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In defense of greenways, city bolsters traffic diversion in two north Portland locations

Buffered Bike Lane with a bike symbol and arrow pointing forward

Try to drive through these concrete barrels filled with soil. I dare you!
(Photos: J. Maus/BikePortland)

The City of Portland Bureau of Transportation seems to be slowly losing their aversion to diversion.

On my way into work today I rolled by two examples of new infrastructure that aims to prevent people from driving through a specific intersection. It’s all part of PBOT’s increased priority on “traffic diversion” in order to maintain a comfortable street environment in residential areas.

The first example I came across today was the intersection of North Mississippi and Holman. This location is just one block east of the Michigan Ave Neighborhood Greenway. Michigan is used as a cut-through to avoid traffic congestion on northbound Interstate 5 between Interstate and Rosa Parks Way. When initially implemented, that greenway had too many people using Michigan to access the Interstate 5 on-ramp at Rosa Parks Way (one block north of Holman) so PBOT installed a full median diverter at Michigan and Rosa Parks Way in October 2013.

But then many people — likely thanks to Waze — simply cut over on Holman one block east to Mississippi to continue northbound. Residents on that street were not happy so now PBOT will add another diverter at Holman. We haven’t seen the final designs but markings on the street today show a diverter that will force people to backtrack and turn south (right) at Missippi back to Ainsworth. The overall goal is to keep non-local traffic on collector streets like Ainsworth (east-west) and Albina (north-south).

Looking northwest across Holman on Mississippi.


PBOT has also beefed up diversion is on the North Rodney Neighborhood Greenway. Created as an alternative to North Williams, the Rodney greenway also had too much auto use when it was first implemented. To help prevent northbound cut-through traffic PBOT put up a diverter at Ivy (one block south of Fremont) in September 2014. Because the design was weak, many people simply drove their cars right over the diverter and it became clear that something more permanent and substantial was needed.

Looking southbound on Rodney at Ivy.
Not sure if PBOT meant to do this but there’s now a protected and raised diagonal crossing of Rodney at Ivy.

Now PBOT has finally sealed the deal by placing 14 large concrete barrels full of planting soil in the middle of the intersection. They’ve been placed in a diagonal from the northwest corner to the southeast corner of the intersection. Bike riders can squeeze through between them (hopefully it’s wide enough for all types) but there’s no way someone in a car could. While out there this morning I saw two people take advantage of the raised, protected walkway that now exists in the middle of the barrels. Not sure if PBOT meant to do this but it’s a cool feature.

It’s great to see the City of Portland get serious and stick up for neighborhood greenways. These quiet streets have been picked on by big bullies for too long it’s time to rise up and defend them.

Thanks to the readers who tipped us off about these projects. We rely on you as our eyes and ears so please drop us a text, tweet, or email if you come across anything interesting.

— Jonathan Maus, (503) 706-8804 –

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