael Andersen, (503) 333-7824 – michael@bikeportland.org

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95 Comments
  • Gary B March 16, 2016 at 9:32 am

    Michael, you need to check the cardinal directions in here. Several times you refer to MLK as east of 7th.

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    • Michael Andersen (News Editor) March 16, 2016 at 10:01 am

      Yup. Fixed. Thanks.

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      • John Lascurettes March 16, 2016 at 12:36 pm

        You missed this one:

        During other hours, residents said, northbound traffic using it as an alternative to Martin Luther King Boulevard (which is three blocks east) often speeds up the street.

        MLK is three blocks west of 7th (north of Fremont — it’s only “one block” west of 7th south of Fremont). Or are you trying to say that 7th is three blocks east of MLK? Either way, it’s ambiguous.

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  • ethan March 16, 2016 at 9:35 am

    The timeline on this project is way, way too slow. By the time they get around to doing it, more people will be injured and killed on 7th. I’ve personally been hit by a very aggressive driver on 7th and I know other people that have too.

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    • mikeybikey March 16, 2016 at 9:43 am

      1000% agree. this should have been done years ago, to wait another four years is irresponsible.

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      • Hopeful March 16, 2016 at 12:32 pm

        I wonder if BikeLoudPDX could help us get this fixed this year.

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        • soren March 16, 2016 at 3:19 pm

          Please vote “yes” for the Gas tax this May.

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    • soren March 16, 2016 at 10:52 am

      The timeline is slow because PBOT does not have the money. The Active Transportation budget has been eviscerated from $2,000,000 per year (during the Adams administration) to $600,000 per year.

      https://www.portlandoregon.gov/transportation/article/539053

      Active Transportation GTR funding was cut by $300,000 in FY12-13 and by $551,275 in FY13-14;

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  • rh March 16, 2016 at 9:43 am

    Looking at the chart, northbound traffic seems to be the issue. I guess making the street one way southbound with speedbumps wouldn’t really be a solution would it? Would probably take 10 years to plan.

    Articles like this show just how bullying the automobile is. It turns a quiet street into a chaotic one various times of the day and it greatly impacts livability to those who live in that neighborhood.

    Gas needs to cost a lot more to lower the number autos on the road.

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    • paikiala March 17, 2016 at 2:51 pm

      One way streets have their drawbacks and benefits.

      If cars and bikes could go one way south, the parking lane could be moved to just east of the current centerline and the parking lane turned into an uphill bike lane. The Fire Bureau prefers a 14 foot travel lane on a one way street, so that could limit the space available for the bike lane.
      One way streets sometimes operate faster than 2-way streets, but aggressive traffic calming could work on that problem. Crossing a one lane roadway would certainly be safer for pedestrians.
      Alternatives to a long corridor of one-way shared +contraflow bike lane is to alternate the direction of the one way shared segments. This has been done in some parts of Scandinavia.

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  • Anne Hawley
    Anne Hawley March 16, 2016 at 9:52 am

    This is right in my neck of the woods. On my very first bike commute home to Sabin from downtown, I tried 7th. First, last and only time. It was so narrow and squeezed at those traffic circles that it was scary and felt dangerous, and since it has a slight incline going north, I was super self-conscious about being slow. It was such a bad experience that I’ve felt averse to any concept of promoting it as a bike route.

    But if they’d actually divert car traffic away from it, I’d probably use it all the time.

    It has one other advantage over 9th, and that’s that the paving is asphalt and generally in better shape than the old corrugated, crappy, concrete surface along 9th all the way through Irvington.

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    • eawrist March 16, 2016 at 10:10 am

      I would add 9th goes up and down. 7th is gradual.

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    • jake March 16, 2016 at 11:18 am

      Agree very strongly with this. I think you’re right that some combination of the choke points and slight incline puts massive pressure on to ride quickly and makes this a stressful street to bike on. Cars love to drive really fast from the stop sign just north of Broadway to the first roundabout as well, so even just getting to Tillamook is stressful.

      I usually ride quickly to Hancock and then ride up 8th from there, although I’ve gotten two flats in the last week or two from the streets which may as well be cobblestone :/

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    • John Lascurettes March 16, 2016 at 12:40 pm

      Ditto, my hood too. I only take 7th between Siskiyou/Klickitat and Knott in either direction and it’s stressful enough for that short 2-3 block distance.

      This morning I had to go to SE instead of downtown and I found NE 15th less stressful — at least that’s supposed to be an arterial connector of sorts and I knew what I was getting into.

