Weekender Ride

NE 7th Avenue upgrades likelier, but diverter opponents are organizing too

Posted by on April 26th, 2016 at 10:02 am

NE 7th Avenue is technically a local street, but it’s become heavily used by cars as an alternative to MLK.
(Photo: M.Andersen/BikePortland)

Advocates for turning NE 7th Avenue into a low-stress neighborhood greenway scored a significant victory this month, but opponents of that change are pushing back.

The Portland Planning and Sustainability Commission voted April 12 to shift the official designation of “major city bikeway” from 9th Avenue to 7th Avenue. That change that would line up with the possible 7th Avenue biking-walking bridge across Interstate 84. The 7th Avenue route would also save the city an estimated $1 million compared to 9th.

The downside is that making 7th Avenue comfortable to bike on, the way NE Going Street or SE Clinton Street are today, would probably require multiple traffic diverters on 7th. This would probably divert 7th Avenue auto traffic one block west to NE Martin Luther King Boulevard and, to a lesser extent, eight blocks east to 15th Avenue.

The streets between 7th and 15th wouldn’t be expected to see as much additional traffic because Irving Park and other irregularities break the street grid, and heavy east-west traffic on Fremont makes it difficult to cross in rush hour between 11th and 14th without lights or stop signs.

As we reported last month, neighborhood association officials and some other residents are strongly in favor of a 7th Avenue neighborhood greenway, in part because of the improved north-south biking connectivity and in part because 7th Avenue, officially designated to serve as a local street that gets traffic in the 1,000 to 3,000 range, currently carries something like 5,500 cars a day — including 400 northbound during the evening rush hour.

“My son is three,” said Nick Fox, a resident who said he drives regularly on 7th but would happily accept a diverter there for the sake of safety. “I’ve had people yell the F word at him. I’ve had people slam on their brakes as he crosses 7th. So he ended up stopping riding his bike for a while.”

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Not all residents agree, though — in many cases, it seems, because they think the cars diverted from 7th would find ways to spill onto other streets despite the fractured grid.

“Closing NE 7th to traffic using diverters is irresponsible in this growing neighborhood,” wrote Estee Sigal on an online petition launched this week to oppose diverters on 7th Avenue and support a 9th Avenue route instead. “It will undoubtedly affect neighboring streets with increased traffic.”

Then there are the thousands of people who drive on 7th Avenue today — and also the unknown number of people who would choose to bike on 7th if it were improved for biking. Neither group is presumably aware of the possible changes.

Despite political challenges, 7th would be cheaper to build

The largest fiscal cost of neighborhood greenways is adding new traffic signals to cross busy streets. 7th Avenue already has them, like this one at Fremont.
(Image: Google Street View)

A “NE 7th/9th” neighborhood greenway is on the project list for safety improvements funded by the gas tax that arrives on Portlanders’ ballots this week. But the exact route is yet to be determined.

In favor of 9th Avenue is the direct connection to Irving Park and the fact that the park already functions as a natural diverter. But that route would require better pavement on 9th near Broadway, a new path through the park and new traffic signals or beacons to help cross Knott, Fremont, Prescott and Alberta.

7th Avenue is a straight north-south shot from Broadway to Sumner. It already has a four-way stop at Knott and signals at Fremont, Prescott and Alberta.

As of last month, the city’s rough project cost would be $1 million for a 7th Avenue greenway or $2 million for a greenway on 9th.

Another issue is that 7th Avenue is somewhat flatter:

than 9th:

Public testimony being accepted

Under the plan approved this month by the Planning and Sustainability Commission, the “major city bikeway” route on 7th heading north from the Lloyd District would jog at Sumner Street to 9th Avenue. It would then run north on 9th to connect to the existing east-west neighborhood greenway on Holman Street.

The PSC vote came despite a recommendation by city staff to retain 9th Avenue as the “major city bikeway” and designate 7th merely as a “city bikeway.” City spokesman Dylan Rivera said last week that the city had received “dozens” of comments on the subject, some in favor of 7th and some of 9th. Rivera didn’t fill requests to share the public input that supported 9th over 7th.

The Planning and Sustainability Commission’s April 12 vote is nonbinding on City Council, which will vote on this proposal among many others later this year as part of the city’s transportation system plan. (This won’t be part of the council vote on the citywide comprehensive plan, which will happen much sooner.)

