Readers share concerns as Williams Ave traffic spills onto Rodney greenway

Posted by on October 17th, 2014 at 10:48 am

new bike lane on Williams Ave

The lane redesign isn’t done yet, but the
change is already impacting traffic.
(Photo by J. Maus/BikePortland)

Yesterday I got two separate reader emails about the same issue just a few hours apart. Whenever that happens it gets my attention.

In this case, the issue is the increased amount of auto traffic diversion onto NE Rodney as a result of construction and lane configuration changes on Williams Avenue.

Most of you are well-aware by now that the Bureau of Transportation has finally begun construction on the North Williams Safety Project. With the redesign on Williams there is less space for driving and the backups of cars in the past week or so has been a lot worse that usual (and that’s saying something on a long-chaotic stretch of road).

In a press release on October 3rd, PBOT encouraged drivers to use Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd as an alternate route — in part because Rodney is being set-aside as a neighborhood greenway where biking and walking are prioritzed. However, PBOT is well aware that some drivers might still use Rodney to avoid backups on Williams (after all, it’s just two blocks to the east). That’s one reason they installed an auto traffic diverter at N Ivy last month.

But that measure (they’ve also installed speed humps) clearly isn’t enough, at least based on the two emails we received yesterday…

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Here’s the first one:

Hi there,

…. I live off Rodney (close to Russell) and was blown away with the amount of traffic flying through the neighborhood from cars trying to escape the backed up traffic on Williams today around 6pm… the city has done a horrible job with this. I am not sure how Rodney is supposed to be a safe alternative for bikes when not much has been done to make Rodney less attractive to cars. Yes, they put a few speed bumps in and, yes, they put the diverter thing just before Fremont. But, this is not stopping traffic from cutting over between Tillamook and Fremont.

This stretch of Rodney is narrow and not intended for the amount of traffic I saw tonight. Riding it with my 9 year old and impatient, speeding drivers trying to pass is not safe and definitely not inviting to any new riders. Also, try crossing Fremont with a kiddo during traffic – it’s like playing leapfrog. Again, less than fun. I am seriously disappointed/upset in what is happening over here.

Also, what’s with closing a sidewalk just before the crosswalk at NE Stanton?! Walking and biking safely during this project are not a priority for the city it seems.

I could go on and on with the issues I am seeing – no crosswalk enforcement, etc.., but you get the point.

Have a lovely day.

And the second one:

Jonathan. Hey. Would you happen to know very specifically who I can direct a complaint to regarding what seems to me and my gf to be a huge jump in auto traffic on Rodney. She lives on Graham and Rodney. Usually very quiet. But lately it’s insane! I’m pissed!

Anything you might have would be appreciated.

Because these two readers asked — and because I’m sure more people have had similar experiences on Rodney lately — the best person at PBOT to contact about this issue is Project Manager Rich Newlands. He can be reached via email at rich.newlands@portlandoregon.gov or by phone at (503) 823-7780.

PBOT is dealing with similar situations on SE Clinton and Ankeny where the presence of auto traffic is having a negative impact on bicycle access quality.

This is a complicated issue for the city. The rules of diversion have changed now that PBOT has developed more parallel streets into neighborhood greenways with the explicit purpose of moving bicycles through corridors that are simultaneously experiencing a boom in housing and commercial density — all factors that increase street use demands.

Stay tuned for more coverage as we continue to track these issues and share PBOT’s responses and plans to deal with it. In the meantime, please keep us posted with what you experience out there.

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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. Also, if you comment frequently, please consider holding your thoughts so that others can step forward. Thank you — Jonathan

87 Comments
  • Avatar
    Alan Love October 17, 2014 at 11:00 am

    TAKE THE LANE! I realize this is more daunting when you’ve got kiddos with you, but riding to the right only encourages unsafe driving. Don’t LET people make unsafe, high speed passes, especially when there is oncoming traffic of any kind (cars, bikes, rolloerskates, whatever). Riding to the right = submission. It communicates to drivers that you (on the bike) are deferring your safety to enhance the convenience of drivers. It might seem scary at first, but true sociopaths who will intentionally hit you while taking the lane are FAR fewer than the great many who will “accidentally” hit you because they thought they had enough room to pass. If drivers are inconvenienced, well by golly, perhaps they will choose another non-residential street without all those pesky bicyclists.

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      lee October 17, 2014 at 11:44 am

      First emailer here.. Actually, we do take the lane and I don’t find it daunting to do so as we have been biking together for many years. Really there isn’t an option not to as the street is too narrow (cars parked on both sides, etc). Many times cars have to pull to the side to wait for oncoming traffic to get through the block..

      As Huey stated, this is more about the amount of traffic and lack of planning by the city (see the mess that is/was Division/Clinton?). I don’t feel we should have to (as JJJJ stated) “wait a few weeks before they can look at the problems.” This seems to be a consistent issue around town.

