Urban Tribe - Ride with your kids in front.

PBOT continues exciting progress on ‘neighborhood greenway’ network

Posted by on July 13th, 2012 at 11:27 am

Rosa Parks Way -3

Everywhere you look, PBOT is making neighborhood
streets safer. In this photo, people use the new
crossing treatment at N. Concord and Rosa Parks.
(Photos © J. Maus/BikePortland)

It’s hard to overstate the importance of the Portland Bureau of Transportation’s neighborhood greenway program. The combination of considerable expertise in, and dedication to, neighborhood traffic safety from veteran staffers and engineers, and the $1 million (or so) annual budget thanks to Mayor Sam Adams, has resulted in a burgeoning and connected network of neighborhood greenways (a.k.a. their previous name of bike boulevards) that just keep getting better and better.

As I ride around, I’ve noticed the progress in almost every quadrant of the city; from new crossing treatments in outer southeast to speed bumps right outside my front door in north Portland. According to PBOT, they’ve got nine projects that are either currently under construction or just recently completed.

Below are just a few signs of progress I’ve come across recently…

The most significant components of these projects (in terms of physical infrastructure) are the crossing treatments. Compared to the ubiquitous sharrows and wayfinding signage, new crossings make arguably the most impact. Here’s a new addition to the Bryant-Holman Connection greenway project at NE 33rd Ave…


PBOT has also installed a new median, bioswale, new crosswalks, and signage on NE 15th where it crosses Holman (sorry I don’t have a photo).

Reader Gretchin L. sent in two photos — along with a note of gratitude to PBOT (below) — of a brand new signal that has been installed on SE 122nd at SE Bush…

And here’s the note she sent to PBOT…

“Hello! I just wanted to take a moment to thank you for the new crossing light at 122nd and Bush.

When I first saw the light go up I was afraid it was going to be just a blinking “caution” light, like ones I’ve seen on Division (e.g. the Gresham/Fairview Trail and the 205 trail). So I was absolutely delighted to discover it is a proper light with pedestrian activators, bike activators, walk signals, red lights to stop traffic, and… a bike signal! *swoon*

Bush is right near a Safeway. So in addition to being a helpful way to cross 122nd via a neighborhood greenway, this light makes that Safeway accessible for a whole bunch of people between 122nd and Powell Butte. Thank you so much for making this neighborhood better!”

As part of their federally funded Going to the River project, PBOT is working to connect Going St. to the Bryant overcrossing of I-5 via N. Michigan Avenue. As you can see by the markings in the photo below, sharrows are on the way, and I’m happy to report that numerous speed bumps have been installed on Michigan between Fremont and Bryant (my new favorite pastime is sitting on my porch, watching people slow down for them!)…

Bike boulevard work in progress-1

Sharrows coming soon on Michigan.
Speed bumps N Michigan Ave

People have already adopted the bumps on Michigan with some thermoplastic art.

And look what PBOT just did on Going St a few days ago…

Sign toppers on Going St-2

Sign toppers on Going St-1

These new “sign toppers” are part of a focused marketing push for the Going Neighborhood Greenway.

I asked PBOT for an update on all the neighborhood greenway projects they’re currently working on. Here’s the list:

  • North 80s – construction is complete, including signal work at SE Division
  • N Central, NE Holman, SE Bush – construction complete (except for some planting of swales and clean up work) – HAWK at 122nd and Bush is on; raised crosswalks on N Central to go in this month
  • North Portland Connector – under construction (pathway to connect with the Penninsular Xing trail to start next week)
  • SW Maplewood – under construction
  • South 80s – under construction
  • Bryant-Holman Connection – under construction
  • Going to the River – bumps and sharrows going in (though between Alberta and Killingsworth will need to wait for some street repair)
  • SE 19th – outreach complete
  • NE 77th/Sacramento – outreach mostly complete – we’re going to have a Cully specific meeting later in the year to look at the route options

These improvements might seem small (and I’m the first one to say we need more urgency to improve bike access on main streets), but the impact of connecting these bike-friendly neighborhood routes is — and will be — nothing short of transformative. When Portlanders from nearly every corner of the city can hop on a fully-signed, traffic-calmed neighborhood greenway that connects into other parts of our network, more people will start to ride. Connect these greenways to dedicated bikeways on main streets and before you know it bicycling will be more appealing than driving (and even transit in many circumstances) and our little bike boom will become a full-fledged shift in the status quo.

