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Going Street bike boulevard gets crossing help with new median

Posted by on November 17th, 2011 at 4:23 pm

The new median on NE 15th at Going.
(Photos: Charles Powne)

Portland’s marquee bike boulevard now boasts yet another crossing treatment designed to make life on a bicycle easier. The Portland Bureau of Transportation has just completed a new median island on NE 15th Avenue where it crosses NE Going.

Going has been called the “best bike boulevard in the city” by PBOT’s top bike staffer and the new median will likely make it even better. NE 15th is one of the higher volume cross-streets on Going and unlike Martin Luther King Jr Blvd and NE 33rd, it didn’t get any improvements when the project was initially rolled out.

How it looks headed west on Going.

The design is very eye-catching. PBOT has used interesting bollard placement to raise visibility of the median. I suspect this was done to 1) help calm auto traffic on 15th and 2) warn bike traffic on Going about the median’s presence (Going has become such a bike highway, if you didn’t remember the median was there, you might run right into it!) or 3) to discourage people on foot from using the narrow curbs as refuge islands.

The new median will also cut down on auto traffic volumes (one of the main goals of bike boulevards) — as it prevents cars from going through 15th and from turning left onto Going. Unlike the median at MLK, the curbs at 15th do not allow people on bikes full refuge from cross traffic. This means you’ll have to cross both lanes at once.

Have you experienced this yet? What do you think?

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Esther
Guest
Esther

I love it! It is just like the crossing on SE Ankeny at 20th. With traffic coming from a light a block away and going faster coming from the other direction, and no center refuge.

was carless
Guest
was carless

People driving pickups still run over the 20th and ankeny median curb.

Babygorilla
Guest
Babygorilla

Its effective in helping to enforce the “right turn only” for cars. Its ineffective at traffic control in all other respects because, like the crossings at MLK and 33rd, mass confusion reigns because people don’t observe the proper right of way. I cringe when I see people on bikes dart accross assuming people in autos will stop or have some sort of obligation to stop, because unless there is a person on foot crossing at the crosswalk, people in autos have no obligation to stop on MLK, 15th or 33rd and people on bikes should actually wait for a clear right of way rather than relying on the “generosity” of people in cars who mistakenly stop in the middle of traffic lanes without any corresponding duty to do so under existing traffic control devices at these intersections. “Waving” people through increases the potential for collisions and liability for all parties involved.

Signals would be great, but there’s no money for that.

John Lascurettes
Guest

No signals please. It’s a small enough street at 15th to cross without issue when the coast is clear – no where near as bad as 33rd and I have no problem there either. And for those that wave you through (especially when there’s another line of cars coming at you from the other direction) just put your foot down and cross your arms.

Got into it with a lady that tried doing that to me on Siskiyou at 20th where she was waving me through while other cars barreled through. When I yelled at her to “go when you’re supposed to” she rolled down her window and pointed at the school zone crosswalk sign that showed a pedestrian and a bike. I told her it was not a yield sign for bikes not operating as pedestrians (in the crosswalk at walking speed), that it didn’t apply to vehicles (bikes in the street). She seemed miffed, but I wasn’t about to get t-boned by the counter-directional traffic that was not stopping in the slightest despite her ignorance.

Steve B
Guest

I didn’t like this design of MLK & Going crossing at first, but I now use it everyday and love it. It has shown me what we can do even without signals. This has to be the MLK intersection with the most compliance of crosswalk laws because of the great signage and clear lines of sight. To see motorists stopping for bicycles here is just a delight, especially when you consider it’s freaking MLK Blvd!

are
Guest

unlike the crossing at MLK (which actually i avoid), this does not even pretend to provide a refuge in the center. what it does accomplish, which i very much appreciate, is to narrow the southbound lane on 15th so that there is no ambiguity that a motorist cannot pass me as i am heading south through this intersection. it used to be that there was such a widening of the path here that motorists just could not resist passing (and then stacking up at the light at prescott).