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      • Active March 16, 2016 at 11:20 pm

        I like to ride Knott to NE 12th. You can ride through the pedestrian mall between Safeway and Buffalo Wild Wings to Halsey then Multnomah and then down to the Steel Bridge if that is your destination.

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  • Todd Hudson March 16, 2016 at 9:53 am

    If it’s extended all the way to Lloyd Boulevard and across 84 via a bike/ped bridge, I’ll be beyond content. The choke point between Weidler and Broadway is a drag, as is the Lloyd/12th/Irving gauntlet of street lights and hurried motorists.

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  • MaxD March 16, 2016 at 9:55 am

    This is a great idea and I am thrilled to see strong neighborhood support. I strongly support connecting north to Alberta to connect tothe commercial corridor and the Going Greenway. I hope they add bike lanes on Skidmore at the same time to bolster the network to the west. The current connection to the west uses Going and has zero controlled crossings. Skidmore has signals/4-way stop signs at 7th, MLK, Williams, Vancouver, Mississippi, and Interstate and connects to the Michigan and Concord Greenways. While 7th would be incredibly useful, fulfilling the plans to make Skidmore into a bike street would amplify all the values added by these segments of Greenways.

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    • j March 21, 2016 at 11:53 am

      This.

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  • rick March 16, 2016 at 9:57 am

    A pedestrian bridge is needed over the Columbia River (retrofit the rail road bridge from downtown Vancouver to North Portland).

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  • eawrist March 16, 2016 at 10:08 am

    The case of NE 7th parallels almost no other greenway. The diverters are nearly there already. Retrofitting a few of them to limit N/S bound traffic may cost relatively little. It is confusing to see why it might take four years for the city to simply augment existing circles, when just building one (even trial diverter) NOW would cut through traffic substantially.

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    • Gerald Fittipaldi March 16, 2016 at 10:47 pm

      There are a few things that would make diverters show up quickly (i.e. this year)

      -Someone gets killed on 7th.
      -Activists build there own diverters (this took no more than a couple weeks to do on Clinton, apparently, but the city removed the diverters within a couple hours).
      -Private money funds the diverters with demands that it be done quickly.

      If none of these happen, my bet is that the diverters will be built circa 2020 … if we’re lucky.

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      • paikiala March 17, 2016 at 2:56 pm

        PBOT staff is currently overloaded with projects. Which project do you propose they stop work on in order to undertake the required process (meetings, data collection, design) to work on this newest shiny object?

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        • Gerald Fittipaldi March 17, 2016 at 7:15 pm

          There wouldn’t be such a backlog if Portland had a better funding system for transportation. In that sense, I give PBOT a pass. However, an enormous amount of time (and money) is spent on planning, deliberating, getting more and more feedback, pondering, trying harder to get consensus, going back to the drawing board, and in many cases never building what could have been built.

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          • soren March 18, 2016 at 8:04 am

            enormous amount of time (and money) is spent on planning, deliberating, getting more and more feedback, pondering, trying harder to get consensus, going back to the drawing board

            This is 100% the fault of our commisioners and mayor.

            The expensive, elaborate, achingly drawn-out outreach-stakeholder-consensus model when it comes to cycling infrastructure is political bullsh*t. The half dozen outreach meetings and/or openhouses over a couple of years for the Clinton project is a case in point. No such process occurs when PBOT installs a new crosswalk or hawk signal. Our electeds need to start viewing cycling safety improvements in the same manner they view installing a HAWK signal at a crosswalk — as a no brainer.

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            • Gerald Fittipaldi March 18, 2016 at 10:34 am

              1. Consensus is impossible, and inaction is inexcusable
              2. When it comes to street design, less is often more
              3. Keep it light, quick, cheap, and don’t be afraid to fail

              These are three of the key guiding principles that Janette Sadik-Khan promotes in her new book Street Fight. The “don’t be afraid to fail” especially stands out for Portland. Better Block follows these principles, which is great, but Portland’s leadership needs to follow these principles across the board if they want to built out a fully connected by network throughout the city.

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              • Gerald Fittipaldi March 18, 2016 at 10:38 am

                *fully connected bike network

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  • Paul Manson March 16, 2016 at 10:18 am

    There is also a school right on the route (King) and slowing traffic past the school would be awesome!

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  • rh March 16, 2016 at 10:36 am

    Things that happen every 4 years:
    – A Presidential Election
    – A student completes High School or College
    – Olympics (including host city building tons of new infrastructure)
    – A baby is born, can walk, then talk, then climb stairs, and start preschool
    – Portland builds ONE divertor!

