In yesterday’s post about a flurry of new, smallish protected bike lane projects around town, we promised a follow-up post about some other street changes on the way.
As with the nine projects we explored yesterday, Portland Bicycle Planning Coordinator Roger Geller presented these to the city’s Bicycle Advisory Committee on Tuesday night. None of these will transform a neighborhood, but all three will clarify links in the city’s bike network.
NE 16th/Sandy – installing this summer
This is the most unusual of the three designs here. It’s a three-block link between the Benson Polytechnic High School area and Sandy, leading to the Ankeny-Couch-Davis-Everett neighborhood greenway. The issue is that because of a freeway onramp in this area, northbound auto traffic on 16th Avenue between Irving and Sandy exceeds the city’s standard for a comfortable shared bike-car lane, but southbound traffic is lower.
Here are three possible ways to solve that problem:
The option pictured largest here, and the one Geller discussed with us verbally, is a northbound buffered bike lane behind the angle parking on 16th, with sharrows marking a southbound lane that would continue to be shared.
SE 41st/Holgate – installing late 2016 or early 2017
This offset intersection of 41st and 42nd across two busy lanes of Holgate Boulevard is similar to the 40s Bikeway crossing of Division Street a couple miles north, except the offset is larger. The crossbikes and left-turn boxes add a sense of order to a zigzag where people are currently left to fend for themselves.
Geller said this project is funded for the 2017 fiscal year, so sometime between July 1, 2016 and June 30, 2017.
NE 37th/Prescott – installing 2017
At this intersection, the 30s/40s Bikeway crosses the relatively high-traffic Prescott Street at exactly the point that Prescott forms a country-road-style curve, interfering with sight lines and giving people a cue to rev their engines.
I bike through here regularly and I’ve often wondered how people in this relatively well-to-do neighborhood feel about this intersection. The city’s plan doesn’t do much to change its geometry, but it does at least add some visual complications to the scene.
It’s a little odd that instead of doing anything to change the angle of auto traffic or force slower, sharper turns by people in cars, this plan will divert bike traffic on and off of the sidewalks in each direction. This is probably in part because changing the shape of curbs is much more expensive than changing the color of streets, and the city hasn’t given itself much money to work with on this. In any case, they’re aware of the issue here. These changes will at least offer some guidance to the riders of all ages who are probably least comfortable using this corner today.
Geller also said they’ve talked to the person who lives at that house on the southeast corner. They’ve had several people drive over their fence over the years. Hopefully this project prevents that from happening again.
— Michael Andersen, (503) 333-7824 – email@example.com
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Great news about the Holgate crossing! It’s on a hill, which adds to the difficulty when traveling northward.
YES!!!! I live on 42nd and this intersection demands some serious guts. This paint will help communicate the danger to the car crowd.
you really think so? my prediction: >10% of motorists couldn’t care less.
The 16th?Sandy graphics are very hard to understand. Do you have any better/larger graphics and supporting text that differentiates the options?
The solution to 37th/Prescott is appalling! The graphic showing the wobbly path up someone’s driveway on to a sidewalk just says it all: “Don’t bother trying to ride your bike here”. I ride through here frequently and I have tried lots of different routes and they all suck because people driving treat Prescott like it is there personal express route. I think a 4-way stop sign would be the best solution here. I know PBOT dislikes them because compliance is low, but I find in practice they work like 4-way yield signs. It is like an Idaho-stop for cars and bikes. I dislike everything about the proposed solution: the crossbikes that no-one understands are made more confusing by connecting to sidewalks. This actually takes space away from bikes and just gives cars some paint to speed over, paint that is meaningless except to a very few people. Part of the problem with this intersection is the park is used by people from all over Portland for soccer games and dog walking. This non-standard bike stuff is not going to be learned because there are too many infrequent and new drivers. Prescott flies right by this park (and a school) but PBOT will not consider any solution to control traffic speeds. Prescott should have been the route for the Going green street! This is depressing me.
A. it’s not a driveway, it’s a substandard ramp for cyclists:
B. Prescott and 37th are different classifications of streets, so stopping Prescott for a local street like 37th would be a large exception to that policy.
C. Prescott is a Major Emergency Response route, which puts a few more hurdles in place.
That said, there have been several other concepts investigated, including entry speed cushions, narrow medians, mini roundabouts and truck corners.
I agree this is not the best solution. It is unlikely that more paint will reduce the every couple years car runs into house problem.
