The other day while biking home up North Williams Avenue I got a surprise. As I crossed Killingsworth, the usual cut-through I used to enjoy was gone. Instead of the bike lane leading me to a curbside channel with a median island buffer between me and people driving in the opposite direction, I had to ride head-on into traffic. I didn’t think much of it because it was an active construction site, but I wanted to find out what was going with this very busy intersection in the north/northeast Portland bike network.
Turns out the Portland Bureau of Transportation is building new sidewalks on Killingsworth from Commercial to Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. At Williams they’ve built a large new curb extension on the northeast corner of the intersection. Once the project wraps up in April, bicycle riders will be directed in a straight line from the existing bike lanes on Williams to the outer edge of the curb extension. You’ll note that Williams is one-way northbound south of Killingsworth and one-way southbound for driving and two-way for biking north of Killingsworth.
Here are some photos to give you a better sense of the changes that are in store.
Here’s how the intersection looks now. (Notice the location of the concrete median to the left and the curbside bike lane.):
And here’s the plan drawing from PBOT:
PBOT spokesman John Brady says, “In this particular section of Williams and Killingsworth we decided this new layout was a better design for pedestrians and bicyclists. Bikers will be able to move in a straight line through the intersection. It also works better for pedestrians and it is easy to maintain as compared to the previous island.”
As of this morning, the curblines are poured but the project isn’t quite done. Here’s how it looks as you approach northbound from existing bike lanes on Williams. Notice how the old bike lane striping leads to the right. The new design will keep the bike lane straight and will head right where those orange plastic barrels are:
Are here are three southbound views:
These changes are part of phase two of the Killingsworth Streetscape Plan which was adopted by the City of Portland in 2003. It also includes new street trees, stormwater facilities and “pedestrian scale lights.” The final recommendations in that plan also included a request from PBOT to lower the existing speed limit (set by the Oregon Department of Transportation) from today’s 30 mph to 25 mph. So far that hasn’t happened. The project is expected to be completed by April of 2016.
Brady says later this summer PBOT will pave Killingsworth from Commercial to Martin Luther King Jr Blvd. With Killingsworth being a major commercial corridor with lots of destinations (including a high school, community college, restaurants, bars, markets, coffee places, a library, and so on) we wonder if there’s an opportunity to improve bike access on the street. Killingsworth, like most of Portland’s inner commercial corridors (Mississippi, Alberta, 28th), has two standard lanes and two parking lanes — but no dedicated bicycle access.
— Jonathan Maus, (503) 706-8804 – email@example.com
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