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    • paikiala March 17, 2016 at 3:37 pm

      Diverters built in Portland (Since Greenway Program started, average is over 3 per year):

      N Mississippi at Holman, 2016 (pending)
      Ankeny at 15th, 2016 (pending)
      Clinton at 32nd, 2016
      Clinton at 17th, 2016
      Delaware at Bryant, 2016
      Rodney at Ivy, 2015
      NE Klickitat at 23rd/24th, 2013
      N Michigan at Rosa Parks, 2013
      N Central at Tyler, 2012
      N Central at Westanna, 2012
      N Wheeler at Broadway, 2012
      N Houghton at Portsmouth, 2012
      NE Holman at 33rd, 2012
      SE Gladstone at 42nd, 2011
      NE Holman at 13th, 2011
      NE Going at 15th, 2011
      SE 86th at Stark, 2011
      N Concord at Rosa Parks, 2010
      N Wabash at Willamette (Sbnd out only), 2010
      NE Going at MLK, 2010
      NE Going at 33rd, 2010
      SE Spokane at 13th, 2010

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      • Adam H. March 17, 2016 at 3:54 pm

        Three per year is nowhere close to enough. Needs to be at least 10-20 times that.

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        • paikiala March 17, 2016 at 3:59 pm

          More is better. Just pointing out RH’s ignorance.

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          • Adam H. March 17, 2016 at 4:09 pm

            Oh sure. I only saw your reply, not RH’s initial post.

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      • Gerald Fittipaldi March 18, 2016 at 10:45 am

        I seems momentum dropped dramatically around 2013. Not a single diverter was built in all of 2014. Then bikeloudpdx formed. They are a big part of the reason for the Rodney, Clinton Street and (pending) Ankeny diverters.

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      • Gerald Fittipaldi March 18, 2016 at 10:54 am

        By any chance, can you provide a link to where you got this list from? I’m curious to see other similar bike infrastructure stats in Portland. Thanks.

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        • paikiala March 18, 2016 at 11:13 am

          No link available, other than reviewing the completed greenways list, and knowing some people for the future stuff.

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  • Tony T
    Tony T March 16, 2016 at 10:46 am

    Having seen drivers speed (!!!) the wrong way around the round-abouts/traffic circle things to pass people on bikes, I definitely think 7th needs serious attention. Not sure what it is specifically about 7th, but I avoid it like the plague. I’m normally quite comfortable on busy streets, but there’s something not right about it for me.

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    • Gary B March 16, 2016 at 10:54 am

      I’d hypothesize that the drivers using 7th to avoid MLK have a certain degree of self-pressure to “make good” on their choice. If they don’t actually go faster than MLK, they’ve “lost” and might feel a failure or embarrassment. Thus they drive aggressively to fulfill that need, and a bicyclist is an obstacle (more so than on a typical drive). That’s just my lay observation, maybe someone can confirm there’s actually something to this.

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      • Peejay March 16, 2016 at 11:09 am

        Wow, that probably explains Clinton driver behavior, too! They feel they spent the time to reach the parallel street, and have to at least make up for that. I know that’s how I’d feel if I were contemplating a bypass shortcut.

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      • Tony T
        Tony T March 16, 2016 at 11:48 am

        That’s an astute observation of human nature!

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      • Tim Davis March 16, 2016 at 6:44 pm

        We all agree, Gary; that’s an awesome hypothesis! :) This is all the MORE reason (as if we needed yet another!) to put diverters along NE 7th!!

        Also, people need to realize that car traffic is NOT like water; it doesn’t just automatically flow to the next street if the current street is choked off. Car traffic is like a gas; it fills the space it’s allocated.

        There’s *also* the very important phenomenon of “disappearing traffic” (the opposite of induced demand if you widen a roadway). If you make driving more congested and slower (and *especially* if you eliminate free parking near work!), people will drive far less. These diverters would definitely encourage a not-statistically-insignificant percentage of the “interested but concerned” majority of the population to actually consider biking!

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        • El Biciclero March 18, 2016 at 11:46 am

          If there’s too much car traffic, it’s like a solid.

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      • El Biciclero March 18, 2016 at 11:45 am

        I think this is entirely accurate. So make 7th a guaranteed loser as a bypass.

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    • mh March 16, 2016 at 12:52 pm

      Unfortunately, I often see bicyclists going the wrong way, too, to make a 90 rather than a 270 degree turn. Either way, it confuses the hell out of anyone else on the road.