Whatever happens at the city council, there’s still a possibility that a neighborhood greenway could run along either route. This planning-level decision is significant mostly because it would lend more rhetorical weight to whichever route gets the “major city bikeway” designation. Actual route decisions are a year or two away at the soonest.

To register thoughts on this issue, email cputestimony@portlandoregon.gov.

Update 4/27: Supporters of a 7th Avenue greenway have launched an online petition of their own.

Correction 11:45 pm: An earlier version of this post incorrectly said testimony on the issue would only be accepted until Wednesday.

— Michael Andersen, (503) 333-7824 – michael@bikeportland.org

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69 Comments
  • paikiala April 26, 2016 at 10:20 am

    NE 7th counts:

    N/Beech (2001) 3100-3400 trips per day, 29-34 mph (85th)
    near Cook (2011) 3700-4000 trips, 25-28 mph
    San Rafael (2013) 5400 trips, 27-30 mph.

    For each significant segment (Prescott/Fremont; Fremont/Knott, Knott/Broadway) I could see 3 diverters, one at each end and one in the middle (maybe 2) to frustrate those circumnavigating signals. It might be better to stop the circumnavigators out at MLK.
    A couple internal segments of shared one way with parking protected bike lanes, opposing each other, could be very effective and low cost.

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    • eawrist April 26, 2016 at 11:16 am

      Yes

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  • Chris Smith April 26, 2016 at 10:23 am

    Just to clarify, the Major City Bikeway classification for 7th or 9th is NOT part of the current Council consideration of the Comp Plan. It will come to Council as part of the TSP ‘stage 2’ update later in the year.

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  • maccoinnich April 26, 2016 at 10:27 am

    Speaking of the 7th Ave Bridge, there is an item on the City Council agenda tomorrow that (among other items) would make the “Sullivan’s Crossing” project eligible for up to $11 million of Systems Development Charge money:

    “Sullivan’s Crossing – This safe pedestrian and bicycle crossing is a long standing community priority that has received strong support in the update to the TSP and city Comprehensive Plan. This project will provide an essential crossing for the proposed Green Loop. The project also meets strong community desires that transportation funding is provided by development in areas experiencing rapid growth – like the Lloyd District. This project was identified as a top priority by Portland’s Bicycle Advisory Committee. ”

    From http://www.portlandoregon.gov/auditor/article/574161 (Note that this link will cease to work after this week).

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    • Social Engineer April 26, 2016 at 10:35 am

      Nice find. SW Barbur is on that list too.

      “Design bridge so it can support Emergency Response Services after an
      earthquake, where older nearby bridge connections may collapse.”

      Looks like the city is taking lessons from the Flanders crossing.

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    • David Hampsten, now in Greensboro NC April 26, 2016 at 11:27 am

      Thank you very much for the ordinance link!

      It is nice to see they are adding $13 million in SDC for the outer Powell protected bike lane (116th to 162nd) by cutting two unfunded projects on Foster and on Barbara Welch, as well as $3.7 mil in sidewalks along the 4M by cutting unfunded Gateway projects.

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    • maccoinnich April 27, 2016 at 12:37 pm

      Update: the City Council seemed pretty excited about the Sullivan’s Crossing (and the other 3 projects). Dan Saltzman was impressed that the the bridge would be able to carry emergency vehicles after an earthquake. Charlie Hales was really taken by the idea that it would connect people who live north of Sullivan’s Gulch to the many small scale manufacturing jobs in the Central Eastside.

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  • bikeninja April 26, 2016 at 10:28 am

    The biggest issue that needs to be faced is ,not which street to make a greenway, but as we learned with Clinton and other Greenways how to deal with cut-through traffic. For too long we have allowed automobile drivers to blaze whatever path they want in search of speed, and quick fossil fueled powered commuting. The real policy or engineering plan that is needed is how to deal with diverted drivers and put them back on the the crowded thoroughfares of their own making. We must give up the idea that automobile commuting can be easy or convenient in our crowded city and fragile planet. Once we can take care of that, greenways will be much easier to site, and our children will thank us.

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    • Adam H.
      Adam H. April 26, 2016 at 11:16 am

      That’s easy, use what’s called “filtered permeability”. Scatter diverters around the entire neighborhood so that driving through it becomes a confusing maze. People walking and cycling get use of the full grid, while drivers are forced onto arterials.

