Urban Tribe - Ride with your kids in front.

Safety concerns prompt re-design of NW 16th and Everett

Posted by on January 16th, 2014 at 12:50 pm

View of NW Everett at 16th (looking east).

Concerned about a very high rate of right-hook collisions and general traffic “chaos” at the intersection of NW 16th and Everett (map), the bureau of transportation is drawing up plans they hope will make it safer.

“We’re seeing a comparable number of crashes, with five times less bike volume,” said Sullivan. “It’s alarming.”
โ€” Andrew Sullivan, PBOT traffic engineer

This intersection is no stranger to the city’s traffic engineers and safety experts. In 2007, following two fatal right-hook collisions, then Transportation Commissioner Sam Adams put 16th and Everett on a list to receive a bike box. That bike box was installed a few months later; but the bike safety issues didn’t go away. In October 2010, PBOT singled out the intersection as one of four locations (out of 11) citywide where collisions actually increased after a bike box was installed.

Now this notorious intersection is once again getting attention due to its high rate of right-hooks.

City Traffic Engineer Andrew Sullivan presented more about the current conditions and possible solutions at the PBOT Bicycle Advisory Committee meeting Tuesday night (PDF of his presentation).

“There’s a lot of chaos going on here,” said Sullivan as he reviewed the street’s dimensions and collision history. According to DMV and Police statistics the intersection of 16th and Everett has the second highest number of right hook collisions among all bike box locations in Portland. PBOT evaluated the performance of bike boxes in 2012 and found that there were 7 right hook collisions at this location. Only SW 3rd and Madison (the site of Kathryn Rickson’s death via right hook in May 2012) has more collisions, recording 11 in the same period.

But what shocked PBOT was the frequency of collisions: 16th and Everett recorded just 57 bikes in a peak-hour count while there were 270 bikes counted during peak-hour on Madison. “We’re seeing a comparable number of crashes, with five times less bike volume,” said Sullivan. “It’s alarming.”

There are several reasons for all the “chaos” and collisions at 16th and Everett. One of the two lanes is an entrance to I-405. At peak hour, 268 people turn right to get onto the freeway. Auto traffic tends to back up in the right lane because there’s no turn on red and the crosswalk is also very busy. Another factor is that it’s a slight downhill so people riding bicycles go faster than usual, making it even harder for people to know if it’s safe to turn across the bike lane. As stress builds up while waiting for a gap to enter the freeway onramp, people are more prone to make unsafe decisions.

Here’s a slide from Sullivan’s presentation showing how the intersection is used (counts taken during a peak hour in September 2012):

To solve some of issues, PBOT is considering two “mitigation alternatives”: A new traffic signal with an exclusive phase for bikers and walkers; or a left-side bike lane (Everett is a one-way street).

PBOT slide.

As you can see from Sullivan’s slide above, this option would involve mostly new signals and new lane signage and striping. Since the right standard lane would become a right-turn only lane, PBOT is concerned about a reduction in auto capacity. To make up for that, they’re proposing to allow people to turn onto the freeway during a flashing yellow interval. Right turners would always see red when the bike-only green was showing, but it would be yellow at other times. The flashing yellow arrow idea raised concerns from Bike Advisory Committee members familiar with similar turn arrows more commonly found in Washington County and other suburban intersections.

Left side bike lane

Drawing of left-side bike lane concept (click for larger view).;

In this option, PBOT would move the bike lane from the right to the left side from NW 19th to just before 14th (to avoid left hooks at 14th, they’d drop the bike lane a few hundred feet prior to intersection and add a sharrow). If you’re driving on Everett and want to turn left (north) on either 18th or 15th, you’d do so by crossing over the bike lane prior to the intersection. To create this new left-turn lane, PBOT would break the bike lane striping before the intersection and remove a few on-street parking spaces.

Each one of these options introduces other possible conflict zones and has some drawbacks; but there are also advantages. Here’s how PBOT lays out the pros and cons of each one..

Pros/Cons of “Exclusive bike/ped signal” option

Pros/Cons of left-side bike lane option

In committee discussion that followed PBOT’s presentation, city bike coordinator Roger Geller and Sullivan talked about even grander plans for Everett. PBOT has analyzed traffic operations on the street and found that they could re-allocate road space and create a cycle track or buffered bike lane all the way west to 23rd without having a major negative impact on current auto traffic volumes.

