More than 30 people squeezed into a small church on NE Knott Street last night to get the latest on the NE Rodney Neighborhood Greenway project. The Bureau of Transportation hosted the meeting with the specific intent of garnering feedback on one of the last pieces of the project that remains undecided: the design of a diverter at NE Ivy and Rodney.
While the diverter was PBOT’s focus, most of the comments I heard had more to do with a new crossing design at Fremont. As usual, conversations about both issues were about the balance of convenience for people when they drive and safety when people walk and bike.
As we reported yesterday, PBOT currently has a test diverter in place that prohibits driving north-south and east-west at the intersection (although neighbors say people drive through it frequently). While this diagonal diverter limits driving access in the neighborhood, it has been very effective in reducing auto volumes and creating the low-stress cycling environment PBOT aims for with neighborhood greenways.
PBOT data shows that the diverter has reduced cut-through traffic on NE Rodney south of Fremont by a whopping 31%.
PBOT Project Manager Rich Newlands told attendees of last night’s open house that the test diverter has had “Very noticeable benefits.” While he acknowledged driving access concerns, he urged people to “Remember the bigger picture of what we are trying to accomplish.”
Newlands was speaking directly to residents who feel they’ve been so inconvenienced by the diverter they circulated a petition to have it removed. That pushback led PBOT back to the drawing board where they created a new potential diverter design that would only prevent driving in the northbound direction (between Ivy and Fremont).
The new design would turn Rodney into a one-way (southbound) street between Fremont and Ivy (since most of the cut-through traffic is only in the northbound direction). In the southbound direction people on bikes and in cars would share a 10-foot lane and in the northbound direction there would be a new, parking-protected bike lane (6-feet wide with a 4-foot buffer). The other option on the table is to beef up and polish the existing diagonal diverter.
At this point there appears to be support for both options. And from my read of the meeting attendees last night, I didn’t sense major opposition to either of them. That’s a good sign. It shows that the neighborhood understands that some type of traffic diversion must happen. The question is, which option will PBOT move forward with?
We’ve heard strong support for the diagonal diverter from the Boise Neighborhood Association. The Chair of their Land Use & Transportation Committee Stephen Gomez said via an official letter to PBOT on July 10th that they want the existing diverter made permanent:
“We are aware some residents near the NE Rodney/Ivy intersection have stated they are inconvenienced by the temporary diverter, due to out-of-direction movement traveling by car. We believe this is an acceptable tradeoff to enhance the safety of all cyclists and pedestrians traveling along this corridor.
We believe the proposed design—converting Rodney from Fremont to Ivy to one-way southbound—is an inferior safety design, particularly as it relates to east-west movement on Ivy crossing Rodney.”
Newlands said he will take the stack of written comments they received last night back to PBOT for further analysis and then schedule another meeting with the neighborhood before making a final decision.
As for the crossing of Fremont, the design of that portion of the greenway might prove more contentious than the diverter.
At issue is how to facilitate safer biking and walking where Rodney crosses Fremont. Fremont is a relatively busy east-west street and the intersection is off-set, which makes for a tricky crossings. In order to make it safer, PBOT wants to create short bike lanes on each side of the street. That design will require the re-allocation of right-of-way from private car parking to bicycling — which homeowners are upset about.
Paula Kreps, who lives on Rodney just south of Fremont was very opposed to the loss of parking (which would be about 10 spaces total) on Fremont because she thinks it will lead to more parking in front of her house. “You’re moving more vehicles onto a street with already maximum capacity,” she said. When Newlands from PBOT said their data shows plenty of excess parking capacity on Rodney, another person from the crowd yelled, “Why don’t you come and live on my street?!”
Another woman (didn’t get her name) who lives directly adjacent to where the new bike lane would go told me she doesn’t like the idea of the new bike lane because it will mean she won’t be able to park her car on the street. She’s worried that it will be dangerous for bicycle riders if she has to pull out of her driveway onto Fremont. What about the safety benefits to people who ride bikes, I asked. To which she replied. “I only drive, so I guess I don’t want it for my own selfish reasons.”
After that exchange, another woman said that she supports the bike lanes and new crosswalks on Fremont. “I think diverting a few auto parking spots is a small price to pay for safety in our neighborhood.” That comment got a few “Hear hears!” and claps of support from the audience.
— Stay tuned for more coverage. Learn more about this project in our archives or on PBOT’s project page.
If you have questions or feedback about this site or my work, feel free to contact me at @jonathan_maus on Twitter, via email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or phone/text at 503-706-8804. Also, if you read and appreciate this site, please become a supporter.
I’m curious if in a case like this (greenway, diverter, measurement of successful calming) PBOT ever says: Hey folks. Remember, this is a Greenway. This is how we do things. Thanks everyone for your comments. Good night.
I was struck that Newlands’ presentation included no references to any existing adopted city policy about transportation goals. It also did not include any reference to Vision Zero, which is a policy that has been formally adopted by City Council and PBOT.
I love that PBOT is open to n’hood feedback.. But I really think they do themselves and our city an injustice when they don’t stand up for what they/we believe in and make it too easy for people to veto aspects of these projects.
