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The Division Streetscape Project aims to create “green main street”

Posted by on September 9th, 2009 at 11:59 am

An example of a curb extension
with a bioswale (at SE Clay and 11th)
(Photo © J. Maus)

The city plans to turn SE Division Street into a “green main street” between SE 6th and SE 39th.

Division Streetscape and Reconstruction project manager Elizabeth Mahon presented draft intersection redesign plans to the city’s Bicycle Advisory Committee last night, requesting feedback.

The project will give SE Division a green makeover, largely focused on capturing stormwater runoff in new curb extension bioswales. Project staff are currently looking at installing these and making on-street parking for cars and bicycles permanent along much of the corridor.

Currently the outside lanes on Division are “pro-time” or provisional lanes, which are through traffic lanes at peak hours and available for parking at other times. An analysis commissioned by the city found that these lanes are underutilized.

The project aims to add regular, permanent streetside parking in between swales, and will also include on-street bike parking. Project staff also hope to include the “pedestrian realm extending out into that parking lane.”

Mahon shared that several on-street bike corrals to meet current parking demand will be installed along Division “soon.” The streetscape project will include further on-street bicycle parking facilities.

Traffic statistics commissioned by the city show that only at major intersections are two full lanes needed to keep traffic flowing during peak hours without diverting traffic onto side streets — such as the nearby SE Clinton bike boulevard which is currently receiving artistic enhancements to mark it as a bicycle route.

The same traffic statistics show that at the seven corners intersection at SE Division, Ladd, and 21st some lanes carry is more bicycle traffic than car traffic during peak hours.

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Mahon was specifically requesting input on ways to redesign the seven corners intersection to better “organize” traffic flow through the intersection, and particularly to decrease conflicts between bicycles, cars, and buses. Currently on the table is a design which would include sharrows in the outer lanes of Division Street and bike boxes at SE Ladd southbound and SE 21st northbound.

The project has been fully funded, and is currently in the development phase. According to the project’s web site, it will be funded by a $2.5 million federal grant and by $3.3 million in city transportation funds. If more funding comes along, Mahon said, more features will be included.

Construction is expected to begin in 2011.

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  • Nick V September 9, 2009 at 12:41 pm

    I’m just north of all that on SE 42nd and the city is installing a stormwater run-off planter on our median between the sidewalk and street. Other homes are getting this as well.

    Noble intentions of course, but lots of us are gritting our teeth over the number of trees that have been chopped down on our block, some very old and big, to install these planters. We were told that our 2-year-old planted tree would be preserved but it wasn’t. It’s a real shame and was done during the day when most of us were probably at work…..

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  • Zaphod September 9, 2009 at 1:03 pm

    Not to pile on but … there are benefits from bio swales and big trees, the latter taking much more time to implement and replace. I would think that designers could be creative enough to find a way for both to coexist peacefully.

    Generally, this is great news.

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  • RyNO Dan September 9, 2009 at 1:08 pm

    This is AWESOME. Division street has been incorrectly implemented for decades.Thanks ! to everyone that made it happen. Best, –Dan–

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  • Lazlo September 9, 2009 at 1:08 pm

    “…bike boxes at SE Ladd southbound and SE 21st northbound.”

    Yes! Especially 21st.

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  • Nick V September 9, 2009 at 1:11 pm

    Zaphod #2,

    I agree. It is great news and I was excited about it. Still am I guess, but the lost trees were a disappointment.

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  • BURR September 9, 2009 at 1:17 pm

    I’m sorry, but it’s not a ‘green street’ if it doesn’t accomodate cyclists.

    PDOT may think the ‘pro-time’ lanes are ‘underutilized’, but to me they make a great 9′ wide bike lane, which is going to go away if and when this project is implemented, to be replaced with a few curb extensions masquerading as storm water swales, and a lot of curbside parking.

    That’s a step backward, folks, not forward.

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  • Vance Longwell September 9, 2009 at 1:39 pm

    I appreciate the acknowledgment by Blue that cars will be utilizing this space as well, and also the consideration by the project manager. Thank you.

    Is there some difference between a, “Bioswale”, and a planter? If so then what is that, and if not, why the weird name?

    Also, in the current safety climate, I wonder how one reconciles the existence of curb-extensions? They pretty much block the portion of the lane I’m allotted as a cyclist, forcing me further into motorist traffic than I usually feel is courteous; and can also be yet another obstacle. Not to mention they create motorist congestion by disallowing motorists to pass left-turning cars. I thought the idea was safety, and to decrease SOV trip times? Curb extensions endanger cyclists, and increase SOV trip times, so I’m at a loss as their practicality.

