The Bureau of Transportation is eyeing NE 7th Avenue between Weidler and Schuyler for its latest street re-design project aimed specifically at improving conditions for cycling.
Northbound on 7th, the project will add a six-foot wide bike lane and a bike box between Weidler and Broadway, then a bike lane and sharrows between Broadway and Schuyler. In the southbound direction, the project will a mix of bike-only lanes and shared lanes with sharrow markings between Schuyler and Weidler. Also in the plans are a bike box on Broadway to facilitate two-stage left turns from 7th onto Broadway.
Here’s PBOT’s latest project concept drawing:
And a close-up of the new northbound bike lane design:
PBOT project manager Chris Armes says this section of 7th has been on the city’s radar for quite some time. Go Lloyd, the local transportation management association (formerly the Lloyd TMA), has also called for bike access improvements in this location.
Why is there a need for dedicated cycling space here?
NE 7th is a key north-south connector through the Lloyd that saw major bikeway improvements as part of the eastside streetcar project. South of Weidler, 7th has a wide, parking protected bike lane. But unfortunately, the bikeway ends north of Weidler, right where things get tight with heavy traffic volumes, on-street parking, two large street crossings, a narrower street profile, and several commercial driveways.
Here’s how the bicycling conditions change as you head northbound from Multnomah toward this existing gap…
On NE 7th just north of Multnomah you have a wide, buffered, curbside bike lane that is quite low-stress:
Then it changes to a standard bike lane just south of Weidler (near Chipotle):
Then all the sudden you are dropped into this environment, which is right where PBOT plans to stripe a six-foot wide bike lane (a far cry from the low-stress environment just two blocks south!).
The type of gap that exists today on NE 7th is a deal-breaker, safety-wise, for many Portlanders.
Here’s the proposed new cross-section between Weidler and Broadway:
And here’s the proposal for the mixed, bike lane and shared environment between Broadway and Schuyler:
Initial plans that circulated through the community yesterday called for a continuous bike lane for the entire two block section. However, Armes said the owner of the Cotton Cloud furniture shop (just north or Broadway) objected to that plan due to access concerns. “We made some adjustments at her property,” Armes said during an interview yesterday, “Because she has that loading zone and overhead doors and we thought we’d have a conflict so we dropped the bike lane and did sharrows instead.” (See image above.)
As it stands now, the changes still leave a gap between a long-established bike boulevard on NE Tillamook and the bikeway on 7th. Asked whether PBOT would consider additional changes north of this project to make a stronger connection to Tillamook, Armes said the road simply gets too narrow and in order to make room for a bikeway they’d have to take out trees and a planting strip. (There would be room if PBOT would be willing to remove the free, on-street parking. We asked them about this in a follow-up but haven’t heard back yet.)
Armes didn’t have a cost estimate for the project (likely inexpensive because it’s just paint striping), but said funding for the project came from Lloyd District parking meter revenue. If all goes according to plan, the changes could be in place by the end of this month. Anyone with comments on the proposal can contact Armes at Chris.Armes@portlandoregon.gov or (503) 823-7051.