Portland Century - August 18th

First look: New path north of Sellwood Bridge is open

Posted by on July 7th, 2016 at 2:12 pm

A very nice new path segment along the west bank of the Willamette River is finally ready to ride.

Created as part of Multnomah County’s Sellwood Bridge project, it connects the bridge to Willamette Park, a bit to the north. The path was supposed to open a few weeks ago, but construction work was delayed. (This is the same delay that led to an unprecedented last-minute route change for this year’s World Naked Bike Ride.)

Thanks to volunteer correspondent and longtime Multnomah County Bicycle Advisory Committee member Andrew Holtz, above is a thorough and nicely annotated video of the new path and its various spurs.

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For folks heading north from the Sellwood Bridge, the connection to Willamette Park leads to the rest of the Willamette Greenway Trail, the South Portland neighborhood, the South Waterfront and eventually downtown. So this path (assuming it remains open) will eliminate a long-lived and unpleasant detour onto SW Macadam.

One note to keep in mind: there’s a short segment that runs on SW Miles Place, a residential street that hasn’t been a major bikeway before, so people there may not be expecting to see bikes. Use it with caution.

You can read about other features of the new route on this two-page PDF created by the county.

Now if only they’d finish up work on that new bridge itself. Bike traffic will continue to use its north sidewalk only until late October. We hear the final bike signalization is going to be sweet.

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

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37 Comments
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    Pat Lowell July 7, 2016 at 2:39 pm

    I’m stoked to have this connection finally open, but I do feel for residents of SW Miles who might be anxious about having their cozy little enclave opened up to major bike traffic. Let’s please be good neighbors!

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      Spiffy July 7, 2016 at 2:55 pm

      I feel for cyclists who may be anxious when their cozy little bike path dumps them into traffic…

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        Pat Lowell July 7, 2016 at 3:17 pm

        It is possible to be sympathetic to multiple groups of people. It’s called “being a decent human.”

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          Chris I July 8, 2016 at 12:41 pm

          I would absolutely love to live on a street where bike traffic is the biggest problem. It would be significantly safer for my children.

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            q July 8, 2016 at 1:12 pm

            I know almost everyone on Miles Pl. and they do love it for that reason, among other things. It was a hard fight against the City and County to preserve the shared-street concept. The project wanted to force people onto narrow sidewalks, making the street like any other where people shouldn’t be in the street. Instead of seeing what was great about Miles being a model for other streets, they saw what was great as a problem needing to be eliminated.

            Miles is unique, but there are lots of places where through-traffic could be minimized on streets, with the result being the almost the only vehicles would be residents, and the streets would become neighborhood outdoor spaces.

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            • Adam H.
              Adam H. July 8, 2016 at 1:45 pm

              Miles Pl. is terrific example of how our Neighborhood Greenways should be designed, rather than sharrows and a few diverters. It’s funny how the city advertises them as if they are like Miles Pl (Sunday Parkways everyday!) when the reality is nowhere near this.

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        q July 7, 2016 at 8:41 pm

        There’s not much traffic on Miles Pl. Traffic count at Miles Street at the rail crossing is about 100 vehicles/day. That means something less than that by the time you get to Miles Pl., and it drops down to a car or two at each end. It works out to one car every several minutes average for the day, and almost all are residents who are aware it’s a shared street.

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    • Adam H.
      Adam H. July 7, 2016 at 3:01 pm

      Bicycles are low-impact vehicles and the residents don’t own the street in front of their house. I’d be more concerned about the drivers being good neighbors than the cyclists being good neighbors. Why must we always treat people cycling as an intrusion, but never treat drivers as such?

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        Pat Lowell July 7, 2016 at 3:19 pm

        I didn’t say anything about drivers. I was more concerned about people walking/playing/etc. in front of their houses. There is not much car traffic on Miles and I wouldn’t expect this new bike connection to change that.

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        • Adam H.
          Adam H. July 7, 2016 at 3:46 pm

          Fair point. Perhaps I’m so used to drivers complaining about cyclists that I made the assumption in my head. I think if everyone slows down, there won’t be any problems. A great thing about bikes is that they can co-exist with people.

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        q July 7, 2016 at 10:36 pm

        Almost the only drivers on Miles Place are the residents, and I don’t know any there that feel like they own the street, or that would view bikers as an intrusion, since for years there’ve been a lot more bikes and pedestrians in the street than cars. I’m sure you were speaking generally about “intrusion”, but fortunately in this case, I don’t think will be an issue.