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      • Spiffy April 26, 2016 at 1:10 pm

        it works great in Berkeley, California… I never cut through neighborhoods there… tried a couple times and got lost in a maze of diverters…

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        • Stephen Keller April 27, 2016 at 9:08 am

          I haven’t been to Berkeley, but I’ve seem similar systems in other cities. It’s like a secret code. Locals can get in and out, but folks travelling through find it is difficult enough (and slow enough) that staying on the main streets is the more attractive alternative. I’ve often wondered why we do not do this in Portland.

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      • Social Engineer April 26, 2016 at 1:15 pm

        Sorta like the West End in Vancouver BC.

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      • Tim April 27, 2016 at 2:34 pm

        Europe has this too. Most of the time it was because of the way the city grew before the automobile or even a central authority to lay out a grid. If you are local you know how to get there, but if you are a tourist, better stick to walking.

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  • MaxD April 26, 2016 at 10:32 am

    7th also has a 4-way stop at Skidmore, and Skidmore is designated bike street with controlled crossings at MLK, Williams, Vancouver, Mississippi, and Interstate. Skidmore also connects bike routes og Going (via 7th), Vancouver/Williams, Michigan, Interstate and Concord. I wish the CIty would hurry up and strip some bike lanes on Skidmore before planned 1000+ apartments and offices are complete and parking just becomes increasingly hard to remove!

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    • Lester Burnham April 26, 2016 at 12:20 pm

      YES! Remove the street parking on Skidmore from Interstate to MLK and get some bike lanes on it.

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    • paikiala April 26, 2016 at 1:54 pm

      ‘future’ bike street. Lines on maps do not equal improved facilities. the 2030 plan is an ideal, not actualized.

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      • Derp April 27, 2016 at 9:49 am

        So this whole time there has been an ideal plan and an actualized plan? That’s pretty convenient for you when deflecting all of these critiques. Don’t suppose you could let us all in on what the 2030 Actualized Plan is so that we have something to peruse? Of course, then you’d have to invent another plan we can’t see when you aren’t showing progress towards the goals of actualized plan either. What’s a paikiala to do?

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  • Champs April 26, 2016 at 10:56 am

    There’s some serious pearl clutching in that petition, but the subtext is pretty transparent: Irvington doesn’t want to lose NE 7th as their special MLK bypass.

    I ride this corridor pretty regularly and it’s pretty obvious that the alternative is a terrible idea for all the reasons laid out above. South of Alberta, the only place where 9th makes any sense whatsoever is getting across the six (1 bike, 1 turn, 4 30+ MPH general) lanes you need to cross to reach the eastbound bike lane on Lloyd.

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    • SD April 26, 2016 at 1:00 pm

      It is a bummer that a few in Irvington don’t see their neighbors who live on NE 7th as deserving of the same low traffic roads as themselves.

      This is the darker side of gentrification; when the wealthy stand in the way of improvements for people of lesser economic means.

      It may seem that the opposition to changes on 7th are saying to keep things the same, but in reality they are advocating for the inevitable increased traffic volumes on 7th.

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    • Spiffy April 26, 2016 at 4:13 pm

      most of their arguments for not changing the road are the same arguments we’re using to change the road…

      one comment even says that 9th is hillier to bike on so that should be more attractive to cyclists because it keeps you in shape… people don’t realize that lots of us don’t want to get sweaty and bike for exercise, we just want to go places…

      most of the comments state that there’s already too much traffic and diverters will make it more congested… I’m not sure what they plan to do about the congestion… but diverters will certainly make less people drive there…

      and the comments about the how everybody in that neighborhood drives and parents all drive their kids to the school miss the point that if the street were catering to cyclists then more commuters, parents, and children would use it to bike…

      they want the same thing that we do, but they don’t realize it…

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  • Matthew B April 26, 2016 at 11:32 am

    Whichever street is chosen, 7th Ave or 9th Ave, there will be people who object. The role of our elected government is to look at all the conflicting demands and make the decision that best reflects the public interest. Unfortunately, that means some people won’t get their way. You can please all of the people some of the time, some of the people all of the time, but you can’t please all the people all the time.

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  • MaxD April 26, 2016 at 11:35 am

    I have worked in the Central Eastside since 2008. I bike to work and have spent a lot of time walking and biking in the neighborhood. IMO, the best option for a bike street with diverters is 6th Ave, at least between Davids and Lincoln. I think 7th is really great choice north of that, and I am very excited to hear about the possibility of an SDC-funded bridge. So of Division, I am much less familiar, but 9th looks promising. I just hope that PBOT can commit to a route that doesn’t zigzag and jog all over the place.

