The Worst Day of the Year Ride is February 11th

Springwater Corridor gets a new bike-only signal – UPDATED

Posted by on May 22nd, 2012 at 2:06 pm

(Photos: Clackamas County)

A tricky crossing of the Springwater Corridor path in Clackamas County just got a bit easier. This morning, county engineers turned on a new, bike-only signal where the path crosses the intersection of SE Johnson Creek Blvd and Bell Ave (in unincorporated Clackamas County, just south of Portland city limits).

The new signal allows bike traffic to cross diagonally from the northeast corner of the intersection to the southwest corner (and vice versa), instead of having to use two separate crosswalks — a situation that was far from ideal, both from a connectivity and safety standpoint.The $70,000 project began one year ago.

In addition to the signal, a large portion of the price was for rebuilding the curb ramps, installing new push-button posts for people to use while walking (bikes simply hover over a sensor to trigger the light), and countdown timers (a bike signal alone would have been much less expensive).

Here’s an overhead shot of the intersection to give you a better idea of how the Springwater patch crosses Johnson and Bell…

And here’s the view with the new signal looking northeast…

Clackamas County traffic engineer Rick Nys told us this morning that they are still putting finishing touches on the project; but the signal is up and running and he says, “It’d be great to get some folks out there trying it out.” Right now, Nys says they’ve noticed some confusion about how to use the new signal. “We have some education to do,” he added. He’s encouraging those who have used bike signals before to show others out on the path how it works.

The signal is almost identical to the one Portland has near Peace Park above the Eastbank Esplanade at the intersection of NE Oregon and NE Lloyd. In addition to the bike signal, Clackamas County has also installed a “No Right Turn” sign that will be illuminated while the bike signal is green.

Reader Joe Hamilton says he was the first person to ride through the new signal this morning.

“It will alleviate my concern about getting hit by cars turning right off of Johnson Creek onto Bell Rd (south) when I cross Bell (going east),” Hamilton shared via email. He used to avoid this intersection because of the “double crosswalk light change” it took to get across. Instead he’d take the “narrow and gutter lined” Johnson Creek to Linwood and then hop back onto the Springwater. “That was a quicker option than waiting for the lights,” he said, “but not now.”

Did you ride through this intersection today? We’d love to hear your feedback.

UPDATE: Reader Bryan Dorr sent in this great video of the signal in action:

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. Thank you — Jonathan

  • Tony May 22, 2012 at 2:15 pm

    That’s awesome, that was quite an annoying intersection.

    Any word on the landslide area south of OMSI?

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  • Kiel Johnson
    Kiel Johnson May 22, 2012 at 2:28 pm

    finally! but does it have a push bottom for tall bike users?

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    • Rick Nys May 22, 2012 at 2:58 pm

      No push button required, just put your bike over the painted symbol and the signal knows you’re there.

      Rick Nys
      Clackamas County

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      • pixie May 22, 2012 at 3:40 pm

        Thanks Rick! It’s great to see such conscious awareness of traffic needs and the will to see improvements implemented in this manner. Kudos to you and everyone in Clackamas County who helped get this in place. I ride this route, and I drive through that intersection, and this action will be a benefit to all traffic in the area.

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      • Alan 1.0 May 22, 2012 at 6:27 pm

        “…just put your bike over the painted symbol…”

        Oh, the cyclist-on-a-rotisserie-spit symbol! :^)

        Seriously, thanks, it all looks cool and I had the signal trigger figured out just from the pictures here.

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    • Peter Koonce May 22, 2012 at 3:50 pm

      No button press necessary, just place your tall bike on the stencil on the pavement.
      The cost of the project was increased by the new curb ramps that activate the crossing and the part time restriction sign.

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  • tom May 22, 2012 at 2:30 pm

    I havn’t used the new diag crossing yet, but it looks to be a big improvement. With the old 2 signal crossing , if you crossed Bell and waited at the Bell Station side …it was a tiny area
    and sometimes 2 bikes there were too many. It looks also like they installed stalks for the WALK/RIDE signal button nice and low, easy for a rider to activate.

    Now if they could do something abt the 2 Springwater crossings between Bell & 82nd (Luthor and ?) , those crossings are at an angled road and you have to look back over your left shoulder for traffic that is approaching from a blind hill …kinda dicey ..mebbe flashing yellows ?

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    • Rick Nys May 22, 2012 at 3:03 pm

      Hi Tom, on your bike, you don’t need to push any buttons, just position yourself over the bicycle symbol and we know you’re there! Enjoy!

