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First look at bikeway upgrades on Interstate, Fremont, 2nd Avenue, Morrison and Vancouver

Posted by on October 11th, 2016 at 8:43 am

New SE Morrison bikeway-5.jpg

New one-block section of contraflow protected bike lane on SE Morrison Street between Grand and MLK is one of several new projects PBOT has installed in the past few months.
(Photos: J. Maus/BikePortland)

The merry little elves at the Portland Bureau of Transportation have been busy over the past several months. If you like to bike in the city and are waiting for major projects to be completed (like the 20s Bikeway, the bike lanes on Foster, the protected bikeway network downtown, and so on) you’ll still have to wait. But while those projects are still in the workshop, the elves have pushed out lots of smaller ones.

Today we’ll take a closer look at five places where PBOT has added bicycle access upgrades to the street: North Interstate at Tillamook, North Rodney at Fremont, North Vancouver at Fremont, 2nd Avenue, and Southeast Morrison.

Scroll down for notes and photos on the projects…

North Interstate Avenue between Tillamook and the Broadway Bridge ramp

new striping on Interstate at Tillamook-3.jpg

An improvement to the bikeway at this location has been officially pondered by PBOT for nearly a year. As we reported last November, Portland Bicycle Coordinator Roger Geller said the southbound bikeway on Interstate at Tillamook is configuration is “troubling” because, as a bicycle rider “you’re basically in between large and fast vehicles.” Geller presented three striping options that aimed to fix this issue and they decided to go with a variation of Option C. Here’s how we described this option last November:

This option gives bicycle riders the priority throughout; but it doesn’t provide the safety buffer of the other two options. Also, bicycle riders continuing on Interstate will still have 175-feet of exposure to merging traffic. (If you’re wondering why PBOT designed such a large merge opening over to Larrabee, it’s because this is a freight route and their design standards require 175-feet for large trucks to make the turn.)

Reader and dedicated neighborhood transportation activist Ted Buehler commented over the weekend that he thinks the new striping is an improvement. However he added that, “It could probably use some sort of protection to keep cars from driving through it. I watched about 20 cars tonight, and only about 3 blatantly drove through it. And they were all going slower than they used to go with the old paint.” In the end, Buehler feels it’s “still a potentially dangerous place to be on a bike.”

When I rode through it the other day someone in a big truck roared up behind me and swerved (seemingly on purpose) over just before the Broadway Bridge ramp. Here are a few more photos:

new striping on Interstate at Tillamook-4.jpg

North Rodney crossing of Fremont

New bikeway at N Fremont and Rodney-3.jpg

Looking northwest from Rodney at Fremont.

This project is part of the North Rodney neighborhood greenway. The crossing of Fremont is off-set and because it’s a higher volume street without much space in the shoulder, the crossing has always been a bit stressful. To help ease the pain for bicycle users, PBOT has added two crossbikes and buffered bike lanes on Fremont. The new striping definitely helps give an added perception of comfort and slows people down a bit. Here’s how it looks:

New bikeway at N Fremont and Rodney-1.jpg

Looking east from Fremont.
New bikeway at N Fremont and Rodney-2.jpg

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North Vancouver between Fremont and Cook

Bikeway on N Vancouver b-w Fremont and Cook-1.jpg

Looking south on Vancouver toward Cook.

Vancouver is a main artery for people bicycling from north Portland into downtown and other points south. With lots of growth in the corridor (N Williams Ave is its couplet one block east), traffic volumes are increasing in the bike lanes and the standard vehicle lanes. The stretch between Fremont and Cook has always been especially hair-raising. There’s a freeway on-ramp at Cook that encouraged a lot of people in cars to have to swerve across a busy bike lane and there wasn’t much in the way of bike-specific infrastructure. It was a daily dance that always made me cringe.

To help improve the situation and add some predictability, PBOT has added solid green coloring to the bike lane. They’ve zebra-striped the green coloring at a point just before Cook to encourage people in cars to crossover at that point. It seems to be working a bit better, but there’s still no physical protection for bicycle riders and you still have to bike between large motor vehicles. It would have been better to create a protected bike lane curbside and then give bicycles a queue jump to Cook where there’s a new signal.