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    • daisy April 26, 2016 at 2:44 pm

      Yeah, to be clear, there is no NE 6th in much of NE (or anywhere?). The streets go from MLK to 7th.

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  • axoplasm April 26, 2016 at 11:36 am

    “Closing NE 7th to traffic…will undoubtedly affect neighboring streets with increased traffic.”

    This was a common concern for residents near Clinton e.g. on Tibbets or Woodward (I shared that concern FTR.) Did it actually happen? It doesn’t FEEL like it did but then you know about the plural of anecdote.

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    • Spiffy April 26, 2016 at 4:18 pm

      all the neighboring streets already have increased traffic… comments on the petition state that there are people bypassing MLK all the way out to 15th…

      it’s too late for the congested neighborhood streets argument… all the streets are already congested… we just want one to be made safe for vulnerable users…

      we need to just put diverters everywhere in the city so that you can’t reasonably use any neighborhood as a cut through without it causing you more delay… only then will people take alternative other transportation options seriously…

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  • dwk April 26, 2016 at 11:38 am

    Whether 7th becomes a greenway or not, the Tillamook crossing of 7th is a seriously dangerous intersection that needs to be addressed.

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    • mh April 26, 2016 at 12:54 pm

      Tillamook offset by a long distance down 7th, and a traffic circle on a hill? You got a problem with that? I sure do.

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    • paikiala April 26, 2016 at 1:59 pm

      D,
      The Tillamook crossing of 7th is proposed to be addressed with the Tillamook upgrade to neighborhood greenway level. Circle removal and/or cycle tracks behind the curb as part of the jog, in addition to traffic calming of 7th, similar to what was done as part of Morris/Siskiyou/Klickitat (the traffic calming stuff).

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      • eawrist April 27, 2016 at 10:36 am

        Any timeline on this project?

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  • David April 26, 2016 at 1:05 pm

    Did you use a website to make the elevation profile screenshots?

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  • bikeninja April 26, 2016 at 1:07 pm

    Interesting how the perception of auto traffic is now changing. At one point in time it signified commerce, freedom and the american way and now increasingly it is viewed like Strip Clubs and Gambling Dens , a nuisance that nobody wants near where they live but will partake in secretly from time to time.

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  • Jonathan Gordon April 26, 2016 at 1:23 pm

    I think it would be fascinating if BikePortland did a “Where are they now?” follow-up of the 52nd Diverter mess:

    http://bikeportland.org/2011/09/29/pbot-works-around-diverter-debate-in-50s-bikeway-project-58705

    If I remember correctly, there was a small but vocal contingent who were absolutely certain that diverting traffic from 52nd would make 51st (and to a lesser degree, 53rd) superhighways. I believe they even wrangled a concession from PBOT to do a six-month follow-up. What’s life on those streets like now?

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    • Adam H.
      Adam H. April 26, 2016 at 1:32 pm

      Can’t speak to before, but for a year I’ve lived on SE 52nd south of Division (where PBOT decided on no diverter) and motor traffic volume on the street is awful. PBOT striped the street like a through-route (double centerline and no zebra crossings) and drivers treat it accordingly. During peak hour, it’s hard to cross the street because volumes are high and no one stops.

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      • Adam H.
        Adam H. April 26, 2016 at 1:37 pm

        I should also note that SE 52nd is designated as a local street (same as Clinton). I don’t understand why it’s essentially been engineered as a car sewer.

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        • Social Engineer April 26, 2016 at 1:54 pm

          I almost didn’t believe you so I checked it myself, and there it is. It only is designated a collector street south of Powell. Surprising, since it clearly is striped and designed to a higher-order classification south of Division.

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          • Social Engineer April 26, 2016 at 1:56 pm

            Correction: collector south of Foster. Major city traffic street between Foster and Powell.

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          • Adam H.
            Adam H. April 26, 2016 at 2:01 pm

            Yep. Since it’s a local street, PBOT should have no problem finishing the job and adding diversion at Division southbound and Powell northbound. As someone who lives, bikes, and walks on the street, I’d much rather have diversion instead of the current bike lanes and high motor traffic.