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      Buzz July 7, 2016 at 5:27 pm

      I don’t know what they would have to complain about, bike are pretty low impact in terms of noise, speed, etc.

      Plus the pavement on SW Miles used to be in terrible shape and they got a very nice brand new paving job out of the project.

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        q July 7, 2016 at 9:24 pm

        At the project meetings, the only concern mentioned about bikes was that some go faster than seems safe. It’s been a regional trail for years–albeit not as busy as it will be now–so residents are used to that. They also like the special character that comes from living on what’s basically a trail that cars occasionally use. Some actually moved there after finding the neighborhood while biking or walking.

        A few had been wanting new paving. Most didn’t care, and some are worried the smooth surface may encourage faster riding than is safe. Some don’t like the new drainage that slopes the street towards the center, so there are grates and ponding water right in the middle where bikes want to be.

        The main issue for residents–after successfully keeping the project from running all the houseboat traffic onto Miles–was keeping the project from destroying the shared-street character by tearing out lots of trees and plantings and building conventional sidewalks, eliminating the shared-street use/character that is the reason people like walking, biking and living there.

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    ethan July 7, 2016 at 2:43 pm

    Why do all bike switchbacka have 90 degree turns with narrow landings? Wasn’t there plenty of room to put a nice, gentle ramp?

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      Oliver July 8, 2016 at 11:32 am

      It seems that any time new bike infrastructure goes in, everything is grand, except for poorly executed transition points. Personally, I think it’s maddening.

      One that I use regularly is the entrance to N. Denver avenue southbound from the Columbia Slough Trail. http://bit.ly/29siKHt

      Navigating the asphalt path between the patch of gravel and concrete curb at the street entrance (or the crossing signal pole) requires you to thread the needle through a chute which can’t be any wider than 12″ at the most.

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        Oliver July 8, 2016 at 11:36 am

        And if you were to use it as designed, making a 90 degree right hand turn into the bike lane from the sidewalk carries a very real risk of putting you into the motor vechicle lane, esp for inexp. riders or those on cumbersome bicycles.

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    CaptainKarma July 7, 2016 at 2:45 pm

    Hope for more wayfinding help.

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    RMHampel July 7, 2016 at 2:47 pm

    Pat, I agree. I hope we can make this change stress free for the residents of SW Miles. As to the new path; those tight hairpin turns are tricky to navigate on a standard bike. I imagine they will be very tricky on any extended bike (front or rear cargo bike).

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    RMHampel July 7, 2016 at 2:49 pm

    Actually, upon watching the video, those turns look much easier than the tight radius bends on the ramp to the old bridge. It looks much better!

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    Spiffy July 7, 2016 at 2:53 pm

    yikes, those bollards at Macadam Bay driveway! such a narrow passage… how are they still building these hazards into paths? and why do bikes have the stop sign and not cars? that looks like the Willamette Moorage Park road… did wealthy interests oppose a stop sign for cars?

    oh, those nasty bollards are at every transition point!

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      Eric Leifsdad July 7, 2016 at 4:08 pm

      Stop signs facing the path seems to be the typical mistake. See SE 7th and Carruthers Path where a bus sometimes crosses the path of a steady stream of bikes. Refer to your Oregon Bicycle and Pedestrian Design Guide p.7-11,12 “minor street crossings” — “if the number of anticipated path users is greater than the traffic on the cross-street, the latter should be required to yield”.

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        q July 7, 2016 at 9:35 pm

        That was a disappointment to me, and I hope it can be changed. My experience with this project is it screws up a lot, especially with signage, and anything involving bikes or pedestrians. The houseboat traffic count as I recall is only about 200 vehicles/day, and there is no other use of that driveway. Before the new bridge, Miles Place (whose traffic is the same as that crossing the houseboat driveway) would get more bikes and pedestrians than that in an HOUR on a nice weekend afternoon. Projections are for several THOUSAND bikes per day to be using that stretch of trail within the next few years. Having all them stop for an occasional houseboat resident makes no sense.

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      mw July 7, 2016 at 9:40 pm

      The clearance around the bollards is actually pretty wide. The perspective in the video is kind of distorted. Also, there is a 4-way stop at the Macadam Bay driveway, btw.

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    Josh G July 7, 2016 at 3:22 pm

    #sleepingconstructionworkerFTW

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      Chris I July 8, 2016 at 9:08 pm

      Looks like they finished their rebar work and are waiting for concrete.