If we as a city have adopted Vision Zero, why are we having a conversation about compromising a street’s safety for a few people who are concerned about not being able to park their car on the street and/or who feel it’s an inconvenience to drive a few blocks out of their way to get home?
Whatever happens here, I hope the n’hood gets an ironclad commitment from PBOT to change the design if it doesn’t do what it’s supposed to do — create a safer cycling environment and reduce the amount of cut-through traffic.
The ‘policy’ doesn’t quite exist yet. That is the thing Active Transportation is currently working on, and for which a public review process is likely late summer.
yes. Good point paikiala.
But my point and my concern remain. It would be great to hear folks like Rich start talking it up more forcefully in presentations — especially when the debate starts leaning toward parking and convenience.
“I was struck that Newlands’ presentation included no references to any existing adopted city policy about transportation goals. It also did not include any reference to Vision Zero”
That was what I liked so much about Steve Novick’s blog post about climate change and parking policy (among other things). He referenced system conditions, constraints, and the need for us to work within those even if it means compromising, not getting everything you thought you were owed.
I’d sometimes really like less neighborhood involvement. That couple in the left side of that bottom pic in the article, they were pretty upset/nearly in tears about how “we can’t even turn onto our own street!” and that they’d felt “very isolated” because of the diverter. I could barely stomach it. All I could think was that here’s a guy from the city wasting his time listening to someone whine about inconveniences. It’s crazy. Safety trumps convenience. That’s it. No discussion.
I think it’s all about balance. And I think PBOT does not have the right balance at the moment when it comes to bicycle-related projects.
It has to be all about balance. At some point utility trumps safety. There’s an equilibrium point. Otherwise we’d do away with cars (and bikes) altogether. We’d all live within two miles of work and be excellent power walkers.
“It has to be all about balance. At some point utility trumps safety. There’s an equilibrium point.”
Except there is a balance that takes into account the present (static) conditions, and there is a balance that takes into account where we’re headed (dynamic changes/writing on the wall/end of cheap oil).
“Otherwise we’d do away with cars”
They will be done away with soon on their own.
“I only drive, so I guess I don’t want it for my own selfish reasons.”
There it is.
At least she was honest and nice about it. Many people feel that way but just won’t admit it.
she shouldn’t have a license if she doesn’t think she can exit her driveway safely…
The Fremont crossing is so important to this project. It’s quite difficult to cross Fremont here by foot or bike. There’s something about off-set/T intersections without crosswalks that makes folks in cars feel more empowered to break the law by ignoring pedestrians.
They can keep their parking if they make a 2-way cycle track on the north side of the street (except width and conflicts with the sidewalk, maybe squeeze the traffic lanes, remove the center line) and stop signs on fremont at the eastern rodney. Maybe also a stop sign on the western rodney facing fremont to give southbound bikes a safe crossing. For extra safety, sprinkle some concrete-filled steel bollards around to keep turning cars slow. Viola the bikes don’t have to stop and cars do. Isn’t that the first rule of greenway design?
You don’t own the street in front of your house.
The public ROW is public, and is not free private property storage, period.
Tell that to the guy that has had a shipping container stored on NE Siskiyou between 14th and 13th for over a year. He keeps getting different kinds of permits to allow him to keep it there. It’s a total hazard and blocks sight lines on a very busy greenway for bikes.
Hey John – I started calling the abandoned auto hotline about that container back in April and talked to the city parking control technician about it last week. She’s lost patience with the guy (it’s a long story) and told me that this will be the last permit renewal. That said, call the city about it! They need to hear from neighbors and people who use the street in order to prioritize enforcement.
Despite having to call three different departments, everyone I spoke to has been very sympathetic and responsive.
Thanks Alexis. I, months ago, had noted that it had no posted permits and was going to report it. Then when I went to take pictures later it had them. Every time an expiration date arrives, a new permit shows up. Good to know though. Abandoned auto hotline is the right place to start? Or is there another agency I should call?
Calling the Abandoned Auto hotline is the easiest, once the permit expires. That lets them know that I’m not the only whiny neighbor 🙂
The current permit expires on 7/22, and I will be calling the parking control technician again if it’s still there. She expressed frustration over the situation, and I’m fairly certain that if the homeowner doesn’t remove it by then, the city will finally do something. (fingers crossed)
Oh, also, I had noticed the last permit said, “no more renewals available” but now he has a “No parking” sign (similar to the type for construction zones) with a date running through the 27th. I wonder if that one is legit though.
It would be nice to see enforcement on all of those shipping crates–who would be opposed to more expensive permitting (or bigger fines)?
1310 NE Siskiyou St
That’s actually not the one. That’s a moving container that was there only for a short while some time in the past. The shipping container that’s there now is on the opposite side of the street and is more of the style you find on barges or towed by semis. Google street view does not have an image of it.
your ability to navigate 2 tons of personal property through the neighborhood 30 seconds faster should never be more important than the safety of people…
you have serious issues if you think otherwise…
I’m curious how long has that temporary diverter been there? Has there been enough time for residents to acclimate and readjust their driving routines or has the diverter only been there a few months?
