After more than a year of delay and months of construction, the 50s Bikeway is looking great, and two of the most important components are in place: comfortable crossings and traffic semi-diverters at two major streets. On Tuesday, I swung past to get some photos.
Here’s one of the most expensive but important components of the project: a new HAWK signal at Burnside and 53rd that lets people walking or biking push a button to stop traffic on Burnside, which carries 15,000 cars a day at this corner:
You can also see, in the photo above, the way that signs (two of them in each direction!) bumpouts and pavement markings have been used to allow traffic to turn off 53rd in both directions, but to make it clear that cars shouldn’t turn onto 53rd from Burnside. Here’s a closer look at the narrowed crossing:
I wondered what the nearby Tabor Tavern, which sits on this corner and is one of the few sit-down restaurants in this area, thought of this change. So I went inside to talk to Elizabeth Powell, who was tending the bar. I asked whether blocking through traffic here had made it harder for customers to reach the business.
“Actually, it makes it a lot better,” Powell said. “We have a lot of regulars that live nearby and walk here. I bike here. It’s a lot safer.”
A mile or so south, the neighborhood greenway jogs over to 52nd and then crosses Division Street. This was the site of a major disagreement during the 50s Bikeway process; people who took part in a Mount Tabor Neighborhood Association vote came out 53 to 52 against a plan to block northbound motorized traffic here other than one motor vehicle: TriMet’s #71 bus.
However, the city’s plan to reduce cut-through traffic onto 52nd, which had the support of a large majority of people who showed up to the project open house as well as the Bicycle Transportation Alliance and other advocates for better biking and walking, won out. Here’s the result:
It’s a little hard to capture in photographs, but the space that creates the bus/bike-only lane on 52nd is noticeably narrower than the space where auto and bike traffic are allowed. Here’s an overhead-view diagram of the redesigned intersection, from the project’s engineering documents (in this image, north is to the right):
I’m sure a few people are willing to ignore the signs and simply turn in, but this wasn’t something I observed while I was there. I also watched someone in a truck wait patiently behind the green bike box that serves southbound traffic and restricts right turns on red.
Though we’ve reported on some initial parking issues south of Division, where the project added bike lanes, it’s clear that this north-south route (which also includes various smaller crossing improvements as well as sharrows, speed bumps and wayfinding signs) is a major boon to riding through the neighborhoods it connects, running at just the route where you can avoid climbing into the foothills of Mount Tabor. It’s great to hear that it’s improved access to the Tabor Tavern, too.
“Actually, it makes it a lot better,” Powell said. “We have a lot of regulars that live nearby and walk here. I bike here. It’s a lot safer.”
This type of real world, real people, real business reaction can’t be trumpeted loudly enough. Safer and better for business. Repeat, repeat, repeat.
Yet another reason to ride over to Tabor Tavern besides the great food, beer, and service. Cheers, Tabor Tavern!
I haven’t ever been to Tabor Tavern before, but it sure sounds like a place I need to try out 🙂 … any chance they have outdoor seating that would allow customers to hold a pint in their hand and watch people on bikes roll by? That’s my favorite way to enjoy a cold beer.
I use the new 52nd route every day, and I have been shocked that I have yet to see a car go North at Division. The intersection will be even better then PBOT/PGE come back and removes the pole that is now in the middle of the street on the SE corner!
This got misplaced, sorry.
And yes Tabor Tavern does have outdoor seating.
It’s a great place (way more high end than would guess by the name).
Yes they do. And they always seem to have Boneyard RPM on tap. Cheers! The turkey sandwich and “dirty” fries are excellent.
Because of this story and their pro-comment on this project we went there for dinner last night despite having plans for dinner at another establishment. Excellent, as always.
The Tabor Tavern is also VERY friendly to the North Tabor Neighborhood Association. Their approval of a future road diet on Burnside and buffered bike lanes as part of the future modernization of that stretch of the roadway will be important. I am very glad they like it as the project was approved before they opened in that location.