      Rick Nys
      Clackamas County

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    • Spiffy May 22, 2012 at 4:36 pm

      yes, 2 bikes waiting on the corner at Bell Station or the opposite corner filled up all the space and then bikes spilled into the roadway and made people nervous…

      I haven’t ridden through here yet but I used to when I worked in Milwaukie… I quit a couple months ago so I won’t be going through this section of the Springwater until I go on a group outing…

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  • CaptainKarma May 22, 2012 at 2:44 pm

    Good, the price was worth it if it saves one life, and it probably will. Seen too many people in too big a hurry using thecrosswalks against the don’t walk to save 10 seconds.

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    • Rick Nys May 23, 2012 at 7:20 am

      I should note that a large portion of the price was for pedestrian improvements including rebuilding the curb ramps, installing new pedestrian pushbutton posts, and countdown timers. A bicycle signal alone would have been significantly cheaper.

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  • LoneHeckler May 22, 2012 at 2:51 pm

    Good news. I’ve been riding through here a lot lately and waiting for the strips of tape to come off and the lights to be activated.

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  • Steve May 22, 2012 at 3:45 pm

    They have these at every intersection practically here in The Netherlands. I am glad to see Portland getting some installed. After moving from Portland to The Netherlands I had to learn to use the signals and found that they are a really nice way to cross an intersection and feel more safe. I hope more are installed around Portland before I move back home.

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  • Joseph E May 22, 2012 at 3:55 pm

    Great! That was the one really bad intersection on the whole corridor.

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  • Champs May 22, 2012 at 4:45 pm

    Nice to see an improvement at that awkward mess, and a foot in the door for “Portland creep” in Milwaukie. 😉

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    • Matt May 22, 2012 at 5:29 pm

      It’s not actually in Milwaukie– it is in un-incorporated Clack. Co.

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    • Matt Picio May 25, 2012 at 2:03 am

      That’s kind of funny since lately, Portland has been following Milwaukie’s lead. Milwaukie opened its TSP update to the public 5 years ago with an unprecedented level of public involvement. They also put together a comprehensive bike signage plan, and adopted the ODOT sign standard with some minor alterations. Portland switched from their previous standard to the one Milwaukie uses – AFTER Milwaukie pioneered it.

      And right now Clackamas County Transportation is doing FAR more more bicycles than Multnomah County is.

      On the other hand, Clackamas County has a lot of ground to make up – I still get yelled at and drinks/bottles thrown at me in Clackamas County, but not generally in Portland.

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  • tom May 22, 2012 at 5:08 pm

    >>In addition to the bike signal, Clackamas County has also installed a >>”No Right Turn” sign that will be illuminated while the bike signal is >>green.

    where did that applause/clapping hands emoticon go ? I need it now.

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  • Todd Boulanger May 22, 2012 at 5:22 pm

    Great news!

    This is the exact type of crossing that ODoT should have for the southside intersection of the Interstate 5 Bridge Path where is crosses over to Taco Bell on Hayden Island.

    Are there any plans for a similar bike signal for the Spring Water Trail where it crosses the entrance for Oaks Park? (Not that cyclists need it…but on a busy sunny wekend day I have seen 60+ cars waiting to exit the park and having difficulty finding gaps in the [human] traffic.)

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  • Matt May 22, 2012 at 5:31 pm

    I was hoping that they would have installed diagonal pavement markings to make it more clear to auto traffic that there is a diagonal crossing.

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    • dwainedibbly May 23, 2012 at 4:56 am

      I was thinking the same thing. The signal is great Pavement markings would tie it all together.

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    • Rick Nys May 23, 2012 at 7:21 am

      There are some there already, and an arrow is being added as soon as weather allows.

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  • Amanda May 22, 2012 at 5:32 pm

    Yay! I’ve been watching the progress on this since first hearing rumors the project was in the works — it was sorely needed and I can’t wait to try it out. Maybe I’ll take the long way home tomorrow.

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  • John Lascurettes May 22, 2012 at 5:57 pm

    Don’t take it for granted the people will not turn on the red in front of you when you have the diagonal green. Despite the flashing “No Right Turn” at the diagonal bike crossing coming off the Steel Bridge/Esplanade going into the Rose Quarter, I’ve seen motor vehicle drivers completely ignore the warning and cut off cyclists with a green. So, just check your over shoulder still.