For now, it appears that the left side bike lane option has the most support. Committee member Rob Sadowsky with the Bicycle Transportation Alliance shared that both of his children have been right-hooked at this location. He said the BTA would support the left side bike lane option but thinks either one would work better that the existing design. In a straw poll, a majority of committee members voted for the left side bike lane.

Beyond the engineering and design considerations, the left side bike lane also appears to be easier from a process and funding perspective. The signal changes would have to go through ODOT (since they control everything over the freeway) and signal work is relatively expensive. On the other hand, the left-side bike lane option would be relatively cheap and easy and could be pegged for completion along with an already scheduled paving project due on Everett this spring/summer.

Do you ride, drive, or walk through this intersection? What do you think?

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  • Adam H. January 16, 2014 at 1:04 pm

    PBOT should install this kind of treatment instead: http://wiki.coe.neu.edu/groups/nl2011transpo/wiki/ba51e/images/77dc4.png#1080×650

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    • Phil-- January 16, 2014 at 2:26 pm

      No, thank you. That treatment is overly complicated and adds swerving on a nice downhill section.

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      • Jeff January 16, 2014 at 6:54 pm

        The image makes the swerve look like more than it actually is.

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        • JAT in Seattle January 17, 2014 at 8:25 am

          Nevertheless, the usual fawning devotion to Proper Dutch Infrastructure(tm) is galling in its acceptance of the freaky chicane at every intersection, and all this because we can’t count on motorists to be aware of other users and to follow the damn rules of the road.

          That said, it’s a poor idea for a cyclist to hug the right side of the road at an intersection where a bigger heavier vehicle might be making a right turn – tragic that it’s codified in a mandatory use state…

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          • Nick Falbo January 17, 2014 at 11:26 am

            “it’s a poor idea for a cyclist to hug the right side of the road at an intersection where a bigger heavier vehicle might be making a right turn”

            You’ve just described almost every intersection in Portland that has a bike lane. Because of Portland’s 200 ft spacing of intersections, taking the ‘no bike lane at locations where drivers *might* turn’ approach would basically eliminate all bike lanes in the city.

            We expect right turning drivers to look and yield of pedestrians while turning, it’s not unreasonable for them to do the same for bicyclists.

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            • John Lascurettes January 18, 2014 at 11:28 am

              And yet there’s a significant number that don’t check. I routinely am almost right hooked on the section of Broadway from the Bridge to Oak on my commute every morning. I am super diligent about watching the wheels of drivers next to me (since many don’t even bother to signal) โ€“ not only do they not expect a bicycle rider to be matching or beating their speed in the *lane* next to them that they have to turn across (esp. during commute hours), but they fail to even bother to check their blind spot before doing so. Sure, sure, many of them that I’ve confronted say, “I looked but I didn’t see you”; to which my reply is always, “then you clearly didn’t look well enough” and if they can’t establish their blind spots are clear, they shouldn’t be driving that vehicle.

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    • Jeff January 16, 2014 at 6:51 pm

      I lived in the NL where that design came from and they work better than one would imagine! My understanding is that the policy opportunity is adapting ADA to allow crosswalks to be moved back from the corners.

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    • spare_wheel January 17, 2014 at 8:00 am

      motorists get direct efficient routes with timed signals while cyclists are forced to make unnecessary twisting turns into narrow and slow channels?

      no thank you.

      can someone point out a single situation where these kind of awkward, inefficient and discriminatory solutions have been proposed for motorists? low occupancy vehicles are the problem, and it’s time for cycling advocates to stop supporting “solutions” that accommodate them.

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      • Unit January 17, 2014 at 1:36 pm

        Actually, I can point one out. Roundabouts are essentially the same thing for motor vehicles. No coincidence that drivers complain about the need to slow going through, but they do work better for motorists overall despite that.

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  • Eyestrain January 16, 2014 at 1:08 pm

    I used to live in NW and commute to old town when I first moved to Portland. This bike box has been here the entirety of my time living here. I eventually gave up biking because walking felt safer coming out of northwest into the pearl on this street. I feel people, myself included, get into a “driving on the freeway” mentality when they’re approaching an entrance and kind of forget they’re on a local road still. It feels dangerous to be in anything other than a car crossing the intersection here. As soon as the light turns green it’s go-go-go to accelerate toward the on-ramp. A situation similar to 12th & Multnomah with the middle bike lane feels much safer. All the right turning traffic peels away from you and the bike lane delivers you to where you need to be across the intersection. Now if they’d fix the tire swallowing pot holes a few blocks up in the pearl from here and extend the bike land all the way back to 23rd we’d have a better thing going!

