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New signs help raise visibility of ‘neighborhood greenways’

Posted by on April 14th, 2015 at 2:34 pm

greenwaylead

Look, ma, those side streets with bike arrows, speed bumps and crossing signals have a name now.
(Photo: Portland Bureau of Transportation)

Five years after it invented the term “neighborhood greenway” and three years after getting permission to set neighborhood greenway speed limits at 20 mph, Portland is putting the phrase directly on its streets.

The city is installing almost 100 of the above signs this week on the N Michigan, N/NE Blandena/Going/Alberta, SE Salmon/Taylor, and SE Bush/100th/101st neighborhood greenways.

Cost: less than $5,000, or about $50 per sign, installation included.

“It just kind of struck me that we have the speed 20 signs in, but they seem to be lacking a context,” city transportation demand management specialist Jeff Smith said Tuesday. Most people, he said, “probably look at it and say, why is it 20 here? If they notice it at all.”

Here’s a closer look at the signs, also from the transportation department’s Twitter feed:

greenway sign closeu

Smith said the cost is so low because the city was able to hang them all from the existing speed limit signposts. Though the green-and-white sign isn’t part of the official manual of American traffic control devices, Smith said that’s not a problem.

“It’s just a white-on-green sign, so it’s informational,” Smith said. “There’s no regulatory nature to it.”

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Smith said he started working on the project about a year ago, and used a combination of geograhphical variety and anecdotal complaints about speeding to choose the greenways that would get the new signs first. Now that the city has a rich data set on neighborhood greenway traffic speeds and volumes, he said, he’ll use that to prioritize future sign signs.

“Next winter we’ll do four or five more” greenways, Smith said.

As wonderful as neighborhood greenways are, it seems to me that their biggest challenge is the same as that of a city bus: they’re not highly visible and people aren’t sure where they go, so they’re not very good at recruiting new riders.

The city of Vancouver BC pioneered signage on streets where bicycles have priority. BikePortland’s Jonathan Maus saw the signs first-hand back in 2007. Here’s how Vancouver does it:

vancouver BC day 1-5.jpg

vancouver BC day 1-9.jpg

vancouver BC day 1-3.jpg

We’re glad to see Portland do something similar. It looks like a wonderful way to help tackle the problem of recruiting new riders while also letting people know that they should think of these streets like school zones. Kudos to Smith and to PBOT for this sort of attention to detail.

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J_R
Guest
J_R

Now we need some speed zone enforcement.

Kyle
Guest
Kyle

So why is SE Ankeny still signed 25mph between 28th and Grand?

lahar
Guest
lahar

Probably for all the Central Catholic Families that are late for schools and like driving too fast down this stretch every day.

Kyle
Guest
Kyle

80-90% of cross and cut-through traffic on Ankeny is most definitely from Central Catholic. During spring break cars were a rarity in this area.

Also, when I started commuting to work via bicycle down Ankeny in 2012, cross traffic was fairly rare and cut-through traffic was – at most – considerate of bicycles. Now it’s daily near-misses and road rage.

Reza
Guest
Reza

Auto volumes are higher than 2000 cars/day. Same with Clinton.

Spiffy
Guest
Spiffy

and until they lower the speed limit people will continue to abuse it…

but they can’t lower it until there are less cars…

but there won’t be less cars until they lower it…

all neighborhood greenways need to be 20 mph, regardless of traffic volume…

paikiala
Guest
paikiala

No speed bumps.

Spiffy
Guest
Spiffy

no diverters…

soren
Guest
soren

there is a partial diverter at 32ndish but another would be great.

Josh Berezin
Guest
Josh Berezin

Man, now I’m going to feel even more self-righteous than I already do when riding these routes.

Rick
Guest
Rick

When will those be added to the few Greenways in SW?

Caesar
Guest
Caesar

Should be 20 mph on every neighborhood street, not just the greenways.

Adam H.
Guest
Adam H.

Should be 20 MPH citywide.

paikiala
Guest
paikiala

ODOT and PBOT willing, it will happen.

9watts
Guest
9watts

Yeah, right. Hell will freeze over before ODOT get’s with that program.

paikiala
Guest
paikiala

OAR 734.020.0015
(3) An experimental alternative investigation to replace the standard engineering study in order to determine a speed zone recommendation on certain City of Portland streets (not state highways) may be approved for a two-year trial period by the State Traffic Engineer. The alternative method must include an evaluation plan for the City of Portland to provide a review and report to the Speed Zone Review Panel at the end of the trial period for a recommendation on the suitability of the City’s alternative method.

(there’s more, caveats, timelines, considerations, etc.)

The City has requested, as already announced. The speed control board needs to convene to review the request, and has responded to the request offering to meet.