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      daisy October 17, 2014 at 11:54 am

      Alan, I’m guessing you’re not familiar with Rodney. There’s not really any way to ride on Rodney except to take the lane. It’s a residential street with parking on both sides and barely enough room for cars to pass each other in opposite directions when the curbs are parked up. This usually keeps cars going at a reasonable speed.

      That’s what makes passing attempts extra scary, when you’re with kids in particular — people who are trying to pass you aren’t going to have much room to do it.

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      Alex Reed - BikeLoudPDX October 20, 2014 at 10:29 am

      BikeLoudPDX will be taking the lane together in a fun party on Thursday 11/23 🙂

      RODNEY TRAFFIC CALMING RIDE – BIKELOUDPDX

      The Williams reconstruction project has caused an increase in cut-through traffic on the new Rodney Greenway. We will slowly loop up and down worst affected areas. The goals of this ride are to calm traffic and advocate for permanent diverters. We will meet at the Dawson Park Gazebo at 4 and 5 pm (two ride starts).

      Dawson Park, 101 N Stanton St (Dawnson park gazebo)

      http://www.shift2bikes.org/cal/#23-4672

      http://www.bikeloudpdx.org/

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    Kirk October 17, 2014 at 11:12 am

    Before the Williams Avenue Street Safety construction kicked off, I relied on Rodney for being the low-stress route to escape the craziness of Williams. I figured the amount of auto traffic diverting to Rodney once construction began wouldn’t be THAT much of an increase as it often takes people driving a little while to figure out faster alternate routes.

    Nope, not at all. To their credit, they’ve learned fast. The amount of car traffic on Rodney north of Russell is just insane for what is supposed to be the low-stress alternate route meant for bikes – especially during the craziness of construction nearby.

    The speed humps don’t do much at all, because it isn’t so much a speed issue, but a traffic volume issue. The pressure to get out of the way of cars revving their engines behind you is disgusting, and I am now trying to figure out what other route to travel along to get home as my go-to routes originally consisting of Williams and now lately Rodney are both broken. Completely broken. We need PBOT to be much stronger on this issue now. This is getting absurd.

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      paikiala October 17, 2014 at 1:21 pm

      How close did PBOT space the speed bumps? The NG standard is not more than 350 ft apart.

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        Kirk October 17, 2014 at 1:26 pm

        Paikiala – as I said above, I’m not concerned about the number of or the spacing between speed humps along this stretch of road as car speeds really aren’t the issue. It’s the volume of cars that is an issue, something that speed humps do little to deter. The road is narrow, so even if a car is wanting to pass at 15 mph it is extremely uncomfortable. We need diverters, not speed humps.

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          Chris Anderson October 17, 2014 at 4:29 pm

          With enough diverters you don’t need speed humps, and that concrete can be used to make raised sidewalks through the cross street intersections (to help cut down on stop sign running.)

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            paikiala October 20, 2014 at 12:55 pm

            Raised crosswalks, speed bumps, stop signs, none of these ‘stop’ motorists. It is the motorists’ themselves that do the stopping.

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            paikiala October 20, 2014 at 12:56 pm

            BTW, speed bumps cost $2200 each, raised intersections about $50k – it’s a drainage thing.

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    JJJJ October 17, 2014 at 11:17 am

    Usually these types of traffic bumps are temporary during construction. Im sure the city will ask them to wait a few weeks before they can look at problems and come up with changes.

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    Huey Lewis October 17, 2014 at 11:24 am

    Hey Alan. I wrote that second email to Jonathan in this post. Taking the lane has nothing to do with nothing right now. Traffic is up on what just a few short weeks ago was a really mellow and chill NE Rodney.

    JM, thanks a lot for this. I’m sick of the city being weak willed when it comes to making our streets safe for those that don’t choose to/can’t drive. I’m a supporter of housing infill and while I don’t love all the shops that have opened on Williams I’m glad that it’s not what it was when I first moved into this neighborhood in the 90s. Just because more people are living and hanging out in this neighborhood (or yours, reader) that doesn’t mean we can’t make strong and progressive choices about how we construct our streets and how we want people to use them. We absolutely must do better than we do now.

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      Alan Love October 17, 2014 at 11:44 am

      My intent was to say that taking the lane is a form of traffic diversion. Rather than rely on the the city to put up barriers, if there are enough people on bikes “inconveniencing” motorists, they will choose other routes (aka the Clinton-full-stop ride). That said, I hardly ever ride that area, so perhaps I should shut my digital mouth.

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        daisy October 17, 2014 at 11:56 am

        Yeah, the suggestions you’ve made are pretty much what people are already doing here.

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        Beth October 17, 2014 at 1:25 pm

        I am not willing to be a human traffic diverter, and I do not ride fast enough to make car drivers happy. So — what’s your next suggestion?

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    Justin Gast October 17, 2014 at 11:41 am

    Washingtonians are the problem here.

    How much would the traffic situation change if you removed every Washingtonian from the mix? It would probably be a drastic, positive difference.

