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Comments of the Week: Two readers’ concepts for fixing SE Ankeny at 11th

Posted by on March 27th, 2015 at 3:13 pm

ankeny 11th sandy DUAL MINI RAB_zpsoy5utvec

Full size below the jump.
(Image by reader Paikiala)

One of the great joys of BikePortland comments is that they make very clear how rich and deep our city’s transportation expertise has become over the last decade.

After we wrote on Thursday about a small tweak the city made recently to the strange six-way intersection of SE Ankeny, 11th and Sandy, not one but two readers created full-color overhead mockups of alternative ways to design this awkward interchange.

The first, by reader sean, is a sort of linear park that would remove auto access for one block (immediately south of what is today a billboard) in order to reimagine “Ankeny as a destination”:

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

ankeny curbs

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Then, reader paikiala followed up with the double-roundabout design above:

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.

ankeny 11th sandy DUAL MINI RAB_zpsoy5utvec

Sean, some readers may remember, is also the person who created this terrific rethinking of Northwest Johnson Street using successive blocks of one-way traffic and this potentially prescient look at what it would take to create a full north-south bikeway through the Park Blocks from the Broadway Bridge to Portland State University.

Regular comment readers will know that paikiala is no slouch either.

Portland won’t be building either of these until it can somehow find tens of thousands of dollars to spend on improving the spot. But the reason we believe so deeply in this city is that when it can find both money and political will to improve our streets, a huge reservoir of creativity and talent is going to be unleashed.

Yes, we pay for good comments. We’ll be mailing $5 each to Sean and paikiala in thanks for these great ones. Watch your email!

NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. BikePortland is an inclusive company with no tolerance for discrimination or harassment including expressions of racism, sexism, homophobia, or xenophobia. 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

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Chris I
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Chris I

I also thought of a roundabout idea, but I am concerned that the traffic signal to the east will cause problems. Traffic often backs up well past Ankeney during rush hours. Imagine what will happen with a roundabout: the cars will fill both of the circles, making them impassable for people trying to travel through the circles on Ankeney, or in any other direction for that matter.

Patrick
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Patrick

Sean’s “pedestrian mecca” idea is excellent. I want to send him $5. I wish there was an inexpensive way for the city to test it for a weekend ala the Old Town plaza.

Maybe there is?

Alan Love
Guest
Alan Love

The top concept would be awesome. It’s essentially a supersized traffic diverter like those at Lincoln and Clinton at Cesar Chavez. If the goal to reduce auto traffic on Ankeny, this would seem to be a perfect solution. Auto traffic can still navigate the area, but it reduces the tendency to think of it as an alternate arterial route for Burnside. Though the double roundabout is a laudable effort, it’s rather complex and would confuse a great number of people using all sorts of modes.

maccoinnich
Guest

It’s incredibly awesome that two people spent the time to come up with ideas for improving that intersection, which definitely needs major improvements.

However, I don’t think roundabouts are the right answer. I come from the UK, where traffic engineers seem to believe that roundabouts are the correct answer to every problem. Although they increase the flow through an intersection (particularly at complicated ones like this) they do so at the expense of the amount of land they take up. That might be OK in low density suburbs, but I fundamentally don’t believe that roundabouts belong in our city centers. As an example, see this lovely piece of urban design in Glasgow (https://goo.gl/maps/JJXZA), completed less than 10 years ago, within a mile of the city center.

gutterbunnybikes
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gutterbunnybikes

I like the park idea. It’s effective, easy and follows the KISS principle.

It’s really hard to visualize how the roundabouts would work in real life, looks like a huge congestion problem to me as drivers press for the right of ways in every possible direction..

Though I do like the potential of some big, cool public art spanning the islands.

ethan
Guest
ethan

I also really like the pedestrian mecca concept, especially the split bike entrance / exit on the Eastern side.

Buzz
Guest
Buzz

Michael’s Sausage would undoubtedly vociferously oppose either of these changes…

wheelwheels
Guest
wheelwheels

Which of these concepts will accommodate the #70 bus that uses 11th Ave?

Allison
Guest
Allison

In general, roundabouts have been shown to be less safe for cyclists but can definitely be made to accommodate bike riders. I am studying a double one like that in England and it works surprisingly well–including for cyclists. It really slows people down and makes them communicate and think. The yielding behavior for drivers has been impressive. It’s also on a trucking route (I’ve never seen so many big rigs in an intersection all at once) and traffic flows significantly better than it did with traffic signals.

Dwaine Dibbly
Guest
Dwaine Dibbly

Roundabouts? Yes. Double roundabout? I don’t know. I love the creativity of both of these proposals and hope that the professional traffic engineers are willing to take these ideas under consideration.

q`Tzal
Guest
q`Tzal

For those interested in roundabouts at the “deep magic” level consider reading Roundabouts: An Informational Guide – Second Edition.

It is only 407 pages long but starts out slowly introducing the reader to concepts, vocabulary and examples of poor past implementations that cloud our judgment.
By the time you are in the engineering section you won’t even notice that you are now able to judge the intended travel speed of your neighborhood roundabout by inner circle diameter alone.

Psyfalcon
Guest
Psyfalcon

I love how the double roundabout fixes all of the acute angle turns.