    It’s a little unclear in the article, but they are eliminating that curb-adjacent quasi-lane, right? That’s a good thing, but I can hear the cries now. “One more motorist lane gone to bikes.” Which will be frustrating ’cause that lane is useless to anything but the detritus that gathers in it now; and residents are so past-due for some practical use of that non-lane lane-thingy.

    With that said, this project looks awesome. Couldn’t have picked a better place for it, IMO! Division is already a parking-lot so no further harm can be done there. Of course, I’ll have to personally sacrifice and reroute my easterly trips, but a small price to pay for bioswales, I guess.

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  • BURR September 9, 2009 at 2:27 pm

    wouldn’t it be better to use those extra two lanes to build a cycle track instead of using them for curbside parking?

    we’re at a decision point and still have a choice here, since the curbside parking isn’t already well-established.

    just sayin’…

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  • Peter Noone September 9, 2009 at 2:28 pm

    I was going to explain how I think bioswales are different from planters, but this is easier: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bioswale

    I’ve wondered the same as @Vance about curb extensions. I never liked them much as a cyclist on N Alberta, but I admit that I’m ignorant as to their overall effect on safety, traffic flow, etc. The few times I’ve driven on N Alberta, I didn’t notice the curb extensions.

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  • Vance Longwell September 9, 2009 at 2:55 pm

    Oh thanks Peter Noone #9. Ya, I looked at Wiki, which is pretty much what caused my confusion.

    Pictured is a planter in a curb-extension, yet the caption is calling it a bio-swale. I was suspicious this curb-extension with a planter in it was being called a bio-swale in order to downplay the fact that it is yet another curb-extension. I’m not certain that this isn’t the case, but this is clearly a planter, and not a bio-swale. Unless the swale is A) underground, or B) invisible.

    Before I get yelled at for being off-topic I wanted to point out that I’m educating myself so that I may be a better BikePortland.org conversationalist, and partaker-er. For instance we don’t call em speed-bumps anymore, we call em traffic-calmer-ers. Another source of confusion for me. I’m just keeping abreast of the parlance so that I can translate Church of Green dogma into American English.

    Okay, so they’re yanking a motorist lane, installing speed-bumps and curb-extensions, and in every way possible slowing down traffic on a street that’s already gridlocked.

    That’s a far cry from the language in the piece.

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  • Mike M September 9, 2009 at 3:22 pm

    The difference between a planter and a bioswale is that a bioswale is designed to collect water, and not be watered. If you look at the picture above, there is a break in the curb where stormwater can pour into the bioswale instead of a storm drain.

    Also, Clinton is two blocks over, and is a fantastic place to ride. Quibbling over riding conditions on Division seems childish as there is a much better place to ride just a couple of pedal strokes away.

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  • BURR September 9, 2009 at 3:35 pm

    Bike Boulevards in the neighborhoods, cycle tracks on the arterials, I thought that was the plan.

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  • Peter Noone September 9, 2009 at 4:08 pm

    @Vance/10 I think a large part of the functional aspect of any bioswale is underground/invisible. At the surface there are suitable plants and below ground there is material/grading that filters runoff.

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  • Adams Carroll September 9, 2009 at 7:57 pm

    I’m with you, Mike. I’ll choose Clinton any day, even if there was a cycle track on Division. Shady trees, speed bumps and traffic circles keeping speeds down, barely any cars to go fast in the first place, special intersections just for bikers… I could go on, but Clinton is one of my favorite routes.

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  • Steve B. September 9, 2009 at 10:27 pm

    Curb extensions are super helpful for pedestrians and increase visibility for all. They just out into the travel lane, to help slow all traffic. As a cyclist, that’s where it’s the safest to ride, anyway. It might not be highly practicable for cyclists (got to watch out for these jut outs!), but it will make the sidewalks and crosswalks safer. This is great news.

    Changing the ‘sometimes’ travel lane into an all-the-time parking lane is actually a net loss for vulnerable road users. It takes away a passing lane, which under current implementation makes it easier for cyclists to be passed on the road. It’s also going to make sightline/sight triangle visibility worse, and make a bike ride on this street even more tense. There’s nothing ‘green’ about adding more parking, I’m afraid.

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  • RMH September 10, 2009 at 8:23 am

    I’ve lived in the close-in area between Division and Powell for 6 years and have never ridden on Division for more than a block. With Clinton just 400 feet or so south there’s really no reason to use Division as a bike thoroughfare.