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      • paikiala April 26, 2016 at 2:05 pm

        Ignoring the marked crossings at Clinton and Woodward?

        Worse than the 2010 counts, 6200 trips per day and 36 mph in a posted 30?
        (2-4% going over 40 mph)

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        • Adam H.
          Adam H. April 26, 2016 at 2:20 pm

          There’s no marked crossing at Clinton. Yes, I forgot to mention the crossing at Woodward, but unfortunately I do not live right at that corner and I’m not walking four blocks just to cross the street. That, and less than half of people actually stop at that crossing when the RRFP’s are activated (yes, I counted). One marked crossing in half a mile is not acceptable for a street that’s striped as a collector and 6,200 motor vehicle trips per day is far too high for a local street.

          Currently, SE 52nd between Division and Powell exists in a limbo between collector and local street, and I’d like to see a more people-friendly design. Diverters and/or raised bike lanes could work well here, but something needs to be done about the high motor traffic volume. PBOT standard for diversion is more than 2,000 motor vehicle trips per day and SE 52nd sees more than triple that.

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        • Spiffy April 26, 2016 at 4:31 pm

          the 52nd crossing at Woodward is horrible for bicycles… they put in a left-turn box for bikes, but you have no right of way there… they even put in a button for cyclists to press to activate the pedestrian crossing that’s not in line with the bike boxes…

          cars are constantly illegally stopping (as bad as 50th/Clinton) to let bikes cross against their right of way…

          I’m so annoyed by drivers illegally blocking traffic to let another vehicle (bicycle) cross the road against the right of way…

          I’m going to print a sign that says “you’re breaking the law” to hold up to drivers when they all stop in the road illegally…

          I should just start writing them tickets… but who has the time for that? the DA needs to ticket these people based on the video evidence…

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          • paikiala April 26, 2016 at 4:43 pm

            can you cite the ORS regarding your assertion of illegality?

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            • Spiffy April 28, 2016 at 4:24 pm

              ORS 811.335(1)(b)

              (1) A person commits the offense of making an unlawful or unsignaled turn if the person is operating a vehicle upon a highway and the person turns the vehicle right or left when:
              (a) The movement cannot be made with reasonable safety; or
              (b) The person fails to give an appropriate signal continuously during not less than the last 100 feet traveled by the vehicle before turning.

              if I just turned right onto 52nd and it’s only 10 feet until I need to left then how can I legally signal? it seems that those types of movements aren’t legal…

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          • pink$$ April 26, 2016 at 6:17 pm

            “Every intersection is a crosswalk.”

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            • Spiffy April 28, 2016 at 4:29 pm

              unless there’s already an existing marked crosswalk within 150 feet, which there is…

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    • soren April 26, 2016 at 2:35 pm

      As I recall, the study showed an increase of a little over a hundred trips per day. In other words, peanuts.

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  • Matthew B April 26, 2016 at 2:30 pm

    I know this is of scant relevance, but I grew up in Canberra, Australia. We were always told it was a city designed around the private automobile. While that is true, the city planners eschewed the grid system in favor of circles, and in almost all neighborhoods motor vehicle traffic is funneled out of the local streets onto arterial roads. There are no “short cuts” so to speak. There are lots of cul-de-sacs that don’t let cars go from here to there, but the liberal use of pedestrian laneways allow foot/bike traffic to go lots of places cars can’t. There is also an extensive network of bike paths that are fully separated from roadways (and are often much more direct). Consequently, while it is designed around the car, it seems like it’s also designed to keep cars away from pedestrians and cyclists to the extent possible.

    There are lessons that can be learned from such a design. We can’t change the existing street layout (except in new areas), but if we start blocking streets mid block, we can prevent a lot of through traffic without hindering pedestrians or cyclists, and only slightly inconveniencing resident motorists. In North Portland, for example, I think that a lot of the streets that feed onto Lombard, would be better if they were blocked to traffic at Lombard so that most traffic is forced onto the larger streets such as Portsmouth and Wall. A lot of these streets are too narrow for much traffic in any event, and turning left from them into Lombard is an exercise in futility. Most people don’t want to live on major arterial roads, but do want reasonable access to them.

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    • David Hampsten, now in Greensboro NC April 26, 2016 at 2:45 pm

      This is how East Portland (east of I-205) was designed by Multnomah County, before Portland annexed it in the late 1980s. In the US, it is called “super-block” planning, and was considered to be “best-practice” in the 1950s-1970s for urban planning. It still is in the Netherlands and Germany.

