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Get ready for NW Portland Week!

Posted by on April 8th, 2016 at 10:58 am

changes on NW Marshall-2

A rare bit of cycling-specific infrastructure on NW Marshall in the Pearl District.
(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

The BikePortland reporting team will be stationed in northwest Portland all next week (4/11 – 4/15).

Just like when we hunkered down in the southwest and eastern quadrants, Michael Andersen and I will focus a week’s worth of stories on northwest. The idea is for us to learn more about the people, infrastructure, and issues that define the neighborhoods of this historic, sophisticated and diverse part of our city. To do that we’ll embed ourselves in the establishments and on the streets in order to gain a deeper perspective that will inform not just next week’s stories but our reporting for months and years to come.

The northwest quadrant is made up of several distinct areas. There’s the northwest industrial area, the Northwest District, the Pearl District and Old Town/Chinatown. Yes, we realize this is a big assignment for just one week, but we like challenges.

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There are a lot of issues and stories we’d like to dig into. Here’s what we’ve got cooking so far (list subject to change on a whim for no apparent reason):

  • Why one trendy street in northwest is the city’s top bike commute destination
  • Will we ever get a new bridge over I-405 at Flanders?
  • A profile of an interesting resident
  • A Ride Along
  • A look at who’s riding with a People on Bikes post
  • A look at the future potential, existing barriers, and current politics of better bike access
  • A look at what it’s like to bike — and why many people don’t — in the industrial area
  • Why and how on-street auto parking dominates streets in the northwest district
  • Why the heck are there no neighborhood greenways in this part of town?
  • A look at current planning efforts and projects

We’ve already started putting feelers out to our northwest Portland sources. We hope to lean on their insights next week. Speaking of which, please share your story ideas and tips. If you live, work, or ride in the area and would like to submit a short essay on your experiences biking in northwest Portland we’d love to hear from you. You can send us a submission through our contact page.

But wait, there’s more! Friday we’ll host a Get Together where everyone can come and chat about northwest Portland and meet other BikePortland readers. Stay tuned for the location and details.

— Jonathan Maus, (503) 706-8804 – jonathan@bikeportland.org

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NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. 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

35 Comments
  • Avatar
    Fitty April 8, 2016 at 11:26 am

    >Will we ever get a new bridge over I-405 at Flanders?

    I live / bike in NW and both 14th and it would solve a problem we don’t really have. Most people cross under 405 on Johnson by bike.

    16th at Flanders are filled with cars coming onto and off of 405. It’s a dangerous crossing on foot or by bike. Putting a ped/bike light at either 14th and 16th will create further backups of cars than currently exist (its the easiest way into the Pearl coming from the west/south burbs).

    A better solution from my arm chair is to rearrange the bike / bus / parking lanes on Glisan to make it easier for bike travel west.

    That being said, that whole 4 block radius is a mess for all travelers regardless of mode and could use a complete overhaul. Good luck getting funding for that though.

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      Champs April 8, 2016 at 12:06 pm

      NW 15th & Glisan: move the bike lane to the left side.
      NW 14th & Flanders: add signal, turn box to reach 15th & Flanders.

      These would be massive improvements, but nothing like the low stress neighborhood greenway Flanders is meant to be.

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      Champs April 8, 2016 at 12:21 pm

      As a complement to that, here’s a relatively cheap solution to those four blocks:

      NW 15th & Flanders: widen sidewalk/remove parking for path to Glisan
      NW 15th & Glisan: overpass south and parallel to Glisan.
      NW 16th & Glisan: add bicycle signal cycle
      NW 16th & Flanders: two-way path to Glisan (refer to NE 33rd & Going)

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      Spiffy April 8, 2016 at 3:14 pm

      it sure wouldn’t help me from getting dumped into unpassable bumper to bumper traffic when the Everett bike lane ends at 15th…

      I’m coming south on 19th but don’t want to continue to Burnside because the bike lane ends and it’s backed up cars from there to Everett…

      all I’m trying to do is get over the Hawthorne from NW Industrial… it’s just a horrible patchwork of bike lanes that never go through…

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      Social Engineer April 8, 2016 at 4:57 pm

      Unless you can convince PBOT to remove parking on Everett and Glisan east of I-405, there will never be bike lanes on those streets. Flanders would massively help people who use the Steel Bridge to cross into downtown and want to get to NW. Remember that the greenway includes the new crossing at Naito Parkway. Johnson Street does nothing to help there.

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    dan de vriend April 8, 2016 at 11:34 am

    Let’s talk about NW 15th, from my workplace (Thurman) to Lovejoy. The fact we have tracks in the street that haven’t been used for 40 years, whose only purpose is to be slippery in the rain and discourage newbie riders who don’t realize that NW 15th sucks and they should take either 14th or 16th is crazy. I have seen so many crashes along that street, and given first aid to so many riders. In this city that works it seems ridiculous. Imagine 15th as a parkway.