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  • david September 10, 2009 at 8:51 am

    So, just to reinteriate, in with bio-swales, out with corner drains that swallow bike wheels. My head still hurts from that spill I took on my Sting-ray with my front tire caught in the drain grate, haha! Sidewalk extensions good for strolling and business. BUT, still using on-street parking for customers instead of around corner, side street parking? What will this do to bus flow in and out of traffic in this area. Just seems like there has got to be a better solution for everyone, than all this construction and constant change of our streets. But at least we’re thinking about it.

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  • BURR September 10, 2009 at 12:37 pm

    All I know is that this plan makes it significantly less safe to cycle on SE Division, and the harder they make it to cycle safely on SE Division, the less likely I am to patronize any of the local neighborhood businesses on Division.

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  • EmGee September 10, 2009 at 12:45 pm

    @Vance #10:

    Others (#11, #13) cover the bioswale well. Additional info: bioswales reduce river pollution by filtering runoff through plants chosen to do that, and through the soil underneath. They also moderate ground water so things green up faster with the autumn rains and stay greener longer in the summer heat.

    WRT traffic calmers: my understanding is that speed bumps and curb extensions are both traffic calmers, as are mini islands.

    WRT Division as a bicycle route: there is no need, since Clinton is by far the better route by any criteria: safety, speed, less road junk, more scenic, etc. Division will be riskier than Clinton no matter what improvements are made.

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  • Dillon September 10, 2009 at 1:12 pm

    I’ve been commuting up and down Clinton/Division for the past five years. I actually prefer to use Division St. between 12th and 35th because of the 2 lanes. I love Clinton but think it needs some improvement between 21st and 39th. I have more problems with cars on that stretch and on Division.

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  • BURR September 10, 2009 at 3:06 pm

    I see cyclists on SE Division between 10th and 30th all the time.

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  • Meleen September 11, 2009 at 9:43 am

    I ride down Division every day, about 6 miles in the early AM. I feel much safer on a main artery at that time because motorists and other cyclists do not blow through stop signs and lights while crossing over Division from a side street. I have been very close to being hit four times over the last three years on Clinton and Woodward by motorist running stops, and have had countless encounters with bicycles doing the same. That being said, I will always ride Division.

    Please, do not make the right hand lane into 24 hour parking. Go ahead and use curb extensions, but use the ones that have a gap for bikes to pass through, instead of having to enter traffic to get around. I do not mind taking the lane, but for the convenience of myself and the motorist I share the road with, I would rather do it as little as possible.

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  • Michael September 12, 2009 at 8:04 am

    Division needs an overhaul all the way to I-205. The race track between 60th and 82nd is especially wrong in so many ways. It connects a very busy 82nd to an narrow Division west of 60th with 4 wide open motor lanes and few controls. The speed limit is 35, but 45-50 is common. The sidewalks are narrow. There are few trees. There is no parking. The few businesses struggle due to the difficult access to and from their property and no street parking.

    There are no bike lanes. The best bike alternatives are inadequate.

    There exists here a wide open pavement canvas for urban street renewal of great potential.

    Imagine this mile reworked with bike lanes, adequate parking, left turn lanes, wide sidewalks, trees, bioswales, and a thriving urban village.

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  • Duncan September 14, 2009 at 8:12 am

    I live in the 60s on Clinton and have no need for a bike lane on Division- Meleen and I seem to live on different Clinton Sts- in all the time I have biked it, I have had one car endanger me and that was when he blew through the light on 39th- so I can imagine it could have just as easily happened on Division. While the tour de Hawthorne crowd (of which I can be a member, but never to the extent of full tilt boogie through a stop sign/light) and the entry level fixie riders can be an issue, I would much rather be hit by a bike then a car. If you have a visibility problem with other cyclists I highly regard this device: http://www.deltacycle.com/product.php?g=1 I have one and it will blow through an ipod set to 11.

    The reality is that we have a Great bike setup in that part of town, and I think that the area that needs improvement is (as someone else noted) the section of Division beyond 60th- and the where woodward peters out beyond 70th somewhere… all I really would like to see on lower division is good crossings at seven corners, increased pedestrian visibility and lower volumes- because those through lanes just make Division clog up when they vanish after 21st.

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  • twistyaction October 14, 2009 at 2:03 pm

    Any news from the meeting on Saturday morning? Anyone go? The project site is not updated.

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