Joseph E
Guest

Inshallah, huh?

Reza
Guest
Reza

State law only allows 20mph limits on streets below 2000 cars/day in residential areas. I’m sure there are many streets that qualify for this, but the City probably won’t get around to doing tube counts just to put up new signs when the greenways are the priority.

paikiala
Guest
paikiala

ORS 810.180.10
(10) A road authority may establish by ordinance a designated speed for a highway under the jurisdiction of the road authority that is five miles per hour lower than the statutory speed. The following apply to the authority granted under this subsection:
(a) The highway is located in a residence district.
(b) The statutory speed may be overridden by a designated speed only if:
(A) The road authority determines that the highway has an average volume of fewer than 2,000 motor vehicles per day, more than 85 percent of which are traveling less than 30 miles per hour; and
(B) There is a traffic control device on the highway that indicates the presence of pedestrians or bicyclists.
(c) The road authority shall post a sign giving notice of the designated speed at each end of the portion of highway where the designated speed is imposed and at such other places on the highway as may be necessary to inform the public. The designated speed shall be effective when signs giving notice of the designated speed are posted.

Matt Youell
Guest

Clinton. Clinton. Clinton.

John Lascurettes
Guest

Get these on NE Kickitat/Siskiyou Greenways stat! I’m routinely passed aggressively there by traffic avoiding NE Fremont and cutting through from MLK to 7th to 21st.

John Lascurettes
Guest

My Facebook status just this morning using Siskiyou:

Dear lady that almost t-boned me with her car and almost got t-boned by another driver,

Just because you came to a full stop at the stop sign first does not mean you get to go before cross traffic (without a stop sign) has cleared. You get to go only when you can do it safely. That was not safely.

Sincerely,
Vulnerable roadway user riding on a greenway

When I stopped at the next stop sign in front of her, I asked her what she was thinking. She replied, “I stopped at the stop sign, sir.” I told her she is supposed to yield to the cross traffic that has no stop sign, that stopping doesn’t mean she can magically have the right to go after some specified pause, and that she was aggressive and dangerous. I think she still thinks she did nothing wrong.

Gregg
Guest

I do like these. But I can’t help but to think how helpful 100 ‘Way finding signs’ or 100 ‘Directional signs’ would be. Any word about when we might get more of those installed?

paikiala
Guest
paikiala

The directional signs need their own pole and are larger, about $150 installed each. So 100 of those type is $15,000.

Gregg
Guest

Totally worth it!

Jonny
Guest
Jonny

Even if they painted the sharrows in better spots it would help. I rode west on NE Holman to dead end at MLK probably a dozen times before I realized the route turns left on Grand.

jeff smith
Guest
jeff smith

Jonny, there’s a work order in progress to correct that exact problem.
Again, if you see something like this that needs attention: safe@portlandoregon.gov

jeff smith
Guest
jeff smith

Gregg, if you know of locations that are in need bike guide signs (we usually deploy them at intersections between 2 bikeways, or other key route decision points) you can request it via safe@portlandoregon.gov, or me at jeff.smith@portlandoregon.gov.

Rob Erickson
Guest
Rob Erickson

NE Alberta is a greenway? I thought only Going and Holman were greenways in that neighborhood.

Terry D-M
Guest
Terry D-M

East of 42 the greenway slides to alberta…..but try getting eaxt of 72nd…well, there is still a park in the way.

paikiala
Guest
paikiala

and a NA that doesn’t want to share the park.

Terry D-M
Guest
Terry D-M

Park’s are regional assets. If an NA does not want a path through “their” park, the city needs to get a back bone and say “sorry, but you do not OWN it, it is a city resource.” Trust me, I know the attitude in my own neck of the woods.

They wants that park developed….as a park deficient neighborhood Cully should….. so, they need to be required to take the path as well. They will get used to it, just like in Ed Benedict Park or with the New Connection in Mount Tabor from Lincoln to Division. Some will complain, some always complain…..then they will get used to it.

paikiala
Guest
paikiala

Agreed.

paikiala
Guest
paikiala

Alberta east of 42nd was part of the Going project.

q`Tzal
Guest
q`Tzal

Wish it could be a woonerf sign.

Pete
Guest
Pete

Gesundheit.

Patrick Barber
Guest

Posting signs is not enough.

Dwaine Dibbly
Guest
Dwaine Dibbly

I like it, but I’m not unsigning that petition.

Kate
Guest
Kate

Will these signs be posted on the intersecting streets too? For me, the most uncomfortable part of riding on my neighborhood greenway is the cars that approach on the side streets. Many times drivers at these cross street aren’t looking for bikes, and and may not know that they are crossing a neighborhood greenway. I would love to see some indication for the cross street approaches so they can be reminded to look for bikes.