    It’s still not the greatest option, but, Washingtonians should be flying up Interstate and getting onto I-5 at the northbound Delta Park onramp. So many of them (and I see it EVERYDAY) try to get ahead of I-5 NB traffic by dangerously getting on at the Rosa Parks NB onramp, I don’t have enough fingers or toes to count how many right-hook close calls I’ve seen.

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      daisy October 17, 2014 at 11:57 am

      I’m not convinced it’s just the Washington folks, as traffic is backed up well before Fremont and Russell. Sure, the Vancouver commuters can get onto Williams earlier, but most of that traffic typically comes from people coming off of the Fremont Bridge/405. The back-ups are happening well before that.

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      daisy October 17, 2014 at 11:58 am

      Also, I do bike here daily and there are plenty of OR plates. We can’t blame everything on Vancouver, you know?

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        Huey Lewis October 17, 2014 at 12:04 pm

        I grew up over there. I say we can and should most the time.

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      Rob Chapman October 17, 2014 at 12:23 pm

      The problem is that Washingtonians (and many, many Oregonians to be fair) don’t fly up Interstate because it backs up. Instead they fly up N. Montana, four way stops, pedestrians and pets be damned.

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    Adam October 17, 2014 at 11:54 am

    I would recommend emailing Rich Newlands for sure. But he doesn’t seem too concerned about high auto traffic on bikeways. I know this, because I emailed him to express my concern about the ridiculous amount of car traffic on NE 53rd between Glisan and Halsey, and essentially received an email back saying, “Whatever!”.

    I would recommend emailed the City’s chief Traffic Engineer instead – Rob Burchfield. I understand he holds a lot more sway over these kinds of issues. If you want diversion nearer Tillamook (I do too) email him!

    I’m not 100% sure of his email, but I’m sure it’s something like Rob.Burchfield@portlandoregon.gov

    Anybody able to confirm this?

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      Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) October 17, 2014 at 12:04 pm

      Adam (and others),

      In my experience, Rich Newlands is one of the good guys. He works hard and he’s juggling a lot of very complicated and large projects at any given time (he’s also the lead project manager on the 20s bikeway).

      As you contact them and think about the issues you see on the streets, please keep in mind that PBOT staff are not robots, they are real people who are trying to do the best job they can. They are also carrying out orders often handed down to them from managers and/or other more powerful people above them.

      One big issue that I’m not sure is appreciated enough by many people is that the PBOT budget is so bad and has been so bad for so many years that their staff is way too lean to deal with all the components of getting a big bike-related project built. Because these bike projects are relatively low-budget compared to zillion-dollar transit projects or several hundred million dollar freeway projects – they have a skeleton crew of staff to go with them.

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      paikiala October 17, 2014 at 1:24 pm
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      Shawn October 18, 2014 at 11:37 am

      Rich was extremely receptive to my email concerns about traffic on Rodney, and we had what I thought was a very courteous and productive email exchange about it. A short time later I heard that the City was going to install a traffic diverter at Rodney & Ivy, which has been very effective at reducing traffic on that part of Rodney. So in my experience he is very aware, concerned and responsive to citizen concerns about high auto traffic resulting from the Williams project.

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    m October 17, 2014 at 12:09 pm

    This post perfectly explains the exact point I (and some others) was making in the other post about the recent NW Examiner article. All this project does is piss off drivers off who will then take cut through street as an alternative. They won’t be suddenly abandoning their cars for bikes. The better alternative here would have been to make Rodney the best possible biking road by installing diverters, speed bumps, and stop signs. The EXACT same thing is going to happen when traffic backs up on NE Broadway. Cars won’t just sit there. They will simply move over to previously quiet streets like Tillamook.

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      Adam October 17, 2014 at 12:11 pm

      Not if Tillamook has a diverter every single ten blocks they won’t! And that’s the entire problem. PBOT is so afraid of diversion as a tool.

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        m October 17, 2014 at 12:15 pm

        Drivers are like water. They will always find the path of least resistance.

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        Chris Anderson October 17, 2014 at 4:36 pm

        I want to get the Local Service Street classification updated to suggest ample diversion as the norm on ALL neighborhood streets (not just Greenways). There’s no reason to drive more than 3 blocks on a neighborhood street, so we should be liberal with diverters. (Many diverter designs are emergency-vehicle passable).

        If you like that idea, commenting here won’t help, but all it takes is a simple email to get the ball rolling on making it official policy. Instructions and a template email are here: https://gist.github.com/jchris/c62c2404940dd1929e5d (Diverters are the second to last item.)

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          Jen October 21, 2014 at 2:45 am

          So is “diversion” to make sure that car traffic sticks to mostly just a few major streets? Kind of like the ‘burbs with all the dead ends and cul-de-sacs and horrendous traffic on the major streets? Gee that sounds absolutely lovely. Not. Not to mention the massive uptick in pollution from all the cars stuck in traffic because they can’t efficiently divert. Like on Williams now. I’ve never seen it so bad. I think keeping the “porosity” of the grid system is still a good idea in this booming city. Not to mention the frustration levels for cyclists and drivers of being constantly diverted by construction and now planned diversions. BTW, I’ve lived and bike commuted in this town for over 20 years. NE resident.