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    • Opus the Poet May 22, 2012 at 6:16 pm

      I hate to keep bringing this up, but a strong enforcement presence at the intersection for a lengthy period would ensure compliance, as well as a major fine for hitting a cyclist when the No Right Turn sign was lighted (I’m talking multiple hundreds for no injuries to tens of thousands if a cyclist is killed by a driver turning on the bike phase of the signal). I make jokes about snipers and machine gun nests, but something with equal impact visually is needed to get driver attantion in places like this. Even better would be a permanent ban on right on red in the entire country. About the only thing RoR has accomplished is to save a few seconds per driver and kill thousands of pedestrians and cyclists…

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      • Opus the Poet May 22, 2012 at 7:29 pm

        And I just submitted to MythBusters that they should test this out: Does right on red really save any time? And also they should point out the number of onnocent pedestrians and cyclists this kills every year…

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    • Spiffy May 22, 2012 at 10:35 pm

      I just ride into their door… then next time they look…

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  • Kevin Wagoner May 22, 2012 at 8:08 pm

    I haven’t ridden this intersection for a long time but I remember it well. This looks like a great improvement.

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  • Mindful Cyclist May 22, 2012 at 8:15 pm

    This is a nice improvement. Thanks Clackamas County!

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  • On The Road May 23, 2012 at 5:31 am

    Would the Illuminated no right turn sign triggered by a bicycle be a better solution than the right turn yield to bikes at NE Couch and Grand?

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    • NF May 23, 2012 at 8:47 am

      That could work if the bicyclists had their own dedicated bike signal at that location. As it stands now, the ‘yield to bikes’ sign is designed to help everyone negotiate a shared green signal.

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  • A.K. May 23, 2012 at 9:16 am

    Thanks for the improvement at this intersection! Crossing will be much easier now. I’m a big fan of the diagonal crosswalk at the Steel Bridge as well.

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  • NW Biker May 23, 2012 at 9:22 am

    Fantastic! It’s so good to see awareness that cyclists on the road matter, too. I can’t wait to get out there and ride!

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  • Rick Nys May 23, 2012 at 9:28 am

    Thanks everyone for your comments. You’re warming our hearts over here in Clackamas County!

    Rick Nys
    Traffic Engineer
    Clackamas County

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  • Anton May 23, 2012 at 9:49 am


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  • daisy May 23, 2012 at 10:20 am

    This is excellent! I’ve ridden this stretch several times in the past few months, and this is a great improvement. Thanks so much Rick and Clackamas County!

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  • Ed Birnbaum May 23, 2012 at 11:58 am

    Worked great for me yesterday. I’ll bet we got this as a result of some good folks putting in time on committees, so thanks to them, to the City for getting it done and, as always, to Jonathan for your great blog that keeps us all informed and united as a community.

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  • G. Tyler May 23, 2012 at 12:08 pm

    rode through there this morning. Those no-right-on-red lights are sure bright and eye-catching. They will be really bright come winter! Great improvement to my commute.

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  • GlowBoy May 23, 2012 at 12:12 pm

    Yay! I’m thrilled to see this one. I don’t ride that part of the Springwater very often, but the double-wait at that crossing has always been irritating.

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  • Unit May 23, 2012 at 12:16 pm

    Was that a pink pickup at 0:33? Cool.
    Oh yeah, also – great project Clackamas County!

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  • Dan May 23, 2012 at 12:25 pm

    As someone who bikes this route alot (with a cargo bike and trailer containing two kids), THANK YOU Clackamas County!! Now, if we could get the signal to trigger for bikes at Linwood (it’s a bit hard to get to the signal button while on a bike) and get some of the stop signs (for roads) turned, it would be a true bike highway. Again, Thanks to Clackamas County.

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    • Rick Nys May 23, 2012 at 9:22 pm

      Thanks Dan, we’ll look into that. Much appreciated.

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  • Mindful Cyclist May 23, 2012 at 1:54 pm

    Watching the video, the engineers also did a great job of seperating the two way bike traffic. I hate the one by Peace Park where you have that seemingly tiny gap to get your bike through the line of bikes waiting there safely.

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  • Dude May 23, 2012 at 7:39 pm

    Is this timed long enough to walk that longer diagonal direction? What if you want to cross from the other corner to corner?
    I remember years ago they had diagonal crosswalks in Roseburg, don’t know if they are still there.

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    • Rick Nys May 23, 2012 at 9:21 pm

      No, it is a bicycle signal only. Peds still cross as they did before, but we made it better with countdown ped timers and some vastly improved curb ramps. We also separated out the ped pushbuttons so that peds wouldn’t be occupying the same space.

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  • 007 May 23, 2012 at 11:04 pm

    Awesome. The light was sorely needed.

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  • Bill Stites May 23, 2012 at 11:35 pm

    Does anyone else get a counter-intuitive pang in the gut from this design? Diagonal crossings seem to work OK, but they go against predictable riding behavior – that is, being where your expected to be as per standard road rules. In the Rose Quarter you often have a critical mass, but if you are the only cyclist approaching this Springwater intersection, please be VERY cautious.