— For more on Portland’s neighborhood greenway efforts, see the official website, stay tuned to BikePortland, and watch this animation we put together back in March.

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

  • Nick July 13, 2012 at 11:35 am

    Thanks for the update on the North Portland Connector. I just started biking home from work daily, and I can’t wait until this greenway is finished — it goes pretty much directly between my work in St. Johns and home in Kenton! Navigating the serpentine route without dedicated greenway signage/etc. is complicated, and taking the alternative more direct routes on busier roads is more stressful and less fun.

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    • Andyc July 13, 2012 at 12:51 pm

      Yes. We discovered this the other month, and decided to see where we could take it from St. John’s. It’s pretty amazing, and you can get all the way to Kenton or head south on Wabash and connect to Bryant at Willamette. It’s a lot slower, but some days it is just much more pleasant.

      I thank PBOT for these updates very much. One thing is the signage on the N.Central route-we did get a little confused and had to double back once or twice, so hopefully the signage will go in everywhere. And of course there is a 2-3 block gap around the train cut near the Fred Meyer that places you on Lombard, but I don’t really know of a solution other than a bike lane on Lombard here or a dedicated ped/bike MUP over the cut, but that seems not very likely even if it is feasible.

      Anyway, what great route/routes around town! Thanks a ton.

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  • Gregg July 13, 2012 at 11:51 am

    Thanks PBOT and thanks Sam. Let’s keep it up!

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  • A.K. July 13, 2012 at 11:51 am

    Despite any drawbacks (like drivers using them as cut-throughs), the Greenway network is a great way to get across town when you’re not in a hurry. I’m a fan.

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    • Craig Harlow July 13, 2012 at 2:10 pm

      Good point. I keep seeing taxis and delivery vans bombing through on good old NE Tillamook between 15th and 7th.

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  • mabsf July 13, 2012 at 12:00 pm

    I am pleased with a weird psychological side effect: The infrastructure changes make the street feels “homey”: a like a couch in the middle of the street… they also keep you on your toes, because who wants to bump into furniture?!

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  • Andrew K July 13, 2012 at 12:10 pm

    fantastic. Thank you for reporting this and thank you PBOT for continueing the hard work. Even small changes are important.

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  • CaptainKarma July 13, 2012 at 12:11 pm

    Photo #1 = Abbey Road album cover.

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  • steve n July 13, 2012 at 12:15 pm


    What’s the latest on the 50’s bikeway from NE Thompson down to SE Woodstock?

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  • Steve B July 13, 2012 at 12:25 pm

    Way to go, PBOT!!

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  • Kittens July 13, 2012 at 12:26 pm

    Love ’em. What I don’t love so much are the speed bumps every other block. I really wish they would have made a little channel in the middle of each travel lane for bike tires. Lets be clear, it is speeding cars we are worried about, not bikes!

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    • Indy July 13, 2012 at 3:47 pm

      A small channel has the risk of hitting your pedals if your aim isn’t spot on, and a larger well will just be used by a car’s right tires to remove two bumps. Would be kinda Duke’s of Hazardish cool though.

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  • Peter W July 13, 2012 at 12:31 pm

    This is great.

    I think it is important to recognize that the decoration on the Going St. sign is not just good for marketing. Visual distinctions like that help people (on bikes or in cars) to recognize the street special.

    Berkeley uses color and icons as a great part of their bike boulevard designs which really makes it easy when approaching from a sidestreet to recognize the bike boulevard. See that in action here:

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    • Tim w July 14, 2012 at 1:06 am

      I’m a big fan of Berkley’s symbol/route markings. Would love to see that in portland.