jon
Guest
jon

the issue with the MLK refuge in the median is that you have to bike fast enough to dart across half of MLK then slam on the brakes in the tiny refuge and wait to cross the 2nd half of MLK. its dangerous for bikes and motorists, many cars cant tell if a speeding bike is going to stop in the refuge or continue all the way across. luckily there is a higher rate of cars stopping for bikes here but a signal is needed. afterall thru-traffic cars arent technically supposed to stop for cross traffic, a few do it out of kindness but that is the danger, it goes against standard traffic laws.

if there was ever a place that needed a signalized crossing for bikes, MLK/Going is it. put the money here. i for one would rather see more signalized crossings where they are needed than bike boulevards in places where no one rides bikes anyway

shirtsoff
Guest
shirtsoff

As long as the cyclist enters the crosswalk at a pace no faster than a pedestrian would, the cyclist can then proceed across the intersection with the benefits enjoyed by a pedestrian no matter their current speed *and* so long as there is sufficient stopping distance for the cross traffic to react in time to. Autos and other vehicles have an obligation to stop for non-motorized traffic in crosswalks.

Charles
Guest
Charles

Babygorilla, I’ve heard that the city isn’t inclined to put a traffic light in here because there’s already one a block to the south a Prescott. I agree with you about drivers being overly polite. It’s kind of confusing to us cyclists, too.

John Lascurettes
Guest

It’s weird with so much, “bikes are scofflaws!” parroting around town to have drivers forfeit their actual right of way at the most inappropriate and unsafe times. Drives me nuts too when it’s the last car in a huge line of cars that slows down to “let you through” when you could have just gone behind him after he passed. Happens to me all the time at Skidmore and 33rd for the traffic coming to me on the right, but with a full-speed line of cars coming at me from the left that I could have gotten pass if I didn’t have to pause to see what the straggler was up to. Le sigh. Go when you’re supposed to, people.

Matt
Guest
Matt

It’s like you read my mind!

davemess
Guest
davemess

Indeed, I don’t think most drivers realize that they’re slowing down BOTH you and them.

Charles
Guest
Charles

“at Prescott”, not “a Prescott”. This isn’t France.

Oliver
Guest
Oliver

Zut alors!

Paul Johnson
Guest
Paul Johnson

If we’re going to go with the geographic nativity of the language, we should be speaking Multnomah here, not English.

Alex Reed
Guest
Alex Reed

Yay, an improved crossing of a busy street on a bike boulevard! NE 15th was usually a little tricky to cross when I used the Tillamook boulevard daily, so I imagine it was similar for NE Going before this was put in. Kudos, PBoT!

Aaron
Guest
Aaron

A light at this intersection is an excellent idea, but only to stop bike traffic on Going, and not the autos on 15th. Up until a year ago my commute via bike took me down NE 15th and this was the worst intersection. Multiple times a week I had close calls with cyclists running the stop sign at Going.

Adam
Guest
Adam

F**K YES!!!

Liz
Guest
Liz

I love this! I live on NE Wygant at 10th, & bike on Going St every day. Since it became a bike boulevard, the amount of auto traffic on the street has skyrocketed (no surprise really when you take out all the stop signs on a quiet street paralleling a busy street).

I am so, so happy to see this go in – ESPECIALLY with the sticks that stop motorists driving OVER the diverter (like they do by the dozen every day on the SE Ankeny St diverter).

LOVE IT!!!!

Bob
Guest
Bob

I think your headline needs correcting. This is not a median. It is a traffic diverter. Its purpose is not to enhance ped cross traffic. Its purpose is to enforce the right turn only for auto-vehicles.

They are two totally separate engineering tools.

Neighbor Gregg
Guest

Thanks PBOT!

Hart Noecker
Guest

Going is our “Best bike boulevard”? Is that a joke? It’s the most uneven, cobbled, potholed street in the city. It seems the threw down the sharrows and flipped the stop signs just to avoid resurfacing the thing. I’ll take smooth Lincoln or Clinton ANY day over Going.