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    • Art Fuldodger January 16, 2014 at 3:05 pm

      to report potholes: 503-823-BUMP

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      • John Lascurettes January 18, 2014 at 11:39 am

        Or even more convenient if you got a smart phone: The PDX Reporter app. I use it all the time to report clogged storm drains and potholes. It’s pretty impressive how quickly things are taken care of after reporting them most of the time.


        It allows you to take a photo of the problem and use your GPS in your phone to pinpoint the location quickly.

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  • Jake January 16, 2014 at 1:13 pm

    I commute through this intersection and also think a left hand bike lane makes a bit more sense. It does force you to weave left and then right, but I think the right movement isn’t that dramatic since most of the traffic is turning right onto 405, so you just have to deal with the one through lane. I also see quite a few bikes take the lefthand lane here anyway. A sharrow post-16th also alleviates some of my concerns; once you’re through the intersection, I’ve found drivers are quite good about letting bikes into the road, since the bike lane goes away after 14th anyway.

    My other concern is the non-compliance bit for a bike/ped only phase. I have a feeling people are going to still attempt to turn during a red light. I guess “No turn on red” can help that. I’m also a bit confused by the signaling — there would be a green bike/ped only phase, which then would turn red and the turn lane would get a flashing yellow? So there’s no green for the turn lane, or would they also have an exclusive phase?

    Happy to see PBOT talking about this intersection though, this is the most dodgy part of my usual commute (although, approaching Burnside from the south on W 14th is up there too when I go that route; in that case you go from a left hand bike lane to a right hand bike lane across three lanes of traffic).

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    • spencer January 16, 2014 at 1:37 pm

      I take the L lane EVERY time i ride through the interection. Its a CF as it stands now

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      • Paul in the 'Couve January 16, 2014 at 2:01 pm

        Yep Yep Yep… And If I’m walking I usually don’t cross at Everett, especially if with kids.

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      • second least favourite intersection. January 17, 2014 at 7:25 am

        Seriously. I commute through that intersection almost every day and ALWAYS take the left lane. I’m going as fast as traffic anyway and the bike lane only lasts for a couple of blocks. I’ve gotten yelled at by drivers a few times (“There’s a bike lane RIGHT THERE”) but I don’t see what they have to complain about as the intersection is a mess, the bike lane ends almost immediately after the intersection, and it’s not like I’m slowing them down. I’ve found that trying to yell that back is not very effective however. . .

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  • Allan January 16, 2014 at 1:17 pm

    Left side seems strange because we aren’t doing it. more left-side facilities will help normalize them. Do it!

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  • Dave January 16, 2014 at 1:18 pm

    What SHOULD happen, is a cycle track all the way from NW 23rd to NW 2nd (in theory, it would be nice to have it continue all the way over the Steel Bridge, but of course the deck makes that a very complicated proposal).

    The real problem with this intersection is not the bike box, per se, but people whose eagerness to get on the freeway is greater than their fear of killing someone. This is one of the great side-effects of putting a freeway running right through the middle of your city where you have very dense traffic of all modes, and you notice it happening near every freeway entrance/exit in the central city – people who are just about to get on the freeway or who just got off of it drive as if they are on the freeway.

    Even though a 3-4 block long bike lane is still a pretty bad solution and just creates another conflict point a few blocks later, I’m happy to see that they’re at least considering making it end before the intersection at 14th so you have a chance to merge before you’re in the intersection.

    I have to say though, I would feel safer just riding in the main travel lanes on Everett like I do now (because of both the conflict at the freeway here, and the conflict when the bike lane ends at 14th), regardless which of these solutions was chosen. I would probably prefer the signal change, because it would allow me to get into the traffic lane before the auto traffic, so I don’t have to merge.

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    • MaxD January 16, 2014 at 2:14 pm

      You explain the situation about people accessing freeways perfectly, thanks! Because so many of our bridges have “freeway-style ramps” to enter and exit, I believe that the same mentality exists at every bridge, too! I would love to see Portland start decommissioning these ramps, and “normalizing” the entrances and exits so people would enter from a the city grid via a signal. I think it would be transformative to see this happen to I-405 and I-5, too (I know that there are serious legal obstacles to this currently). These would still be big roads, but they could have 40 mph speed limits, and maybe a few signals, too. Anyway, I hate to perpetuate the assumption that highways simply HAVE to function the same within a city as they do outside a city; that is just an idea that got made up in the 50’s and we are free to change it anytime.

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  • Burk January 16, 2014 at 1:22 pm

    +1 for left lane.