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  • ScottB July 13, 2012 at 12:42 pm

    Channels in speed bumps significantly reduce the effect the bumps have on vehicle speeds. Typical bump spacing is 450 feet to achieve average 85th percentile speeds of 25 mph. Neighborhood greenways are designed to 20 mph speeds, so the bumps need to be under 350 feet apart. PBOT is testing speed cushions (bumps with channels) on NW Cornell (fire truck friendly) and it looks like 320 ft spacing might achieve speeds in the 25-30 mph range. There are no silver bullets.

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  • daisy July 13, 2012 at 1:27 pm

    I know (now) that when cyclists are at a crosswalk, we have the same rights as pedestrians whether we are walking our bikes or stopped and waiting to ride across. I think plenty of drivers don’t know this — I see folks stop for pedestrians and not cyclists in the crosswalk.

    But what I’m not sure about are the laws at the bikeway/greenway crossings where there are diverters for cars with cut-throughs for bikes, lots of caution signs for cars on the busier road, and well-marked crosswalks for pedestrians, like on NE Going when it crosses MLK and (I think) 15th. When I’m there on my bike, I usually don’t go to the crosswalk–especially since there are cut-throughs in the diverters for bikes. Are cars on MLK and 15th (in this example) supposed to stop for bikes on the streets and not in the crosswalk? It wouldn’t seem so, but sometimes they do.

    If anyone knows for sure, please chime in. Sometimes the rules are confusing.

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    • Spiffy July 13, 2012 at 1:43 pm

      if you’re on the street then you’re a vehicle and you wait for traffic to clear…

      if you’re on the sidewalk then you’re a pedestrian and they have to stop for you if any part of your body or possession (front wheel) is sticking into the roadway at all…

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    • Spiffy July 13, 2012 at 1:45 pm

      also, some people in cars will just stop for bikes wherever they are… doesn’t matter that the car has the right of way and holds up traffic for a dozen other motorists…

      usually when this happens I get off my bike and walk across… I don’t want them suddenly hitting the gas and saying I darted in front of them…

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      • daisy July 13, 2012 at 2:13 pm

        Thanks… this is what I thought. I agree that it’s confusing, especially for drivers.

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    • S.C. July 13, 2012 at 3:03 pm

      …and this issue is specifically why I prefer not to use Going until east of MLK. It’s an unsecured and wonky crossing, and I like the predicatability of the stoplight-controlled crossing at Skidmore, one block up. Then switching to Going, if I need to get somewhere in that general area (rare, but it happens).

      Direct answer: Vehicles traveling down MLK have no legal responsibility or requirement to stop for you (bike/car/moped/vehicle) when you are at the Going Street stop sign. You are, as noted by Spiffy, a vehicle in this instance and must wait for traffic to clear before proceeding. Any vehicle on MLK that does stop does so in an attempt to be nice, but no legal contract exists for that person to be nice (social contracts are different, and I digress).

      If you are on your bike in the footprint of the (striped or non-striped) crosswalk at Going and MLK, all vehicles on MLK have the legal responsibility to stop for you to cross, provided you present yourself at the crosswalk with the visible intent to move forward. This language is ambiguous, but actually a recent legal clarifier – it used to be that being at the edge of a crosswalk/crossing was legal precendent for them to stop, now it’s more clear that you have to be there and “look” like you’re going to cross. Texting or being far back from the curb/edge or looking down? A vehicle has legal cover not to stop. Just FYI, pals.

      Same logic applies to the crossing at 15th (or, really, anywhere with a similar traffic pattern) – in the vehicle lane? You’re a vehicle, they don’t have to stop for you and you do not have the right of way. In the crosswalk/on the sidewalk? You are not a vehicle, and they do have to stop for you and you do have the right of way.