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            Chris Anderson October 21, 2014 at 10:11 am

            Diversion is intended to make it so aggressive drivers have no incentive to threaten you with their car. (If only the driver community would just pick up the “all drivers” hotline and tell the worst drivers not to do that, diverters wouldn’t be needed.) When they insist on being impatient, reving and honking, you can just ride a block and they have to turn but you don’t. This is required if we want the streets to be an inviting place for children to ride / play.

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        Jen October 21, 2014 at 9:48 am

        All these “diversions” will create massive congestion, thus more pollution and frustration. Newsflash: we live in a city. I love it when I can ride my bike or walk somewhere but I don’t always have that luxury, like many people (time constraints, young children who need to get to a lesson on time, shuttling elderly parents to doctors appt., a job that frowns upon sweatiness and helmet head etc) I’m tired of this NIMBYism.

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    tye October 17, 2014 at 12:13 pm

    I’ll go one step further on Washingtonian driver percentage. How much of this N/S traffic congestion would be reduced if the replacement I5 bridge had been approved. I live near Cook and Williams and want clean air to breath and safe multipurpose road use. I fear this is just the beginning of transportation conflict in this area. The projection of a 50% increase in Portland population within the next 10 years is foreboding. I expect more traffic law enforcement will be needed, as well as as progressive improvements in alternative transportation options for N/S traffic.

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      Robert Getch October 17, 2014 at 1:50 pm

      Probably not very much. In general traffic and congestion follow a flow for road projects. Congestion peaks right before the start of the project then tapers or holds through the project. Once it completes it drops down significantly but usually returns to the level it was before after 5-10 years. (give or take). You can never build your way out of road congestion with more roads. Transit projects tend to do better at reducing congestion in the long run but the problem is that there is never that visible and significant drop in congestion (it only succeeds in the long run). Which leads people to think “all we need is more road space because it worked last time they added more”

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      Chris I October 17, 2014 at 3:16 pm

      Expanding the I-5 crossing to ten lanes would actually increase the surface street traffic on North Portland streets. You would have had 5 southbound lanes across the river, and then 3 southbound lanes through N Portland. Where do you think those other two lanes of traffic go? Onto the surface streets. The CRC would have provided some northbound relief for a few years, by eliminating the northbound bottleneck. But ten years from now, we would be right back where we are now, as the reduced travel times to Portland drive even more sprawling development in Clark County, and more and more cars cross the river each day.

      The absolute best thing that can happen for traffic on Rodney and N Williams is more housing in the Williams neighborhood. More residents that walk, bike, and take transit to get around. Fewer residents that live 20 miles away from work and feel rushed, driving around our surface streets at high speed.

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        spencer October 17, 2014 at 3:31 pm

        Exactly! As long as its convenient to drive 20 miles to work, people will do just that. The Williams neighborhood is 10 minutes from downtown by car or bike. In ten years, it will be 20-30 minutes from downtown by car (and 10 by bike). In twenty years, it’ll be 30-40 minutes from downtown by car ( and 10 by bike). You see my logic? We will have to wait until ALL of the close in property is bought and lived in by bike/walkers/bussers. Then the inner SOV volumes will actually decrease. Its naive to think that we’ll all be able to get along as someones’ going to get squeezed. Right now its us bikers, soon the tables will turn, and those who own property close in will still be able to bus/ walk/ ride to Downtown. I live in Woodstock and I’m at that 50% mark with convenience as it takes as long to drive as it takes me to ride, so the choice is easy. Riding 15 mph to work is way mo betta than sitting in 15 mph SOV gridlock in inner Portland.

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      was carless October 18, 2014 at 11:30 pm

      It would probably double or triple the amount of traffic in Portland, as there would be 2 or 3 times as many housing units constructed in rural Clark County for suburban residents to then commute into Portland on the new CRC bridge.

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      Ted Buehler October 19, 2014 at 1:51 pm

      As others have stated, having the CRC bridge built (in 2022) would only increase congestion in the MLK/Williams/I-5/Interstate corridor.

      Right now, the pinch point is the bridge over the river. The number of Washingtonians choosing to commute by car into Portland is limited by the capacity of the bridge.

      If they opened up a 10 land bridge, the pinch point would be the Fremont to Lombard section of the route. And you’d have many more cars trying to cram themselves onto the MLK/Williams/I-5/Interstate corridor, because there would be a reduced delay at the river crossing itself. Flooding inner N/NE with Washington commuters.

      We, in Portland, are much better off with the existing bridge. The morning traffic stacks up on I-5 south in downtown Vancouver, blowing smog and gridlocking that corridor, rather than blocking up inner N/NE Portland. And the evening traffic clogs up around Delta Park, rather than gridlocking Portland from Fremont to MLK.