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  • Alan Love January 16, 2014 at 1:29 pm

    I love the language in the pro/con images. Con: Requires ODOT involvement. / Pro: No ODOT interaction required.

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    • Adam January 16, 2014 at 3:13 pm

      Haha, love it!!!!!

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  • Oliver January 16, 2014 at 1:30 pm

    Wouldn’t it be cool if there was an old bridge laying around somewhere that could be re-purposed as a bicycle and pedestrian only crossing of the i-405 freeway.

    I know, crazy talk.

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    • Dave January 16, 2014 at 1:34 pm

      That would be nice too, but these main routes (Everett and Glisan) should be safe for ALL traffic as well.

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    • Dave January 16, 2014 at 1:34 pm

      (and yeah, I know what you’re getting at…) ๐Ÿ™‚

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    • Granpa January 16, 2014 at 3:15 pm

      Sellwood Bridge is nothing more than an erector set structure and plenty long enough with parts left over.

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    • Mark January 16, 2014 at 10:55 pm

      I am sadly frustrated every time I think about how swell that Flanders/Sauvie project could have been. It seemed so close.

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      • dan January 17, 2014 at 10:17 am

        Yeah, but it was kind of Sam Adams’ attempt to build a monument to himself. He was pretty excited about big infrastructure projects that he could put his name on, and I think that may have driven this one as well. I’m not convinced it was the best use of the money — as I recall, it was a fairly expensive project.

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        • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) January 17, 2014 at 10:46 am

          About the Sauvie Bridge relocation project. IMO it was an excellent idea. Adams’ need to build a monument aside… It was a rock-solid idea for a lot of reasons. And no, it wasn’t expensive relative to its benefits. I think the estimate at the time was just $5 million or so. That’s nothing in terms of major urban vehicle bridges. It was simply a lost opportunity that we’re all worse off because off. It was victim to petty politics and a lack of willingness from Adams to take a risk during a political campaign. (In Adams’ view, he’d blame the lack of support from advocates and the public. I think he felt not enough people stepped up to have his back as he took a “risk” by supporting it.)

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  • Adam January 16, 2014 at 1:47 pm

    For a brief minute here, I thought this article was referring to the bike lane on 16th and Glisan a few blocks down. That is an equal nightmare got people on foot / bike, because of the freeway on ramp and right-hook danger at that location too. I always have to say a little prayer before crossing that on foot, because I always feel like I’m going to get mowed down I the crosswalk by right turning drivers.

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  • medium-fat tyres January 16, 2014 at 1:52 pm

    I take Johnson… Gotta love The Bucket.

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    • Adam January 16, 2014 at 1:53 pm

      So does most of the car traffic.

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  • MaxD January 16, 2014 at 2:05 pm

    that orphan stretch of bike lane is really bizarre. Is there a reason is doesn’t already connect from Naito to 23rd? The left side option seems a lot more appealing than signal prioritization (that yield to bike sign on Couch/MLK is routinely ignored- it comes on but no one is looking- I ride it 5X/week). If the bike lane cannot be added to the left side for the distance of the street, at least add sharrows markings along the entire left lane. IMO, this kind of disconnect is the worst part of Portland’s bike infrastructure. A bike lane between 14th and 19th may be the stretch where it offers the greatest cost/benefit, but it has very “legibility”. If a street has bike infrastructure, that infrastructure should extend the length of the street and make all kinds of connections so an actual understandable network can be built.

    This may be a failure of PBOT: they have excellent engineers who examine intersections and figure out ways to tweak or re-work them, but they seem to be a bit poor in the planning department.

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    • Reza January 16, 2014 at 2:31 pm

      PBOT refuses to stripe a bike lane east of 14th because of an anticipated increase in congestion stemming from reducing motor vehicle capacity. Same issue as Glisan.

      I just take the lane here which is easy enough but would be even better with signals to meter traffic flow at 13th, 9th, Park and 8th.

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      • Dave January 16, 2014 at 2:32 pm

        But it wouldn’t reduce through capacity motor vehicles, just on-street parking capacity… (again, parking).

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        • Reza January 16, 2014 at 3:58 pm

          Oh, and they refuse to give up a lane of a parking because of loss of meter revenue in the Pearl and Old Town.

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          • Dave January 16, 2014 at 3:59 pm

            Yup :-/

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  • Paul Souders January 16, 2014 at 2:13 pm

    I lived in NW a decade ago, before the bike box. I work in NW now. This was always a tricky intersection but in the 90s/early2000s I never had the feeling drivers were *intentionally* trying to right hook me. Which is how it feels like now. Even when I’m on foot!

