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What’s in store for NE Rodney? A dispatch from the open house

Posted by on April 11th, 2014 at 11:52 am

NE Rodney neighborhood greenway open house-7

(Photos J. Maus/BikePortland)

As we reported earlier this week, PBOT held their first open house for the NE Rodney neighborhood greenway project on Wednesday night. I wasn’t able to put it on my schedule, but I found myself biking up Williams well before it was scheduled to open at 6:00 pm so I rolled in to see if I could get a sneak peek. Fortunately, PBOT project manager Rich Newlands was already there and everything was set out. I only had a few minutes, but I learned enough to share here on the Front Page.

Judging from comments on our last story, many of you are concerned about all the stop signs currently on Rodney. You’ll be pleased to hear that PBOT’s proposed plan would get rid of almost all of them. Currently there are 19 stop signs (no signals) on Rodney between Broadway and Killingsworth. That’s out of a total of 27 intersections. And the way they’re spaced out means you have to stop almost every other block. That much stopping is a deal-breaker when trying to make a street attractive for bicycling.

According to drawings unveiled at the open house, PBOT would flip 10 of the existing stop signs. While this would still be more stopping than you experience on NE Going, it will be a big improvement over the existing conditions. Below is a detail from one of the posters showing which signs they’ll flip (the ones with orange square outline)…

NE Rodney neighborhood greenway open house-3

Of course, with fewer stop signs, Rodney will also become more attractive to people using cars. Many of you expressed hopes for diversion infrastructure; but at this point there isn’t any in the cards. I still need to confirm this with Newlands, but I haven’t heard about any plans for diversion and there isn’t any mention of it in PBOT’s plan drawings so far.

Another way PBOT will make driving less attractive on Rodney, and to further calm driving behaviors, they plan to install one speed bump per block. They’ll also reduce the speed limit to 20 miles per hour and install one sharrow per block in each direction. Here’s a detail from one of the display boards titled, “Proposed Street Improvements”…

NE Rodney neighborhood greenway open house-1

Perhaps the largest component of this project (at least infrastructure-wise) will be changes at six intersections in order to improve safety: Russell, Fremont, Shaver, Skidmore, Alberta, and Killingsworth. PBOT shared more detailed drawings of several of these crossing treatments…

Killingsworth will see curb extensions and improved curb ramps on every corner:

NE Rodney neighborhood greenway open house-2-2

Fremont is trickiest due to the large off-set. PBOT is considering two options. Option A is bike lanes on both sides with curb extensions…

NE Rodney neighborhood greenway open house-4

Option B is a two-way bike lane on the north side and a rapid-flash beacon at the eastern end. This option would require PBOT to prohibit auto parking on several sections of the street (a total of 13 spaces)…

NE Rodney neighborhood greenway open house-5

At Russell, where traffic from the Wonder Ballroom and restaurants creates stressful conditions at time, PBOT would add two new crosswalks and curb extensions on the southeast and northeast corners…

NE Rodney neighborhood greenway open house-6

At Shaver, Alberta, and Skidmore, PBOT will add just crosswalks. Also keep in mind that, as per usual with neighborhood greenways, all the streets that cross Rodney will get new yellow caution signage that announces the presence of bikers and walkers.

One final note about the timeline: We’ve reported that this project is slated to be constructed this summer. However, I learned from Newlands that PBOT plans to contract out the North Williams Ave project first, and do a separate bid for the Rodney work (you’ll recall that improving Rodney was a recommendation from the Williams Avenue project stakeholders advisory committee). That means crews aren’t expected to begin work on Rodney until September. That’s right at the tail-end of PBOT’s prime dry-weather striping and construction window, so hopefully there are no delays.

If you couldn’t make the open house and would like to offer feedback on this project, you can email the project manager at rich.newlands@portlandoregon.gov.

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

  • Reza April 11, 2014 at 12:05 pm

    Happy to hear that some stop signs are being turned, but this street needs some diversion to be a successful greenway.

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    • sean April 11, 2014 at 4:31 pm

      All the stop signs, all the speed bumps, all the sharrows… I would trade them all for one divertor.

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      • paikikala April 15, 2014 at 12:50 pm

        While turning stop signs is standard practice for a Neighborhood Greenway, speed bumps at 400 ft apart is too far to achieve the 20 mph target operating speed. PBOT NG guidelines put spacing in the 300-340 ft range to achieve 20 mph.
        One or two well placed diverters will cut down on total traffic on a street, but without traffic calming the remaining motorists will have less deterrant to go fast along the street, especially if most of the stop signs are turned. Most speeding problems in a neighborhood are ‘us’ not ‘them’.