Bikeway on N Vancouver b-w Fremont and Cook-5.jpg

Looking north on Vancouver from Cook.

Cement barrels on 2nd Avenue

Protection on 2nd Ave bikeway

PBOT has added cement barrels with a big caution sign in the middle along the length of their new protected bike lane on 2nd Avenue. When this new bike lane opened two months ago we noted that people in cars would short-cut left turns. This was a concern because the way PBOT designed the bike lane with a floating auto-parking lane, visibility isn’t as good as it should be and these left-turns were a hazard. Now with the cement barriers, people must make sharper left-turns which means they will slow down and hopefully be more aware of people in the bike lane. The new barriers also add an element of refuge for people crossing the street on foot.

SE Morrison between Grand and MLK

New SE Morrison bikeway-7.jpg

Looking east toward Grand.

To help get people on bikes from inner southeast, through the central eastside industrial area and up onto the protected path on the Morrison Bridge, PBOT has squeezed in a short stretch of physically protected bike lane (we first reported about this here). When facing west on Morrison, you can follow green zebra-striping breadcrumbs to find the new contraflow bike lane (adjacent to River City Bicycles parking lot!). The bike lane leads you onto the sidewalk where there’s a signal to cross Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. PBOT has then completed the route by installing sharrows on SE Morrison Street under the bridge viaduct.

New SE Morrison bikeway-1.jpg

Follow the green!
New SE Morrison bikeway-10.jpg

New SE Morrison bikeway-9.jpg

New SE Morrison bikeway-11.jpg

It’s always nice to come across these new sections of bicycle access upgrades.

Have you ridden on any of these? What has been your experience?

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

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NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. BikePortland is an inclusive company with no tolerance for discrimination or harassment including expressions of racism, sexism, homophobia, or xenophobia. 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

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Ali Reis
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Ali Reis

I ride down Interstate and either go over the Broadway bridge (if I’m heading straight to work) or continue on Interstate (if I’m dropping my daughter at daycare). I like the new striping, but my gripe is that after you cross Tillamook heading straight on Interstate, the bike lane narrows considerably. This isn’t terrible when I’m solo, but if I have the bike trailer with me, it’s a bit unnerving to move into fast traffic. It doesn’t look like there is an easy fix to this, but I was hopeful that something would’ve been done when they were working on the other project.

Ted Timmons (Contributor)
Editor

Really really happy to see the cement planter. The others are a minor improvement, but obviously the Interstate/Broadway and Vancouver areas are desperately calling for physical protection. Vancouver always puts me on high alert, knowing cars will merge early or race ahead of me to get over (MGIF!).

Happy to see the improvements. Just.. I expect more.

galavantista
Guest
galavantista

Re: Cement barrels on 2nd Avenue – in my experience people in cars are not stopping before they turn, and I have to be very vigilant as I go through those intersections. IMO the only thing that will truly provide a safe situation there would be a separate signal phase for people riding bicycles.

I’m so glad to have this lane, despite some of the issues (gutter puddles), it’s made a HUGE difference in my commute. I would also like to put in a “Why didn’t this happen?” and plug for starting the 2nd Ave bike lane further south. It’s easy to see how this protected lane could begin at least at SW Main where so many people on bicycles arrive from the Hawthorne.

rick
Guest
rick

I’ve enjoyed riding on the new SE Morrison. 3rd Ave is so much better than in previous years. I’ve seen people walking at NW 3rd and Burnside and get hit by people driving. It is more peaceful to walk and bike in Old Town Chinatown lately, except for the occasional closed sidewalk.

Adam
Subscriber

That Interstate Avenue “improvement” is absolute garbage. That massive mixing zone has terrible sight lines for cyclists, coupled with high motor traffic speeds. That Robert Moses era highway ramp serves no purpose but to give drivers a shortcut to the Broadway Bridge. The only proper solution is to rip it out and install a protected cycleway.

The N Fremont installation still requires cyclists to turn 90º on a dime. No one will be riding in that green striping, as the cross-bike doesn’t even align with where someone would be riding on Rodney – which is the middle of the lane, not along the gutter. Drivers get wide turning radii in intersections, so why does PBOT think bikes can just turn at a right angle like that?