    FWIW I take the (left) lane on Everett here. All along Everett actually. For the entire length of Everett bikes move fast as/faster than cars. The bike lanes just put me in the blind spot, create ambiguity

    So I guess Iโ€™m voting for left lane.

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    • Eric Sorenson January 16, 2014 at 2:21 pm

      Yep +1 I’m in the left lane anyway. I ride through here a lot because everett is the only ‘green wave’ street from NW 23rd to the river.

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    • Terry D January 17, 2014 at 9:48 am

      I could have written this post as I also lived in the same area a decade ago and have had the same experience over the years. They should just give up and eliminate one whole lane and devote it to bikes since this feeds directly onto the Steel bridge upper deck. We need another route into NE as the lower deck is overly congested. Didn’t take long, a quick I told you so to those who said the Esplanade path was too narrow 15 years ago…I say eliminate auto traffic on the upper deck and let the future DT bikeway system feed into it. The Rose Quarter is so congested as it is, autos could be re-routed to the Broadway and Burnside.

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  • Phil-- January 16, 2014 at 2:21 pm

    I’ve been riding through that intersection for 19 years.
    The right lane is a death trap.
    If there is traffic, take the left lane. The drivers may be angry and honking but that pales to chancing the hurt locker.
    Glad it is on PBOT’s radar.

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  • Champs January 16, 2014 at 2:41 pm

    Sam Adams had the REAL solution years ago, but a bike/ped crossing of I405 and 16th with a continuous NW Flanders greenway isn’t happening. What’s left of that dream is the not-even-half measure of a weird bike lane that doesn’t solve the Glisan problem. You can tell this is a fait accompli just by reading the first pro/con chart (for the signal).

    As a regular user of the intersection, I don’t feel the danger there like on Madison. Much like E Burnside and SE Belmont westbound, NW Everett has the ideal combination of signals, traffic speed, and downhill grade for taking the laneโ€”west of 18th, you have to do that, anyway.

    The numbers don’t lie, though. If vehicular cycling isn’t an option and/or you prefer expedited passage for bicycles (it does back up there somewhat), there aren’t great solutions, but I’d prefer the signal. It’s more conventional, and consistent with how the same situation is handled at N Williams & Broadway near the I5 ramp.

    As a general engineering tip: that overhead sign for the 405 just east of 18th is terrible. Don’t hang a freeway-grade sign over a city street, but if you do, don’t break the standard by putting a prompt to use the right lane above the left lane.

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  • Peejay January 16, 2014 at 2:55 pm

    Capacity trumps safety. America’s Bicyling Capitol, yay.

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  • bil January 16, 2014 at 3:51 pm

    These seem like half-baked solutions, Why not eliminate street parking on the left side from 23 to old town and put in a Cycle Track? No more right hook murders, no more getting doored, no more high-speed cars running you down while sharrowing. In the last two days I have heard two people talk about being hit by cars, one spent the day in the docs, [not at work] and his bike was destroyed, and the other is in the hospital. This is serious stuff PBOT.

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  • Lenny Anderson
    Lenny Anderson January 16, 2014 at 5:51 pm

    Decouple Everett and Glisan and make them normal streets, not high speed urban “freeways.” When I arrived in NW in ’86 that was the first thing that seemed obvious in order to make NW a safer community.

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    • Chris I January 16, 2014 at 7:36 pm

      They just need more timed signals. We don’t always have to sacrifice mobility for safety. Adding signals would reduce average speeds without reducing throughput.

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    • Reza January 17, 2014 at 9:55 am

      Chris I is absolutely right. Couplets are only bad for bike/ped safety when there are long stretches without traffic lights that allow drivers to speed.
      This applies to the stretches between 23rd to 21st and 21st to 19th specifically in NW. Make them two-way and you lose any “green wave” benefit from timing signals at 12 mph. You also make it more difficult to add bicycle lanes or cycle tracks at a later date (when it is more politically feasible).

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  • BURR January 16, 2014 at 5:56 pm

    The first mistake they made at that intersection was putting in the stormwater swale instead of a dedicated right turn lane to the right of the bike lane, and they won’t be able to do much of anything to fix this intersection until the stormwater swale is removed.

    I would never use the bike lane here, I always take the lane, and I will continue to do so even if they put in a dedicated bike signal for the bike lane users.

    Terrible design work already on this intersection, anything else they do is likely just going to be a bandaid on a broken arm.