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  • A.K. April 11, 2014 at 12:16 pm

    Flipping signs without diversion infrastructure just seems counter-productive. They should go hand-in-hand or these projects shouldn’t be done at all. Stop half-assing it PBOT.

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    • Reza April 11, 2014 at 12:23 pm

      I can easily see Rodney becoming NE Portland’s version of SE 34th, which was (at least at one time) a city bike route, but has no sharrows, only the only old dish plate symbols. 34th is extremely narrow because of cars parked on both sides, as is Rodney, but still gets a fair amount of auto traffic as there are no diverters. Luckily due to the narrow confines of the street, motorists can’t go that fast on 34th anyway…

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      • paikikala April 15, 2014 at 12:51 pm

        The 30’s have not had the Neighborhood Greenway upgrades yet.

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    • Alex Reed April 11, 2014 at 12:49 pm

      On many bike boulevards / neighborhood greenways I’m among those clamoring for more diversion (Clinton! Lincoln!). However, on this street, motor vehicle traffic volumes are currently pretty low (around 650 vehicles daily at Tillamook, source: Portlandmaps.com). For comparison, Clinton at 23rd has around 3200 vehicles daily and that feels like definitely too much.

      When I ride Rodney, the stop signs and crossings of major streets feel like the major obstacles to me, not the cars driving on Rodney. So PBoT focusing on those things and using speed bumps to hopefully hold the car traffic steady seems reasonable to me.

      Diversion infrastructure does seem better to me from a biking standpoint (no bumpiness, more effective) but I’m assuming that speed bumps are cheaper and/or politically easier. If they put enough in to keep motor vehicle volume/speeds similar to what they are now it seems OK to me.

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      • Reza April 11, 2014 at 1:02 pm

        Unfortunately, the problem isn’t at Tillamook, but further north. I’d like to see both weekday and weekend traffic counts at Russell before proclaiming that there is no need for a diverter there.

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      • spare_wheel April 14, 2014 at 11:56 am

        motor vehicle traffic is only low because rodney has stop signs every other block. once they get removed expect a clusterf@#$ absent diversion.

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        • paikikala April 15, 2014 at 12:53 pm

          That’s why speed bumps are added. The NG standard is to keep auto traffic under 1,000 vehicles per day, and to not increase traffic if below that.

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    • encephalopath April 11, 2014 at 2:12 pm

      Without diverters Rodney may become the new Michigan.

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      • paikikala April 15, 2014 at 12:56 pm

        Any factual data to back up your presumption of increased traffic? The only segment that has spiked is the back door to Mississippi, Michigan south of Skidmore, and the 855 of the motorists are going below 25 mph. (Killingsworth to Alberta is not finished yet)

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        • paikikala April 15, 2014 at 12:57 pm

          85% of motorists

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  • Blake April 11, 2014 at 12:24 pm

    For the Fremont crossing, I like the way that N Concord is laid out in the NB direction crossing Rosa Parks with the median so you can cross one direction at a time.

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  • Chris I April 11, 2014 at 12:52 pm

    I have a feeling the residents on Rodney are about to see a few more Washington State license plates…

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    • paikikala April 15, 2014 at 12:58 pm

      Why would a motorist avoiding the I-5 congestion go so far out of the way, past Vancouver/Williams even?

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  • andy April 11, 2014 at 12:57 pm

    I agree there needs to be diversions for it to be a successful bikeway. I live in SE and commute on Ankeny and several cars use Ankeny as a cut through to avoid waiting at various intersections on Burnside.

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    • John Lascurettes April 11, 2014 at 4:53 pm

      But even Ankeny at least has a diverter at 20th (or is that 21st?). It needs more, but it’s something.

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      • Reza April 11, 2014 at 6:57 pm

        It’s 20th and it’s really only a half-diverter because auto traffic can still enter the neighborhoods turning right from 20th, they just can’t proceed straight on Ankeny or turn left from 20th. And people sometimes drive over that barrier as well; it’s not very effective.

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        • paikikala April 15, 2014 at 12:59 pm

          Ankeny is on the retrofit list for Neighborhood Greenways.

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  • MaxD April 11, 2014 at 1:44 pm

    I strongly prefer option A at Fremont. Option B is unexpected and counter-intuitive for cyclists and motorists. Straightforward is safer and better IMO.

    you refer to this (in this article and the previous) as connecting to Broadway, but I don’t see it. Any chance you could elaborate? This seems like an orphan stretch of Greenway that may end up better serving cut-through cars than bikes.

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    • Mike April 11, 2014 at 6:46 pm

      I like Option A too. More intuitive for everyone.

      Did anyone else hear PBOT reps at the open house say that Option A would also involve removing some parking spots, but they just weren’t shown on the drawings? Don’t want to add confusion, but that seems to be an important piece of the dialogue.

