Support BikePortland

An in-depth look at the Going St. bike boulevard project

Posted by on September 3rd, 2009 at 3:47 pm

Get Together on Alberta-13

PBOT’s Greg Raisman shared a preview of Going
plans at our recent Get Together.
(Photos © J. Maus)

In case you haven’t heard, the City of Portland’s Bureau of Transportation is smack dab in the middle of a major campaign to create 15 miles of new bike boulevards in Portland.

We’ve covered the projects and the process behind them in recent months (ever since Mayor Adams made the “15 Miles” part of this 100 Day Action Plan), but we’ve yet to delve into detail on them one-by-one.

With that in mind, we had PBOT traffic safety specialist Greg Raisman by our office this morning to share the latest on what they’ve got in store for the Going Street project. Raisman — along PBOT Traffic Safety Program Manager Mark Lear, City Traffic Engineer Rob Burchfield, and others — is a key member of the City’s bike boulevard team.

The Going St. bike boulevard project is one of eight bike boulevards PBOT is focusing on right now (see the full list here); it’s also the longest and most expensive. The project will create a family-friendly, traffic-calmed bicycle corridor on N. Going Street from N. Vancouver Avenue all the way east to 72nd. According to an estimate by PBOT project manager Kyle Chisek, it will cost an estimated $250,000 (out of a total pot for the first 15 miles of $780,000).

Story continues below

advertisement

“Going already works pretty well for bikes, so what we’re trying to do is protect that residential character.”
— Greg Raisman, PBOT

Going Street was selected by PBOT because it is already a fairly nice street for bicycle traffic. It is direct and motor vehicle traffic volumes and speeds are relatively low. Raisman said they selected streets like Going for two main reasons; because they will allow PBOT to end up with a “great product” and because they create fewer issues for residents on neighboring streets (in terms of displaced traffic).

“Going already works pretty well for bikes, so what we’re trying to do is protect that residential character.” Raisman also put their design goals into context by adding that, “Everyone that lives on the street has to be able to drive to their front door… we’re trying to target cut-through traffic.”

Another thing going for Going is that it was the focus of a campaign by the Bicycle Transportation Alliance over a year ago. The BTA’s “Let’s Get Going” campaign paved the way for the City to step in for the final push.

Before coming up with their designs for the Going project, PBOT held two open houses (accompanied by mailing letters to all residents on the street). The first open house the City was careful to not have any proposals in mind. “We just say, here’s what we’ve learned [about traffic volumes, speeds, and so on] and here are some general ideas on how to improve the street.”

PBOT then documented all the neighborhood feedback and meshed that with their data analysis and engineering expertise to come up with a host of changes to the street that they hope will make it more pleasant, safe, and efficient for human-powered traffic.

PBOT’s new left-turn pocket for getting onto
Going from Vancouver.
(Design not final)

Starting on the western border of the project at N. Vancouver, people will notice the first big change. As riders roll south in the Vancouver bike lane, at Going they’ll come to what PBOT calls a “left-turn pocket”. This will be a lane that veers to the right of the bike lane in order to help folks line up and point east onto Going. This new treatment will make crossing left out of the bike lane possible without having to do a vehicular, take-the-lane style left turn (which, despite its effectiveness, simply isn’t something that feels comfortable for many people). Says Raisman, “[The left turn pocket is] an opportunity to make a left from a stopped and protected position”.

New medians and a “crossbike” would
be added to MLK.
(Design not final)

Once onto Going, the next big infrastructure improvement you’ll notice is at the crossing of MLK Jr. Blvd. To make this crossing more comfortable, PBOT plans to extend the existing median island and create what they call a “median barrier” — concrete blocks that provide pass-throughs for bikes only. In addition to the median barriers, PBOT will add “zebra stripes” the standard crosswalks that exist. Another new innovation you’ll see at MLK is a new crosswalk for bikes that PBOT is calling a “crossbikes”.

This new bike crossing treatment will consist of pavement markings (represented by green dots in graphic above — they’re still ironing out the exact design) across the entire intersection to warn motor vehicles that bikes are present.

Raisman said a pedestrian/bicycle activated traffic light was considered, but to do budget limits and operational challenges (there’s already a light at Prescott), they decided against one. A median barrier was considered for the crossing at NE 15th, but PBOT won’t install one now, opting to evaluate the situation after the boulevard project is complete and re-consider adding one later.

Heading further east, the next major change is coming to the intersection of NE 33rd. This is not only a major arterial street, it is also what engineers call an “offset intersection”, meaning traffic on Going must travel on it briefly before picking up the street again on the other side.