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    RMHampel July 7, 2016 at 3:23 pm

    Those “nasty bollards” are OBVIOUSLY there to keep out cars, trucks, quads, etc and allow bikes and pedestrians.

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    Eric Leifsdad July 7, 2016 at 4:12 pm

    Good riddance to taking the lane on macadam (“speed 25mph” because this is a park) vs 25in of curb-tight sidewalk for two-way bike+ped traffic. Some people who might have ridden this path last week might have wondered why it wasn’t open yet.

    Positive, be positive… yay a path!

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      gutterbunnybikes July 7, 2016 at 4:42 pm

      Last week?!?

      I know a few people who jumped the fences and rode it a month or so ago (not sure why it wasn’t opened a few weeks ago honestly).

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    roger noehren July 7, 2016 at 5:53 pm

    I rode my long wheelbase Tour Easy recumbent across the bridge to check out the new path on Tuesday afternoon. Definitely worth the wait. I also appreciated the new paving in Willamette Park.
    There’s no doubt that the loop from downtown will be incredibly popular once the construction is finished.

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    gretchin July 7, 2016 at 7:53 pm

    Great video, Andrew, thanks! So glad to see this path is finally open! But I hate that the path is three times longer than it needs to be near the bridge with all those switchbacks. If that had to be done to keep the slope ADA accessible, it would be good to also include a shortcut slope.

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      q July 7, 2016 at 8:56 pm

      Yes on all points. Shortcuts seem like they could have been incorporated for pedestrians. The walk from Miles Place to the Sellwood Bridge is far longer than it used to be.

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    rick July 7, 2016 at 8:13 pm

    Now on to building the trolley trail !

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    GlowBoy July 7, 2016 at 11:26 pm

    I don’t agree with the statement that Miles hasn’t been on a major bike path before. Except for the last 2-3 years when bridge reconstruction has closed it, there has been ALWAYS been a path between Willamette Park and the Sellwood Bridge. I was regularly riding through at Miles Place 15 years ago.

    Point taken that traffic will probably be higher on the reopened path than before, though.

    Also agreed about the stop signs at Macadam Bay. DEFINITELY not best practice, a significant MUTCD violation and one that we need to hold their feet to the fire on. Bike traffic on the path (especially now) will be many times the traffic down their driveway.

    And FWIW, why do they have to be STOP signs, regardless of who has them? Aren’t the sightlines good enough to allow YIELD signs?

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    Mike Sanders July 8, 2016 at 7:56 am

    I agree with the lack of guide signs. From the main Willamette Park driveway off Maxadam and at the exit from the park, there should be signs pointing south reading: “SW Miles Pl. SOUTH – Sellwood Br. EAST – Springwater Trail E/W – Oaks Park.” Nice to see the greenway sign northbound as you transition into the park, but there needs to be a “Welcome to Willamette Park” sign there, along with a sign pointing North to S. Waterfront and Tillicum Crossing. A S. Waterfront sign should be at the Willamette Park driveway, too. A sign pointing to the overlook would be nice, too. Watch that access coming off the bridge, looks like still some touch up paving to do along the curb. Nice video, by the way.

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      q July 8, 2016 at 9:50 am

      Parks is redoing the entrance to Willamette Park from Miles Place, and there will be a large new “Willamette Park” sign with a low wall and landscaping. From there, if you’re on a bike, you will be directed to turn sharply left to head northbound on the east side of the grass field (bikes will be discouraged from using the river-side trail), which I don’t particularly like.

      The other thing I wish would happen at that entrance would be to re-establish the viewpoint to the river that used to be at the side of the trail immediately upon entering the park from Miles. It had a great view of the little island, and gave people a place to pull to the side and take a break. Now you can barely see the water, and bikes will be discouraged from riding along the river trail. Parks specifically rejected those things, so they won’t be happening. Even if they just trimmed the vegetation down to 4′ high instead of 6′ high for about 10′ length, that would at least open the view, but Parks has specifically rejected that idea also. So the project went to some trouble to build that little spur trail to the Stephens Creek culvert, which really doesn’t accomplish much, while Parks rejects trimming some plants to capture a great view of the river.

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    pdx2wheeler July 8, 2016 at 11:20 am

    Looks sweet! We need this to extend out to Lake Oswego to the South.

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      rick July 8, 2016 at 7:08 pm

      Tell Metro and Lake Oswego city council.

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