Pro tip: If the WNBR is held at Normandale Park again next year, the Tabor Tavern’s location off 53rd makes it a great place to people-watch before the ride starts.
“However, the city’s plan to reduce cut-through traffic onto 52nd, which had the support of the Bicycle Transportation Alliance and other advocates for better biking and walking, won out.”
I’m stunned. Amazing. I wonder if anyone is tracking these little wins? Seems rather rare to me that our city/PBOT finds in favor of people on bikes and against putative convenience of people in cars to do just about anything that comes to mind. Wow.
Thanks, Michael, for this review.
I agree completely. And as much as people here take the time to call, write or e-mail PBOT and City officials when they propose or enact something that is bad, we should be diligent in thanking them when they get something right. Positive reinforcement is important in letting them know that smart decisions are noticed and appreciated.
There clearly a big difference at PDOT between citizen opinions and business opinions.
Had the Tabor Tavern complained, at the other couple businesses between Division and 1-84 complained, things probably would have went down differently.
Glad to see the investment in a half signal for the arterial crossings, this type of investment is absolutely necessary if PBoTs parallel network of bike blvds will ever truely become a useful district wide transportation facility vs intra neighbourhood.
Better late than never. I love the improvements!
HAWK + Stop sign at an intersection like that doesnt appear to be MUTCD compliant in any shape or form.
Whats wrong with using what works?
-Standard traffic signal
-Flashing yellow on major street
-Flashing red on minor street
-Button turns signals to flashing red in all directions for 15 seconds.
The HAWK (or pedestrian hybrid beacon, as it is officially known) is completely MUTCD-compliant.
HAWKs also cost less than standard traffic signal ($75-150k vs $250k).
HAWK is compliant, this example installation is not. Read the guidelines.
It was paid for with federal funds, so either way they signed off on it. This intersection looks very similar to many other arterial bikeway crossings across the city.
Because nobody has ever signed off on a faulty plan before…
But again, look at my original point. What is wrong with using a standard installation thats been understood for decades? Why pull out these fancy HAWK toys, and install them in a confusing manor (signal + stop sign at same location).
Standard, off the shelf traffic signal
Flashing yellow (yield) on the major
Flashing red (stop) on the minor
Button actives four way flashing red (stop) for necessary ped crossing duration.
Everyone knows what it means. It’s impossible to screw up installation.
Do you really think confusion is an issue, JJJJ? I’ve been using the crossings at Burnside/41st and Chavez/Taylor since I first started riding in Portland and don’t remember ever finding it confusing. On the contrary I like the “whichever works” effect.
My understanding is that the MUTCD’s failure to recognize HAWKs for intersections is related to the relevant committee chair’s value judgments about the importance of motor vehicle capacity vs. bicycle safety and travel speed, not the concern that a stop sign/HAWK combo is inherently confusing. (Though I agree with you that it is, a little.)
What’s the setup on Vancouver BC’s button-activated greenway crossings? I would guess they don’t use stop signs, but I don’t know.
Yes, I find HAWKs to be very confusing.
The standard rule is that when a traffic signal is off, it means it’s broken, and must be treated as a stop sign. HAWK? Off means go. Wut.
The standard rule is that when a signal displays alternating flashing red lights, it means it’s a railroad crossing and under NO circumstance should you ever go. HAWK? Alternate flashing red means stop and then proceed. Wut.
It’s not just confusing, it’s dangerous.
Throw in a stop sign, and it looks like a temporary setup due to construction where criteria 1 is in effect (off signal is stop).
Or throw in the thing in use. Youre at the stop sign. HAWK is flashing to the main street. Theyre stopped. Do you have the right of way?
The difference is between ‘should not’ conditions and ‘shall not’ conditions. The MUTCD says that PHBs should not be used at intersections, recommending them only for mid-block locations 100 ft or more from intersections. Most jurisdictions that have employed them have placed them at intersections. The protocols for PHBs also do not anticipate the use on cycle routes, so the recommended timing would put cyclists at risk. PBOT does not follow the MUTCD phasing for this reason.