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    • BURR January 16, 2014 at 5:57 pm

      Or close the freeway on-ramp.

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      • spare_wheel January 17, 2014 at 12:38 pm

        Cheap, effective, and it encourages alternative transport.

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  • dwainedibbly January 16, 2014 at 6:07 pm

    I this redesign happens and isn’t an improvement, how likely is if that a “Plan C” would be done?

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  • Kevin January 16, 2014 at 7:13 pm

    Why not put the bike lane on the left side of the one way road?

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    • BURR January 21, 2014 at 1:34 pm

      Because another two blocks down there will be a ‘left-hook’ conflict?

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  • GlowBoy January 16, 2014 at 8:38 pm

    “I feel people, myself included, get into a “driving on the freeway” mentality when they’re approaching an entrance and kind of forget they’re on a local road still.”

    YES! I used to commute through this intersection when I worked in NW from 2000-2003. It was definitely the worst right-hook problem intersection on my commute, and the one that taught me about the “freeway mentality” of many drivers around freeway entrances (and exits!) Unlike some other intersections, most drivers don’t check the bike lane AT ALL when they make that turn.

    A separate phase (such as we have westbound on NE/NW Broadway near both ends of the Broadway bridge) would help, but would add substantial delays for everyone. Until we can get the total redesign on this road, I think the left-side bike lane would be the way to go.

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    • GlowBoy January 16, 2014 at 8:38 pm

      Oh, I forgot to mention … no ODOT involvement? Left-side bike lane FTW!

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  • 2wheels2go January 16, 2014 at 9:01 pm

    I commute by bike 2-3 times a week through here. I get onto Everett at 23rd and take it all the way down to 14th, where I turn left. I take the left lane the entire way down. I have no trouble keeping up with traffic so I’m not impeding the flow. I do this exactly because of the dangers described in the article. I think the separate ped/cycling signals would be good, but I’ll stick to what I’m doing for maximum safety.

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  • John January 16, 2014 at 9:06 pm

    I live on Everett and both drive and cycle through this intersection at least six days a week. The left lane option appears a better configuration than the current arrangement. Most drivers ignore the green box, much less look for cyclists when entering the 405…

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  • Scott Kocher January 16, 2014 at 11:41 pm

    Two more cons with a left side bike lane:
    (1) A left side bike lane would replace the current right hook problem with a similar “left hook” problem at 15th, where lots of traffic turns left to get to 405 NB.
    (2) having to “weave” twice will make using the bike lane a worse option (for riders who are able to keep up with the flow of traffic) than taking a traffic lane and staying in it.

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  • Scott Kocher January 16, 2014 at 11:50 pm

    Wouldn’t a left side bike lane be just like the old design of NE Broadway WB approaching the I-5 ramp? Remember the bike lane that “weaved” to the left of the right-turning traffic lane? That has been redesigned with… a leading/lagging bike only signal.

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    • Champs January 20, 2014 at 1:00 pm

      Streetcar tracks don’t make that such a great idea anymore.

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  • Gezellig January 16, 2014 at 11:54 pm

    I lived in the NL where that design came from and they work better than one would imagine!

    Same here! I totally took them for granted living in the Netherlands and sorely miss them now.

    They are both statistically safer and absolutely perceptually safer than Bike Boxes and Copenhagen Lefts.

    JeffMy understanding is that the policy opportunity is adapting ADA to allow crosswalks to be moved back from the corners.

    I’ve asked a couple urban planners about this design and they seemed to think these could be adapted to ADA guidelines. But I didn’t get any specifics.

    If it’s really ADA that’s holding these back that’s pretty ironic because they significantly reduce pedestrian travel distances across intersections AND make cycletracks actually safe and viable for motorized wheelchairs (which are allowed on bike lanes in Oregon law).

    I think that’s a messaging aspect of better bike infra that’s often lost in the conversation–they benefit a *lot* of other people than just people on bikes.

    So the objections people raise re: ADA have to do with the crosswalks not being right on the corners? This might cause some further problems but how about then switching the sidewalks/cycletracks so that the sidewalks are on the corners? For a rough idea of what I mean I did a quick-and-dirty little sketch here:


    (forgive the crude design–I did this with a mouse in like 5 minutes and I’m also colorblind so I don’t even know what colors those are haha)

    Or hopefully there’s some other way around the problem?

    Intersections are a *huge* deal and cycletracks at intersections in the US are not being done right. At. All.

    Being dumped into a sharrow when you’re most vulnerable? So much fail.