N Vancouver looks like a mess. Why is the bike lane in the middle of the street? It needs to be along the curb.

The cement barrels on 2nd should make that bike lane better and encourage drivers to slow down/ Still needs full signalization, but the city was unwilling to dedicate the funding for them.

I still do not understand the purpose of the protected bike lane on SE Morrison. It connects a street with zero cycling facilities to the sidewalk of MLK. Who is riding in the travel lanes on Morrison anyway? When I rode over there, cars were perpetually blocking the cross-bike markings. That and the lane is on the wrong aside of the street.

So, thanks for the paint, but none of these design are world class, nor will convince people to start cycling for transportation. Poor execution all around.

MaxD
Guest
MaxD

I ride Interstate daily and this seems to be a minor improvement, but since it just paint bikes are the mercy of aggressive and distracted drivers. I wish they would add some wands or turtle-bumps to keep people driving in their lane.

Fremont- add a 4-way stop sign already! But very pleased they did not go with the bizarre contra-flow thing like Going/33rd.

Vancouver- There are few enough buses that I think a couple of Jersey barriers at the north end would be worthwhile.

Morrison- this is bizarre! There is no reasonable way to get to Morrison and Grand on a bike. Getting between Grand and MLK is fine, but crossing MLK is ambiguous and requires a beg button. The sharrows on Morrison is basically down a parking lot with cars backing into you- there are horrible sightlines and the last time I was there they had not turned the stop signs. There are no crossing improvements at Water and people drive very fast around the corner here. The bridge itself is useless- it is the width of one side of the Hawthorne but shared with bi-directional bikes/walkers/etc and it connects to nothing on the west side. You are no even allowed to cross Alder/ Washington on the east side of 2nd! This crossing and route is so bad, I consider that paint an attractive nuisance! Doing nothing would be better, in fact, doing less would better- why are they doubling down on this mess without improving any of the fundamental flaws/dangers?

Buzz
Guest
Buzz

SW Second Ave is dead to me as a bike route; at this point I just use SW 4th.

AMA
Guest
AMA

I appreciate the upgrades, but they _look_ terrible.

Jay
Guest
Jay

I ride Interstate almost daily and this “fix” does nothing for the real problem, the pinch point under the overpass. I noticed they paved over the storm drain at the start of the pinch point (and smoothed the bumps over the expansion joints), which makes it slightly better, but I wonder if there will now be drainage issues… Always a lot of fun when the 35 bus or a semi truck passes right there!

I give it 2 months before all the green paint is gone due to drivers cutting directly to the overpass.

But, you know, thanks for trying PBOT!

Spiffy
Subscriber

hey PBOT, stop making green crosswalks with no legal standing! you’re confusing the hell out of drivers and it’s really annoying having to sit on my bike and wave people by that are illegally obstructing traffic )to let me cross)…

please, just stop it!

Spiffy
Subscriber

more cement barrels please!

these should be dropped at every intersection with parking up to the intersection in order to prevent fast turns that are dangerous to pedestrians…

they can stay until they put in a proper curb bulb-out…

also put them in places where there’s a bus stop before an intersection and cars regularly use the bus stop area to pass illegally on the right…

bikeninja
Guest
bikeninja

I ride this chunk of interstate everyday also, and this is a very small improvement, but it is high time that the city of Portland Lay Down the Law to the Railroad, and improve the cement road through to Swan Island with protected bike lanes, then direct all truck traffic from this area back to Going Street. Get the trucks off this portion of Interstate and Tillamook, and give the riders from Swan Island a flatter and safer route to downtown.This would be safer for everyone involved and help reduce traffic congestion in the entire broadway bridge, steel bridge, rose quarter area for all involved. I know the railroads are powerfull, but it is not the 1800’s any more. Lets join the rest of the developed world and use our railroads and right of ways for the public good and not just for the benefit of Warren Buffet ( major owner of U.P.)

Scott Kocher
Guest

SW 2nd: everyone needs to join in asking for the perma-puddle(s) to be fixed. It will require another storm drain or 2.