Oh, and those plastic sticking coming out of the crossing pictured above won’t last two months. They’ll be shattered lying in a storm drain in no time.

Jonathan Gordon
Guest
Jonathan Gordon

Call me a cheap date, but I’ll take ten more projects like Going over one project aimed and smoothing out a road surface. 18 blocks of stop-sign free biking (NE 33rd to NE 15th) on city streets is a dream.

PBOT, more like Going, please.

Hart Noecker
Guest

Who needs stop signs when the cracks in the road will bring you to a halt on their own. Repave this sucker, then you’ll get my vote.

lyle
Guest
lyle

Also, there are seams in the plates/sections of cement that, if you’re on 23cm tires, will throw you on your face if you hit them at the right angle. I almost ate it this summer that way. Yeah, like you said, great feature for a “bike corridor”.

Chris
Guest

I’ve never been on Going until two weeks ago, and I was very impressed by the route. I cannot think of anything in SE (except Springwater) that compares. I love the median improvement at 15th, and look forward to crossing it!

Paul Johnson
Guest
Paul Johnson

Some things I would change about the springwater:

1) Turn stop signs to face automotive-oriented cross streets, install signals at the larger streets.

2) Fix the signals so there’s advanced loops to trigger the light before you reach the intersection, and move existing loops behind the stop line so you’re not in the crosswalk crossing the cycleway, dangerously close to cross-traffic to trigger the light at intersections like 82nd and Springwater.

3) Add pedestrian facilities, whole length, and repaint the centerlines. It’s a high enough volume route for pedestrians and cyclists alike to warrant it. The lack of segregation and marking of no passing zones encourages dangerous passing, crowding the centerline, congestion and collissions (both bike-versus-bike and bike-versus pedestrian).

joe adamski
Guest
joe adamski

west on 15th?
small criticism. very nice crossing. No criticism there.

kym
Guest
kym

This is great, but the intersections at Going/MLK and Going and 33rd are dangerous. I use them everyday, and still can’t believe it when I emerge unscathed. Automobiles, especially on MLK refuse to stop/slow, even for pedestrians. Even if one car stops, the cars alongside of it don’t, son one is left in middle of intersection.

Will Vanlue (Contributor)
Member

I really love the use of bollards here! Medians like that are tough to see in the best conditions. Throw in piles of leaves, some rain, and the dark of night and the medians on their own might as well be invisible.

a.i.
Guest
a.i.

waiting for this to go up for a bit now…and its a huge improvement! I live on NE Going & before cars would just barrel down Going from MLK all the way thru to 33rd- now noticing almost no car traffic on Going past 15th (besides local ) where people just turn off quickly. This will help make Going a much safer place to bike. THANKS!

ScottB
Guest
ScottB

The primary purpose of the median is diversion of auto traffic from Going. After counts on Going found that 2011 traffic volumes had increase compared to pre-project volumes in 2009. The median barrier is mitigation for that volume increase.

PBOT uses NCHRP 562 to evaluate what kind of enhancement is used at high volume crossings. The width of the crossing, speed of traffic and number of autos are the primary criteria. The Going crossing of 15th is narrow, speeds are not very fast, and volume is also not high. The crossing would not be likely to qualify for signalization ($250k) before other methods to improve safety are used (beacons $48k). Marked crossings ($1500) far exceed the current preferred standard of accommodating 100 crossings per hour during peak periods. (Barrier $5,000)

Paul Johnson
Guest
Paul Johnson

And to think, this was almost a freeway!

Babygorilla
Guest
Babygorilla

shirtsoff
As long as the cyclist enters the crosswalk at a pace no faster than a pedestrian would, the cyclist can then proceed across the intersection with the benefits enjoyed by a pedestrian no matter their current speed *and* so long as there is sufficient stopping distance for the cross traffic to react in time to. Autos and other vehicles have an obligation to stop for non-motorized traffic in crosswalks.
Recommended 0

The street crossings are not crosswalks. The crosswalks are crosswalks, but I’m a person on a bike riding on the road, not the sidewalks.

