Another use for green? City adds bike refuges at SE Ankeny/Sandy/11th

bike in refuge ankeny

Looking southwest down SE Sandy Boulevard from Ankeny, Sandy and 11th.

One of Portland’s weirder intersections has a new splash of color.

As part of its repaving project on inner Southeast Ankeny — which has, for the record, greatly improved the ride between SE 11th and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard — the city has added some interesting and potentially useful new features to the six-way intersection of Ankeny, Sandy and 11th.

This is not only a crossing for people headed east-west on the Ankeny/Couch/Davis greenway, it’s also the point where folks headed up SE 7th/Sandy either continue north toward the 12th Avenue bridge into the Lloyd District and Northeast Portland or else turn east/west. It’s also where people headed into Southeast turn from Ankeny onto 11th Avenue (an underrated biking street if you ask me).

Because of the difficulty of anticipating the numerous turning patterns, this is probably the single most annoying intersection I use frequently myself. I’ve often ended up taking the crosswalks, even though they’re slightly out of direction, because people in cars are more likely to yield to me.

The Portland Bureau of Transportation has made an effort to guide people on bikes more directly through the intersection by marking in green a pair of refuge zones next to the median that divides Sandy at this point. The suggestion seems to be that people bike across the intersection in two distinct stages, waiting in the middle as needed.

looking west no bikes

Looking west toward inner SE Ankeny.

Advertisement

You can also see another new feature here, which seems to be intended specifically for people heading northeast on Sandy and turning east onto Ankeny. It’s a green-striped crossbike that marks a bike’s path across the narrow neck of 11th Avenue:

crossbike ankeny

The white-striped turn section has been marked for years, but the green color treatment is new — presumably to catch the attention of people entering 11th from the north, perhaps with multiple vehicles obstructing their view of anyone riding up the Sandy hill.

This is an interesting pair of treatments in part because it includes two different ways Portland, and the United States in general, has been using green pavement coloring.

The refuges are green in the sense of “safe for bikes to stop here,” like an intersection bike box.

The crossbike, meanwhile, is green in the sense of “all users take caution – potential bike/car conflicts.” In addition to crossbikes, you can also see this at some mixing zones, like the one at SE Division and 60th.

There’s a third use of green as well: solid green bike lanes, like those on SW Stark and Oak, that emphasize that people shouldn’t drive there.

Some people don’t like that green pavement has come to mean such different things in different contexts. Others think that as long as it gets the basic point across — heads up, bikes nearby — the finer details are less important. I’m not sure where I come down, but I’ll be looking forward to seeing if these new markings improve my crossing experience.

Subscribe
Notify of
guest

51 Comments
oldest
newest most voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
AP
AP
7 years ago

As someone who crosses that intersection daily, I noticed myself behaving differently due to the green box.

Previously, I would sit the intersection and wait until I felt safe crossing ALL lanes of traffic. This could be especially tricky because it is always hard to tell which cars were turning left onto 11th and which would continue SE on Sandy Blvd.

In the past week, I’ve noticed myself seeing the green box as the intermediate goal instead of waiting for all lanes of motor vehicle traffic to clear. Small step, but makes the whole intersection more manageable.

That said, like you, I tend to frequently use the crosswalks just because it guarantees a car stopping, especially the dreaded left-turners who always get a tad too antsy.

Kyle
Kyle
7 years ago
Reply to  AP

I use the crosswalks here and at Couch & 39th pretty often, and most of the time I feel like drivers either reluctantly stop with prejudice or defiantly act like they’re going to run me down. As a pedestrian the compliance rate and courtesy level are both much higher. I feel the same way walking my bike in these crosswalks – it seems that a lot of drivers see a bicycle and immediately think “f*** him.”

Laura Krebs
Laura Krebs
7 years ago

I bike this intersection daily and it is extremely frustrating. I honestly do not know who has right of way most of the time. If you’re in one of the boxes you had a stop sign so why should cars going straight (or sorta turning) yield to you? But then again, if they don’t, when would bikes ever get a chance to go? It’s a more colorful mess but still a mess.

Spiffy
Spiffy
7 years ago
Reply to  Laura Krebs

pedestrians have the right of way…

after that it’s vehicles on Sandy that have the right of way…

then everybody else at the stop signs has the right of way at the same time once pedestrians and Sandy traffic has cleared…

Hebo
Hebo
7 years ago

“I’ve often ended up taking the crosswalks, even though they’re slightly out of direction, because people in cars are more likely to yield to me.”