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  • m March 16, 2016 at 11:17 am

    And the Wack-a-mole continues. It’s a grid system, people. Traffic already backs up on MLK. All this will do is force traffic over to the sides streets such as 8th and 9th. If they go to 15th street, it will be via side streets such as Tillamook and Thompson. Think those folks are going to be happy? It will not miraculously make people abandon their cars.

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    • Beeblebrox March 16, 2016 at 11:39 am

      Believe it or not, most people don’t like driving on discontinuous local streets with lots of stop signs, which describes 8th, 9th, Tillamook and Thompson. The reason so much traffic uses streets like 7th (and Clinton, for that matter) is that they are long and direct and have very few stop signs. For that reason I think most traffic diverted from 7th would use MLK, 15th, Knott, and Fremont. It’s hard to imagine many people would use 8th or 9th considering they dead-end at the park. Tillamook could be attractive, but the city has plans to upgrade the neighborhood greenway to be less attractive to driving.

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      • m March 16, 2016 at 12:10 pm

        Of course drivers prefer uninterrupted streets with light traffic. But if they face waiting in bumper to bumper to traffic for multiple blocks (like they do now on MLK), many will simply elect to take the parallel side streets such as 8th and 9th, stop signs notwithstanding.

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        • ConcordiaCyclist March 16, 2016 at 1:00 pm

          Nope – 8th & 9th are blocked by the park and after trying it once drivers are more likely to just stick to MLK because there is little to no advantage in using those routes – they get them too far away from where they want to be and takes away the time advantage. And if they are indeed improving the the lights on MLK that will help mitigate car migration further east.

          This is not a whack-a-mole solution – it’s a vast improvement on an important corridor that helps shift traffic back where it belongs.

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          • m March 16, 2016 at 2:00 pm

            Respectfully disagree. The park doesn’t come into play until you cross Knott and approach Fremont. This change will result in lots of cut through traffic. You can count on it.

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            • Chris I March 16, 2016 at 5:37 pm

              We already are dealing with cut-through traffic. Why do you think this blog post exists?

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      • John Lascurettes March 16, 2016 at 12:43 pm

        An awful lot of people in cars already use Siskiyou to get around Fremont’s backed up morning or afternoon traffic — not as bad at the people that were using Clinton, but It’s really annoying with Knott so close.

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        • Kirk March 16, 2016 at 1:52 pm

          I used to bike Siskiyou –> 7th for my commute into work, but revised my route to avoid those streets since they weren’t providing me with many comfort benefits and led to numerous uncomfortable incidents with passing drivers.

          If 7th were to be improved with diverters (among other things), it would certainly change my travel patterns for the (MUCH) better. It’s a really nice direct, smooth, flat-ish route.

          If 9th were to be improved as a greenway (even with diverters) it would make me yawn and continue on with life like I did the day before. The extra hills and out-of-direction travel associated with the road just aren’t worth shifting any of my routes to use it.

          9th is a nice low-volume, quiet, bumpy-as-hell local street. ‘Fixing’ that street will still leave 7th as a speedway through the neighborhood – residents don’t deserve to be left with that! Actually fix 7th and then just forget about 9th! :)

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        • paikiala March 17, 2016 at 3:40 pm

          Siskiyou/Klickitat was implemented before the diversion policy went into effect.
          Not sure if there is ongoing funding to review and adjust on greenways completed recently.

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          • are March 18, 2016 at 5:22 pm

            and as part of the klickitat greenway project, they actually took out a roundabout that used to exist at the intersection with 7th

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            • John Lascurettes March 20, 2016 at 2:31 pm

              They also recently took out one of the bioswales and bulbouts on NE Siskiyou at NE 9th Ave. Not sure why.

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    • Matt S. March 17, 2016 at 1:59 pm

      I drive 7th to avoid MLK, which is extremely terrible in the evenings—so much frustration. I think turning 7th into a greenway is a great idea, but there will be unattended consequences with traffic. There will be concerns from residents that use cars to reach their home. If the city builds diverters requiring drivers to go a few blocks out of their way, it’s going to make people upset. This is happening at Rodney, south of Freemont. The city built a diverter and it’s not really working. People are altering it to allow vehicles to drive up over. I imagine it’s long term residents that have been driving the same route for years and now have to accommodate a traffic device they may not want.

      This is a systemic problem rooted in fast population growth coupled with a failing (arguably) transportation infrastructure, both for cars and bicycles.

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      • Adam H. March 17, 2016 at 2:40 pm

        If the city builds diverters requiring drivers to go a few blocks out of their way, it’s going to make people upset.