Two-way cycle track is planned at NE 33rd.
(Design not final)

In order to facilitate this crossing, PBOT plans to install their first-ever two-way cycle track. Here’s how it would work:

  • Going will become “out-only” for motor vehicles (meaning cars won’t be able to turn into Going from 33rd). Curb extensions with bioswales will be installed on Going to prevent motorized traffic from turning in.
  • Bike traffic headed west would go straight across 33rd and enter a 12-ft wide, two-way cycle track* to be installed on the west side of NE 33rd. The cycle track will be raised above the roadway and separated from the sidewalk with a planting strip. Westbound bike traffic would travel south and then transition onto Going to continue west.
  • Eastbound bike traffic will enter the cycle track, travel north, and then continue straight across NE 33rd onto Going.
  • To warn motor vehicle traffic on 33rd that bikes are crossing, PBOT will add a shared-lane marking (sharrow) on 33rd near the northern entrance to the cycle track. Zebra striping will be added to existing crosswalks north and south of the new cycle track to further warn cars that bikes are present.
  • *You’ll notice in the graphic that the bike traffic crosses itself at the exit and entrance to the cycle track. Raisman said PBOT did this after hearing feedback that people wouldn’t feel comfortable riding against motor vehicle traffic on NE 33rd. Raisman acknowledged that concern but also admitted that having bike traffic cross itself twice is less than ideal. The design is not final yet and Raisman said they might decide to have no directional markings at all.

Further east, the route jogs up to NE Alberta Court (one block south of Alberta Street) at 41st. PBOT decided to take advantage of an existing pedestrian signal to cross NE 42nd (another major arterial) and then the route makes another jog north to NE Alberta Street at NE 47th. The route remains on Alberta St. all the way until 72nd.

Another major change to Going that people will notice is that PBOT will flip 18 stop signs and add 33 speed bumps along the entire route.

The project is expected to be fully completed by the end of June 2010. You can learn more about this and the other bike boulevard projects on the City’s website.

Please support BikePortland.

NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Also, if you comment frequently, please consider holding your thoughts so that others can step forward. Thank you — Jonathan

32 Comments
  • Avatar
    Michael Miller September 3, 2009 at 4:27 pm

    It’s awfully hard to tell on that photo, but the ‘two-way cycletrack’ at NE 33rd looks like the directions are reversed — northbound bikes to the left of southbound bikes. Is that accurate, and if so, why?? That would seem to be an amazingly bad idea.

    Great eye Michael. I’ve updated the story with an explanation about that. PBOT is still working on the design, but they did it like that based on feedback from people who said they wouldn’t want to ride against the car traffic on NE 33rd. — Jonathan

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Avatar
    Bob September 3, 2009 at 4:32 pm

    This sounds like a pretty well thought out project and something I hope the neighborhood embraces. I am sure there will be some kinks, but investing in bike boulevards makes a lot of sense to me.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Avatar
    John Beaston September 3, 2009 at 4:44 pm

    I attended the two public meetings for the N Concord bike blvd. The city did a great job of listening to input during the first meeting and came back with a solid proposal in the second meeting. Kudos to the city for having an inclusive and comprehensive policy of public input. Now the waiting for it to actually get built… (they said by July 2010).

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Avatar
    Zaphod September 3, 2009 at 4:46 pm

    Fantastic! Really excited to see this get implemented. This helps me a lot with cargo and kids.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Avatar
    cyclist September 3, 2009 at 4:50 pm

    This is great news, the turned stop signs are going to make for a pretty quick trip down Going. I’ve got a friend who lives over that way, so I’m pretty excited to see this put into action.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Avatar
    John Lascurettes September 3, 2009 at 5:06 pm

    Is there any planning on resurfacing Going between 33rd and 42nd? It’s pretty bumpy, and full of potholes along that stretch. It’s particularly bad right at 33rd and between 40th and 42nd.

    Currently, I take Prescott between Williams and 41st (I live between Prescott and Going). It has fewer stops and (only three in that whole length). The Going Blvd will be a nice improvement as Prescott is narrow and full of high-speed traffic (but currently has too many stops for my tastes).

    I’m also happy to see that they won’t be adding a light at MLK. The island thing is perfect. I’ve been doing exactly that at Mason for 2 years now (it also has an island) and it’s a much more efficient way to get across. Even the “crossbike” is overkill here. It’s nice, but it would work without it.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Avatar
    BURR September 3, 2009 at 6:01 pm

    turning the stop signs and adding speed bumps sound great, most of the rest sounds like overkill to me.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Avatar
    matchu September 3, 2009 at 7:23 pm

    I wanted clarification on a question I had while reading this story: Is the “left-turn pocket” on Vancouver required for cyclists turning onto Going? Could someone be cited by the police for failure to use it? I don’t believe this to be the case from the wording, but an explicit response would ease my trepidation over such features as a more experienced cyclist (which I think are good as they open up opportunities for less experienced cyclists).