Whoa! That little ramps is even worse than I thought! I get that 37th and Prescott are different categories of streets so it is unusual to consider a 4-way. However, 37th is supposed to be greenway, and a greenway is supposed to provide a safe, simple, intuitive way for people not driving to get around. This seems like an excellent place to consider an exception.Is a way stop considered much of an obstacle to emergency vehicles? (serious question)
By policy a stop sign requires the fire truck to stop. They are very heavy vehicles and getting them moving again from a dead stop is the worst case scenario.
Then we need smaller fire trucks and to stop designing our streets to accommodate large vehicles.
almost everything you purchase arrives by truck and they have to get around the city to deliver the stuff.
Yes, but you can fit stuff on smaller trucks.
All of the Subarus arrive by boat, but we don’t design our streets for boats.
Big trucks should not be on smaller streets.
Is there some way of calculating the marginal cost in lost lives for every second of additional emergency vehicle delay per year, so that could be weighed against the marginal cost of a car crashing into a house every year or two? Etc.?
thanks for the explanation. Do you have any creative proposal for this bike crossing?
see first response?
Thanks, I would love to an image of the mini-roundabout. Would it be mountable for fire-trucks? Would their be yield signs in advance? sounds promising!
The entry speed cushions and the truck corner aprons seems like marginal improvements to me, but much better than the proposal. What do you mean by “narrow medians”? Are these center medians? If not, where would they be placed?
maybe this way:
Oh, I love the dual roundabout idea!
thanks for sharing those images! I agree with Adam that the dual roundabout looks like great solution. Could the entry speed cushions be expanded and serve as raised crosswalks? Could the center medians be added to the second, crescent-shaped central island for an expanded central refuge for 37th? Anyway, that roundabout idea would be a bold transformation, how does it measure up in cost?
I am really intrigued by the dual roundabout idea. Seems like it would achieve the main concerns I have:
– People drive cars way too fast through there.
– People drive cars all over the road through there.
– As a person on a bike, there’s no way to tell if the way is clear without putting yourself into the intersection. At that point, if there’s someone in a car coming you have to either a) pray they see you and stay in their lane and that following traffic see you as well or b) jump through and try and beat them.
What would it take to make the roundabout option happen?
Portland really needs to embrace more roundabouts. There’s a bunch all over the metro area in the suburbs and even Vancouver, but only one that I know if in Portland near the Airport.
no to raised crosswalks. cushions have channels for fire truck tires. those make the bump less effective, so PBOT uses the bump shape not the table shape used for raised crosswalks. For each channel in a speed table/raised crosswalk you would have to provide a 1:12 ramp for wheelchairs, so your channel goes from skinny to very wide – a ‘fire friendly’ raised crosswalk would not slow anyone, except maybe wheelchair users.
Speed cushions can be placed upstream of marked crosswalks so cars would slow before crossing the crosswalk.
The estimate for a mini-roundabout is in the $20,000 range each, with islands at four entries, which each of these intersections do not have, so maybe $12,000 per intersection.
Portland has 2.5 modern roundabouts:
Portland Airport long term parking
SW Terwilliger at Palater
NE Yacht Harbor Drive north end.
I also like the roundabout proposal. I hope this model of traffic calming develops more traction in the future.
Portland also has two rotaries (high-speed roundabouts) at 39th & Glisan and at Ladd’s Circle. Apparently Portland once upon a (recent) time had a roundabout on 122nd & Stephen, which school buses tripped over so bad they removed it within a week at much cost; and at Tewilliger & Barbur, which lasted for several years. There are also mini-roundabouts similar is size to that proposed, on SE Clinton & on NE 24th.
To deal with heavy trucks, ladder trucks, and buses, you could have low or sloping curbs at the roundabouts on 37th, low enough for them to roll over it, but high enough to block a Prius.
Isn’t puttting a non-protected bike lane and a (no legal meaning) crossbike also a large exception to policy? Who in their right mind would think that a narrow bike lane approaching a marrow ramp to a diagonal crossbike that has no legal meaning would be a good idea?
I thought that Roger was a reasonable guy last time I spoke with him… So how does he approve of asinine ideas like this?
Technically, providing bike space is the standard for a 30 mph roadway. Put another way, PBOT emerging policy would limit any street that has only an unprotected bike lane to a maximum of 30 mph posted speed.
I put crossbikes in the same category as yellow diamond signs – a warning device.