Severin
Guest

If a motorist wants to wave me through, I’ll take it . I want to encourage the idea that the deadlier vehicle must yield to vulnerable users even if the law says otherwise. “I’m a vehicle, don’t stop for me’ is the chant of the 1% of cyclists that ride no matter what conditions says. Encourage behavior in motorists that make cycling more appealing to the 99%! Okay, maybe it’s not 1% vs 99% but it is a vehicular cyclist thing vs everbody else. Vehicular cycling is a survival technique, encourage behavior that makes cycling more appealing, if that means prioritizing pedestrians and cyclists and making cyclists less in line with automobiles (the killers), so be it.

Steve B
Guest

My feelings exactly. All the complaints about over-polite drivers yielding to bikes makes me cringe. In terms of bringing new types of cyclists onto our streets, this sort of culture evolution is absolutely necessary.

are
Guest

very often the motorist who is waving you through has not evaluated or is not in a position to evaluate the risks you would undertake by accepting. and if the transaction is occurring in a situation in which other motorists do not expect a stopped car in the travel lane, all kinds of hell can break loose. at the very least, they should put on their hazard lights.

i try not to be rigid about rules, but right of way conventions exist in order to make these interactions predictable. i will not even signal a left if i think it will provoke an oncoming motorist to yield inappropriately.

John Lascurettes
Guest

Except for when the person on your right attempts to wave you through and people on your left continue to whiz past as they are entitled to. Sometimes other’s “courtesy” can put you in danger.

matthew
Guest
matthew

I have one problem with this….

I live off of NE Going near the median and use the street daily for either biking or running. I’m glad they put the median up as it will definitely cut down on cars and make Going street safer for cyclists and all.

My problem is this – putting up medians like this basically makes/encourages more cars to have to use Prescott or Alberta street to go east or west. That’s fine and all but if we’re going to now increase car traffic on Prescott and Alberta – it would be great if the city would do something to encourage more cyclist to actually use Going st. Every day I see more and more cyclists riding down or up Prescott and Alberta and not using Going st. Shouldn’t we be doing more to inform people that Going is the bike blvd? I feel the same whenever I’m driving up Hawthorne and see someone cycling in traffic during rush-hour as opposed to going up Salmon st (the bike blvd). Other example is seeing cyclists bike down Going – then turn onto MLK – then turn down Skidmore which is not exactly a safe route to Vancouver/Williams, etc. Blah….blah…blah….

I’ve called PBOT and asked for a box of bike maps so that I could spend a day handing them out to people. Anyone have any ideas of how to inform more cyclists about using Going instead of Prescott or even Alberta as opposed to my ‘old cranky man’ ways?

Steve B
Guest

I think the folks who are taking Prescott or Alberta do so because that is their preference, as they are entitled to do so. There are no businesses or destinations on Going besides residences, if you plan to run errands or go shopping, you’ll find yourself on Alberta and Prescott.

lyle
Guest
lyle

Prescott is twice as fast, when you consider that it actually has adequate pavement, and you don’t have to slow down to weave around potholes or seams in the cement that will throw you face first over your handlebars if you’re on skinny tires. At least that is what’s going through my mind when I’m on it.

Paul Johnson
Guest
Paul Johnson

http://osm.org/go/WIDw0Kyz–?layers=C has the bike map for your neighborhood; could direct people there.

are
Guest

i choose prescott because the pavement is smoother and there are fewer stops. i choose alberta because that is where the destinations are. i will use bits and pieces of going, mostly west of 15th, but i have not much interest in the intersections at MLK or 33rd.