    Currently the only usage for it is for autos to speed down, slowing briefly at each stop sign to avoid traffic on 16th. Almost every day on my way home someone runs the stop sign at 15th and Overton right in front of me, or is creeping so hard I have to brake.

    Yay BikePortland in NW!

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      Spiffy April 8, 2016 at 3:17 pm

      but at least the Vegan Breakfast Bowl at Breken is yummy!

      15th is great, until you need to go south of Glisan… it’s fairly quiet and they’ve stripped everything out for the flyovers…

      I also wish it had a decent sidewalk on the west side of it…

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      Steve B. April 11, 2016 at 1:16 pm

      I’ve been tracking the bureaucratic ownership headache that are these rails among ODOT, PBOT, ODOT Rail, private rail and it seems removal is bound to happen once all of the details are sorted out. I just asked for another status update on this and will share more if I learn anything new.

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  • Anne Hawley
    Anne Hawley April 8, 2016 at 11:36 am

    Looking forward to this coverage! Northwest felt very off-limits, congested, dangerous, inaccessible (you name it) by bike when I was working downtown, and it was a shame, because there was so much over there worth going to.

    Nowadays, I visit a service provider in Northwest every couple of weeks. I’ve discovered a least-traffic, safe-feeling route from my Sabin house to 19th and Lovejoy, but when my business is done, I turn right around and follow that route back across the river, mostly avoiding the Pearl. It’s just too daunting to ride to any of the great shopping and culture opportunities that are so close, but so far.

    Can’t wait to get a more detailed view and some ideas of how the district could be made more bike-friendly. Or even less car-friendly.

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    MaxD April 8, 2016 at 11:45 am

    I would love to know if the City is planning on developing any bike facilities for Naito/Front to To Kittridge. With a new visitor center and grand entry to Forest Park being designed now, PBOT should take a proactive look at developing this route for people on bikes/jogging/ walking who want to access Forest park- there is no way there will be a big enough parking lot for everyone to drive! I ride through NW a few times each month in a variety of places and varied destinations and I think the greenway routes are ok and the traffic is mostly slow enough that I fell pretty good getting around. Look forward to reading these.

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      Spiffy April 8, 2016 at 3:20 pm

      Naito is great right at the peak commute times, but otherwise I hate waiting for trains… if I’m early or late I’ll take my time meandering through city streets rather than sitting still for 10 minutes…

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  • Adam H.
    Adam H. April 8, 2016 at 11:47 am

    I used to live in Goose Hollow and frequently ride into NW. There is very little bike infra in the Alphabet District, but all the streets are narrow and there are no arterials other than Burnside, so traffic is typically very calm. I did not have many problems riding around, as people were usually driving slowly. I would mostly avoid the narrow bike lanes on 18th and 19th in favor of 20th. 20th was my favorite bike route because Couch Park serves as a built-in diverter (you can bike right through it). Hopefully 18th/19th can get upgraded to protected when PBOT puts in the protected intersection at Burnside, since that crossing is always hairy. I think NW is already easy to bike though, but a few diverters here and there couldn’t hurt.

    One topic you could perhaps cover is the idea of making NW 13th bike and walk only. There are no sidewalks (and in fact, the design requirement for new buildings mandates no sidewalks and loading docks) and a lot of foot traffic, owing to the collection of bars and restaurants on that stretch. The experience would be so much more pleasant without all the car traffic. It already works for First Thursdays, so why not make it permanent?

    Looking forward to this!

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    rick April 8, 2016 at 11:54 am

    Please cover the progress of the Community-Initiated Trails Process for NW Portland.

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    rick April 8, 2016 at 11:56 am

    A lower speed limit is needed on NW Cornell by the mountains. It is 45 mph near NW Miller Road.

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      Andy K April 8, 2016 at 1:39 pm

      Where are these “mountains” that you speak of?

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        rick April 8, 2016 at 6:03 pm

        The Tualatin Mountains.

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          Andy K April 8, 2016 at 9:22 pm

          I agree that we could benefit from a lower speed limit on cornell but don’t agree with calling those things mountains.

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      Spiffy April 8, 2016 at 3:22 pm

      I can never bring myself to drive that fast up there because of all the blind corners with driveways… sorry people but I’m not pulling over just because I’m driving a safer max speed of 35 mph…

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    Ted Timmons (Contributor) April 8, 2016 at 12:55 pm

    Welcome to my ‘hood! I use the streets whenever I’m headed out and about, and I head up into the hills for “race” “training”.

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    Adam April 8, 2016 at 1:02 pm

    Oh my god.