I don’t understand the rule that emergency response routes can’t have stop signs or even traffic signals. Someone driving an emergency vehicle with its lights and siren on would not only be able to run the stop signs, but even pre-empt the traffic signals.
Most emergency response routes have signals, and most of them can be pre-empted. Stop signs cannot, therefore fire trucks are required to stop at stop signs.
By city policy and national policy (MUTCD) all way stops can be installed as an interim measure while waiting for a signal to install. Portland usually only installs signals to solve a safety problem, not for issues of convenience. Full signals are quite expensive, so PBOT also seeks lower cost electronic control if a problem is identified. The national standards also promote this policy.
What factors would PBOT and Portland Fire consider as exceptions to the no stop signs rule? (Aslo, I think creating a safe crossing for a greenway rises to higher level than “convenience”)
As described above, as an interim measure where a full signal is warranted.
Also when there is a nearby parallel alternative route with similar signalization. In all cities in the US, the local fire protection agencies have effective veto power over all road projects and associated elements, including speed limits, signage, median barriers, and signals. Except for railroad crossings and navigable waterways, oddly enough.
20-foot travel lanes!! You could fit a curbside bikeway in that space and still have plenty of room for a car travel lane. And why do car parking spaces also need 20 feet? It’s odd to me that in a 60-foot curb-to-curb space, the best PBOT comes up with are 6 feet for bikes plus sharrows. Even if just paint, they could have built curbside buffered bike lanes in both directions.
That looks okay, but the turning angles are too sharp in the bike boxes. Bikes can’t make sharp 90º turns. If it’s anything like the crossing at Division, sight lines will be poor for people cycling, while drivers carry on unimpeded. Granted, the distance is longer, so it might turn out to be okay.
It looks like PBOT are retaining the bikes-on-sidewalk ramp that no one who actually rides a bike would design. Why, instead of all this paint that people cycling will just ride over instead of using the poorly-designed sidewalk ramp, doesn’t PBOT just install a four-way stop?
All these projects aim to shoehorn bikes into painted lanes while doing nothing to address the primary problem of motor traffic. I wish PBOT would take measures to slow and reduce volumes, rather than having people cycling accommodate people’s unimpeded driving.
Check your math on 16th. 20 feet is for two directions of travel, two 10 foot lanes.
My problem with 16th is forward angle parking is dangerous for cyclists, particularly if you restrict them to a bike lane right behind the cars. Reverse angle parking would be safer.
Okay yeah you’re right. That diagram is quite confusing. 🙂
IMO, any parking next to a bike lane is dangerous. It only takes once for a person to not look before they pull out (or open a door) to cause a cyclist serious injury.
The bike lane gets eastbound cyclists out of the path of drivers desperate to get on the freeway, so it’s good for them. The treatment on 16th is of less than no use to me, because I ride north to Irving and turn left every work day.
This could be one of many good tests to kill the mandatory sidepath law. I know I’m heading west, so I take the lane once I’m up the little hill now. I will continue to do so if there is a bike lane striped to my right. You don’t want to make a Copenhagen left here, and put yourself in the path of three directions of freeway-turning drivers. One direction is plenty. I have never encountered heavy traffic on this stretch, so I have no idea why someone thought it was a problem worthy of attention, let alone an engineering solution.
I hope whatever is built on 16th is easier to understand than that schematic. Any reason why they need to keep the parking at an angle?
With much effort, I’m restraining from using any abusive words directed towards whoever came up with these substandard implementations. Let me just leave it at: Oh my, PBOT is determined to get back to 5.9% by any means necessary. Clearly, doing lousy work and labelling it as “bikey” is their preferred MO, but they might as well put up big signs that say, “People on bikes not welcome here.”
It’s so exciting to see PBOT trying hard that I want love it! But yeah, this Prescott design is … Not as thrilling as I wanted it to be.
What if we started from the premise that people belong in the street, on foot, and on bike, and that cars may use it too? Then the center would be a functional cycle track with the cars shunted between the true path and the sidewalk. That’d be nice.
Instead of protecting bicyclists from the dangers of traffic, we need to make the traffic less dangerous.
37th and Presecott should be designed to prevent north/south through car traffic. This is the perfect opportunity for a north/south diverter, and it would be a shame if it doesn’t happen as part of this project.
Great point and great idea, Chris I!
Waste of funds. The real danger to cyclists at 37th and Prescott is the 7200 cars a day using it (2011) with an 85th of 32 mph in a 30 mph zone.