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      • Alex Reedin April 26, 2016 at 3:36 pm

        Minus the paved streets, the liberal use of ped/bike laneways, the extensive network of bike paths, oh what am I missing?

        This is my favorite non-connection:
        https://www.google.com/maps/@45.4859722,-122.5256399,57m/data=!3m1!1e3

        The western cul-de-sac is seriously like 7 feet from 133rd Dr., but is there a ped/bike connection into the (extremely cute and manicured) manufactured home park? Noooo, of course not. There’s a six-foot-tall fence instead!

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        • Spiffy April 26, 2016 at 4:40 pm

          Aspen Meadows… it’s private property so there’s no outside access… all owned by the mobile home park… I guess they’re allowed to put up fences and limit access to the 2 driveways…

          it would be nice if we could get some bike lanes on Holgate all the way from 82nd to 136th…

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        • David Hampsten, now in Greensboro NC April 27, 2016 at 1:09 pm

          Nice try, but that particular development was allowed by the City of Portland after annexation – Blame the city, not the county. My “favorite” failure is on 125th south of Division, a large development built by the City right after annexation, over 500 low-rent homes, but only one outlet, onto Division, and no signal. Right now, two rival gangs, one Russian, the other Mexican, are fighting over it.

          I agree, the county wasn’t perfect, but at least they were trying. There are numerous examples, such as the bike/ped diverter on SE Brookside at 117th; the bike/ped path on 129th between Division & Powell; and locating school properties at the center of superblocks (David Douglas HS, Lynchview Elem, Lincoln Elem, Cherry Park Elem). After annexation, the City tried, and utterly failed (and continues to fail), to get EP into the 200 ft inner Portland pattern.

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  • Steve Cole April 26, 2016 at 2:47 pm

    Just to clarify, the Irvington Community Association (ICA), along with Eliot Neighborhood Association and residents of 7th Ave. sent a letter to PBOT and Commissioner Novick arguing that 7th Ave. needed to become an official bike greenway, with diverters, as opposed to the de facto bike route it is today, sans diverters. So “Irvington” is not opposed to the proposed greenway.

    The opposition is a small group of residents who live, primarily, on 8th ave. I, in my role as president of the ICA, and several other neighbors and representatives of King and Eliot neighborhoods, have met with them on multiple occasions. I have also exchanged numerous, detailed emails explaining why it is necessary to make 7th ave. a greenway, addressing their concerns, and offering to work with them to ensure that there would be no unacceptable traffic consequences on 8th.

    Because I have met with them and communicated with them often, I know what they have been told by PBOT representatives and others. Thus, I know their petition contains, at best, willful, knowing misrepresentations. At best. It is clearly intended to drum up support based on fear-mongering (4000 cars being diverted onto neighborhood streets!). Their claim that the ICA is advocating for a plan which would make neighborhood streets more dangerous is not only absurd and dishonest (there is no current design plan), but highly offensive given that we are doing the opposite. Seventh Ave. is currently very dangerous for everyone involved.

    The city commissioners will be deciding whether to designate 7th Ave. as a bike greenway at this Thursday’s meeting. While they are not officially taking new testimony, except from those who signed up last week, I would encourage all interested parties to communicate directly with the commissioners to advocate for designating 7th as a greenway. It is essential for safety reasons. It is essential for city-wide and regional bike infrastructure reasons. You probably need to get those in by tomorrow.

    This comment represents my personal views and is not written on behalf of the ICA or in my role as ICA president.

    Steve Cole

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    • Carl April 26, 2016 at 4:06 pm

      Thanks for your continued work on this, Steve. The neighborhood associations have been doing a great job of working together to lead the charge, here.

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    • SD April 26, 2016 at 4:08 pm

      Thanks for the clarification and for all of your work!

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    • Champs April 26, 2016 at 7:37 pm

      Fair enough.

      Although it is not what I meant to say, I suppose one can read an implication that there is official opposition. It is good to hear that this is not at all the case.

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  • daisy April 26, 2016 at 2:57 pm

    Not included here: I don’t know all the details, but I heard through the Eliot Neighborhood Association that the lights on NE MLK haven’t been re-sync’d or optimized or something for many years. That is supposedly happening soon, and that will make MLK run more smoothly regardless.