    Where to start.

    Can you report on –

    1) Why the NW Overton “bikeway” carries more traffic than the main collector street, NW Northrop, whixh runs a block away?

    2) Why NW Raleigh, the supposed jewel in the crown of the NW bikeway system, just had a TRAFFIC LIGHT added to it at NW 23rd. Traffic on the street has pretty much quadrupled now. Fun times!

    3) Why the entire quadrant pretty much has a single diverter serving it?

    Thanks!

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      Ted Timmons (Contributor) April 8, 2016 at 1:43 pm

      I work from home, I look out on 23rd near Raleigh. The car traffic has gotten a lot worse- it’s consistently backed up 3+ blocks for that light from 3pm on. I wonder when it’ll start saturating the nearby streets.

      Also: it’s been less than 24 hours since I heard studded tires crunching along the street.

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        Adam April 8, 2016 at 2:03 pm

        Tell me about it.

        I understand they “has” to put a light in for New Seasons, but WHY ON THE BIKE STREET?

        Traffic lights on tiny side streets are like giant flashing beacons to motorists that say, “hey!! Choose me to drive down!!”

        They could have put the light on Quimby, the street that is NOT a bike street.

        I had a friend in town this past week. He thought he would see hundreds of bikes in Portland. He was disappointed he only saw like, eight in our neighborhood. That’s NW Portland for you!!!

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      Spiffy April 8, 2016 at 3:24 pm

      1) no speed bumps or diverters means it’s just as fast as the streets with no traffic…

      2) New Seasons!

      3) there’s a diverter somewhere up here?

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      Social Engineer April 8, 2016 at 4:52 pm

      The plan is to move the Greenway from Raleigh to Savier. PBOT staff knew when they approved the signal at 23rd that Raleigh would no longer work.

      You may also wonder why Overton is an Emergency Response route in the city’s Transportation System Plan. That means no traffic calming or any other bike improvements allowed, especially between 9th and 14th. PBOT eventually wants to push bike traffic onto Pettygrove, with perhaps a two-way path on the north side of Overton by Fields Park to connect to 9th and Naito. All of this is still very much in the planning stages.

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    Social Engineer April 8, 2016 at 5:07 pm

    Interesting that people who typically complain here about too many cars on greenways in their neighborhoods have no problem with greenways in NW: all of which have way too many cars on them according to citywide greenway standards, mind you. And the numbers bear it out: bike mode share lags considerably behind inner NE and SE.

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      gutterbunnybikes April 8, 2016 at 7:21 pm

      Ahh, that part of the problem with NW and the Pearl. I lived on 21st briefly in the mid 90’s and my bicycle pretty much sat there the whole time (except for hitting the fire lanes in Forrest Park) The bike was simply unnecessary, I could walk to Freddies or the Food Front, or any number of pubs, bars and restaurants in about the same time it would take me to ride.

      And it’s even more pedestrian friendly 20 years later. Way more stuff and the trolly. Honestly, not sure I’d bother with a car or a bicycle if I was living there now.

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        Social Engineer April 9, 2016 at 5:22 pm

        Except that a neighborhood should consider more than just the needs of immediate residents. By that logic, we should never make downtown more bike-friendly because local residents can walk everywhere. Indeed, NW has more employees than residents, and those people are coming from all over the region and could use better bike facilities.

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    Anna April 8, 2016 at 7:49 pm

    Ooh my neighborhood! I’ve been riding around a bunch lately; I hope I make it onto the People on Bikes post! I live on Everett and was pretty happy when that nice new bike lane went in. I’m fairly comfortable riding among the cars once the bike lane ends past 405 (and on Glisan), but I will love it if Flanders ever actually becomes a decent route through the Pearl. Just this morning I took Flanders on purpose just to imagine it, and although it’s a huge pain to have stop signs currently at every single block, it’s so quiet and practically car-free. Sometimes I go quite a bit out of my way and take Johnson instead of Everett and/or Glisan just because it’s quieter and more pleasant.

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    rubenfleur April 9, 2016 at 9:50 am

    Yeah! i hope to see some reportage of using NW St Helens/NW Kittridge/NW Yeon/NW Front, hey if you feelin brave why not some Dirty 30 while you at it??

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    Joseph Edge April 9, 2016 at 2:35 pm

    “Why the heck are there no neighborhood greenways in this part of town?”

    NW Marshall is a Neighborhood Greenway.

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      Social Engineer April 9, 2016 at 5:34 pm

      They’re all technically neighborhood greenways. The city has just ignored all but a four block section of Marshall.

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    Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) April 11, 2016 at 10:18 am

    Thank you everyone for the great feedback and ideas in these comments. We’re in NW now and finalized our story list. Stay tuned for coverage and photos!

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