They have been there in their current form since at least October 24 of last year, and in an earlier form since at least September 24 of last year.
you mean the west-side of the soutbound street would have a parking-protected bike lane since there would be no northbound traffic on a southbound one-way street…
or you meant that the entrance would be one-way but the street would be two-way?
actually, many streets like that have an issue where they close it to one-direction and then it’s a confused 2-way street with only 1-way traffic that has to turn around at one end to park correctly on the other side of the street…
ugh, I hate half-block bike lanes… they had those on SE 52nd at Boise before 52nd was restriped… they were very dangerous and I braced for impact each time I was forced to use them when biking on 52nd…
An implicit assumption of the plan shown would be, that nobody rides a bike on Fremont. The bulb-outs force such a person to do the weave-in-and-out that is typical of unsure riders, unless they ignore the new features of the road.
Curious about the Fremont design. Because they’re putting in bike lanes between the bump-outs, they are essentially forcing a legally-required weaving motion in and then out of traffic if a cyclist is traveling east-west on Fremont beyond the bump-outs. Yuck.
Looking at it some more, even for the crossing bike traffic, they’re put into the bike lan, then have to swerve into traffic around the bump-out to make their right turn. This is no way to make it safer for the less than strong and courageous crowd.
Nope. I’m wrong. The bump-outs are only on either side of the lane. My bad. Still, this makes it more dangerous for those traveling from or beyond the bump outs. I would opt not to enter the bike lane in that case, but I’m sure it’s going to cause road rage.
Yeah, I don’t think it’s “practicable” to go into that bike lane if continuing on Fremont; I’d interpret the impending bulb-out as a “hazard” per ORS. Pretty sure there isn’t any case law on this topic though 🙂
It’s a good traffic calming move and makes it safer for pedestrians to cross. There isn’t much room for bikes going east-west on Fremont anyway due to all the parked cars.
The one-block bike lane on Fremont should be made as a raised cycle track instead. Preferably with protection islands in the intersections and crossbike symbols. And stop signs for people driving.
There are too many spots in our Greenways where the road jogs at a major street without any safe way to cross the street by bike. People driving don’t have to stop to let bike traffic though, and this creates a safety hazard.
Were you willing to take a sub-standard width sidewalk and losing 6 large street trees to get it that way? I think this is a reasonable option
Maybe don’t assume that 2 buses need to pass each other at speed (or ever) in that block? 27.5ft between curbs should do. That leaves 7.5ft for a narrow 2-way cycle track and everybody still gets to park for free. As long as they work out the stop signs so people on bikes don’t have to stop.
I prefer the bike lanes on Fremont. The 2-way cycle track idea puts bikes is a position/direction that is unexpected and dangerous. Nice wide bike lanes with a rapid flash beacon
I can see my house in the overhead photo, looks like we will be losing our parking spot(my wife drives). This wouldn’t bother me so much if 1: There wasn’t already a double-wide bike lane on the next street to the west(Williams), and 2: – the fact that the city can’t be bothered to fix potholes(dangerous to us cyclists, right?) or finish paving the streets. We can’t sell our house, as we are blue collar and would have to leave Portland completely as we could not afford to buy another house here with today’s home prices. I am a big supporter of cyclist safety, but this seems redundant and wasteful given that Williams is a block west.
The north-south bike lane on Vancouver/Williams is not 12 feet wide, unless you count the buffers – maybe.
As with auto traffic, there are different classes of pathway for people that bike. Vancouver/Williams level are like major collector/expressways. the neighborhood greenways are the local/minor collectors for families and less confident cyclists.
Fair enough, but I wouldn’t take my little kids riding on Williams
And now I also notice that the city will tear out the 2 trees in front of our house? Which will diminish our home’s value, but not improve cyclist safety? I might be less “NIMBY” about this if the plan made more sense. Those concrete sections that will stick out into Fremont? Those force cyclists into “pinch points” and into car traffic. Also dangerous and poorly thought out. The funny(not) thing is we picked our home’s location partly because I am a cyclist and wanted us to be close to our jobs. Now the thing that may force us out is a supposed cyclist safety feature. If we have to leave for the suburbs(ugh) I will probably have to start driving(also ugh)….
Folks are just wrong about the bump outs forcing east-west bikers into traffic. You can’t ride on the side of the road in that stretch due to parked cars anyway. In general, Fremont’s a pretty lousy road to ride on and these bump outs don’t make it any more difficult.
I sent the more applicable comments in an email to Rich Newlands.
Also Ward. While I disagree with all comments which prioritize personal convenience at the expense of public safety, I wholeheartedly agree with you that it should NEVER be necessary to remove healthy trees. The amount of roadway we have in this country is enormous and I would advocate for *widening* the sidewalk over removing increasingly fragile street trees.
I ride Rodney all the time, preferring it to the wackiness on Williams. I would prefer NO bike lanes on a residential street like Rodney as I think they (a) are overkill and (b) will remove even more car parking and dispose more resident unkindly towards bike riders. I think making the diverter strong enough so no one can drive a car through it is a better next step, as is looking for other place where diverters make good sense. Sometimes less is more.