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      • paikikala April 15, 2014 at 1:00 pm

        Anywhere there are bike lanes requires parking removal on Fremont.

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  • daisy April 11, 2014 at 2:06 pm

    I couldn’t make the open house either, so thank you so much for writing this up! This is really great news. I’m also concerned about the lack of diverters — I can imagine cars figuring out it’s a way to avoid Williams and MLK to bypass I5 during afternoon rush hour — but we’ll see how it goes.

    I also wonder if they could move parking back a bit on Russell at the intersection with Rodney, so that, when you’re on your bike, it’s easier to see if cars are coming. Maybe the curb extensions will help with that a bit.

    I’m also glad to see the options for Fremont. My family and I walk through that intersection regularly when we walk from our house to restaurants on N Williams, and it’s such a pain to cross there. That’s one of those spots where people in cars like to pretend they don’t have to stop for pedestrians. The crosswalks will definitely help with that. I prefer Option A, not because of the parking situation, but because it adds two crosswalks, which should help with traffic calming in that area.

    I’ll definitely contact the project manager, too. Thanks again!

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  • Audrey April 11, 2014 at 3:22 pm

    So this is a off-topic, but the other day I drove home (North Portland) from work (downtown) for the first time in like 3 years. I took the freeway and got so angry at all the single-occupancy cars ignorning the HOV lane rules. Does that ever get enforced? No wonder neighborhood cut throughs look are so tempting when faced with the disaster that is I-5 at rush hour. Towards the end of my 5 mile drive I caught myself actively hoping that the scofflaws in the HOV lane would wreck into each other. It is probably good that I never drive, it’s way too stressful and makes me a mean person.

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  • David McCabe April 11, 2014 at 3:30 pm

    I don’t understand what either option A or option B gets you. The problem with this crossing is that you have to make a left turn onto Fremont. Because Fremont becomes congested here, there is generally a long wait for both lanes to be clear simultaneously. Neither of these options removes the need to cross both lanes at once.

    A bicycle-sized center turn lane would allow you to cross one direction of traffic during a gap, then later cross the other direction during a different gap. This should shorten the wait time. The city already has such a turn lane on 42nd, on Stark or Belmont if I recall.

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    • David McCabe April 11, 2014 at 3:35 pm

      Here’s information from the city about that center turn lane on Stark: http://www.pedbikesafe.org/BIKESAFE/case_studies/casestudy.cfm?CS_NUM=301

      It really works well in my experience.

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      • paikikala April 15, 2014 at 1:03 pm

        The center bike turn lanes could also be supplemented at each end with refuge islands, as well as making the bike center turn lane raised up. The cost is more parking removal.

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    • BIKELEPTIC April 13, 2014 at 2:34 pm

      option B gets you annoying hazardous strobing lights, for what it’s worth.

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      • paikikala April 15, 2014 at 3:19 pm

        Annoying and hazardous? The odd thing about showing rapid flash beacons in option B (and not A) is that’s not the way the standard works. There is no basic difference in the crossing distance for option A or B, so either the policy recommends them or doesn’t – NCHRP 562 is the policy and the criteria are crossing distance, speed limit, traffic volume and number crossing.

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  • Adam April 11, 2014 at 7:01 pm

    No diversion. No surprise from a PBOT project these days.

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    • Reza April 11, 2014 at 9:28 pm

      New curbs are expensive. And PBOT doesn’t have the money. But even removable bollards would help tremendously on an interim basis until a funding source is found. Call it a “pilot project”.

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      • Terry D April 14, 2014 at 8:44 am

        They are redoing curbs at Russell…so why not bulb-them-out to prevent north/southbound traffic on Rodney at least? This would only cost a small amount extra if they are doing them anyway for ADA access.

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        • Terry D April 14, 2014 at 8:47 am

          Same with Killingsworth and Fremont….WASTE of money, since the bulb-outs are being built for pedestrian safety, just bulb them out a little more and create a semi-diverter. This is not rocket science, but at least in four years when everyone is complaining about diversion we can add a planter. Planters do not cost very much….

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        • paikikala April 15, 2014 at 1:05 pm

          The proposed curb extensions are on Fremont the outbound side of Rodney, while diverter curb extensions would be on Rodney on the inbound direction, so your proposal is twice as expensive, presuming no drainage impacts.

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      • paikikala April 15, 2014 at 3:23 pm

        A skinny median, like at Going/15th, would fit. It would leave extra wide lanes in the jog, but not enough space for a bike lane. Alternatively, if you did the skinny median and moved the curb out, you could create opposing shared paths on each side of Rodney.