      Ted Buehler

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    daisy October 17, 2014 at 12:58 pm

    Thanks for this post, Jonathan. First, a correction: Rodney is only one block east of Williams south of Fremont. South of Fremont, the streets go Williams – Rodney – MLK. That probably makes it even more congested than the areas north of Fremont, where there are four north-south streets (Cleveland, Rodney, Mallory, Garfield), not just one.

    There are a few problems in particular during the construction phase:

    1.) The new curb bump-outs on the east/right side of the street have already been cut out, in many cases taking up most of the current bike lane. There are a few really awkward spots where cars only have one lane and often get backed up, and then the current bike lane (to the right of cars) narrows, briefly, to something like a foot wide. Maybe it’s wider than that, but if you don’t go right up against the cars, you’d end up in the big hole where eventually a new curb will be.

    2.) Even before the road re-alignment, the area near Fremont has been a mess, with lots of block-sized construction projects taking over sidewalks and some road lanes. That’s temporary, of course, and beyond PBOT’s control, but it was already feeling pretty chaotic out there.

    3.) With vehicle traffic backed up several blocks on Williams south of Fremont (and probably north of Fremont, but I live south of Fremont so I don’t see that as much), if you’re on your bike, it’s ridiculous to attempt to turn left. You have to do a Copenhagen left, really, but then cars are so impatient that, even though they’re stuck in traffic, they don’t really want to let cross-traffic through.

    4.) A lot of cyclists are continuing to zip through and pass other bikes, even in the narrowest spots. I find this really frustrating. There’s a lot going on for everyone — is it so much to ask fellow riders to slow a bit?

    I’m taking Rodney now, when I’m going home (I live just east of Williams). But if I’m going west of Williams, I’m seriously thinking about taking Broadway to Flint and then going on the sidewalks up Vancouver.

    In the short term, I really hope more drivers just stay on I5 or go to MLK.

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    Jayson October 17, 2014 at 12:58 pm

    I don’t bike this corridor regularly, so I don’t know the status of the safety project. Is it done? If not, seems like the City could put up some temporary diversion or traffic signs saying “no through traffic” combined with a traffic safety cop posted on the Rodney for the peak traffic hours next week?

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      daisy October 17, 2014 at 1:07 pm

      The safety project isn’t done. That’s really what seems to be causing the big mess — the transition to the new lane configuration.

      They’d really need a traffic cop at several intersections, but it’s an interesting idea.

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    TJ October 17, 2014 at 1:12 pm

    Bike advocates wished for much of the new in-fill construction on Williams and Division. I’m not supposing this to be bad, but perhaps future wishes should be more complete: I’d like a pony, a place to keep my pony, and allowance to feed my pony.

    Personally, I still believe Portland needs to encourage the livability of the suburban stretches outside *82nd. We need in-fill from the outside in.

    *When I first moved to Portland, it was not hip to live outside of 62nd or Hollywood for that matter.

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      Chris I October 17, 2014 at 3:19 pm

      Do you have any evidence that the infill apartments are creating this auto congestion?

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        TJ October 20, 2014 at 11:20 am

        It’s not just infill from apartments. It’s the creation of trendy destination and allowing developers to get away with: everyone will walk or bike, so we don’t need to parking or to address traffic flow concerns. New Seasons on Williams is my favorite example.

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      davemess October 17, 2014 at 5:32 pm

      It’s still almost completey unhip to live outside of 62nd, or really 39th.
      I don’t think increasing density in East Portland, where there is already a lack of everything (parks, streets, sidewalks, JOBS, bus service, bike infrastructure, etc.) is necessarily the way to go. And even if the city tried to really push this, they still have to convince people that it’s a place they want to move/live. Most people in East Portland are currently there for the low financial price points, not because it’s a hip scene.

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      Alex Reed - BikeLoudPDX October 18, 2014 at 7:16 am

      Actually, we already tried that, in 1996-2010. Lots of apartments (generally cheap ones) were built in East Portland, and not that many in the inner Eastside. East Portland’s traffic deaths and unpaved streets (some of which were the only access to the apartments!) got worse. Many poor people from the inner Eastside got priced out (partially because not enough new construction was being built there), and a good number of them moved to East Portland. Density got a bad rap in East Portland because it A) happened at the same time as falling median incomes and an increase in crime in the area and B) was not associated with a corresponding leveling-up of infrastructure and parks to go with the increased population.

      Overall, I’d say that we tried that plan, and the outcomes were bad. How about we try building a bunch of new housing in close-in areas with soaring demand next?

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        TJ October 20, 2014 at 11:24 am

        Not sure you’re replying to me (on this old thread), but I said increase livability: stores, entertainment, transportation, etc. I did not say increase density in East Portland.