MaxD
Guest
MaxD

I agree Kate! I wish the City would paint white stop bars in addition to adding stop signs for streets that intersect greenways

paikiala
Guest
paikiala

This was a topic of discussion at the OATS conference.

galavantista
Guest
galavantista

+1000

Clark in Vancouver
Guest
Clark in Vancouver

The photo showing the Ontario Street greenway is the type that Vancouver uses facing the cross streets. It’s a different colour than other signs and has the bike symbol on it so people when they drive know that they’re coming up to a street that’s not the same as others.

Erica
Guest
Erica

The sign makes for a nice facade for an agency that is not actively making improvements for people on bikes on those greenways. This is the not the way to improve riding for current users or attract new ones.

paikiala
Guest
paikiala

find some money.

9watts
Guest
9watts

I just did. Billions.
Everywhere but here it is called a gas tax – you’ve heard of it?

paikiala
Guest
paikiala

Are you going to get elected on that platform?
“Elect me, I’ll raise your taxes!” – good luck.

9watts
Guest
9watts

What is with the defeatism around here? Are we committed to trying to solve these problems, or just mope? Every time you or anyone else repeats this tedious truism I despair. How are we ever going to get out of this rut?! In other countries people pay (higher) taxes but they get tangible stuff in return. Why are they so special? What is wrong with us?

paikiala
Guest
paikiala

hyperbole, like ‘billions for greenways’ maybe?
We must *want* to pay for the things we want before we *will* pay for them.

9watts
Guest
9watts

“We must *want* to pay for the things we want before we *will* pay for them.”

We could also say we must *speak out* against defeatist rhetoric before we can have *a reasonable discussion* about penalizing the mode choice that costs us all so dearly.

Psyfalcon
Guest
Psyfalcon

Since when hasn’t Portland raised taxes on itself?

Yeah that street fee is a disaster, but at least half of that is because they called it a fee instead of a gas tax.

J_R
Guest
J_R

The street fee was a disaster because: 1) it completely failed to assess the hundreds of thousands of suburban commuters who commute daily to Portland for any of their impact; 2) the cost of administering the fee were a very high portion of the revenues; 3) the fees to be paid were not in proportion to the impact even for those living and working in Portland; 4) the proponents failed to explain it properly and kept changing the methodology; 5) the proposals exempted too many special interest groups (even beyond those in #1, above); and 6) the city council has demonstrated its inability to set or explain its priorities.

9watts
Guest
9watts

Well and they lied about the unpopularity of the gas tax option among surveyed Portlanders, when they never included a gas tax option in their survey… among a host of other problems.

paikiala
Guest
paikiala
Terry D-M
Guest
Terry D-M

If you come out with a clear, concise and fair street tax that is PROGRESSIVE, it will pass voters.

It was not even that difficult to get the PROGRESSIVE street fee (for the few weeks it was on the table) passed through my T/LU committee and the full NA board (not that anyone at city council noticed or responded). This city has a young and progressive voting population.

It is city hall that has no spine, is not willing to work for, or from what we can see really care at all about bikes. The PBOT bureaucrats, yes many are true believers…..but they never can commit to anything since those at city council do not seem to care about bicycling. Name a TOUGH call this city has made in favor of bikes since the Adam’s administration. From my perspective, I see only cuts, paint and lip service.

Yet they will pass the climate action pass calling for 25% bike mode split and call it good. YAY we did something!

Reza
Guest
Reza

Where’s our “Cars are Guests” sign?

SW
Guest
SW

better than a one (1) day $7,500 therapy session for the city council.

http://www.oregonlive.com/portland/index.ssf/2015/04/therapy_or_team_building_portl.html

Buzz
Guest
Buzz

My assessment is that motorists either pay scant attention to or ignore signs that affect them negatively. I can’t tell you how many motorists I’ve seen making right turns on red where signage specifically prohibits this.

Caesar
Guest
Caesar

It’s human nature. We are creatures of convenience and denial.

Spiffy
Guest
Spiffy

or speed limit signs… or stop signs…

paikiala
Guest
paikiala

like the cyclists coming onto Broadway from Flint this morning without stopping at the stop sign. One skimmed the left bike lane line next to an SUV.
As long as we put our own convenience ahead of everyone else’s safety, we will have what we have.

SD
Guest
SD

It is crazy that N Williams is 30 mph

paikiala
Guest
paikiala

It takes 3-6 months at least for ODOT to study a request to lower speed limits.