Why do you expect people in cars to yield when you’re a vehicle (bike) with a stop sign crossing other vehicles (cars on Sandy) who have the right of way? You wouldn’t expect this treatment in a car.

I also use this intersection on an almost daily basis. I occasionally use the crosswalks to cross the intersection (usually eastbound in evening traffic) not because it forces cars to stop for me, but because my crossing there clears up confusion and risk of cars in the left hand lane that are *not* making a left turn doing something unexpected (in particular, waiting cars that pull around cars waiting to turn. The crosswalk also crosses me slightly farther down Sandy, so that left-turning southbound traffic can execute the turn without me blocking it.

Adam
Adam
7 years ago
Reply to  Hebo

When you use a crosswalk “at a normal walking speed” on a bike you are a pedestrian and cars are lawfully required to stop for you. It doesn’t matter if you are riding your bike at a very slow speed, or walking your bike, in the eyes of the law you are a pedestrian.

However if you enter the crosswalk at a speed above “a normal walking speed” you are not considered a pedestrian and lose the protection it provides.

Therefore, if you go on the sidewalk just before a crosswalk. Stop at the crosswalk, and then just barely stick the front of your wheel into the roadway, people operating vehicles are lawfully required to stop. I certainly have an easier time crossing when doing this verses stopping in the roadway, and waiting for a large enough break in traffic.

Laura Krebs
Laura Krebs
7 years ago
Reply to  Adam

I did not know that! I thought people on bikes were always considered vehicles, not pedestrians.

Terry D-M
Terry D-M
7 years ago
Reply to  Laura Krebs

This was a recent legal chnage, a few years back out of salem. Now, bicylists have a choice at crosswalks…wait like a car, or move into the crosswalk like a pedestrian.

Psyfalcon
Psyfalcon
7 years ago
Reply to  Adam

True, but that isn’t what the article sounds like, unless he is implying there is an unmarked crosswalk there.

MaxD
MaxD
7 years ago

I rode this today and was disappointed to see it. I was really hoping for a substantial safety improvement here, but a little paint implies this is what we get for the next decade.

Alexis
Alexis
7 years ago
Reply to  MaxD

I have to admit, I’m a little disappointed as well. Ankeny is a popular greenway, and Sandy is a major arterial. This intersection deserves more attention to safety for vulnerable road users.

rick
rick
7 years ago
Reply to  MaxD

Is that silver van allowed to make that turn?

MaxD
MaxD
7 years ago
Reply to  rick

Rick,
I think it is allowed, and it is a very common movement for traffic heading south on NE 12th to continue on to Sandy then left on SE 11th to continue south. IMO, it would be much safer if motorists were directed NE 12th>NE Couch>NE/SE 11th. It might make sense for 11th to begin one-way at Couch, and I think it would be a good idea to close the SW travel lanes of Sandy between 12th and 11th or at least do not allow turns.

Andyc of Linnton
Andyc of Linnton
7 years ago
Reply to  MaxD

Yeah MaxD, that’s what I was talking about. Thanks for elucidating.

Andyc of Linnton
Andyc of Linnton
7 years ago
Reply to  rick

Oh yeah you can. This made me think, though. Why not close this to motor vehicles? You can enter 11th the next block down. Ash or even Stark or something, Only pedestrians and bikes can continue through. Since Ankeny is a “greenway”, one would think this would be possible, right?

Brent
Brent
7 years ago

I used to use this intersection every day and often crossed Sandy in two stages stopping at the island in between. While I would have appreciate a greater safety improvement on this very strange intersection, I think this is better than nothing and helps encourage both bike riders and drivers to view this as a sanctioned method of crossing the street.

sean
sean
7 years ago

This intersection should be a pedestrian Mecca. Here’s what I would want there:

http://i1300.photobucket.com/albums/ag97/Caudipteryx/Screen%20Shot%202013-12-10%20at%204.58.29%20PM_zps3ppp05tq.png

paikiala
paikiala
7 years ago
Reply to  sean

Nice.
I envisioned a couple of low-speed mini-roundabouts that maintained access for all but the largest of trucks. It is a truck district after all.

Chris I
Chris I
7 years ago
Reply to  sean

That looks great. I wonder if a traffic circle might be possible? This intersection is no fun for everyone that has to use it. It seems like there is enough space for a small circle, although it would probably get clogged up due to the signal one block east…

hat
hat
7 years ago
Reply to  Chris I

Might I suggest adding some carts as well? And also that there are three apartment buildings currently being constructed within two blocks of this intersection, one large one already built, and two on the way.

