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A cycle track on SE Powell? ODOT wants your feedback

Posted by on October 15th, 2012 at 3:54 pm

Riding conditions on SE Powell: We
can do much better.
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

Next summer, the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) will begin construction on a $5.5 million project to rebuild SE Powell Blvd between SE 111th and 174th. The plans call for a host of changes, including a new widened shoulder for bicycle access. How exactly that shoulder is used, and what type of bike facility ends up on it, will be one of the main topics up for discussion at an open house this Wednesday.

ODOT’s Outer Powell Safety Improvements Project has been in the planning stages for several years. The Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) wrapped up a ‘Conceptual Design Plan’ over the summer and now ODOT (who has jurisdiction over the road because it’s State Highway 26) is zeroing in on the details. Among the improvements planned are new pavement, two crossing treatments to make it safer to cross on foot, new sidewalks, and more. ODOT says they also plan to conduct a speed study to consider a reduction in the posted speed limit.

According to ODOT, this section of Powell has eight intersections that are among the top 10% of high-crash locations in the entire region.

In their announcement of the upcoming open house, ODOT specifically says they are seeking community input on two “key aspects” of the project design: where to locate two new crosswalks with Rapid Flash Beacons; and how to “modify and better delineate the road shoulder and roadway striping to reduce conflicts between vehicles, pedestrians, and cyclists.”

Currently, this stretch of Powell has some standard-width bike lanes which drop and then start-up again intermittently. PBOT’s plans call for an “enhanced bicycle facility” that would consist of a six-foot wide bike lane and a two-foot buffer for a total width of eight feet. This much space leaves open the possibility of not just a painted bike lane, but something more substantial — like a physically separated cycle track that could even be on a separate grade from auto traffic.

In their conceptual design plan, PBOT specifically noted that, “special attention [on SE Powell Blvd] needs to be given to… Facilities that separate the bicycle travel lane from the motor vehicle lane with striping or a physical barrier.”

Potential cross-section of SE Powell according to PBOT Conceptual Design Plan.

We recently saw how a lack of public input on an ODOT project on NE Sandy Blvd resulted in inadequate bike access. This seems like a golden opportunity to inform ODOT about what’s possible and to vastly improve bike access on Powell.

Stay tuned, and consider stopping by the open house Wednesday night:

    Outer Powell Safety Improvements Project Open House
    Wednesday, October 17 from 5pm to 7pm (drop by anytime)
    Ron Russell Middle School Library (3955 SE 112th)
    Project website

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9watts
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9watts

Just reduce the speeds. Cheaper, quicker, and perhaps more effective at improving safety.

Maybe with all the money saved on other amendments they could extend the striping or speed limit reductions to parts of Powell further West that lack them.

This part cracked me up:
“According to ODOT, this section of Powell has eight intersections that are among the top 10% of high-crash locations in the entire region.

ODOT says they also plan to conduct a speed study to consider a reduction in the posted speed limit.”

…so it is recognized to be very dangerous, and they’re going to do X,Y, and Z, but only consider reducing the speed limit. What is the study going to reveal that we don’t already know?

Jeremy Cohen
Guest
Jeremy Cohen

I think the bike facility needs to be physically separated from auto traffic. the standard bike lane quickly becomes the resting place for gravel, debris, trash, etc. While I am all for reducing the speed limit, we all know people drive the speed they perceive to be safe, not the number on the sign. If they want to reduce the speed, they should start by making the lanes narrower and moving the bike lanes off the main surface. bike lanes often make the road look wider than it is, creating the feeling of a faster speed limit.

