Kenton’s main street, now with more room for walking and biking

The new cross-section of N. Denver through downtown Kenton.
(Graphic: PDC)

New bike racks.
(Photo: PDC)

North Portland’s Kenton Neighborhood (which happens to be home to Mayor Sam Adams) will host a ribbon-cutting celebration tomorrow for the completion of the N Denver Avenue Streetscape Project. The $2.85 million project was funded by the Portland Development Commission (PDC) as well as a grant from the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT). Construction management was provided by the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT).

The overhaul of N Denver (from N. Watts to N. Willis) marks the continued resurgence of Kenton and the project comes with all the familiar trappings; new public art, freshly planted street trees and other vegetation for stormwater treatment, and charming new street signs and furnishings (including more bike racks). The project also comes with a more humane and livable street cross-section.

The “chicane” design was not chosen.

To make Denver a safer and more appealing street for all road users, PBOT has added curb extensions and zebra-striped crosswalks at every intersection. They’ve also removed the center turn lane and have widened the spaces for biking and walking. The bike lane on Denver has been widened to six feet (from five) and the “pedestrian zone” — which consists of an eight foot sidewalk and a seven foot “furnishing zone” — is now 15 feet wide (up from 10 feet).

Project staff to a close look at three streetscape design options before they decided on the one above. The chosen option is the only one that increased the width of the bike lane, but it’s also the one that does the least in terms of calming motor vehicle traffic (PDC lists “speeding may continue to be a concern” as one drawback of this option). One option explored was to give Denver a “chicane” created by alternating sections of angled parking. The other option was to include a small median in the center of the street to provide more space between motor vehicle traffic.

Even without more pronounced traffic calming measures, the new streetscape seems like it will be a big improvement over what existed before.

What do you think? Do you ride on N. Denver through downtown Kenton? How do you feel about the changes?

— Learn more about the project on the PDC website.

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