Diverter and new bike lane creates calm on NW Marshall

changes on NW Marshall-3
Aaaahhhhh, that feels much better.
(Photos © J. Maus/BikePortland)

A year after the Portland Bureau of Transportation acknowledged publicly that NW Marshall was failing as the bike-friendly street it was intended to be, they have finally begun to do something about it. Earlier this week crews restriped Marshall between 10th and 11th and they have closed it to westbound auto traffic (just as their plans promised). A temporary barricade will soon be replaced by a more permanent one with the aim to prohibit left turns from 10th.

Marshall is an important street for bicycle traffic because, as City of Portland Planning Commissioner Chris Smith puts it, the old bike route on NW Lovejoy is now a “track-filled-cycling-wasteland”. This project is, “a small bit of mitigation for the Streetcar Loop that is finally being fulfilled,” says Smith.

I went out this morning to take a closer look. The impact of the change has been significant and immediate.

Instead of breathing exhaust and jockeying for position with other vehicles, people on bicycles now have a six-foot wide, curbside lane all to themselves in the westbound direction (with a one-foot buffer between a new auto parking lane).

Seth Hosmer, who works directly across the street from the intersection, said from his vantage point many people are still adjusting to the change. He regularly sees people drive up the intersection with their blinkers on and still attempt to turn left. Some of them actually still do. While we were chatting on the curb, a man swerved left, then realized his error and continued north to the traffic signal at NW Northrup. (There are several new chunks of concrete missing from the northwest corner of the intersection.)

An education period is to be expected, especially since the permanent diverter isn’t installed yet. It will also be more obvious that left turns are not allowed once people start parking in the new, floating parking lane.

As Smith puts it, “Let the re-education continue!”

This is a great first step to improving bicycle access on Marshall. Next up, it’d be great if PBOT would consider flipping some stop signs like they do on neighborhood greenway streets in other residential areas. It’s also worth noting that this is yet another unconnected island of good, low-stress bike access. Unfortunately, the dedicated bike space ends at the next block.

Have you ridden this new section of Marshall. What do you think?

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