Babygorilla
Guest
Babygorilla

Severin
If a motorist wants to wave me through, I’ll take it . I want to encourage the idea that the deadlier vehicle must yield to vulnerable users even if the law says otherwise. “I’m a vehicle, don’t stop for me’ is the chant of the 1% of cyclists that ride no matter what conditions says. Encourage behavior in motorists that make cycling more appealing to the 99%! Okay, maybe it’s not 1% vs 99% but it is a vehicular cyclist thing vs everbody else. Vehicular cycling is a survival technique, encourage behavior that makes cycling more appealing, if that means prioritizing pedestrians and cyclists and making cyclists less in line with automobiles (the killers), so be it.
Recommended 0

In my experience, I’ve never really had a near miss in 12 plus years of daily commuting / riding for fun by primarily obeying the right of way laws and observing most traffic control devices most of the time. But a couple of times a week, I see a person on a bike nearly run over at the MLK crossing because they couldn’t wait the 30-60 seconds that it ordinarily takes for all the lanes to clear and they expect all traffic to stop for them even though they are crossing against a stop sign at a street crossing. And I guess I’m biased because I only have my experiences and observations to draw on, but that leads me to the conclusion that if you rely on others to ensure your safety, you are less safe. And I don’t want to see any people on bikes at these intersections killed or injured.

Severin
Guest

In your 12 years, how many other people have been cycling in the US because bicyclists are supposed behave like automobiles? 1%? Bicyclists and the public would be better off if cyclists were treated like vulnerable users, and got exclusive infrastructure on streets where cars go above 20mph. Look, when people want to wave me through, and traffic is still moving in the other direction, I wait until it’s clear on that other side and waving motorist is still waiting patiently, no problem. You all says “it’s dangerous” yeah… except when it’s safe. You mention situations where it’s ‘dangerous’ to go when the motorist is waving you through, well don’t go when it’s dangerous, go when it’s safe, that just requires common sense. By having a motorist wait patiently on one side you only have to wait until it’s clear on the other side or until a motorist is willing to yield on that side as well– in any event this reduces waiting time for the bicyclist. I’m not expecting cultural shift over night, but I want to encourage the idea that a motorist should yield to a bicyclist, and yes, only when it’s safe. **Additionally, as noted in Traffic by Tom Vanderbilt, most pedestrians get struck at intersection when they have right-of-way, going when it’s clear, regardless of right-of-way, is statistically safer**

Travis
Guest
Travis

Love the bike boulevards and travel Going St daily, but wish they had grooves built into the speed bumps to cycle through. Any ideas why not?

Paul Johnson
Guest
Paul Johnson

I’ve wondered this myself. Cushions would be superior to bumps in terms of safety for cyclists, but not as much as forcing a single lane situation in a chicane.

ScottB
Guest
ScottB

Speed cushions cost more than speed bumps and are less effective at slowing auto traffic – motorists use the gaps to cheat as well – requiring 20-30% more cushions than bumps to achieve the same results. Speed bumps on greenways are spaced 300-350 feet apart in order to achieve 85th percentile speeds near 20 mph. PBOT is currently testing cushions on NW Cornell and still trying to find a close enough spacing to achieve speeds between 25 and 30 mph.
I recommend using streets other than neighborhood greenways if your goal as a cyclist is high speed travel.

lyle
Guest
lyle

Someone is going to have to explain how the city can put some much time and effort into making this street bike exclusive, and yet pretty much the entire length from 15th to 33rd is awfully worn out, and unsafe, when considering the paving. Does the city have plans to repave at any point, or do they just not consider even a partially adequate paving of the roadway to be a feature of “one of the best bike corridors in the city”?

ScottB
Guest
ScottB

Neighborhood greenways are identified to receive more frequent maintenance than other local service streets (which currently get none).

borgbike
Guest

Not sure why this took so long to get implemented however it is appreciated by this user of the Going Boulevard.

Does anyone else wonder if more would benefit by switching the stop sign at Going and 7th so traffic on 7th had to stop instead of bikes on Going? I wonder if the bike traffic on Going is now more than the car traffic on 7th. Not sure but I get that impression. Would a majority of bikes on Going be enough to over come car chauvinism?

ScottB
Guest
ScottB

A maintenance request to replace downed candlesticks has already been forwarded to the Bureau of Maintenance.