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82nd Ave photos show other side of Portland

Posted by on July 10th, 2007 at 11:11 am

With an extensive bus and bike network, light rail, streetcars and even an aerial tram, Portland is frequently lauded for its transportation system (there’s even been a movie made about it).

But conditions outside the central city and close-in neighborhoods are much different. Roads in outer southeast Portland — especially busy SE 82nd Avenue — are in dire need of improvements and attention.

The good news is PDOT is already on the case. Their 82nd Avenue Safety Project is making an aggressive effort to deal with the safety problems on that busy corridor.

The bad news is they have a large task ahead of them.

Illustrating that point is a series of 11 photos taken by Victor Flaming of the project’s Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design task force. Flaming published the photos to the project website as a 10MB Word document.

I’ve rescued a few of them (from Word and from the PDOT website) for your enjoyment:

“Those will to take risks to catch the bus”

“Car drivers, pedestrians, bicyclists, and transit users — all trying to get to where they’re going to…”

“About 15% of people use the crosswalks”

View the entire series here (links to a 10MB MS Word doc.).

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  • Carl July 10, 2007 at 11:47 am

    The pedestrians in these pictures may be smarter than the captions suggest. I find the middle of the block to be the safest place to cross, what with folks blindly turning right on red. Little white stripes and a \”walk\” light don\’t make you safer…especially not on 82nd.

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  • Matt Picio July 10, 2007 at 12:55 pm

    Those photos are at 82nd & I-205/ MAX overpass. It looks like they were taken from the Halsey overpass over 82nd. I agree with Carl – in most cases, it\’s safer to cross right there in the middle, at the top of the crest. The crest of that bridge makes a blind hill for both sides of 82nd Ave.

    15% using crosswalks is a high number, I think. I lived 3 blocks from there for 3-1/2 years, and took MAX nearly every day to and from work.

    These photos don\’t even begin to address some of the other problem intersections, especially Division, Powell, and Foster. The 6 blocks north of Division on SB 82nd are particularly bad.

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  • ali July 10, 2007 at 12:57 pm

    I went to one of the open houses on 82nd Ave back in May. Many people commented on the situation at the MAX station. And it\’s true, many people jaywalk there, dashing across the middle of the bridge to get from the stairs to the MAX station to the bus stop. But curiously, the crash data showed no incidents in the middle of the bridge, but a number in the signalized crosswalks at either end.

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  • Matt Picio July 10, 2007 at 12:59 pm

    Oh, and Commissioner Sam\’s website gives the perfect reason why the traffic cops need to leave Ladd\’s and 4th & Caruthers alone:

    \”About 60-70% of our entire City\’s vehicle-related injuries and fatalities occur on less than 5% of the intersections in the city. A disproportionate share of these intersections lie on E 82nd Avenue. To give you an idea as to the magnitude of the problem on 82nd, in 2005 this stretch of road experienced a combined total of 4,862 crashes for all modes of transportation–including 16 crash fatalities.\”

    I\’m not saying PPD shouldn\’t enforce the law at Ladd\’s, or SE 4th. I\’m saying their traffic sting should last 30 minutes during prime commuting hours, and have 1-2 motorcycles. The rest of the 6 OR MORE motorcycles should be over on 82nd, or 122nd, or Powell.

    I can\’t remember the last traffic fatality in Ladd\’s.

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  • Matt Picio July 10, 2007 at 1:02 pm

    \”But curiously, the crash data showed no incidents in the middle of the bridge\”

    Yep. The center of the bridge is the high point. The crosswalks at either end are not visible from traffic coming from one of the two directions, and traffic rolls through there at up to 45 mph. It was worse before they put in the raised median in 2002(2003?).

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  • Lenny Anderson July 10, 2007 at 1:11 pm

    The real crime is that this street was not re-designed at the MAX station with narrower lanes to slow traffic, a wide signalized mid block crossing with differentiated pavement, curb extensions instead of bus pullouts to shorten crossing distances, etc.
    It\’t time to get beyond bandaids and to remake 82nd with the tools we have used elsewhere to make a public right of way safe for all users.
    Sadly this spot is probably the least scary of all 82nd from Airport Way to Clackamas…not freeway on/off ramps and no big east/west arterials.
    PS the TriMet 72 line is the busiest bus line in the system.