37th has about 700-900 trips per day and 85ths of 26 mph. That can be addressed with speed bumps.
I don’t know. It seems like two curb extensions would be cheaper than speed bumps for the entire length of 37th? I guess I just figured that the city would want to add diverters to major bikeways when they are already doing projects at a given intersection. After all, you make developers build sidewalks when they construct a house and one is not present, right?
That is thinking like an interested but concerned community member. Diverters are needed for many reasons that we culturally understand. The engineers are looking at statistical risk of danger, not what will get more people cycling. They want speed bumps to slow cars top speed, we know though that the fear of some idiot turning fast onto the Greenway and head on running you over turns people away. We need to mitigate this fear while plummeting the number of cars on the Greenway to a minimum.
That requires Diversion, at every arterial, if we are really going to change our mode share. It may not be needed if we are only trying to make people safe.
These are two different goals that are being conflated……that Prescott crossing though, won’t do either….Holgate looks good.
Curb extensions (without drainage impacts) = $10,000 each.
diverter islands = $5,000 each.
Speed bumps, about $2,000 each.
One way streets with contra-flow bike lanes (SE 34th) = $2,500/std. block, paint and signs only.
semi-diverters might reduce some cars on 37th, but would do nothing about the 26 mph speeds away from the intersection, or safety crossing Prescott.
All true….but even if all that is done, without the Diversion you might make it statistically safer….you have not done one thing about the head- on turn in fear. I know PBOT does not want to admit that this psychological fear is important, but the interested but concerned find it critical.
The fact that 32 nd and Killingsworth is getting $100 k in ADA improvements without even considering Diversion tells me that the public is not being listened to. Green paint will not cut it when it is a “bike project.”. This case was not a matter of cost as Diversion could have been integrated from day one.
Do we want to reach our bike mode share, or not? If we are serious, then Pbot must build what the interested but concerned want, and engineer it in a Safe way.
Not say ” this is safe, use it.”
Can you provide a citation for that $100k number.
Also, disagreeing with you is not the same as not listening to the public.
at Holgate/41st I think they should re-open the diagonal behind the NW corner building where the streetcar used to run and work some kind of lane into there…
they could probably buy that corner building cheap and properly connect 41st directly across Holgate…
I ride the crossing at SE 41st/42nd and Holgate weekly and it can be pretty dicey north and south. People drive their cars quite fast up/down Holgate and inserting yourself into the left-most part of the lane and hoping that the person whizzing up behind you noticed that they’re now sharing the lane with someone who they might not have seen since they last checked their cell phone can be pretty harrying.
I’m really glad to see they’ve attempted to do something here.
What would you think of a center 2-way bike space with refuge islands at either end for pedestrians and the bike space? This would be similar to the Stark crossing of the 40’s.
That might make me decide to cross Holgate at 41st. The current situation and the future plan are gonna keep me crossing at the top of the hill. FWIW I cross Holgate several times a day.
PBOT has a sketch for a south side 2-way track (like going at 33rd) with the main crossing at the uphill side, but they are pricey and don’t do much for pedestrians.
This would probably be better.
Having just ridden both the crossing at Division and Stark, I would say I prefer the refuge on Stark. The one at Division feels unnatural, requires a stop, and seems to confuse drivers as well.
Ideally this comes with a no-parking sign on Holgate on the south side of the street, just east of 41st.
That crossing at 41st and Division is very poorly thought out. Who can turn their bike at 90º like that? Even if you manage to do that, you’re twisting your whole body to try and see cross-traffic. Drivers never stop anyway. I usually just cut across the intersection when motor traffic is clear and ignore that bike box. Why doesn’t PBOT just install four-way stops at tricky crossings like these?
Another problem with the 41st concept, like the Division crossing, is cyclists are getting older and engineers have been cautioned that turning your neck back to look for a gap like that becomes difficult as you age. So the design isn’t age friendly.
I’d like to see PBOT install four-way stops at these kind of crossings. Make the drivers slow down and yield to people cycling, instead of having people cycling look out for motor traffic. Yes, most drivers roll through stop signs without coming to a complete stop, but they at least slow down considerably whereas currently they don’t even have to touch the brakes.
Yes, when this was first installed, I rode it with a PBOT employee, who showed me how you could pivot your bike 90 degrees in no distance. I can’t do it, and i can’t crane my neck like is apparently required. So I don’t use them either.
I like that concept
If the center-lane 2-way bike facility on 16th is protected on both sides (as in DC) I’d be a fan. Otherwise, not so much.