    Safety is a percentage game, and it seems that a diagonal crossing is vulnerable to many more errors that could be made [mostly by motorists]. Think about it – any and all through lanes will cross your diagonal path, and 2 of 4 right turn lanes will cross your path. Distracted driving, anyone?
    There’s just not much margin for error, so you need to be hyper-aware.

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    • Dan Packard May 23, 2012 at 11:56 pm

      What’s neat about this new signal is all traffic comes to a stop and the bright red “no right turn” signs light up before the bike crossing activates. Cool to watch in action.

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  • Dan Packard May 23, 2012 at 11:50 pm

    I checked it out earlier today. A big truck trailer with cars on top was blocking the path on NE corner driveway (looks like a big auto wholesaler moved in there). Anyway, after getting around that obstacle, the new crossing worked terrific.

    I stayed around for a few minutes and watched a gal approach from the NE and look around a little perplexed. She didn’t position her bike correctly to trip the signal. After missing the light cycle, I hollered across the intersection and said to line up with the line. Well she did, but unfortunately was a few inches too far to the left. After missing the signal cycle for the second time, I rode up to the SW corner sensor so the crossing would trip for her. But now after missing 8 car cycles of the signal and so much time passing by, exasperated, she dodged cars crossing corner to corner on reds, just before it was to turn green for her.

    I talked to her afterwards and showed her how to line up correctly for the sensor and she was grateful. There needs to be better education and signage explaining how to correctly trip these bicycle crossing sensors. Not only here, but in other spots in our region. If I was a newby, the info sign I saw at this intersection would make me think I should position a bike perpendicular to the sensor lines, rather than parallel. A difficult concept to explain adequately and a good challenge for traffic symbolists.

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  • Jeff May 24, 2012 at 3:50 pm

    Look at that little tiny light. How is anybody on a bicycle supposed to see it? Why not bring it closer to where the bikes are?

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  • Jeff May 24, 2012 at 3:52 pm

    BTW, I think it’s great they’ve put this in. I just have some issues with the design … I’ve blown through a bicycle light before b/c I didn’t see it and almost got hit by a car.

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  • G. Tyler May 25, 2012 at 8:01 am

    Rolling through there this morning I saw the flashing lights of a fire truck and flares on the road at that intersection. I held my breath hoping it wasn’t a cyclist collision with a car and was able to breath again when I saw that it wasn’t.
    (I am guessing how this happened as I didn’t see the actual accident) It looked like a pickup truck heading westbound at a high rate of speed crossed over the centerline of JC and hit the powerpole on the S. side of the street and knocked the interchange electrical control box clean off the base and across the Springwater trail. The intersection lights were not working (of course) and it appeared that an ambulance (perhaps) had already gathered the driver away.
    It will probably take some time to replace that electrical control box to get the signals working again.

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  • tom May 26, 2012 at 4:14 pm

    I came thru there Friday, excited to see the new signal and crossing …Johnson Creek Blvd was closed from Bell west , down to the next light ..looked like they were replacing a tall wood pole…the detour wasn’t too bad and I discovered a park that was previously unknown to me.

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  • Henry Underwood May 27, 2012 at 1:01 pm

    Just tried this out today and it is great! Wouldn’t pedestrians like to use this diagonal crossing as well? I didn’t see a button…

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  • Troy May 27, 2012 at 7:46 pm

    Just rode through this morning. Nice!

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  • tom May 28, 2012 at 9:42 am

    rode through it yesterday, it all worked perfectly …Kudos to Rick Nys & crew.

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  • Tom July 19, 2012 at 9:00 am

    came through there yesterday …stopped on the sensor and waited…the big,bright NO RIGHT TURN light illuminated , then watched a car sneak his right turn in front of me….never trust vehicle drivers to obey signs !!!

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  • Rick Nys July 19, 2012 at 10:15 am

    FYI, we’ll be adding some additional pavement markings and signage to better indicate to users where they should be in order to be detected. We have some video showing that many people are missing the sweet spot and are likely getting very frustrated! Some are actually waiting out in the intersection. We’d appreciate it if those of you familiar with the intersection try to educate those that are having trouble too!


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  • Tom July 19, 2012 at 11:15 am

    you are correct Rick …the 2 little green markers in the box helped a little, but I have coached a couple of frustrated riders that couldn’t get a green , they just sat off to the side waiting. Mebbe a huge GREEN box around the sensor area ?
    could you also install a tethered paint ball gun on the pole that we could grab and shoot at illegal RIGHT TURNERS ?

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  • Rick Nys July 19, 2012 at 12:14 pm

    Tom, yes, that’s one of the things we’re looking to do. We’ll have to give your paintball idea some further consideration 😉

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