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  • Doug Klotz April 11, 2014 at 11:01 pm

    The added curb extensions at Killingsworth are good, but miss an opportunity. The north side features an existing wide street opening on Rodney, which then necks down north of the intersection. This is a remainder of 1910 construction (the intersection was built wider than the street eventually got built). While building the curb extensions into Killingsworth, why not also narrow the entrance to Rodney north of K., so it’s similar to Rodney south of K.. This will slow down turning drivers (as well as make for shorter pedestrian crossing distances across Rodney.)

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    • Blake April 11, 2014 at 11:23 pm

      Honestly, I hate curb extensions. A good example of why is the curb extension at the N end of the gas station on N Interstate after you cross Rosa Parks (going NB). It is designed (and works) to slow traffic, but it does so at the expense of people riding bikes who are forced to merge into traffic that does not give a rat’s ass about the space on the side of THEIR lane. I would prefer these sections (particularly on roads without a bike lane) had the space cut out on the median (e.g. 15th Ave at Stanton I think) where there is a bike lane added just for 20-30 feet.

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  • Terry D April 12, 2014 at 9:31 am

    That area of town has a greaat built out street grid. Any of the intersections where bulb outs are being added for cross walks, like Russel, it is a waste of money unless they also prevent right turns from the main street into the neighborhood…..we will want diversion later, so why not do it now?

    Because, just like in parking removal, PBOT is way too timid.

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  • jim April 12, 2014 at 11:54 am

    2 years ago when I kept suggesting a Rodney alternative to Williams, I was shunned as a troll. Thanks a lot.

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    • daisy April 14, 2014 at 1:51 pm

      I’m a supporter of Rodney as a greenway, but I never wanted Rodney to be an alternative to Williams! Not in lieu of any improvements on Williams, anyway. When I heard Rodney mentioned a few years ago, it seemed to be along the lines of, “Leave Williams for the cars; bikes can go on Rodney.”

      (I’m not saying this is what you were saying, but some folks were.)

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      • jim April 15, 2014 at 12:35 am

        Making Williams into a one lane road is a mistake. When ever they close one lane for construction, the backup is terrible. If they want to reduce the number of cars on Williams, they have to have another place for them to drive. Interstate is backup up during evening rush hour Greely gets backed up also, MLK is the only N/S alternative left. Do they really want more cars on an already busy MLK?

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        • paikikala April 15, 2014 at 1:07 pm

          How is it that Vancouver moves the same amount of traffic with one lane?

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  • Scott B April 12, 2014 at 11:00 pm

    I just recently moved into the Lloyd District and I have come to rely on Rodney as my main throughway into North & Northeast.

    Hopefully this wont be another failed bikeway because at this time even with the problems it has is a good route.

    My route that I take from my place in the Lloyd takes me down 2nd crossing Broadway & Weidler then bumping over to Rodney by the Portland Design Works office.

    For me the big issue spots are the Broadway/Weidler Crossing, Russell, Fremont, Shaver and Alberta.

    For Russell I would like to see some sort of curb bumps.

    Fremont – A looks like the best option.

    Shaver & Alberta – Possibly curb bumps or something like Ankeny at 20th.

    To answer an earlier question and give some background Rodney changes into 2nd crossing Broadway/Weidler then proceeds past the Crown Royale Hotel to 3rd and joins up with Multnomah so makes a lot of sense to take it across with the aim of eventually putting a protected bike path across Broadway/Weidler ending at Multnomah with all the development that is planned for this area.

    Sadly, I didn’t know about this 1st meeting but would love to be able to go to anymore meetings about Rodney & Williams.

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  • Jonathan Gordon April 14, 2014 at 3:04 pm

    Any chance there would be cuts in the speed bumps like those on Cornell?

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    • jim April 15, 2014 at 12:38 am

      they might be hesitant to do that since it is not an arterial that emergency vehicles frequent.

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      • paikikala April 15, 2014 at 1:10 pm

        Not likely. The cuts in speed bumps reduce how effective they are. At 320 ft spacing the standard bumps get close or achieve an average of 20 mph along the street. With the cuts for fire trucks, the speed cushions have difficulty achieving 25 mph results. They also cost $3k versus the standard bump cost of $2200.

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  • Vinny Dehta April 17, 2014 at 7:12 pm

    Lotsa people who’ve been riding bikes for most/all of their transportation needs for most/all of their adult lives due to the cheapness of the mode have been using Rodney as a way to avoid the recent arrival of masses of ill-mannered right-passing bike commuters on Williams/Vancouver, not to mention the cops. I’d hate to see all of us hafta pay many thousands of tax dollars for some switched stop signs and painted symbols on the street. I’d also hate to see all those bikecommuters migrate over to Rodney. Most of the stop signs are easily runnable due to good visibility–obviously excepting the major intersections. We don’t need expensive “bike infrastructure” on Rodney (nor did we need it on Going). Keep Rodney douchbag-free!

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