I don’t think the Holgate proposal is any improvement on the status quo. Motorists really love to speed on that hill, in both directions.
Nothing short of a traffic light or refuge island could make this crossing safer. Some serious traffic calming is in order, and paint isn’t going to cut it.
Exactly. The speeds and poor visibility are why I avoid that crossing. Photo radar van would be good to place there.
Whag happened to protected bikeways by default?
Also, what’s the point in preserving on- street parking that’s next to parking lots? It seems like it should be protected bikeways in both directions, and 2 travel lanes.
These are projects funded by the teeny-tiny “missing links” program with only something like $75,000 a year budget. That’s for the entire City of Portland. So protected bikeways are generally too expensive to build through that program. These are small projects, almost entirely using paint and in-house crews. If you want better than that, tell City Council to provide more funding!
As others have said, that Prescott design is just terrifying to me. The bike crossings actually go diagonal slightly against the flow of traffic. I wouldn’t use it, I would wait to yield into the car lane and take that where I’d feel much more likely to be seen.
Even with a budget limited to paint, they could, paint the car turnings much more sharp (to slow traffic).
White crosswalk paint at the intersection would also get drivers to slow and look. Why isn’t that in the design?
I must admit, I drove down that road the other day for the first time (I rarely drive), and took the turns way too fast. It just seems to direct you to do that currently.
trouble is, paint don’t stop no one. Painting a sharp turn only wears off the paint quicker and puts more fast drivers close to the house that gets hit (E side, south intersection). A raised median might slow them down entering at least. A wide flat median a truck could ride onto with the back wheels would keep it accessible for the ladder truck.
OK, these experimental bike infra treatments have no legal basis, if you are injured while using one of them it’s a legal no man’s land.
I understand NE 37th is a neighborhood greenway, but, as others have discussed, the proposed Prescott crossing seems to introduce as many problems as it solves. Why not just route the greenway down 36th and/or 38th between Skidmore and Going? I ride in this area often and never cross Prescott at 37th. Contrary to some of the comments, I have no issue with volume or speed of Prescott traffic. The issue for me is just the awkward crossing at 37th, and I find it safest and simplest to avoid it altogether. I suggest the planners do the same.
As much as I dislike circuitous bike routes, I’m inclined to agree here. I frequently use 37th ave to connect Going with Alameda, and have found it typically easier to cross Prescott at 36th ave and take the jogs than attempt using the proposed area. This way I can get (mostly) clear sightlines of traffic coming from either direction, even if that traffic remains relatively uninterrupted during rush hour.
With the above solution, it would be beneficial to put the green paint as a crosswalk at 36th and Prescott in a manner similar to 33rd and Going in order to help inspire motorists to yield. Another stop sign at 36th and Skidmore, or some way of prioritizing the bike traffic there would also be helpful. Skidmore is not a particularly busy street here, though, so I don’t typically have an issue there anyway.
Ideally if 37th is truly desired as the route, there would be some sort of signal activated by approaching cyclists to create a safe environment for crossing. Such is my fantasy world.
A HAWK beacon could be used here, to stop the traffic on Prescott and allow bikes to go through. That would cost something like $100,000 though…
Ironic. 37th/38th Holman to Broadway is one of the straightest possible direct greenways in Portland and you propose to make cyclists jog.
Double ironic since PBOT gets crucified for all the current jogs in the network.
37th connects well between the Alameda Greenway and the Going Greenway, and it connects Fernhill and Wilshire Parks. All of the other north/south streets between 33rd and 42nd are discontinuous. I am firm believer in creating routes for biking that are continuous and simple/intuitive to navigate. 37th is great choice, but the crossing at Prescott (and Fremont) is the only glitch. This seems to provide another reason why an exception could be made here to install a 4-way stop
The intersection at NE 37th & Prescott is one of the most dangerous in the city for cyclists and pedestrians, and scary if you’re in a car. Why anyone thought to run a greenway through it is beyond me. The proposed “solution” changes nothing. There is only one solution to this intersection and that is stop lights.
check out the alternative concepts paikala shared, the dual roundabout looks really promising!
“paikiala May 13, 2016 at 1:10 pm
maybe this way:
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I am really glad that the city is looking at options for the 37th and Prescott intersection. I bike through there every day and would consider it one of the toughest stretches of my commute. I also see little kids walking to school dodging traffic to cross that intersection. Very dangerous!