        We need more destination that folks can bike to. The problem is purely housing, it’s that many folks who live in East Portland (or West) want to spend a day or an evening (happy hour) on the trendy Portland streets. These folks are driving for noodles on Division.

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          davemess October 20, 2014 at 1:59 pm

          “We need in-fill from the outside in.”
          Whether you mean to say it or not, this implies increasing density.

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    RH October 17, 2014 at 1:26 pm

    I wish working hours could be staggered. Roads could then my utilized much for efficiently since a lot of traffic would be spread out over a few hours instead of all at once.
    Then again, I started biking because of how bad traffic was during one of my car commutes…It’s been 8 years since that day and I love it!

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      Dan October 17, 2014 at 9:27 pm

      My work has semi-flexible hours (we have to be in the office 9am – 3pm). I’m able to work 6:30am to 3pm, and it’s great, whether I’m biking or driving. I don’t know if I could ever do 9 to 5 again.

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    paikiala October 17, 2014 at 1:29 pm

    Good project management considers the project phasing. Putting in the bike facilties first, and shifting bike traffic over, would seem like a better way to implement the project. Doing the east side improvements seems like the last phase to me.

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    anonymous October 17, 2014 at 1:42 pm

    Sounds like a job for…..bikeloudpdx!

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      Alex Reed - BikeLoudPDX October 17, 2014 at 4:36 pm

      Indeed, we are planning a ride as we speak!

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      soren October 18, 2014 at 10:07 am

      RODNEY TRAFFIC CALMING RIDE – BIKELOUDPDX

      The Williams reconstruction project has caused an increase in cut-through traffic on the new Rodney Greenway. We will slowly loop up and down worst affected areas. The goals of this ride are to calm traffic and advocate for permanent diverters. We will meet at the Dawson Park Gazebo at 4 and 5 pm (two ride starts).

      Dawson Park, 101 N Stanton St (Dawnson park gazebo)

      http://www.shift2bikes.org/cal/#23-4672

      http://www.bikeloudpdx.org/

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    Jason Brune October 17, 2014 at 2:09 pm

    I ride up Williams Ave daily and I would like to bring up another concern during the Williams Ave traffic transition. With auto traffic limited to a single lane, there seems to be a greater potential for pedestrians and people riding bicycles to be t-boned at intersections due to the courtesy of the automobile drivers on Williams Ave.

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      SC October 17, 2014 at 8:56 pm

      In fact, I was right-hooked yesterday by a car turning right through the bike lane just after the merge just south of San Rafael. I’m not certain if they had any sort of blinker on at all, and they were obviously avoiding the ridiculous backup of car traffic by trying to divert abruptly into the neighborhoods.

      The good news: They only hit me, not the stream of bikes infront and behind me, I’m in one piece and they have insurance that they willingly provided after they pulled over.

      Trust me, I’m as rugged as they come for bike riding in this town, and the construction on Williams is scary as all get-out to me. After my bike is fixed up, I’ll be finding a new route so I can stay off Williams for my ride home (to the Cully neighborhood, where taking Killingsworth halfway across town is the LEAST stressful portion of my ride).

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    Spiffy October 17, 2014 at 2:32 pm

    time for BikeLoudPDX!

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      Alex Reed - BikeLoudPDX October 17, 2014 at 4:37 pm

      Protest ride coming soon! Stay tuned!

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      soren October 18, 2014 at 10:07 am

      RODNEY TRAFFIC CALMING RIDE – BIKELOUDPDX

      The Williams reconstruction project has caused an increase in cut-through traffic on the new Rodney Greenway. We will slowly loop up and down worst affected areas. The goals of this ride are to calm traffic and advocate for permanent diverters. We will meet at the Dawson Park Gazebo at 4 and 5 pm (two ride starts).

      Dawson Park, 101 N Stanton St (Dawnson park gazebo)

      http://www.shift2bikes.org/cal/#23-4672

      http://www.bikeloudpdx.org/

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    Oliver October 17, 2014 at 2:36 pm

    Put in “no-turn” signs on to Rodney Northbound.

    Along it’s entire length.

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    Shawn October 17, 2014 at 2:55 pm

    I live at the corner of Rodney and Fargo, two blocks South of the new traffic diverter the City installed at Rodney and Ivy. In this part of Rodney, I believe that auto traffic has dramatically decreased since the diverter was installed, and is significantly less now than even before the Williams project started. I have already communicated this to Rich Newlands. To me this is strong evidence of the effectiveness of this type of diversion infrastructure, and suggests that more diverters like this could solve the traffic issues others are apparently seeing further South on Rodney.

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      Jonathan F. October 18, 2014 at 11:57 pm

      Interesting, because you’re only a block away from the person who wrote the second email quoted in this blog post, and he or she says the opposite–that the traffic on Rodney has increased significantly. Maybe you’re observing at a different time of day, or maybe these issues are just not black and white sometimes.

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        Jonathan F. October 18, 2014 at 11:59 pm

        Make that four blocks away. But still.