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Avatar
    Kitty September 3, 2009 at 7:31 pm

    I love this idea. It will really improve access to that area. I always seem to have a hard time finding good streets to ride E from Vancouver to Alberta. HOWEVER, I am not in favor of the solution at 33rd. As long as you put bike lanes on either side of 33rd, what is the problem? Or hell, better yet, sightly RAISED cycle tracks like they do all over Europe, on either side of the road along the section of 33rd. Then paint those dots all over that section of 33rd. A lot better than getting cyclists to ride against traffic… my two cents.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Avatar
    Tommy Poloski September 3, 2009 at 7:48 pm

    Actually, this idea is great and very contributive. As what I have saw in the three maps of their proposal, it was a good strategy to create 15 miles of new bike boulevard. In the third proposal map, although it’s not yet final in their design of their two-way cycle track, but for me it’s already good to go.

    Thanks Jonathan!

    Tommy

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Avatar
    Metrofiets September 3, 2009 at 9:41 pm

    Is a correction to the story in order?

    The article states ..”existing pedestrian signal to cross NE 42nd”.. The signal is located on Alberta Ct. and 42nd.

    Does that mean then that the BB continues on Alberta ct. to 52nd then to Alberta st. (one block north) to 72nd?

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Avatar
    Metrofiets September 3, 2009 at 9:46 pm

    I should have said —

    The article states ..”existing pedestrian signal to cross NE 42nd…The bike boulevard route remains on Alberta all the way until 72nd.”

    The signal is located on Alberta Ct. and 42nd not Alberta st. as the article seems to imply.

    Does that mean then that the BB continues on Alberta ct. to 52nd then to Alberta st. (one block north) to 72nd?

    Thanks for that Mr. Metrofiets. I’ve updated the story to clarify the route. –Jonathan

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Avatar
    Kiki September 3, 2009 at 11:36 pm

    I wonder why they’re not just using Skidmore… It’s wide and already has lights at Vancouver, Williams and MLK. I think most people who live in that area (like me) already use it as a bike route. I like the idea; I was just curious about Going vs. Skidmore.

    Also… yikes, that cycle track on 33rd looks like a mess.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Avatar
    Borgbike September 4, 2009 at 6:03 am

    It is indeed a little weird that Skidmore, which is already designated as a bike route, isn’t considered as a bike boulevard, but Going has a lot of compelling reasons for being chosen. One big part of it is that Going is already relatively car-free. You can’t make the same level of significant planned changes to Skidmore that will happen on Going since parts of Skimore have a lot of car traffic.

    I agree that the proposed low-tech crossing at MLK is a good fit. Closing car traffic from turning onto Going here will do a lot to make the crossing safer and more comfortable.

    At one of PBOT’s neighborhood planning meetings the weirdness of 33rd was addressed. They consider this intersection the biggest challenge of this particular project. If you bike through the area you can see what they are up against. It’s really tough to keep the bike corridor open, moving and safe at the same level crossing 33rd due to how Going is offset at the intersection. The proposal isn’t perfect but it may be that there really aren’t many better options.

    I am stoked that this is due by summer of 2010!

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • […] from the network: Bike Portland has an in-depth look at one of the city’s bike boulevard projects. The City Fix reports on China’s […]

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • […] will be a stop on the high-speed corridor between Atlanta and New Orleans. More from the network: Bike Portland has an in-depth look at one of the city’s bike boulevard projects. The City Fix reports on China’s […]

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Avatar
    fredlf September 4, 2009 at 8:33 am

    I live in the neighborhood too (between Prescott and Skidmore) and I’m thrilled. This will make my Vancouver commute a little faster and more pleasant for sure, and it will be a great corridor for accessing Alberta businesses. Hooray!

    I do wonder about the MLK crossing. Getting across that street is a royal pain. Nobody, but nobody, stops for peds at crosswalks and if you’re on a bike, it’s worse.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • […] from the network: Bike Portland has an in-depth look at one of the city’s bike boulevard projects. The City Fix reports on China’s […]

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Avatar
    TofuTodd September 4, 2009 at 9:45 am

    I agree fredm just rode this route yesterday. I’ll be crossing at shaver as I usually do and then ride up to going when I want to head over to alberta st or beyond.

    If anything those markings might just make the crossing more dangerous as it will give bikers new to the intersection a false sense of security and if they ride out into the intersection BOOM. MLK drivers don’t stop.