        Literally all of our bike boulevards are a few blocks out of the way by design. If a driver is complaining about traveling 400-600 feet out of the way, well then welcome to the club. ;-)

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        • Beeblebrox March 17, 2016 at 3:37 pm

          Also in exchange for driving that extra few hundred feet out of direction to get home, you get to live on a quiet, low-traffic street. I would think that would be worth it for most residents.

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      • Beeblebrox March 17, 2016 at 3:37 pm

        That Rodney diverter is a temporary version that will be replaced with a more robust permanent version sometime soon. People won’t be able to keep driving over it.

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      • Daniel March 20, 2016 at 10:35 pm

        If 7th keeps getting more and more dangerous for me to bike to work I’m eventually going to just drive on MLK instead.

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  • Adam H. March 16, 2016 at 11:33 am

    Glad to see the city reworking the street conditions to meet the stated goals, rather than reworking the goals based on the street conditions.

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  • Buzz March 16, 2016 at 11:53 am

    Maybe while they’re at it they could find some $s to repave the section between Broadway and Knott, particularly north and south of the roundabout at Tillamook, it’s full of crumbling pavement and wheel-eating potholes.

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    • Jeff March 16, 2016 at 1:17 pm

      Welcome to the eastside.

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    • Daniel March 20, 2016 at 10:31 pm

      Yeah, this is the other downside of excessive car traffic on 7th – the road surface suffers dramatically. It’s been getting worse and worse as traffic picks up, I’ve already had three pinch flats from hitting holes on 7th in the last 6 months.

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  • jered March 16, 2016 at 12:36 pm

    9th is a very nice bike ride, use to be my commute for years. A couple rough spots close to broadway and for sure more hilly. I’m what you might call an “assertive” or “aggressive” biker – very comfortable in traffic, however 7th sucks to bike on given all the traffic furniture and auto traffic trying to cram through there – not as bad after north of freemont up to king, but I’d still jump to 6th or 8/9th for the easy enjoyable – though slightly slower ride.

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  • AJ_Bikes March 16, 2016 at 1:30 pm

    This… “Adding several hundred cars to MLK during the pm peak hour would definitely cause problems,” Wagner said. “Are we willing to accept the backlash from people having to take MLK that don’t now?” …is a very disappointing stance for the city to be starting from. The starting tone should be “drivers are using a neighborhood street to avoid the street they should be driving on (MLK), and we should be fixing that serious neighborhood safety problem, even if it annoys a few drivers who shouldn’t be there to begin with.”

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  • Kevin March 16, 2016 at 1:41 pm

    I used to commute on 7th regularly between Alberta and Broadway, but I stopped a couple of years ago after too many close calls. And all of the dangerous incidents happened with traffic entering 7th from one of the side streets. Sight lines aren’t always very good, so drivers often do the Portland “stomp on the gas and hope for the best” technique. It’s especially bad on afternoons in Autumn; westbound drivers have pretty bad glare in their eyes from the sunset but, for whatever reason, don’t take that as an indication that they have to be extra special careful. I literally don’t remember how many times I had someone on a side street pull out way too close to me only to have them say “I couldn’t see you” as means of apology.

    But I digress, 7th would be a great N – S greenway option and I hope it happens.

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  • bikeninja March 16, 2016 at 2:22 pm

    I have no sympathy for the drivers pushed off 7th and back on to MLK or I5 north where they belong. 7th is a local street and if people trying to get from the Lloyd disctrict to Sabin, Cully or beyond can’t wait in the traffic that they and their fellow drivers created on those main Streets then they should get a bike. We should not be trying to make driving easier or faster. Driving must become slow difficult and expensive if we have any hope of getting off fossil fuels soon and saving the planet.

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  • PDXTom March 16, 2016 at 2:44 pm

    Wagner pointed out, adding traffic diverters to 7th would probably push non-local car traffic west to Martin Luther King Boulevard or east to 15th.

    ConcordiaCyclist
    This is not a whack-a-mole solution – it’s a vast improvement on an important corridor that helps shift traffic back where it belongs.
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    NE 15th, for which no data is provided here, has already reached saturation, particularly at the NE 15th and Fremont intersection, where traffic routinely backs up 2 blocks in the evening. The source of that marked increase in traffic is unclear since most of the new high density housing is not along this route but rather well to the west of 7th and even MLK.

    I ride the Siskiyou greenway daily and the absence of any diverters or stop signs has led to increased auto traffic and speeds on Siskiyou between NE 7th and NE 15th. The ‘speed bumps’ are wholly ineffective.