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    Rob Chapman October 17, 2014 at 2:59 pm

    I was on Williams when the new stripes were painted and it even though it makes perfect sense, the immediate traffic calming effect that it had was amazing. No more Williams Motor Speedway!

    I think the best thing about this project is going to be the pedestrian bumpouts (is that the proper term?) especially near the hospital. Dawson Park has been packed with people since it reopened and I can’t tell you how many times drivers AND cyclists have blasted by me when I’ve stopped to let peds cross. Hopefully these bumpouts will make crossings a bit less like playing Frogger. Sometimes good design is necessary to help people do the right thing.

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      m October 17, 2014 at 4:27 pm

      All this project does is promote NIMBYism on a micro level. It will not get people out of their cars. Instead of people cruising down Williams, they will be cruising down previously quiet streets like Rodney. Put diverters on Rodney in response? Folks on NE 7th will be subjected to a ton more traffic.

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      paikiala October 20, 2014 at 1:01 pm

      Curb Extensions, officially in Portland. Elsewhere, bump-outs, elephant ears (UK).

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    Craig Harlow October 17, 2014 at 4:34 pm

    Does anyone know if sharrows have been applied on Rodney yet, to indicate to all users that bikes are specifically being accommodated for riding in the center/main portion of the lane?

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      daisy October 17, 2014 at 4:49 pm

      No sharrows yet, but there’s nowhere else to ride. Rodney is narrow.

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    Alain October 17, 2014 at 4:42 pm

    I’m sitting in my studio now, located on N Williams two blocks south of Killingsworth, and there is a noticeable difference in traffic volumes and traffic noise. Normally, on M-F starting around 4 pm, the street gets much noisier. It’s not unusual to hear honking and yelling. Haven’t heard this nonsense since the transition started. Thanks PBOT!

    This is definitely that in between period when drivers are adjusting to the changes, and hopefully realizing that Williams, Rodney, etc, are not quick cut throughs anymore. With more time, I’m guessing the traffic volumes will drop further.

    As far as the cut through traffic on Rodney, perhaps a MASS, or a SWARM, or BikeloudPdx could do some routine rides on Rodney to help with the diversion and traffic calming. A pack of 20-30 riders might help push auto drivers further east to MLK which is where they should have gone in the first place. That, or stayed on I-5 and accept their fate!

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      Alain October 17, 2014 at 4:44 pm

      BTW, I rode up the new left-side bike lane two nights ago and the new lane is far, far better than the old lane. Not perfect, but not the old lane.

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        pdxpaul October 17, 2014 at 9:16 pm

        I’ve been doing it, too, and it’s a bit odd having the cars on my right. I wish they didn’t have all that junk in the lane to avoid.

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      m October 17, 2014 at 4:49 pm

      Exhibit A for NIMBYism on a micro-level.

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        Alain October 17, 2014 at 7:14 pm

        Are you talking to me… m?

        Williams improvements affect me positively, as I live on Williams, these improvements also happen to positively affect all those who drive, ride and walk on Williams. Not sure I get your point m. Maybe you could elucidate and provide a bit of discussion…

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          m October 17, 2014 at 10:24 pm

          My point is that the benefit you are experiencing by a reduction in traffic caused by these change does not mean there will be fewer cars on the roads as a result. It simply means that cars wishing to travel North/South during congested periods will simply use alternative methods such as what is described in this article to get where they want to go as quickly as possible. What was a problem for you has now been shifted over to people on Rodney.

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            paikiala October 20, 2014 at 1:07 pm

            Interesting conjecture. Of course, actual data after construction has settled down will provide a more accurate picture.

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      Alex Reed - BikeLoudPDX October 18, 2014 at 3:21 pm

      RODNEY TRAFFIC CALMING RIDE – BIKELOUDPDX

      The Williams reconstruction project has caused an increase in cut-through traffic on the new Rodney Greenway. We will slowly loop up and down worst affected areas. The goals of this ride are to calm traffic and advocate for permanent diverters. We will meet at the Dawson Park Gazebo at 4 and 5 pm (two ride starts).

      Dawson Park, 101 N Stanton St (Dawnson park gazebo)

      http://www.shift2bikes.org/cal/#23-4672

      http://www.bikeloudpdx.org/

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    Dwaine Dibbly October 17, 2014 at 7:15 pm

    How much of the congestion on Williams is due to temporary closures from construction? How much of it is due to permanent lane reconfiguration? I’m trying to figure out how much of the problem is going to fix itself when construction is complete. Or, is this going to be an on-going problem that is going to take some sort of fix?

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      Rob Chapman October 17, 2014 at 7:48 pm

      Dwaine, for what it’s worth my feeling is that the construction chaos has actually made riding on Williams significantly less stressful. The speeds are lower and everybody seems to be paying more attention. Man I can’t even remember the last time I was honked at or cut off. I think (hope) that the days of being a mini freeway are over for N. Williams soon.