    Bike boxes and Copenhagen Lefts are also terrible. If they must exist somewhere, they should definitely not be in big intersections.

    Adam H.
    PBOT should install this kind of treatment instead: http://wiki.coe.neu.edu/groups/nl2011transpo/wiki/ba51e/images/77dc4.png#1080×650

    Thank you, yes!! Those should be all over. Bike boxes and Copenhagen Lefts are not good infrastructure. Period. I’m tired of them being touted as innovations here in the US.

    After experimenting with different designs the Dutch have known for quite awhile that protected cycletrack intersections like the above work best.

    What will it take to get this in Portland?

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  • Robert Burchett January 17, 2014 at 1:18 pm

    Of the two options in the article, I’d vote for the left-hand bike lane. I don’t see it as a place to _start_ using the NL treatment because of the downhill speeds of bikes and the existing light timing which seems to be a brisk 20+ from NW 23rd on down (and yes I sort of enjoy that part, except that when there is traffic the car muddle will keep you from making the light at 16th).

    At present I always take the left lane, which keeps me alive and allows the option of a left on 18th if traffic is slow. The best plan, borrowing from people above: Get rid of the bike lane altogether, take out parking below 19th and the storm water drop box. The storm water can be mitigated somewhere else or perhaps below grade. Put in a 3-block dedicated right turn lane. Bikes are vehicles here, period. Put in a pedestrian light cycle that can be activated mid-block so people don’t have to stand there through a whole vehicle traffic cycle.

    Existing pedestrian signals are pretty infuriating. Thanks for pushing the button, please wait three minutes for 100 cars to arrive and go on their way before you cross!

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  • Suburban January 17, 2014 at 1:34 pm

    How about just removing the bike lane? Maybe that is counter-intuitive for this forum, but if you also ride with the other traffic, the designated bike lane is already moot.
    Removing parking would compliment this option well.

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    • Oliver January 21, 2014 at 2:26 pm

      I would like to escape the problems created by automobiles. If I have to queue with cars, I might as well drive in dry, high-pro-audio, climate-controlled comfort.

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  • Gezellig January 17, 2014 at 3:43 pm

    JAT in Seattle
    Nevertheless, the usual fawning devotion to Proper Dutch Infrastructure(tm) is galling in its acceptance of the freaky chicane at every intersection, and all this because we can’t count on motorists to be aware of other users and to follow the damn rules of the road.

    As an admitted Fan of Proper Dutch Infrastructure, agreed! ๐Ÿ™‚

    Absolutely agreed that in a perfect world we could just rely on motorists to do what they’re supposed to all the time, and it really is legitimately a shame that we cannot trust motorists to always do so.

    Vehicular cycling is actually a nicely egalitarian ideal (and is still appropriate on many streets–meticulously engineered cycletracks don’t need to go everywhere) but the pragmatist in me sees implementing separated infrastructure in key areas as a less-gargantuan undertaking than somehow trying to reprogram every motorist’s brain–steeped in decades of collective hivemind consciousness and culture about driving norms–to consider others, especially in high-volume areas like arterials/onramps/etc.

    Human nature+the vast physics-related disparities between autos and bikes (not to mention pedestrians, the less-abled, etc.) seems to inevitably lead to bad things.

    The other thing the power protected infrastructure has to do is increase modeshare. Even if a relatively small percentage of car trips (say, 5-10%) convert to bike trips, that’s still a huge boon for the whole safety-in-numbers aspect of biking.

    Another side benefit is that the more people who “convert” to bikes for at least some trips do so, the more we have drivers who have direct experience getting around on a bike. A lot of car drivers today simply don’t have that experiential empathy.

    As for the chicanery, maybe it’s personal preference. ๐Ÿ™‚ It’s only my personal experience but I found that living in the Netherlands and using those left turns every day never left me feeling slowed down. The total lack of stress in using them also affects your perception of the effort/time involved. At least for me! You can get around pretty fast on those things, and they usually have timed lights–pretty rare to have to wait at a red at both corners.

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  • Gezellig January 17, 2014 at 3:57 pm

    motorists get direct efficient routes with timed signals while cyclists are forced to make unnecessary twisting turns into narrow and slow channels?
    no thank you.

    One of the components of that design is timed signaling, so that bikes making a left rarely have to wait at both corners. In addition, even in rush hour it’s still pretty easy to pass people if you want to go faster than the herd.

    Also, at red lights (for cars) the bike green-light goes on first so people on bikes have the first go and have their own timed period to cross free of worry about cars.