Lenny Anderson
Guest
Lenny Anderson

Way back in the mid 90’s as a member of the CAC for the Tillamook bikeway, aka Greenway, I recall spending a lot of time and energy coming up with ideas for signage that would really set the street off as a distinct public space for non-motor vehicle transportation. We looked at signage from Vancouver BC where they used that and barriers to define their bikeways. Nothing ever came of our efforts, only the “bike dots” about 10 years later…a bit of a joke there. Then “Sharrows” which are really meant for streets like NE/SE 28th, not Greenways. But thanks to Jeff for getting a little something up on those 20 MPH signs. Hardly a “Platinum” kind of thing, but its something…a sign of Portland’s timidity.

Eric Ivy
Guest
Eric Ivy

here’s to proof that you CAN polish a turd

John Liu
Guest
John Liu

There is usually a clamor here for more driver education. So here the city is taking a helpful step in that direction. Good to see.

SW
Guest
SW

Buzz
My assessment is that motorists either pay scant attention to or ignore signs that affect them negatively. I can’t tell you how many motorists I’ve seen making right turns on red where signage specifically prohibits this.
Recommended 3

I agree , but you can’t lump them all together in a general statement.

There are some that think it’s still the Wild, Wild West out there on the streets and others that are ultra courteous.

TonyT
Guest
Tony T

None of this means anything without enforcement. And even if there are speed enforcements, the 11-14 mph leeway afforded to people driving cars renders these signs pointless, allowing for at least 50% above the limit in 20mph zones before there’s even a threat of a citation.

The 11-14 mph leeway is a direct quote from a woman at PBOT I spoke with. I mentioned it to to the woman at 823-SAFE, she said she could not deny that that was accurate.

In other words, it’s open season on speed limits. There is simply no political will to enforce them.

Personally, I think the city is terrified of the revolt they’d experience if they actually started enforcing limits with anything approaching zero tolerance.

SW
Guest
SW

Tony T
None of this means anything without enforcement.
Recommended 0

then the signs are essentially “lipstick on a pig” ..one with NO teeth.

don arambula
Guest
don arambula

Meh. The yard debris bin (behind the sign) the street is a better speed deterrent.

DZ
Guest
DZ

Why is Clinton not included in this project and why aren’t these clearly deterring car traffic? I have frequent confrontations with drivers speeding on Clinton, but hopefully these deter them from using them much in the future.

paikiala
Guest
paikiala

Which part? State law prohibits lowering the statutory speed by 5 mph if the street has more than 2,000 cars per day.

Lisa Marie
Guest

While I applaud and appreciate the effort (every new human-centered street improvement makes me giddy and proud of our city), I can’t help but see a major flaw in this design. Bicyclists aren’t paying attention to speed limit signs, and the writing is too small to be noticed by drivers. If they’re for bike/ped wayfinding, they’ll be ineffective. If they’re for driver awareness, they’ll likely be missed.

It’s reminiscent of the temporary safety signs on Williams – far too small to be seen by passing cars, which indicates safety messaging, and therefore onus and expectation, is placed on pedestrians and transit users going slowly enough to read them. It’s a skewed (and I feel misguided) understanding of road safety responsibility.

Why not just reprint the street signs with bicycle designation like in BC? The pricing would likely be similar, and even if a bit more, would likely be more effective. Or if you use the speed limit signs, reprint them entirely, make them perhaps larger, green, with bikes on them (or something else that differentiates them and makes them more noticeable)?

This feels sadly like another half-step – in our budget-limited reality with little to no political impetus, we often fail to take the leap towards best-practice and innovative design, instead opting for the easiest half-step bandaid. This is the problem on 28th and what plagued the Williams redesign… On the brighter side, any improvement is indeed an improvement, and we’re lucky to have small improvements like this happening regularly.

We have some of the best people in the entire US for livable streets working for us at PBOT. They are passionate, they are phenomenal, and this is another example of them championing livable streets. But where are our politicians? Our main advocacy group? PBOT staff and a few retrofitted signs cannot do this alone, no matter their brilliance and dedication…

Lenny Anderson
Guest
Lenny Anderson

PBOT can and should lower speed limits in commercial districts to 20 MPH.
Note NE Fremont in the Beaumont district; also NW 23rd. Mississippi, Williams, NE 28th, Alberta, at the least, should have posted 20 MPH speeds in their commercial sections. NOW!

PdxMark
Guest
PdxMark

I agree with the comments suggesting that cross-street signage would be helpful too, both for identifying greenways for potential users and to inform drivers to look for bikes at those cross street intersections. The cross street signs could be just like the ones in the article, but with a left-pointing arrow to the left of the cyclist symbol and a right-pointing arrow to the right of the pedestrian symbol.

groovin101
Guest
groovin101

I think this is a fabulous way to leverage limited resources ($5000!?), so just wanted to chime in and second the kudos to Smith and team. Thanks!

GlowBoy
Guest
GlowBoy

About time. And just like we already have in Minneapolis and St. Paul.