This would benefit not only people on bikes, but businesses that presumably cater to these folk which must regularly cross this hellscape.

hat
hat
7 years ago
Reply to  hat

To be clear that makes 5 very large new buildings within a stone’s throw of this intersection in two years.

lahar
lahar
7 years ago
Reply to  hat

And more and more being built. I’m aghast that before three of these infill projects are even finished three more have started. Hooray now we will have more people from out of town staring at thier smart phones while driving. And that does not include the massive (and nasty) Burnside Bridgehead garbage. Soon there should be enough (cr)apartments for everyone.

Chris I
Chris I
7 years ago
Reply to  lahar

And if we didn’t build these projects, where would these people live? Would you rather have more sprawling housing out in the suburbs, where they will be forced to drive into the city for work? Or do you think we should just tell people they can’t move here at all?

hat
hat
7 years ago
Reply to  lahar

My point did not pertain to whether or not we should allow building 5 apartments here (they will be there by next year). Rather I am pointing out the probable increase in traffic (of all types) and the inadequate infrastructure at this intersection.

spencer
spencer
7 years ago

having ridden in the motherland (Amsterdam/ Utrecht), I still cannot understand why our nation (started by Dutch Colonialists), can’t adopt the triangles (that are all over Europe) in ALL crossing treatments where there is bike and pedestrian conflict with motor vehicles. the points clearly indicate ROW for everyone involved.

Eric Iverson
Eric Iverson
7 years ago

Yes that van is legal. Going from SW on Sandy to southbound 11th. I was excited about this until I saw the post about “this is what we get for the next decade”….hmmph probably true

jennie
jennie
7 years ago

I bike through this intersection daily and it is usually the most stressful part of my commute. I wrote to safe@portlandoregon.gov about it last fall after a close call, and below is what they wrote back. FWIW, if anyone is interested in further improvements I suggest contacting them.

——–
Thank you for contacting 823-SAFE. I was unable to find any specific improvements identified for this location, but did find that the location had been added to our list of unfunded locations that may warrant some improvement. Here are the notes that have been added to the request:

“This location has marked crosswalks and islands. NCHRP 562 indicates that if 20 peds or more are using this crossing at peak hour it may warrant an active or enhanced type treatment such as rapid flash beacons. However, given that this is a 6-legged intersection a higher level of treatment may be considered, such as a traffic signal

“PBOT funding for these types of improvements is nearly non-existent. We have partnered with TriMet to install rapid flash beacons at some locations with high Trimet ridership. Unfortunately, there is no bus stop at this location so it would not be eligible for TriMet funding.”

In addition, I ran this past Active Transportation staff who felt that engineers may want to take another look at the intersection from a bike facility design standpoint. I have created a request for an evaluation and it may be 12 or more weeks before the investigation is completed. If you wish to contact us about this request, please refer to TI #840788.
———–

Adam H.
Adam H.
7 years ago

The green makes sense to me and is consistent throughout. In all cases, it means “bikes go here”. Since the cross-bike is only half green, it implies a mixed lane for bikes and cars.

galavantista
galavantista
7 years ago

Would anyone EVER let their children bicycle here? Let’s see: Six-way intersections, high-speed arterial street cutting across the grid, no turning restrictions from any lane… who makes up these zero-vision “facility design” rules?

paikiala
paikiala
7 years ago
Reply to  galavantista

Who said it had been designed under a Vision Zero policy? You imply that adopting a policy should somehow, magically, change things overnight?

hat
hat
7 years ago
Reply to  paikiala

Perhaps even more important than a vision zero design policy (now that we are already in this boat as it were), might be a vision zero collision policy. If, for example, a person on a bike or feet were hit at a specific intersection X number of times, X amount of resources MUST go to this intersection. Otherwise vision zero is just another Santa letter.

I would vote for this sort of data-based legislation, something tied to a specific objective rather than the nebulous “safety projects.”

Kari Schlosshauer
7 years ago
Reply to  hat

I would agree with your sentiment, and suggest that X should be replaced with the number 1.