    It many look clunky on paper/pixels but it actually works out really well in practice. I used them every day living in the Netherlands and never remember feeling like it took too long to cross or make a left on those things.

    Since these designs also “convert” way more people to bikes than vehicular cycling status quos or bike boxes, the end result is that there are fewer cars to deal with anyway. Sure, this is a cumulative effect–the more these are implemented, the more bike modeshare increases, the less time cars can be given green lights at intersections, etc. So with more pervasiveness, you get more snowball-effect benefits from inertia. But you gotta start somewhere.

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  • Ted Buehler January 18, 2014 at 11:03 am

    Another example of how the bike box design fails to keep motorists in their lane all the way to the intersection.

    The bike box design works to prevent “right sweeps” by vehicles turning right on red and their rear wheels mowing down bicyclists.

    But to prevent right hooks on the green cycle, that white stripe that delineates the bike lane-vehicle lane boundary needs to continue through to the intersection.

    Ted Buehler

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  • Ted Buehler January 18, 2014 at 11:15 am

    Just a reminder — if you see unsafe behavior on the roads, anywhere , anytime, be sure to call the police Nonemergency number and ask for enforcement. 823-3333, as I recall.

    Give them specifics on when to find the worst offenders. Time of day, direction travelled, weekday or weekend.

    The engineering solution to this will likely take 3+ years.

    In the meantime, one way to get safety improvements here is to simply ask that the very readonable existing traffic codes be enforced.

    And, enforcement here will result in better trained drivers at similar intersections across the city.

    Ted Buehler

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    • Ted Buehler January 18, 2014 at 11:16 am

      *reasonable* traffic codes…

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  • Robert Burchett January 18, 2014 at 11:35 am

    Traffic light timing keeps coming up in this discussion. It seems to be more art than science at times. On NW Everett, starting at 23rd Avenue the pace through the lights is pretty fast, and with the long blocks it’s gogogo down the hill. Since about half the people on the street already think they’re on the freeway it gets a little crazy.

    I pity the pedestrian trying to get across at 20th or Trinity. I’ll hold up on the bike for a pedestrian most places but this isn’t really one of them after 3 PM. Yikes. Another traffic light at NW 20th Avenue might help, or a speed indicator set at 25 MPH. Actually two of them, one for each lane.

    Everett has a similar character to NE Couch, where car traffic doesn’t seem to clear well. It’s kind of an indictment of the whole two-lane couplet concept. More and more car drivers are going through NE Davis, and why not? There’s no light from NE 12 to NE Grand and nobody cares about the speed bumps. Also, none of those nasty bus stops. In a perfect world you could sweep out a lane of parking and have the right lane be bikes and buses only, if only bikers and bus drivers could get along–

    I think a diverter on NE Davis would be an excellent idea but it would be a fight to get it. It would probably turn out to be an important freight route.

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  • Alexis January 19, 2014 at 4:57 pm

    Why don’t they just remove the bike lane here until they can do it right and put in a full cycletrack from 23rd to the river (hopefully) or wherever they end it (if not)?

    So much cheaper and easier. It doesn’t help PBOT’s favorite group to talk about, the I but C, but Everett as-is doesn’t work for them anyway, so why not do the cheap and easy fix until you can do the proper one?

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  • Martin January 20, 2014 at 8:17 am

    I think both options would be an improvement, but I would prefer the left bike lane option.

    I used to live three blocks away and I’ve biked through this intersection a lot. Honestly I didn’t have any problems here, I would just be extra careful to make sure the cars saw me before I entered the intersection in the bike lane. It just means going really slow and making eye contact with the driver to make sure I don’t get right hooked….It’s pretty much what I do at any intersection when I’m passing a car on the right. I wish I didn’t have to do that, but I’ve come to accept it.

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  • scott January 20, 2014 at 10:29 am

    They painted it green and then outlined that in white, people. You’re as safe as the gold in Fort Knox. The only way it might be safer is if they painted it taupe and outlined it in salmon, but that seems like taking it a little too far.

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  • Jeff January 20, 2014 at 8:29 pm

    Two years ago I was driving, not biking, but stopped at that intersection waiting to make the hard right turn onto 15th. Ahead of me was the sign saying “no right turn on red.” To my right was the bike lane. Just before the signal turned green, 4 cars passed me on my right, and at least the first two ran the red in order to make the soft right onto 405. I was stuck there waiting for them all to get by so I could make my turn. The bike lane is not a right turn lane people!

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    • Nick Falbo January 21, 2014 at 12:47 pm

      One more reason for protected bike lanes.

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