    Whatever the merits for a 7th Av bike-greenway are- and there are many- there will absolutely be consequences for the adjacent neighborhoods absent appropriate and widespread traffic mitigation.

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  • John Liu
    John Liu March 16, 2016 at 5:03 pm

    15th is a rather major detour from MLK. I question how much spilll over there will be on 15th due to diverters on 7th.

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  • Ann March 16, 2016 at 5:42 pm

    For 7 years I bike/bus commuted home from Lloyd to Concordia. On the occasional days that I drove, I sometimes took 7th. I’m surprised to learn it’s not considered an arterial. In my head “yellow lines in the middle” usually means arterial of some kind in Portland. I didn’t drive it like a maniac, and I always slowed for bikers, but I will confess to being annoyed at how slow many are on the uphill.

    SO, I guess I’m saying I’m probably not the only one that didn’t feel they were “cheating” by using 7th. Seems like the city needs to make some changes one way or another to make this road safer.

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    • are March 18, 2016 at 5:26 pm

      the vehicularist says remove the center line

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  • PDXTom March 16, 2016 at 5:57 pm

    John Liu
    15th is a rather major detour from MLK. I question how much spilll over there will be on 15th due to diverters on 7th.
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    You must assume that everyone going up 7th is simply avoiding MLK.

    There are only two streets between MLK and NE 33rd that go directly all the way from Broadway to Alberta (or further north): NE 7th and NE 15th. Those are the streets vehicles use to access a large section of the adjacent neighborhoods.

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  • Adam March 16, 2016 at 6:19 pm

    Thank God!

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  • Tim Davis March 16, 2016 at 6:45 pm

    We all agree, Gary; that’s an awesome hypothesis! :) This is all the MORE reason (as if we needed yet another!) to put diverters along NE 7th!!

    Also, people need to realize that car traffic is NOT like water; it doesn’t just automatically flow to the next street if the current street is choked off. Car traffic is like a gas; it fills the space it’s allocated.

    There’s *also* the very important phenomenon of “disappearing traffic” (the opposite of induced demand if you widen a roadway). If you make driving more congested and slower (and *especially* if you eliminate free parking near work!), people will drive far less. These diverters would definitely encourage a not-statistically-insignificant percentage of the “interested but concerned” majority of the population to actually consider biking!

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  • John Liu
    John Liu March 16, 2016 at 8:33 pm

    PDXTom

    John Liu
    15th is a rather major detour from MLK. I question how much spilll over there will be on 15th due to diverters on 7th.
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    You must assume that everyone going up 7th is simply avoiding MLK.
    There are only two streets between MLK and NE 33rd that go directly all the way from Broadway to Alberta (or further north): NE 7th and NE 15th. Those are the streets vehicles use to access a large section of the adjacent neighborhoods.
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    There are many streets going north south in that area. 7th and 15th are the best if you are going to drive *all the way* from Broadway to Alberta (and then probably get on Hwy 5 to Vancouver) because they go straight through, no interruptions or jogs, and have favourable stop signs and convenient signals. If you are simply going a few blocks to your house in the neighborhood, it isn’t particularly important to take 7th or 15th, as opposed to many of the other streets there.

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  • Terry D-M March 16, 2016 at 10:09 pm

    For those at PBOT who think it is only I who believe that for greenways to function right they need diverters…..I had nothing to do with this meeting in the slightest. I did not even attend.

    Thanks for the great coverage! It will certainly help me in my advocacy.

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  • Stephen Keller March 17, 2016 at 6:48 am

    Maybe it is just selection bias, but lately a lot of the nasty driving behaviors (up in St Johns, anyway) seem to come with Washington license plates.

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  • adronhall March 17, 2016 at 9:03 am

    Been riding this this route for ages… it’s horrible during rush hour and not real friendly during regular hours. Diverters are needed to put motorists back out into MLK. This is needed yesterday, before we do lose somebody. The fact that kids are having to not ride their bike, not be able to safely get to school is unacceptable.

    This should be a high priority route to be fixed.

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  • Jen March 17, 2016 at 9:20 am

    As someone who has lived on 7th just North of Fremont for 6 years, this is great news! Every day I see cars (and bikes I have to say) blow through the stop sign on NE Beech. Heading North the cars speed up and I’ve seen many incidents of cars and bikes yelling at each other.
    Four years is too long to wait!