No do not enter signs required, no no left turn signs required.

Pete
Guest
Pete

I’m surprised not to see outrage here over mixing cars with bikes, which is what roundabouts do. Just go ride the one in The Dalles and you’ll see. OK surprised and pleased, that is.

Huge fan of paikiala’s comments, btw, have learned lots.

Peter koonce
Guest
Peter koonce

Those designs look like something the City produces. Great work, except the roundabouts look like something only a true advocate would love.

Jim Labbe
Guest
Jim Labbe

How about some vegetation in the round abouts, perhaps to manage urban stormwater run-off while further calming traffic?

Lukas
Guest
Lukas

Why not an “oval-about” rather than two circles to make it less confusing. One could make the larger center a nice rainwater run-off collector.

Bald One
Guest
Bald One

I’d like to see your ideas for improvements at the SE 11th / 12th / Clinton / Milwaukee. Add a few train tracks to the mix….

caesar
Guest
caesar

One big problem with roundabouts that i haven’t seen mentioned is the very real potential to exclude drivers approaching from the “less busy” entrance points during rush hour. For example, imagine a line of cars entering the roundabout at the 9 o-clock position and exiting at the 3 o-clock position (essentially driving “through” the roundabout). A car waiting to enter at the bottom (the 6 o-clock) position would be met with a continuous stream of cars already in the roundabout and would simply not be able to join in, unless, of course, one of the cars already in the roundabout decided to be “nice” and yield. This happened to me all of the time when i lived in Sydney, a city with lots of roundabouts. Frustrating as hell, and the only way i wold be able to proceed was to slowly nudge (force) my way in until somebody in the circle slowed down and let me in, i.e. essentially playing “chicken” with he other drivers. I usually cussed a lot during those moments.

Todd Boulanger
Guest
Todd Boulanger

The dual “magic” roundabout design is a fabulous way to handle two oddly offset intersections…assuming that the local jurisdiction in not willing to fully pedestrianize / “naked street” it…and as long as the design makes sure each leg has a queue space and the speed is even lower than the “20 mph” noted on the proposal…15 mph would be max.

The difficulty of doing this “here”…is the state of traffic engineering practice in the US is still far behind what Europe has in this niche of intersection design. AND we have to make sure it meets ADA …that persons with no/ low vision etc. can travel through these intersections with traffic noise coming from all directions (the max speed of 15 mph helps with improved driver yielding to the “white cane” etc.)

PS> Another reader mentioned oval roundabouts…The “oval” type of roundabout is more often used at smaller “traffic circles” where you have a minor (narrow) street intersecting with a arterial (wider) street.

BIKELEPTIC
Guest

The biggest problem I see with both designs is people that want to stay on 11th. For instance, I work on 11th on the NE side but often head to SE, and take classes just a few blocks away on 11th. To continue to head straight, from what I understand, if I were to take the roundabout I have to take half a circle, then 3/4 of the 2nd one before exiting instead of just closing my eyes, praying and shooting straight across. If I were most other people I see around the calming dividers up in NE towards Hollywood area. I’d just shoot diagonally against traffic like a madwoman. But I’m not… Same thing with the parklet idea. From what I can tell it completely makes it impossible for road users to go straight across to continue on 11th. But what’s to keep people from just jaunting straight across like they do on that awkward intersection on 60thish and Halsey every freaking day?

Just some devils advocating for you fellow junior city planners!

hat
Guest
hat

If I understand your comment, for the park option you could either stop at either pedestrian crossing and walk your bike across, or simply do what you would normally as you take 11th southbound: take the lane.

This brings up a good point. I would actually recommend a stop sign for the left turn lane on Sandy. I see people trying to make that turn threading the needle between northbound traffic on Sandy. I think this gives people on bikes the peace of mind that cars will have to yield (by stopping) to them if they are already in the intersection.

Skid
Guest

Traffic circles would add 8 STOP signs this is Portland

Doug Klotz
Guest
Doug Klotz

And even at that pedestrians would not feel safe. I’ve had drivers at Cole Circle stop at the stop sign and then almost hit me in the adjacent crosswalk.

Randy
Guest
Randy

Good place for an elevated bike lane, up over the traffic…

The eBike Store
Guest

I agree with the roundabout concept. This is a longer video, but an idea like this brought all kinds of growth to Poynton (UK). It is worth watching!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-vzDDMzq7d0

Tim
Guest
Tim

Having been through a few busy and not so busy round-a-bouts in Europe, I like them for biking. You merge with traffic and follow through like everybody else and there is very little chance for crossing paths. Here in the U.S. were bikes are routed out of the intersection, they are very dangerous. Drivers exiting the round-a-bout right hook riders and pedestrians going straight. If you are in the lane you are golden. If you are following the designated bike facility you’re toast.

Matt
Guest
Matt

Wow. Nice work! I love the roundabout concept. In addition to improving traffic flow they can enhance bicycle and pedestrian safety if done right – namely single lanes and low speed – such is the case here. See – http://www.pedbikeinfo.org/data/faq_details.cfm?id=3454. As has been pointed out they do take up space, but that is not an issue when you already have the necessary right of way – such is also the case here. Plus, the traffic circles make convenient locations for stormwater planters which complements the improvements already made to this corridor.