Matt
Guest
Matt

That Morrison upgrade is just bizarre and probably contrary to US design standards. If PBOT feels they have to put in a wrong-way bike lane (i.e., travelling on the left side of the roadway), it should really be grade-separated (elevated to sidewalk level) and protected with a fence or other serious barrier.

Kimberlee
Subscriber
Kimberlee

It may be just paint, but the Interstate improvements are much better than what we had before, including the bike box at Tillamook. I have been nearly right hooked at Tillamook and I don’t know how many close calls where the new striping has been put in. I have definitely noticed cars are moving more slowly there now and it is much appreciated.

brian
Guest
brian

I voted yes on measure 26-173 and am now having a serious case of voters remorse

Catie
Guest
Catie

I used to frequently bike west on Morrison to get to that intersection (the days before Digapony had lines out the door) and if we want to encourage bikes to use this street we need more safety improvements! Cars go fast on this freeway sized road, and there is a lot of changeover with cars parking and cabs idling in the rightmost lane that cyclists have to go around. Until there is a protected bike lane along the length of Morrison, this is sadly another bike lane island with no other infastructure connecting to it. I would tell my mother to avoid this route. I hope more improvements are coming!

Eric Leifsdad
Guest
Eric Leifsdad

About 500-1000 more layers of paint and we’ll have the solid white stripes tall enough.

Or, put something real there. Maybe even something substantial like a steel post filled with concrete (wearing hi-viz and a foam hat of course, for safety.)

Peter Hass
Guest
Peter Hass

Even with the new signs and barrels, I don’t like using the new bike lane on 2nd between Stark and Burnside. After nearly getting left hooked twice, I decided the safety risk was too great and went back to riding on the far right lane for the few blocks I’m on 2nd. Plus it’s a lot smoother pavement over on that side of the road!

Ted G
Guest
Ted G

“Designs like these are going to convince exactly zero people to take up cycling for transportation, which is the end goal, isn’t it?”

if you are suggesting that all bike infrastructure be design so tha novice bike commuter will feel safe, then no, I don’t think that is the end goal. If you gave any thought to an opinion different then your own you might have realized by now that not everyone who rides a bike wants the same thing you do.

While you are free to express your opinion you make yourself out to be the arbiter of what is good or bad and right or wrong and that is not respectful of others opinions. How about you sit back and just listen to what others have to say rather than jumping in ever 2 seconds to make the say the same things…if you have a problem with what PBOT is doing then go tell PDOT. **removed personal attack** -ted

Hebo
Guest

On Second Avenue – I still hate this change. The bike lane should not be on the left, it should be on the right. I think this is an area that didn’t “need” a bike lane. Traffic speeds were usually slow and with three lanes, there was always room to pass. I rarely dealt with aggressive drivers or dangerous right hooks. I have ridden the Second Avenue bike lane several times and have come close to being right hooked EVERY time, even after installation of the planters. Add to this the terrible pavement conditions and the poorly designed intersection at Burnside, and it’s just not worth it. I have noticed more aggressive auto interactions since the bike lane went in. Also, there was a temporary fix to highlight and add a bulb to a pedestrian crosswalk that has been removed. Why? Just poor design and poor planning all around.

Buzz
Guest
Buzz

changes coming to Larabee/Interstate and Broadway intersection too, stay tuned. 😉

Kyle Banerjee
Guest

I’ve only ridden the Interstate section since the changes as that is part of my daily commute. The wider lane feels nice.

I absolutely do not favor rumble strips, barriers, etc. Most cyclists move very slowly through this area and barriers and whatnot make getting out in the lane to pass that much worse, particularly when you catch up with a gaggle.

I understand that the mixing area at Tillamook makes some riders uneasy, but there’s not an easy way to change this substantially. Fortunately, it’s not that bad.

This stretch of road is generally very good. Before doing more to this area, I’d favor fixing areas that are more dangerous.

JP
Guest

My dashcam video from this morning of drivers (not) navigating the new striping at N Interstate & N Tillamook

https://youtu.be/nySw99xenfY

Scott Mizee
Guest

Why did they not stripe an “Advisory Bikelane” on Interstate where it goes under the Laramie overpass? …or at LEAST maintain the bike lane width and encroach on the motor vehicle traffic lane? Why does it always have to be the other way around?