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  • Chris July 10, 2007 at 2:57 pm

    This situation along 82nd Ave. could be made even worse if a Canadian developer gets their way!
    The developer (Smart Centres) is seeking a change in zoning for the old landfill/driving range site on NE 82nd Ave and NE Siskiyou (south of NE Fremont, north of I-84). This is across the street from Madison High School and the new skatepark in Glenhaven Park. The developer is proposing a 240,000 square foot \”Big Box\” retail development for this site that includes 900+ parking spaces. This would add THOUSANDS of car trips a day to 82nd avenue and the surrounding neighborhoods. This area has three schools (Madison, Lee, and Gregory Hts.), a park (Glenhaven) and NE Siskiyou, Tillamook, and Fremont are all popular bike routes to Rocky Butte.
    I don\’t see a box store (WalMart?) as the improvement 82nd Avenue needs!
    Check out
    for more info and to get involved.

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  • Jessica Roberts July 10, 2007 at 3:12 pm

    There\’s a famous photosim done by Michael Ronkin (ODOT\’s former Bicycle & Pedestrian Program manager) that shows how we might be able to \”fix\” 82nd. I found a copy on this page.

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  • peejay July 10, 2007 at 3:59 pm


    That\’s a big improvement, but it really only uses rather conventional techniques, resulting in a still thoroughly car-centric roadway. Then again, the type of businesses on 82nd – and how they\’re developed – are designed for car traffic. In spite of that, as was said upthread, it\’s got the busiest bus line in the city.

    Most really comprehensive solutions might take a bit more space, but almost all of the buildings are set back from the street. With more space, we could have threough-lanes in the middle, then greenstrips, then a local traffic lane with back-in diagonal parking and good bike lanes. Plant up the greenstrips to mitigate the visual blight of the area, and over time, the businesses will improve on their own.

    Really, if you ask me, this is where the Green Line should have gone, and probably didn\’t only because of business lobbying (Those businesses should ask the ones on Interstate how much they hate the Yellow Line these days.)

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  • Martha S. July 10, 2007 at 10:23 pm

    As someone who rarely goes beyond 60th on the east side or beyond downtown on the west side, I have noticed how the general safety level seems to decrease the further out I get. I think that\’s a large part of what has kept me from further exploring the city on those days I feel inspired to go on spontaneously meandering rides.

    I would love to see improvements put in here and other places where safety is so lacking.

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  • Michael July 11, 2007 at 7:55 am

    Martha, as much as I dislike the far east side, I find one big plus. When I ride the Springwater trail end to end, the more east I get, the more courteous the drivers tend to get at bike crossings. I am at a loss to explain. It is totally counter my predilections.

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  • Michael July 11, 2007 at 8:00 am

    82nd is a truly awful street. It is the closest thing we have to 3rd world motoring chaos. However, we have a solution! The name is changing to 82nd Avenue of Roses! That is certain to be a huge improvement for the citizens of Portland.

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  • ME July 11, 2007 at 8:32 am

    82nd avenue needs to be re-visited, not by our own commissioners or engineers, we\’ve seen what they can do…(MLK Bv. ring a bell ?). We need some kick ass design to bring a sense of continuing livability and pride for those that have put up with that street for so long. It\’s such a place that doesn\’t seem to move…just kinda sits there crying for respect and attention. Those pictures remind me of the video game Frogger.

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  • Paul Cone July 11, 2007 at 3:05 pm

    Portland west of 82nd was mostly platted in standard-sized or close to standard-sized blocks of 200\’ blockfaces. East of 82nd you get into what was once more rural, with large acre-sized plots, and so roads like Powell Valley Road (now known as SE Powell Blvd.) were adequate at the time, because the density was less. Now we have infill and congestion and often not enough room for good improvements to allow more traffic flow, let alone safety improvements like curb extensions and bike lanes. That\’s why when you go a little further out to newer parts of Gresham and Beaverton you find wider sidewalks and bike lanes again.

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  • Jack July 11, 2007 at 10:48 pm

    #13\’s right. Fact is, in terms of bicycling-nirvana, PDX jumped the shark a couple years ago. Don\’t get me wrong, I still live here, but not for long & I\’m not telling anyone where I\’m moving too 8 )

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  • I would agree with peejay, 82nd would be a lot nicer if given the boulevard treatment:

    – 1 landscaped median, interrupted by left-turn lanes only at intersections (but with U-turns allowed to reach businesses)
    – 2 through-traffic lanes in each direction
    – landscaped medians again
    – bike lanes hugging those landscaped medians
    – one local lane adjacent to the bike lane
    – angled parking, either head-in or back-in
    – landscaping/street furniture strip
    – wide sidewalk

    This treatment, for the *entire length* of 82nd from Clackamas Town Center all the way to Marine Drive (or somewhere near there) would completely change how outer SE Portland relates to its central neighborhood boulevard, and could also change the mode choice patterns of the entire surrounding neighborhood/area.

