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PBOT: Spokane bike boulevard construction begins next month

Posted by on October 22nd, 2009 at 10:03 am

Plan drawing for crossing of Spokane at SE 13th. Notice new refuge island, semi-diverter (allowing bicycles onto Spokane but not cars), and curb extension. Red boxes are places where on-street parking will no longer be allowed.
Download Spokane Bike Boulevard project details (400K PDF) –

The City of Portland Bureau of Transportation is moving full steam ahead on their first 15 miles of new bicycle boulevards that were promised by Mayor Sam Adams when he took office in January.

PBOT project manager Kyle Chisek said yesterday that construction on the first of those eight projects — a 0.7 mile stretch of SE Spokane street in Sellwood — will begin next month.

At SE 7th, PBOT will create a
“pinch-point” that will give bike
traffic separation via barriers at
the intersection.

The Spokane Bike Boulevard was first envisioned as part of Adams’ Safe, Sound, and Green Streets transportation funding package. Chisek said funding issues have delayed this project, but its extensive neighborhood outreach process also has made it the first one to be built:

“Spokane is getting constructed first since we spent nearly two years with the neighborhood working on developing this boulevard… Funding was the major issue with delay – as the initial funding had been a part of the Safe, Sound and Green Streets package. Earlier this year [the Mayor] directed the bureau to identify and fund 15 miles of bicycle boulevards. Since Spokane was basically ready to go, we were able to get that constructed first.”

PBOT plans to use the public process on Spokane as a blueprint they’ll use on subsequent projects. Both the project and the neighborhood outreach component of it were officially adopted by City Council in July. “But” Chisek says, “now we won’t have to bring these other boulevard projects to Council. Once we get sign off from the City Engineer, we can start implementing them.”

According to Chisek, PBOT has $800,000 to spend on these first 15 miles, $99,000 of which is going toward the Spokane project.

That money will bring significant changes to Spokane Boulevard including:

  • improved safety of crossings at SE 13th and 17th via a 20-mph business speed zone, markings, signage, and refuge islands,
  • addition of traffic and speed reduction measures like median barriers, semi-diverters, pinch points and speed bumps,
  • improved bike traffic flow through turning of three stop signs,
  • and new bike boulevard markings at 300 and 500-foot spacing in each direction.

In order to make room for these improvements, PBOT will remove 11 residential car parking spaces.

Chisek says the remaining 15 miles of new bike boulevards will be constructed early next year with a target date of completion by July 2010. Learn more about PBOT’s 15 Miles project here.

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Marcus Griffith
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Marcus Griffith

That’s great news. Esp that there is a blueprint for future projects. Glad to see Portland City Council making strides to stream line bike-friendly processes. Good job to everyone who worked to get this thing started.

Kitty
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Kitty

Huh, guess I never noticed the need for this one. Am I wrong, or does this seem slightly irrelevant location?

cyclist
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cyclist

Kitty:

The bike boulevard in Sellwood is more about calming traffic on Spokane than it is about making Sellwood safe to bike in. The problem is that a lot of people use Spokane to cut around traffic on Tacoma. By turning Spokane into a bike boulevard, the city will make it impossible to use Spokane as a cut-through (they’ll put a median strip in at 13th that allows bike traffic but prevents people from going through or turning left onto 13th from Spokane).

There are a whole host of easy-to-bike streets in Sellwood, this isn’t really necessary. Nevertheless, the turning of the stop signs will make my commute a bit faster, and it’s nice that community residents are actually excited about getting bicycle traffic on their streets.

Jesse
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Jesse

This is great, but it would have been nice if the would have coordinated their timing of the construction better with the sewer project that currently has the bike path closed under the Sellwood Bridge. Now my primary and secondary routes through Sellwood and across Tacoma will both be under construction at the same time.

cyclist
Guest
cyclist

Jesse:

If construction causes a problem on Spokane, just go one block north to Nehalem, then come back to Spokane once you get past the construction area.

Jesse
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Jesse

Cyclist:

The larger barrier is crossing Tacoma. Currently, the light at 13th is the best method because of the sewer project, once construction starts at 13th & Spokane, that crossing will no longer be as good of an option as it will force you to ride either thru the construction zone, or down Tacoma. The pedestrian signal at 15th and Tacoma will be the best option, and then ride North to Nehalem and then bypass the construction areas.

That said I’m excited that they are moving forward with the project, and I can’t imagine the detours will last very long.

Matt Picio
Guest

Looking at the to-be-removed parking reminds me of one of the good things about Michigan (yes, car-centric Michigan, home of Detroit and the automotive industry). In Michigan, it is illegal to park within 30′ of an intersection, which means line-of-sight is much more easily maintained than here in Oregon.

cyclist
Guest
cyclist

Matt Picio: I bet in Michigan the blocks are larger than 200 feet. If we applied that rule here then a significant portion of most blocks in the city would be no parking. Most people know that Portland’s blocks are small, that has its advantages (big blocks can end up with oversized buildings on them), but also has disadvantages as well.

Jesse: I don’t see why riding on 13th will be a problem during construction, they’ll maintain one through lane in each direction on Tacoma, so it won’t be any different than it is right now.

Anonymous
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Anonymous

When is Concord construction going to start?

Bryn

CBC
Guest
CBC

The Spokane project is important for at least the following reasons:

1. Spokane connects most-directly with the Springwater towards downtown

2. Although Spokane is shown on bike maps to be similar to other blvds such as the taylor/salmon blvd in SE, it is slower, has higher auto traffic, and has more difficult minor cross streets

3. Crossing 13th and Milwaukie/17th on Spokane (or anywhere else in the neighborhood) is currently very difficult

4. Slowing traffic on 13th and 17th will benefits peds and shoppers using the neighborhood

Steve B.
Guest

@Matt #7 — here, here!! Anytime I see the city remove parking, I experience a warm, fuzzy feeling.

Intersection visibility is, to me, one of the great unaddressed issues here in Portland.

Stripes
Guest
Stripes

Oh my god, oh my god, oh my god!

I am SO HAPPY to see a semi-diverter in these plans. I love semi-diverters. They are the best thing that could happen to a bike boulevard, EVER!

I think I want to MARRY a semi-diverter. I just…. I love them that much! Less car volumes on our bike boulevard streets means more people will wheel those rusty bikes out of the garage and give biking a go 🙂

Yay!

Giant Hogweed
Guest
Giant Hogweed

Matt #7: It’s illegal here, too, but not enforced:

ORS 811.550 (17) No parking within 20 feet of a crosswalk at an intersection.

Also 811.550 (7) has some confusing stuff about 30 feet of a “safety zone”, but page 41 of the Driver Manual specifies that you may not park within 20 feet of a marked crosswalk or within 30 feet of an unmarked crosswalk (i.e., a corner).

HooverP
Guest
HooverP

Two items of note:

1) The additional speed bumps were actually put in a couple of weeks back.

2) While Spokane does get a lot of cut-through traffic from people avoiding Tacoma, it’s highest volumes come during the summer (especially weekends) when people are driving to/from Oaks Park. Unfortunately, while the measures discussed here will slow traffic, it won’t do much to mitigate volumes between Oaks Park and 13th.

concerned neighbor
Guest
concerned neighbor

I’m wondering how much more traffic SE Miller will have.