So again, why not use what works for sure?
Works for sure for whom? Full signals run about $250k, while the PHBs come in at about $150k. They are used over full signals usually due to reduced delay to the through street.
A standard signal (three heads, or even two) on flashing red provides no additional wait than a HAWK, which, incidentally, also has three heads.
my main issue with the project is the “copenhagen left” that they put in at the Woodward crossing… motor vehicles are constantly stopping illegally to let bikes in the turn box cross there… I made the mistake of using it once and had to stare blankly at so many stopped motorists… I could have gone after the first car if they hadn’t stopped, but I ended up there for a good minute waiting for traffic to clear after the jam they created…
These are more like “faux copenhagen lefts.” In the Netherlands, this types of crossing has their own bike traffic light (and cycle track across the intersection) to make this left turn. Here, they are trying to use this term for a glorified crosswalk.
that’s why it’s in quotes…
here they just use it as a “safe” place to wait to cross the street for those that aren’t brave enough to take the lane prior to the intersection…
they don’t line up with the crosswalks… vehicles aren’t allowed to stop traffic just to be nice so that another vehicle can cross a road…
they just made the intersection more confusing than it already was…
The 50’s is a huge improvement, and I use it quite frequently! Yayy PBOT!
I do have a wish-list of tweaks though:
*There are two extraneous stop-signs delaying bike traffic between Hawthorne and Belmont. I know they are at offset intersections, but the visibility seems good enough that the cross-street could get the stop sign and the bikeway could have no stop sign.
*Crossing Belmont and Stark at peak times by bike is challenging, especially because the gradient means car speeds are quite high going West. I end up using the crosswalk to make cars stop quite a lot.
The 52nd & Division is my hood, and I have mixed feelings about it. Sure, its good to see some green, but that crossing of Division has some real conflict built into it. Right-turning cars must cross over the bike lane just before the intersection. Sometimes, drivers are polite and wait for me to proceed to the light. But other times, they try to beat me there and nearly cut me off. In many ways this design seems more dangerous. If we have to have such overlapping infrastructure rather than separated cycletracks, we should make sure our laws give the right of way to bicyclists and we have robust public information campaigns for motorists on safely sharing city streets with cyclists.
“In many ways this design seems more dangerous.”
More dangerous than before?
Intersections (esp. ones with right turn only lanes) and bike lanes are always tough. Cyclists do legally have the right of way there, they put up a sign about cyclists having the right of way. I guess with the light being there (almost all cars have to stop anyway) I haven’t had any issues, but I could see how there can be conflict.
Yep. Anytime you build an entry into an intersection in which cars and bikes have to cross paths, that feels more dangerous to me. The “safer” solution would be to maintain the bike lane on the right through the intersection and have a single lane turning right or left, but that would be too inconvenient for cars and we wouldn’t want to do that.
Then you have just as much risk with cars right hooking cyclists trying to bike straight through the intersection (granted this is on an uphill and the light is not green for a very long time).
There are going to be conflicts with pretty much any configuration you put in.
Mixing zones are not ideal but they are a heck of a lot better than a through bike lane that encourages right hooks.
I ride the Lincoln/Woodward section every day, and I have to say that while it’s not perfect from a cycling standpoint, it’s so much better than it was before that I would *never* want to go back to the way it was.
The Woodward intersection is tricky. The sight lines are bad over the top of the hill, Woodward is offset, there is a lot of pedestrian traffic before and after school, it’s just not easy. I agree it would be better if drivers knew what to do, so the only thing I can suggest is signage. I can’t think of a succinct way to say it though- “Cars- stop for pedestrians. Bikes- stop for cars.” doesn’t quite cut it.
The Division intersection is likewise a difficult situation. I think it works about as good as it could also. It will be great when the old pole on the SE corner can be replaced. Waiting at the stop line will be much better when the right turning cars have more room. I’ve had a few NB drivers speed up to pass me before the mixing zone, but usually it works OK. I really appreciate the diverter northbound- it used to be a crazy race to Lincoln.