    As for the reverse flow bike traffic on 33rd, that seems pretty lame. False sense of security again, no cyclist is going to run head first into a car, its all mental. I trust myself more to avoid cards than drivers to avoid me so I would rather ride against flow. what it will do is increase the liklihood of bike-bike head on collisions at the switch-a-roos.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Avatar
    craig September 4, 2009 at 11:17 am

    It appears that all of the east side bike boulevards are for east-west traffic. NE/SE Portland desperately need one or more bike connectors from north to south. The 205 path is great. We also need something closer in.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Avatar
    BURR September 4, 2009 at 12:15 pm

    E 28th needs sharrows, it’s a great inner PDX N-S connector, why hasn’t this happened yet???

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Avatar
    Tbird September 4, 2009 at 2:20 pm

    I think 28th is good route too, but it really needs a cycle track. Remove parking and install accle track from Stark to the freeway.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Avatar
    BURR September 4, 2009 at 2:43 pm

    good luck on that parking removal thing

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Avatar
    Joe September 4, 2009 at 2:59 pm

    I live in this area and often ride Going. Any chance that they are going to do any stop sign flipping? As you ride down Going between MLK and 33rd there are numerous stop signs that you are forced to coast through. I’m very careful because many cars zoom quickly in this area. But it sure would make it easier if the stop signs were in the right direction. Plus, I wouldn’t be breaking the law so much because I don’t put my foot down at each one, which unfortunately is the law right now. (GO Idaho stops!)

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • […] Costa calls for a network of multi-use bike and walking trails. Portland is working on 15 miles of new bike boulevards. The Springfield Cyclist achieves his life’s goal of being a pain in the a$$. Finally, a Kansas […]

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Avatar
    Steve B. September 5, 2009 at 11:15 am

    This sounds like a great, ambitious project. A few concerns:

    The MLK crossing is going to be very problematic. I understand seasoned cyclists don’t mind crossing at unsignaled intersections on MLK, but I think a parent with kids in tow is not so keen on it. I live right off of Mason, but always choose Skidmore or Shaver to cross MLK because it feels like I’m taking my life into my hands whenever I cross at Mason. Especially because the visibility with the planters in the median actually makes it harder for car drivers to see pedestrians and bikes here. I think the better approach to this would be to route bikes off of Vancouver and onto Skidmore until after you’re over MLK, and then up to Going. This is my route, anyway. There is a hill to climb, that might be one reason they didn’t do this. Going is great because it’s big, wide, and FLAT.

    I hope as one other commenter noted, that the ‘go right to make the left’ lane on Vancouver is optional. I understand it will help the demographic we’re trying to attract onto bikes with avoiding interaction between cars and bikes (and I applaud this approach), but making a left off of Vancouver at this section is fairly easy.

    The cycletrack connector is a brilliant idea, excellent signage and striping will be necessary to avoid bike on bike collisions. The absence of crossing signals for bikes and peds at these intersections is an unfortunate budget oversight, but something is always better than nothing.

    I really appreciate the inclusiveness to this planning process. Well done, PBOT!

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Avatar
    Steve B. September 5, 2009 at 11:23 am

    The other problem with the MLK crossing is because of the signal at prescott, cars will do one of two things that will make it hard for folks to cross this intersection:

    1. They will slow down as the light turns red, which means a slow trickling of cars over this intersection. Once it’s finally clear, the light will turn green and cars further south on MLK will speed up. This happens frequently on busy intersections where you try to cross just below a light. I don’t think I articulated this well, anyone understand this? 🙂

    2. Cars will stop back into the intersection, blocking cross traffic.

    There will need to be special ‘Yield to Bikes’ signage because currently, we operate in a gray area where we’re not exactly pedestrians but not cars (although the latter is generally what we’re perceived as). I don’t think many cars will stop for bikes here unless they’re walking it across the intersection. Pedestrians have it fairly better, but MLK is typically horrendous for crosswalk yield compliance.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Avatar
    Austin September 5, 2009 at 5:49 pm

    Great!!

    I live right on this proposed corridor (out on the Alberta section). I can’t wait!

    Skidmore is sufficient enough, but the more options the better! Plus, there is the planned cycletrack for NE Cully around 57th too…. perfect!

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Avatar
    bjorn September 6, 2009 at 11:38 am

    Will they be repaving going? Much of this route is filled with potholes and poor pavement.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Avatar
    Frizzle September 16, 2009 at 3:54 pm

    We live on 33rd and Alberta and both ride down Going for our commutes so this will be AWESOME!!!!

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • […] The City of Portland Bureau of Transportation is moving forward on their Going Street Bicycle Boulevard project. […]

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Avatar
    Gabriel Nagmay March 22, 2010 at 11:47 am

    Whoa – we’re moving to 63rd and Cully next month and Alberta/Going is the route I plan to commute on everyday.

    I tested the route this weekend and found it to be usable, but troublesome at the major intersections. This will really improve things!

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Avatar