Joe Adamski
Guest
Joe Adamski

The access points to Division, especially where Fred Meyers (145th & 148th) need safer cross access, as does the stretch between 122nd and 136th. Long stretches between crossings as well as a wider roadbed encourage high speed traffic and frankly, to cross there is playing frogger with high speed traffic.
Outer East Portland needs a higher level of investment in facilities due to the recent annexation and the fact many low income folks have been ‘gentrified’ to East, with large distances to cover with minimal transit, the ‘linear shopping malls’ along large high speed streets.
If the cost of a car and transit are deal breakers, walking and biking are the options. When multi laned high volume streets are obstacles to taking care of daily needs, we darn well better get something workable in place.
The Bike Master Plan for 2030 recognized equity as an important facet to be considered, and East Portland needs a fair amount of equity ‘tout de suite’

ScottB
Guest
ScottB

It’s a Major City Traffic Street, Regional Transit Street and Major Truck Route (city designations), plus it’s a state highway, not under the control of the City. State law dictates that you cannot reduce the hole in the air for trucks, because someday they might want to take a large load down that path and the path is now 34-36 of clear road width. Reducing lane width below 11 ft is not advisable.
We still have to share the road.

Terry D
Guest
Terry D

The best solution I would think could be moving the planting strip to in between the bike lane and the through lanes. You could keep the 11-12 foot travel lanes plus the 14 foot turning lane, but create a cycle track type wide shared sidewalk 12-14 foot wide on each side of the street.

There also needs to be marked crosswalks with center refuge islands/traffic lights or beacons at least every four-five blocks. Of course these should line up with the greenway/bikeway crossings outlined in the “East Portland in Motion” plan.

This stretch of road really does need modernization and we shou8ld be able to do a good job with proper planning.

Spiffy
Guest

sounds like a good idea as long as they kept the growth low to keep sight-lines at corners, and made lots of cut-throughs for all the house’s driveways…

but that would trap the cars and then emergency vehicles would have to use the bike lanes to get anywhere…

Jacob
Guest
Jacob

The plans show a short term and a long term alternatives. Instead of showing better ped and bike facilities in the long term, they show a wider roadbed, narrower sidewalks, and narrower bike lanes. So there we have it, folks. The long-term plan is to continue to accomodate as many cars as possible, at the expense of everyone else. Nice going ODOT.

Tom
Guest
Tom

the areas that need most improvement are outside of the 111-174 segment. looks like they are working on the low hanging fruit. ..
the crossings at 122 & 136 are terrible, but dont really think the bike lanes are that bad, except …as mentioned , there are no ped xings between 122 & 136 and when a car stops to make a left, others swerve around it and into the bike area….
oh yeah, and bus’s cross the bike lane for pickup/dropoffs ..a TRIMET bus missed me by about 5 feet racing me to that spot ..got his number and reported that one. (for whatever good that does)

Justin
Guest

Improving this section of Powell is great, but what will perhaps help more is improving the connections elsewhere (because you have to leave Powell at some point if you’re going to travel west from this zone). From 182nd west, it would be faster and safer to take the Springwater if you can get to where you want: If you focus more on Foster Road improvements, you can get between 182nd and the new 50s bikeway taking Springwater and Foster instead of Powell. If that happens, it takes some of the pressure off Powell here and solves another huge problem.

Patrick
Guest

God, YES!

CaptainKarma
Guest
CaptainKarma

Totally agree with Spiffy. I use Powell to get to work and could write >20 tickets in ten miles for motor vehicle bike lane incursions. Just look at how worn the wide, white “do not cross” bike lane stripe is. They don’t even slow down…

Maks
Guest
Maks

oh sure NOW they start considering improving this. my partner rides this after work and experience countless flats and close calls of right hooks. she left her job and doesnt ride Powell anymore. go figure.

Dan V
Guest
Dan V

I used to live out on Powell and 181st and commuted along it for about 18 months. My vote is a physically separated cycle track (switch the street trees and the bike lane to get the idea). Do that now and prevent it becoming a passing lane/turning lane/future road expansion. Can’t change the state designation due to the freight lobby having to sign off (they will never give up milage). “Hole in the air” will probably nix any safety improvements, but it’s worth a shot….

was carless
Guest
was carless

Heck YES. But only if it will ultimately connect to the river. And then can they do Hawthorne next plz??

Belok
Guest
Belok

We need elevated tracks. Then we could look down on all the motorists and be above the noxious gasses!