My husband was hit by someone driving a car while he was riding his bicycle just one block from here (Sandy/10th/Ash), and I was told there is a rule in place for that, but *not enough* people had been hit in reported crashes (yet) at that location to warrant any changes.

hat
hat
7 years ago

I would also love to second this X to be the number 1 (or an approximate very close to or below it). I was hit recently and as such have a degree of empathy for your husband. Unfortunately, it seems difficult to sell non-death on the road at present to the majority of Portlanders. My suggestion to the mayor et al. might be a little more “tangible?”

paikiala
paikiala
7 years ago
Reply to  hat

At this time more vulnerable users are counted the same as people driving. A better system would weight crashes involving people walking or people biking greater than people driving and not count people driving involved in crashes with no injuries. Focusing on preventing injuries should be the first goal of a Safe Systems/Vision Zero policy and fender benders (under reported as they are) should not be part of the equation.

galavantista
galavantista
7 years ago
Reply to  paikiala

I would never dream of expecting anything to magically change overnight.

I would expect that all projects — regardless of when they were designed or planned or engineered — would be reviewed for compliance under new policies or initiatives prior to implementation.

This looks to me like it’s reinforcing a dangerous situation that many people are smart enough to be wary of, and quite possibly a lot of people avoid altogether because of the potential for crashes between people walking or bicycling and people driving vehicles. That doesn’t seem to be in line with the expectations of Neighborhood Greenways (Ankeny) nor of ideas that promote “streets where all Portlanders, from the oldest to the
youngest, and including all physical abilities, can move safely”.

paikiala
paikiala
7 years ago
Reply to  galavantista

Only problem being that you’re guessing.
In the last ten years of available data there have been 21 reported crashes at this intersection.
Nine involved injuries and none involved a fatality.
Two of the 21 involved people biking.

hat
hat
7 years ago
Reply to  paikiala

Curious how you would suggest the city weigh this data against other intersections.

galavantista
galavantista
7 years ago
Reply to  paikiala

You’re right that I’m guessing — guessing that nobody takes their kids to ride there.

paikiala
paikiala
7 years ago
Reply to  galavantista

And it’s a busy greenway, though not yet built to current standards.

Brad
Brad
7 years ago

There used to just be a painted box where each of those green areas are now. I used them to take one direction of traffic at a time when traffic was too thick to get across all lanes at once. I never knew if I was supposed to or not, I was just being opportunistic. Nice to see it kinda codified with the green. Also, even before the green paint existed, if you moved your bike into this area, many cars would stop and yield to you because you were making them nervous by hanging out in the middle of the road.

Christopher Sanderson
7 years ago

One of the sketchiest intersections on the east side. I only hope the green markings improve things a bit.

Eric
Eric
7 years ago

I’m afraid for the “portland nice stop” for a northbound bike by drivers in the left-hand westbound lane of Sandy as it is narrowing there — the right-hand lane may take that stopping as an opportunity to “win” the merge without every having seen the crossing bike.

This is probably a problem with those crosswalks already, but the pedestrian actually has the right of way in that case and the second lane must stop, whereas the bike is just being invited into a trap where they should not legally be. I hope the green paint doesn’t exacerbate this.

Spiffy
Spiffy
7 years ago

it looks like the signs in front of the silver van are new too… caution while turning, and yield to bikes… the tiled sign is very confusing as it seems to mean that you have to yield to bikes going east-west but I think it only means bikes coming up Sandy…

Bald One
Bald One
7 years ago

11th Ave is a great bike route. Join me there. It is my preferred fair weather route home in the afternoons when the Vera Katz gets too crowded when the weather is nice.

hat
hat
7 years ago
Reply to  Bald One

SE 11th and 12th would be great candidates to get the Williams diverter treatment. Imagine being able to bike from the new Clinton MAX stop all the way up 12th without risking one’s life.

Dwaine Dibbly
Dwaine Dibbly
7 years ago

We need more colors for additional uses. Let’s get some purple out there! And orange! 🙂

Doug Klotz
Doug Klotz
7 years ago
Reply to  Dwaine Dibbly

I recall at the west end of the Tillicum Crossing, they’re using green for bikes, yellow-orange for pedestrians (like the detectable warning at curb ramps). Perhaps purple for skateboards?

Eric
Eric
7 years ago

The westbound green box is a little scary, since there are two southbound lanes. One lane will stop and prompt you to cross, while traffic whizzes by in the other lane.

I wave drivers to go on when I don’t feel completely safe to cross. The drivers are being nice, but they usually aren’t aware of what all comes at you in that intersection.

Eastbound green box is great.