      Fun fact: If a vehicle with the right of way stops and abdicates its right of way to you (a person on a bike and operating as a vehicle) in the hopes of being nice, you are not required to cross. Yeah, most of the time it’s okay and they were being a kind person, but by them not following the rules/laws of the road they have created a potentially dangerous situation. This happens to me frequently, when I am in the left-turn lane at 42nd and Killinsgworth and a “nice” driver stops and waves me to turn before they go straight (no green arrow here…despite my urging of such to PBOT). Nice is good, but if the car around decides to rev it around you on the right, I am pavement jelly. I would rather wait for traffic to clear and make a legal and safe left than have to hope no car behind you gets pissed/confused and passes on the right (illegally…in the bike lane…).

      Rant over, stay safe and yay for bicycles!

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  • Craig Harlow July 13, 2012 at 2:07 pm

    Hmm. I wonder what’s the status of the Klickitiat greenway, not listed above. Speed bumps and sharrows have gone in, but so far none of the proposed diverters or the narrowing of Klickitat to make a bike-only path between 23rd and 24th.

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    • Paulie July 13, 2012 at 3:37 pm

      It may take longer than you think. The speed bumps and sharrows on Bush were installed last year, but the intersection work didn’t happen until this year. I started to think they were going to stop after just the sharrows and speed bumps since their website wasn’t updated. Thankfully, it’s nearly done now. I think there is still some work planned for 136th & Bush. I love the signal at 122nd!

      Thanks PBOT!!!

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      • gl. July 21, 2012 at 6:21 pm

        if only 136th had a decent shoulder/bike lane!

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    • ScottB July 13, 2012 at 4:47 pm

      No Diverters are planned for Klickitat. The contractor for BES is constructing green curb extensions and refuge islands from Vancouver (Morris) to 62nd (Foster), beginning late summer/early fall.

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  • Indy July 13, 2012 at 3:28 pm

    It would be nice to get some sharrows on SW 1st heading South out of downtown.

    This is a great fast and fairly safe bike route to Barbur, and I don’t think many people know about it, many people head up to Barbur well before, which is much slower with more lights/risk.

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  • dwainedibbly July 13, 2012 at 5:43 pm

    Good stuff.

    I do have concerns about downtown, though. With the loss of the Free Rail Zone, there’s going to be more automobile traffic downtown. That’s not going to be good for people walking or on bicycles.

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  • annefi July 13, 2012 at 10:11 pm

    I’m so ready for SE 19th to become a neighborhood greenway. I live on it and it seems to me that the car and truck traffic is getting faster — too fast for a neighborhood with lots of cyclists, kids, and pets. The plan calls for a 25 mph speed limit and lots of speed bumps. It can’t happen soon enough for me.

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  • Hugh Johnson July 15, 2012 at 8:32 am

    And biking infrastructure still stinks in east PDX. Does PBOT realize more people would get on bikes if it didn’t feel like a death defying event? I love how all the focus is on the inner city. Sorry PDX is far from a world class biking city.

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    • Terry D July 16, 2012 at 9:08 am

      Check out the bike and pedestrian plan approved by the city council on April 18. It is a four year plan for implementation of an entire bike and pedestrian infrastructure network for Portland east of 82nd. 40+ miles of greenways, 50+ intersection improvements, 8 million in sidewalk infill and some important bike lane infill. It is very well done if you dig into it.

      They do realize change in east Portland is needed and they are working on it.

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  • Bill July 16, 2012 at 11:47 am

    Interesting that PBOT says the SW Maplewood greenway is “under construction”. They haven’t touched it since they laid down the sharrows last year. They had spray painted markings for adding speed bumps. They never came. BES was supposed to widen Maplewood in conjunction with the greenway treatment, but that hasn’t happened as well.

    I would have assumed with Sunday Parkways going through this weekend, they would have prioritized it. Unfortunately, no…

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  • 007 July 16, 2012 at 10:52 pm

    Thanks PBOT! I didn’t realize how cool the Going bike blvd was until I rode it from 29th to 72nd last week. I used to ride Prescott all the way to the I205 bike path but Going/Alberta is so cool! Thanks! It’s well marked and no stop signs except at arterials.

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