    Then again, there are many parts of 82nd where the buildings front directly on the sidewalks. These buildings tend to be older or otherwise worth preserving, so I\’m not sure that the full treatment would find room in every area.

    But, dropping the local access road in those areas, and adding it in other areas, would be a compromise that could define 82nd into various zones and still be a huge boon to livability, business, etc.

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  • Jessica Roberts July 12, 2007 at 1:36 pm

    Garlynn, if I understand you right, you are proposing an urban multiway boulevard, a la \”great streets\” all over Europe.

    Here\’s a great article about the design and construction of one of the first modern multiway boulevards in the US, in San Francisco. After the earthquake collapsed the freeway, the community decided they didn\’t want it just rebuilt, and started a movement that resulted in a radically different street.

    Octavia Blvd project website here.

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  • pushkin July 12, 2007 at 3:06 pm

    While an 82nd makeover is long overdue and may change how outer SE relates to the central blvd, there are three issues that building a new blvd faces.

    The combined budget for improvements, as described on the 82nd Avenue Safety Project site, is $3M. This would fund only engineering changes and increased traffic enforcement.

    Apart from other differences between 82nd and the Octavia project, the Octavia blvd is 5 blocks long and was built at a cost of $50.3M (26 to demolish the freeway and 24.3 to build the blvd). Re-configuring 82nd from Clackamas Town Center to Marine Dr would likely cost more.

    I doubt that it would have a major effect on modes of transportation. Simply put, the culture of outer SE is different than that of close in SE. If you ride a bike on a daily basis out there you are most likely poor and have no choice. Sure there are exceptions to this but the demographic is assuredly not the same as it is at SE 22nd and Division. For most people the distance between stores and housing in outer SE is not conducive to biking.

    And will the big box stores (from which people often use a car to cart away their purchases) and myriad car dealerships uproot once an urban multiway is installed? Those stores may consider the highway-like nature of 82nd as it is a bigger boon to their business than a blvd because it allows for speedy accessability by both consumers and suppliers.

    That said, with such a small budget better crosswalks and more police will make the situation better than it is now.

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  • Jessica-

    Yes, I\’m proposing an urban multiway boulevard, along the lines of Shattuck Ave in downtown Berkeley (though it has flaws related to through bicycle traffic at intersections) and Octavia Boulevard in San Francisco (though Octavia does not have angled parking or dedicated bicycle lanes, and is located in a primary residential area).

    It would be extremely expensive. It would change the character of the street, however, and ultimately it might change the character of the neighborhood. However, a LID would be an appropriate way to finance part of it, or a regional roadway/transportation improvement bond.

    The reason I think it would encourage a mode shift is that it would provide facilities for walking and biking that are currently lacking. If you build it, they will come. Sure, people will still drive to purchase their T.V.\’s. But, out of all the cars on 82nd Ave at any given time, how many are actively engaged in the act of purchasing a large piece of equipment? Furthermore, this proposal would not eliminate the parking lots for the big-box stores, or the ability to drive to and from them. It would just encourage pedestrian and bicycle activity, as well as \”green\” the street.

    There is a larger issue here (long-term land use surrounding 82nd Ave), but let\’s save that for another discussion.

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  • Chris July 17, 2007 at 9:37 am

    Wow. There has been a lot of great discussion here regarding 82nd Ave! I\’m impressed and encouraged by the fact that so many people are thinking about this area creatively.
    I do agree that a change to 82nd has the potential to significantly change the neighborhood dynamic and the interaction the East neighborhoods have with the city center.
    I wonder what plans the City, Metro, and TriMet have for connecting bike paths and bike boulevards to the new Max stations going in along the new 205 extension? Hopefully bikes are seen as an integral part of the transit plan in this area. Anyone have any insight?

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  • George August 29, 2007 at 10:19 am

    I commute from SE 181st to downtown on Division for most of the route and 82nd is a dream compared to outer SE. If anyone is interested come ride your bike down SE Division past 82nd at 4:30 in the afternoon. They are making improvements but from the glass, rocks, and big trucks swerving in and out of the sketchy bike lane, I\’m just glad to make it home. Not to mention the non-existent bike lane from SE 78th to SE 39th Division. Just my daily comments…

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