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      Ted Buehler October 19, 2014 at 2:50 pm

      Construction zones have lower car capacity than nonconstruction zones.

      After Williams is done, it will be able to handle more cars.

      But, fewer cars than it did pre-construction.

      But, it will be able to handle more bike. Many more bikes.

      In a year or two, thee improved riding quality of Williams and Rodney will likely entice quite a few commuters to switch from driving to bicycling. See this chart. http://bikeportland.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/bikewaymileschart.jpg

      Good correlation between bikeway lane miles and ridership growth. The 2005 – 2008 jump in ridership is a result of the introduction of the Smart Trips education program, and rising gas prices. I expect the future trends to look a lot like the 1991 – 2004 and 209 – 2011 sections of the chart. More lane miles = more people riding bikes.

      Ted Buehler

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    pdxpaul October 17, 2014 at 9:25 pm

    This whole fuster cluck bums me out. But it’s still better than the bus.

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  • Lenny Anderson
    Lenny Anderson October 18, 2014 at 8:38 am

    $5 toll on the current I-5 bridges would dramatically impact the mode split over the River and the number of commuter vehicles on Portland streets. A one directional toll of that amount is about the same as we paid in the early 60’s (20 cents each way= 40 cents x inflation = about $5). Funds could go into an account to pay for small projects to improve I-5’s operation…reconfiguring the RR bridge, running C-Tran Limited service down I-5 in WA to the Yellow Line, extending MAX to Hayden Island, providing bike/ped/local access to same, designing and building an arterial bridge across the River with MAX, etc. Yes, it would take an act of Congress, but such things do get done from time to time.

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    RH October 18, 2014 at 8:53 am

    I wish gas wasn’t getting so darn cheap….people have less of an excuse to not use their car.

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    Jonathan F. October 18, 2014 at 1:37 pm

    Hi all–my first comment on this blog. I’m moving to a house on NE Rodney soon, so naturally I’m following these developments with great interest. Thanks for the discussion. I’ll add to it by noting that in the last week or so, I’ve seen two cars actually drive right over the concrete berms of the N. Ivy diverter.

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    Ted Buehler October 19, 2014 at 8:08 pm

    Jonathan F — welcome to the neighborhood.

    If you want to see traffic further calmed on Rodney, it will happen a lot faster with the support of the Eliot Neighborhood Association.

    If you live south of Fremont, you’re in the Eliot Neighborhood. They have their monthly neighborhood meeting on the 2nd Monday, and their Land Use and Transportation meeting on the 3rd Monday. 6:30 – 8:30 for both meetings. http://eliotneighborhood.org/

    North of Fremont, you’re in the Boise Neighborhood. We meet on the 2nd Monday of the month for neighborhood business, 4th Monday for Land Use and Transportation. Both meetings are 7-9 pm at the Q Center (Mississippi and Mason) http://bnapdx.com/

    Stop by my place and introduce yourself if you’d like, I’m on the NE corner of Rodney and Beech.

    Ted Buehler

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      Jonathan F. October 19, 2014 at 8:58 pm

      Thanks Ted! I’ll be in the Eliot neighborhood. I’ll look for you when I bike past your place.

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    Kim October 21, 2014 at 9:59 pm

    There have been two occasions on my ride home up Rodney during the past few weeks that I have witnessed smaller cars approach the new traffic diverting barrier at Ivy, slow to asses the distance between the vertical cylindrical barriers atop the raised curb, then drive right through the barrier to continue north on Rodney. I am very disappointed.

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    Diane Dulken October 24, 2014 at 2:13 pm

    On behalf of PBOT, we want to say thanks so much for all of these comments. We really appreciate the feedback. It helps as we keep rolling out the new road design for North Williams.

    The biggest thing we want to stress is that Williams is still an active construction zone – you know that, but it bears emphasis: there are still elements of the bike lane that we haven’t installed yet. Part of the issue is all of the rain we got this week. We need to wait for some dry weather to stripe and install other segments.

    We’re also very aware that an expanded left hand bike lane is an unusual treatment in Portland. Whether folks are walking, biking or driving, it’s going to take some time getting used to. To help with that, we are conducting the “A Safer Place for Everyone” education campaign (you can check that out here: https://www.portlandoregon.gov/transportation/article/502852). We’re also passing out brochures and other info through the neighborhood and we plan to keep up education and outreach to help all travelers adjust to the new street design. For now, the biggest message is to please ride, drive and walk with care. We have to look out for each other out there.

    A few other specifics: We plan to add signage on Broadway to make traffic patterns clearer, which should help reduce conflicts and confusion.

    The issue with cars driving through the Rodney diverter is also on our radar and we’re discussing some possible solutions to that.

    If you have addition comments, concerns or want to share some more info with us. please reach out to Dan Layden on our staff next week. He’s at a conference today, but will be back Monday. You can reach him by email at dan.layden@portlandoregon.gov or by phone 503.823.2804. Thanks again for engaging with us.

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