    And it will definitely mean that folks in cars will likely find that MLK is preferable to any neighborhood street.

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    • jeff April 26, 2016 at 3:49 pm

      Also, prohibiting left turns at the uncontrolled cross streets would help the flow immensely.

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      • daisy April 27, 2016 at 12:15 pm

        I’ve been thinking about this. I see that this might help car traffic on MLK flow, but it also seems like it would add a lot of additional traffic to side streets. Around the Nike store area, for example (this is my neighborhood, so I know it pretty well), if a car has to go to a a controlled intersection to turn left, that leaves only a few options, at Russell and Knott and Morris, and then those cars would have to also go on 7th or Rodney. All of these are bikeways or bike-friendly.

        Or, a car would have to turn right and make a few right turns, which would still put a lot more vehicle traffic onto neighborhood streets, including Rodney and 7th (which are a block east and west of MLK in this area).

        So I think this might improve flow on MLK (though, back-ups for left turns at the controlled intersections might be a problem), but it seems like it’d be remarkably worse for neighborhood streets, since so many more cars would be pushed onto neighborhood streets that aren’t their destination.

        I’m going to say, unless there’s engineering evidence otherwise, this privileges car traffic over neighborhoods and would be a loss.

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    • Spiffy April 26, 2016 at 4:50 pm

      that’s unfortunate… traffic would be much safer if drivers had to stop at every light… MLK certainly doesn’t need to be made faster… it just needs less people driving on it…

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      • Beeblebrox April 26, 2016 at 10:02 pm

        Retiming signals doesn’t mean cars would be able to drive faster…the idea is to get traffic to travel slow and steady, with less stopping and starting. It’s a win win improvement, safer for everyone and less frustrating for drivers.

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        • Eric Leifsdad April 27, 2016 at 2:17 pm

          Portland should do more to make this known. Some kind of “green speed” sign or something. It’s so frustrating trying to cruise the green wave only to get cutoff and blocked by people racing to the red. (Frustrating on a bike or in a car.)

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          • Spiffy April 28, 2016 at 4:37 pm

            and you’ll get honks and glares as they speed by and cut you off, until you catch them in 2 blocks… again and again…

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  • Eli Spevak April 26, 2016 at 11:04 pm

    Great article! I biked both routes multiple times before suggesting the PSC amendment to switch from 9th to 7th. It’s true that “the park already functions as a natural diverter” on NE 9th. But it’s important to note that Irving Park is also a major natural diverter for bikes too, not just cars. It’s got too much topography to go up and over, so the bike path would have to wind around it, adding nearly 4 blocks to the bike route. This sort of impediment has no place in a major N-S bike route when it can be avoided (as it can with the NE 7th route). Also, Portland has a strong tradition of locating major bike routes one block away from major vehicle travel routes (e.g. Ankeny, Clinton, Going, Holman…) – for good reason. As shared in several pieces of public testimony, this is another solid argument for NE 7th.

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    • eawrist April 27, 2016 at 10:48 am

      Irving park could be a great natural diverter were it not for the difficult connection at 9th and Fremont. In my fantastical world a bike ped bridge could reconnect the park to the neighborhood from the hill at grade on 9th. I have always thought 7th is a much better choice, but Fremont will still be a barrier without safe crossings.

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  • Jeremy April 27, 2016 at 10:32 am

    Is there a petition in favor of designating NE 7th a “major city bikeway”? NE 7th makes so much more sense. And why on earth would you run a bikeway thru a park vs. alongside it? Not to mention crossing the park and then crossing Fremont, sans light, is much slower, and the path thru Irving Park wiggles up, down, and around past a playground and off-leash area. I’ve ridden the lengths of NE 7th and NE 9th countless times, and I’ve always wished 7th was a cycling superhighway and that you didn’t have to divert to 12th to cross the Banfield. And 7th already has speed humps, multiple four-way stops, lights, and lots of cycling traffic.

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  • Jen April 28, 2016 at 2:12 pm

    Have there been any studies on whether the City Repair Project intersection paintings slow down traffic? Maybe there are things that can be done in the meantime to make 7th Avenue a safer place for bicyclists and pedestrians.

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  • Mike June 15, 2016 at 1:02 pm

    There is noticeably more traffic on NE 7th now that a major portion of Williams is down to one lane. Also, traffic on MLK is noticeably worse due to the Williams fiasco. Now they want 7th Ave as well…Nope.

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