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  • Harmony March 17, 2016 at 7:16 pm

    This is totally NOT great news. Enough already. We carpool and would like to be able to get to and from work and home without sitting in gridlock traffic that is the case on both N. Interstate and MLK. With the mess made on N. Williams to accommodate more bikes, we started using 7th. It makes it so much easier, even in the mornings we don’t have to endure the MLK congestion. Everywhere you go in the city there are issues between bikers and vehicles. And it seems like pedestrians, bikes and cars alike all have been the cause of incidents across the metro area. Putting drivers back out on MLK or on NE 15th isn’t the solution. Have you tried driving MLK during rush hour in the evenings? It is torture. And 15th and 33rd are already slower and more congested as well. Diverters, greenways, bike lanes don’t get to the roots of the problem, which is ever more lack of attention and civility among everyone using the roadways and simply population density. Stop the madness.

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    • Alex Reedin March 17, 2016 at 9:40 pm

      Well, until there is an effective, mass cultural campaign of education and enforcement to change the norm to attention and civility, I’m gonna be pushing for diverters to keep me and my kids feeling safe on greenways. Maybe you could start the movement for civility on the roads? Starting an effective group is not rocket science, I could give you some pointers from experience if you like!

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    • Gerald Fittipaldi March 18, 2016 at 1:39 am

      Let’s see. 7th Ave is defined as a local road. It is not meant for entitled people like you to use it as a cut-thru street. Look yourself in the mirror and ask what you would do if you killed a kid while driving on 7th. Meanwhile cyclists have nothing approaching a decent north-south bike route between Rodney and, oh I don’t know, 38th Ave. Cars have MLK, 15th, 33rd, Caesar Chavez. But, go ahead, keep using local streets as cut-thrus.

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      • Matt S. March 18, 2016 at 8:17 am

        Yes, it is a local road, but many neighborhood streets are dotted with stop signs, speed bumps, parks, diverters, etc. to make the driving experience slow and inefficient—so that drivers choose main arterial routes. 7th is clearly not like that and probably because of design. It’s length from Alberta past Broadway with minimal stop signs and lights suggests from the City that they do want car traffic there. Now, I’m not saying that it’s right or that bicyclists shouldn’t be riding along this route, but the street definitely has a different feel than adjacent neighborhood streets.

        What if the city kept the same design, but at every intersection installed stop signs. It would be minimal investment and it would feel more like an actual neighborhood street. It would not be a bike greenway that we’re used to such as Going or Clinton, but it would immediately help solve the traffic problem because I doubt drivers would prefer stopping at every block vs driving on MLK.

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        • Daniel March 20, 2016 at 9:32 pm

          What? You just described 7th perfectly, it’s dotted with circular traffic diverters and speedbumps the entire length.

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    • Daniel March 20, 2016 at 10:23 pm

      The root of the problem with congestion on MLK is the vast number of people who drive on it and don’t carpool, requiring a road that’s 4 times as big as it needs to be to move the same number of people. If 7th becomes too dangerous for me to bike commute on I will eventually be forced to drive my giant, bulky van to and from work and I’ll be adding to that congestion. So yeah, this does get to the root

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  • Panda March 18, 2016 at 7:48 am

    So frustrating to hear the City talk about creating a bike way to Skidmore! This is an important bike connection to the west of 7th, but it needs to be extended 1 block north to Going at a minimum to connect to the east. It is 2016 and PBOT is still planning routes with gaps!

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    • paikiala March 18, 2016 at 11:20 am

      You should re-read the article, and maybe get more involved. In most cases PBOT uses the 2030 bike map as a guideline and frequently adjusts the final proposed route based on safety and connectedness. Part of the Sacramento/77th greenway included a connection north on 67th to link to the Klickitat Greenway and bumps on 72nd in advance of the 70’s greenway.
      Bumps on 7th, Knott to Fremont, was part of the Klickitat Greenway for the Siskiyou crossing.

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  • Duane Weaver March 18, 2016 at 7:48 am

    I understand the desire to limit car traffic on residential side streets. However, the apparent fast track plan for this bike way, if the ten cent gas tax passes, is evidence that the City Commissioners have lied to the voters once again by proposing the tax as a necessity to improve the conditions of our roads. More evidence that the commissioners simply can’t be trusted .

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    • Beeblebrox March 18, 2016 at 3:11 pm

      Nearly half the money is slated to be spent on safety, and a bit more than half for maintenance. That’s been stated from day one.