My only real beef with that stretch are the utility cover dips all over the NB lane. I don’t think they’d be done that way in an auto lane. I don’t think they’re safe in a bike lane.
Overall, for the $$$ spent, I’d say it’s a real winner. Maybe we saved enough for diverters on Clinton…
One reason the Tabor Neighborhood voted against the 50s Bikeway was there was to be NO mitigation for the northbound car cut-throughs from Division to Lincoln on 51st, 53rd, 54th, and 55th. We were told there was no budget for it. No speed bumps. No stop signs.
Something must have changed in the interim. There are now speed bumps on those streets AND stop signs at each Sherman intersection. Traffic is slower through there than before. Yay!
Aren’t they supposed to put in a dedicated right turn lane on Division at 50th? That would help somewhat I would think (most people who went north on 52nd at Division seemed to always seemed to turn left on Lincoln and then right on 50th).
Different budget and project. “Real Soon Now™”
But could still have an impact on local traffic (if it ever does happen, as you say).
While diverters at Burnside are great, I think PBOT should have also installed them at Glisan to really dedicate the I-84 crossing for the almost-exclusive use of bikes/peds. Motorists are able to use 47th and 60th instead.
Good point, Reza. However, I use that road with my son in tow pretty frequently to get to Velo Cult (who, btw, now have Cracker Jacks with the surprise inside), and the car traffic is really low heading North. I have never felt nervous, but not having to worry at all would be great.
I don’t see why that crossing needs to be “dedicated” to any one group of users. There are too few crossings over I-84 as it is. We’re going to have to learn to share them.
I’m looking forward to exploring the 50’s project this weekend. I ride into the Tabor area to get to Mt Tabor, but usually I ride on 60th, it’s never occurred to me to take 53rd.
I would be supportive for a southbound diverter just south of Glisan )and have talked about it with the neighbors and NA members), and a northbound one at Halsey, but there really is a need for that crossing for neighborhood conductivity. 47th already has too much traffic due to the Hospital, and 60th is a mess because for the transit stop and freeway access. North Tabor also does not have a central park, and 53rd is how locals get to Normandale and Frazier parks.
If you are coming from the North and heading to Mount Tabor, I would never take 60’th as it is steep and congested. Here is a Neighborhood Association ride I led a few months back to show off our 60’s Greenway to Mount Tabor. This is on the list in the 4-6 year timeline to get built if the street fee gets past. It is a great route…or will be once the crossings get built. The key is to take 62nd instead of 60th, then cut over to the NE corner of the park at Scott drive/Stark.
This would be a great solution for SE 72nd between Division and Foster (part of which is a emergency route without speed bumps) when the 70’s bikeway happens. Connecting Mount Tabor to Foster and Mt. Scott Community Center.
Keep an eye on the Powell-Division Transit Project going on right now. They will include bikeway enhancements along with the transit upgrades, and the connection along 72nd seems like a great route to tap into.
I was thinking about it more after I posted…71st north of Powell would make a great place to do the Bus Rapid Transit Powell/Division crossover Metro has expressed interest in for that area. Coupled with diverters for bikes and a dedicated bike lane that would be a great move to reduce cut-over traffic on these neighborhood streets. Increased vegetation for separation would also enhance the loosely-planned ‘habitat corridor’ Linking Tabor with Mt. Scott in the Portland Plan urban design framework.
Nonetheless, these aspects of the 50’s bikeway make me more a lot more hopeful that future efforts will be done right. Great to see in the city!
Why run the BRT – here’s hoping that it lives up to that name by having actual dedicated lanes – on 71st and miss all the destinations on 82nd? Bus lanes on 82nd! 🙂
80th would be a better NG.
Anyone have a sense of how many blocks of 52nd/53rd were fog sealed as part of, or coincident with, the project? It sure looks like some of the route is freshly sealed. That makes it so much nicer to ride.