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  • PDXTom March 18, 2016 at 12:06 pm

    paikiala
    Bumps on 7th, Knott to Fremont, was part of the Klickitat Greenway for the Siskiyou crossing.
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    I ride NE Siskiyou daily and don’t believe those speed bumps have decreased traffic volume, which has probably increased since it became a through street (Greenway) between NE 7th and NE 15th. Moreover, while they likely prevent very high speeds (example, >35mph), they still allow vehicular traffic to move much faster than bikes and usually much faster than the posted 20 MPH limit. Would love to see whatever data PBOT has pre and post greenway.

    Aside, PBOT speed bump design standards are here: https://www.portlandoregon.gov/transportation/article/83939#14

    Excerpt:
    11-02.1 Application of 14 Foot Speed Bump

    A. STREET CLASSIFICATION-14 foot speed bumps are limited for use on local service streets only, as defined in the in the Transportation Element of the Comprehensive Plan.

    B. PREVAILING SPEED- 14 foot speed bumps are most appropriate for street sections with an 85th percentile speed between 25 mph and 35 mph. 14 foot bumps should not be used on street sections with an 85th percentile speed of less than 25 mph(2). For street sections with 85th percentile speeds in excess of 35 mph, 14 foot speed bumps may be inappropriate(3). The provision of 14 foot bumps on street sections with 85th percentile speeds greater than 35 mph should be based on careful evaluation of the street section, land-use, traffic-type, traffic volumes, etc..

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    • paikiala March 18, 2016 at 3:04 pm

      Bumps are not installed to decrease volume, only to decrease speed.
      You also cite a woefully out of date draft design guide.
      Regarding the standards link, all I can say is HA! (inside joke, pun intended ;-)

      You might want to review more recent documents, like the Greenway Assessment Report:
      http://www.portlandoregon.gov/transportation/article/542747
      Appendix C identifies some common tools in use and proposed.

      If you contact the city, they can send you the pdfs of the before and after data. the web page is not updated regularly enough.

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  • Rob March 18, 2016 at 12:39 pm

    16th would be a much better bikeway. It is not too tough to go up 16th between Fremont and Prescott. It has good access to the 12th and 20th overpasses over 84. It would only need new signals at a few streets because it is not currently a car through street. It would benefit from car stop signs with bike through.

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    • paikiala March 18, 2016 at 3:05 pm

      Of course, that would not be between MLK and 15th, nor next to businesses on MLK that riders might want to visit, and presents an issue connecting to a proposed bridge at 7th crossing I-84.

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  • PDXTom March 20, 2016 at 2:54 pm

    John Lascurettes
    They also recently took out one of the bioswales and bulbouts on NE Siskiyou at NE 9th Ave. Not sure why.
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    The contractor installed it incorrectly (heard this from city employee) though the original design itself was poor. The City gave them a pass but then it became a safety issue with cars ending up in the bioswale, as seen here: http://legacy.kgw.com/story/news/local/2015/08/14/neighbors-concerned-bioswale–dangerous–drivers/31757705/

    So the City removed it. Would love to know how much installing and removing cost.

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  • Daniel March 20, 2016 at 10:14 pm

    This is fantastic news, 7th is a nightmare during rush hour as it currently stands. The worst part about it is that the current traffic calming features actually make things significantly worse for cyclists, because they do nothing to reduce the overall volume of car traffic and very little to reduce speed. Cars will take even greater risks in an attempt to pass cyclists prior to a circular diverter, they’ll drive next to cyclists on the wrong side of the road for blocks attempting to pass but slowing down just prior to speed bumps, and they’ll creep into intersections with circular diverters until they’re blocking traffic.

    I’ve been commuting from Killingsworth to Lloyd Center area on 7th daily for about 6 months now, and while I still ride it south, I’ve stopped taking 7th north in the afternoon because I was guaranteed to get hit eventually. Instead I’ve used 9th, which is a pretty poor substitue due to the horrible road surface and Irving Park chopping it up. For a while I kept riding 7th just to maintain some sort of bike presence on what’s listed as a greenway, but it got to the point where I wouldn’t see any other cyclists on my entire ride home and there would be two blocks worth of car traffic backed up before Fremont, and it didn’t really seem worth dying over.

    A single diverter at Fremont would probably make a massive difference, there’s absolutely no rationale for allowing a tiny residential street like 7th to become as congested as MLK. It runs next to two schools and a park, and the most annoying thing is that it’s not even a very good short-term bypass option for cars – it stops continuing straight through just north of Alberta, but cars will often not know that and just turn randomly when they reach Sumner. The main reason there’s so much traffic on it is because people who definitely know better are cutting off that section of MLK.

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